We're mere days away from Friday's MLB trade deadline, and that means rumors are abundant right about now as contenders look to add and also-rans look to sell. Now let's round up those rumors.
Rays eyeing Kris Bryant
"The reigning American League champion Rays, long recognized for their ability to win with minuscule payrolls, have had preliminary discussions about both Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer and Chicago Cubs third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant, league sources told ESPN."
The Rays' interest in Scherzer is known, but their interest in Bryant is new information. Bryant, who's in his walk year, boasts defensive flexibility, and he's enjoying a nice bounce-back season with the bat: .269/.356/.500 with 17 home runs and 19 doubles in 91 games. He's owned the balance of a $19.5 million salary for this year. The Cubs are in sell mode, so it's entirely possible that Bryant and other core members of the 2016 championship team get shipped off by Friday.
As for the Rays, it's unusual to see them positioned as aggressive buyers, but they've already added Nelson Cruz to the fold this deadline season.
Scherzer prefers West Coast
Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer turned 37 on Tuesday. That's a fairly advanced age for baseball, but he continues to pitch at a high level. Scherzer's also in the final year of the seven-year, $191.4 million contact he inked with Washington, and given that the Nats at this writing have slipped to fourth place and 8 1/2 games behind the Mets in the generally underwhelming NL East they're likely to be sellers.
Even as a "rental," a frontline ace like Scherzer with lots of postseason experience would be coveted on the market, and already the Rays have been reported to have interest. Now, though, MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reports that Scherzer, who has a no-trade clause, may have other geographic preferences:
It remains to be seen if Max Scherzer will be traded, but a source said the pitcher “strongly prefers the West Coast” to waive his no-trade clause. Given the state of the NL West, he could be the difference-maker in that race if he landed with the Dodgers, Giants or Padres.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) July 27, 2021
As Feinsand notes, Scherzer's reported desire to land on the West Coast plays right into the hotly competitive landscape of the NL West. While it seems unlikely that AL West contenders like the A's and Mariners would get involved, it's at least possible. Obviously, Scherzer has a great deal of control over his situation, and his preferences matter very much. Dropping him in the middle of the NL West race would indeed be a compelling outcome.
On the topic of the developing Scherzer market, if the Nats do decide to move him, they may not wait until the final bell. Here's this from Ken Rosenthal:
Teams pursuing Scherzer believe Nats want to act within next 48 hours to create time to work through his no-trade. Chances of Scherzer making his start Thursday seem remote. Scratched from last start due to right triceps discomfit. Teams might ask: How do we know he is healthy?— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 27, 2021
Should a trade come to pass, then this is one of those instances in which "pending a physical" becomes a bit more important than it usually is.
Several teams monitoring Kimbrel market
As the numbers above suggest, 33-year-old closer Craig Kimbrel is enjoying a dominant renaissance season in 2021. He's eligible for free agency this offseason (assuming his $16 million club option isn't picked up for 2022) and is owed about $5.5 million the rest of the way, which is why the non-contending Cubs may be open to flipping him. Lockdown closers are always in demand this time of year, and Kimbrel is certainly one of those.
Kimbrel is the most sought-after reliever on the trade market, so there's plenty of competition for his services. At least seven clubs have shown serious interest in Kimbrel, including the Red Sox, sources said."
Look no further than the July 2017 trade that sent Jose Quintana to the North Side in exchange for a package built around Eloy Jiménez for evidence that the Cubs will make a major trade with their crosstown rivals. As Levine notes, though, the White Sox have plenty of company in pursuit of Kimbrel.
Mariners in on Trea Turner
Speaking of the Nats, it's hardly a given that they'll trade shortstop Trea Turner before the deadline, but it seems to be an increasing possibility. Turner's a standout defensive shortstop with blazing speed on the bases, and he's gone from very good to excellent at the plate since the start of the 2020 season. Needless to say, a player with that broad range of skills would be of interest to any number of contenders. Maybe you can count the surprise Seattle Mariners as one of those teams:
The #Mariners are one potential suitor for Trea Turner. They have high-end prospects to interest the #Nats and are looking at infielders controllable beyond this season (e.g., Whit Merrifield). The Mariners have been happy with J.P. Crawford, and Turner can move around diamond.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 27, 2021
As Morosi notes, it wouldn't exactly be a seamless fit for Seattle, but you make things work for a player like Turner. Turner, 28, isn't eligible for free agency until after the 2022 season, and that extra year of control means he'll command a high price in trade return -- a price some contenders can't afford to pay. If the Nats decide to move, then it's a signal that they didn't believe they'd be able to sign Turner to a long-term extension. Given that he's emerged as one of the best shortstops in baseball, his next contract, whether via free agency or extension, will be a hefty one.
At least three teams interested in Joey Gallo
Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo is a Gold Glove winner in right, and he has some of the most impressive raw power in the game today. This season, he boasts an OPS+ of 137 with 24 home runs and an MLB-leading 74 walks in 94 games. The Rangers are pretty rudderless and awful these days, and as part of an organizational reboot they may be looking to flip Gallo. Given his skill base and the fact that he's not eligible for free agency until after the 2022 season, he figures to net the Rangers a nice haul. As well, the market for him also seems to be picking up:
As Morosi's tweet suggests, no one needs Gallo as badly as the Yankees do. They've struggled from the left side, and their outfield has been waylaid by health issues.
Mets interested in Tyler Anderson
Anderson, a 31-year-old lefty, is on a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Pirates, and needless to say he's not going to be a part of the next relevant Pirates team (whenever such a thing might come to pass). He continues to profile as a solid-average major league starting pitcher in the near- to mid-term, and that sort of thing is always of interest to aspiring playoff teams -- like the Mets, for instance:
Tyler Anderson a Mets target, as SNY has reported. Proobably too late to get him to start tonight in NY, which Mets need. Very strong Alderson/Cherington relationship btw. Alderson wanted BC hired as his replacement in 2018.— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) July 27, 2021
The Mets right now have multiple starting pitchers on the IL, including ace of aces Jacob deGrom, which explains their interest in rotation help.
Pirates' closer drawing interest
Pittsburgh is waist-deep in a sell-off, and closer Richard Rodriguez could be one of the next to go:
Sounds like talks are very much active on the Richard Rodriguez front. Blue Jays and Phillies are two teams I’m hearing.— Jason Mackey (@JMackeyPG) July 27, 2021
Rodriguez, 31, has been excellent since the start of the 2020 season, as he's pitched to a 2.77 ERA with a 6.70 K/BB ratio in 61 relief appearances. Along the way, he's picked up 18 saves. Adding to his appeal on the trade market is he's not eligible for free agency until after the 2023 season. Mackey names the Blue Jays and Phillies as pursuers, and the Phillies are especially desperate for bullpen help as they try to remain within range of the Mets in the NL East.