Matt Kemp just off the DL and pulled in the 2nd inning tonight
The collapse has begun!!!
As we saw at the end of April, sometimes it takes an injury for even a prospect like Bryce Harper to get an opportunity in the big leagues. For Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels, it took a combination of an injury (Vernon Wells) and a release (Bobby Abreu) to get him consistent playing time in Anaheim. Sometimes the combinations can get even more complicated, such as in the case of Will Middlebrooks. Despite Kevin Youkilis' return from the disabled list, Middlebrooks has stayed in the big leagues because of the positional switch he made from first base to right field to stay clear of the Boston Red Sox's best hitter, Adrian Gonzalez.
They're hardly the only ones, as there are plenty of top-flight prospects in the upper levels of the minors who deserve a shot soon, but figuring out how that happens requires some out-of-the-box thinking. Here are four premier prospects who are currently blocked, including solutions for clearing their way to the big leagues:
The situation: No prospect has his team's fans clamoring for him to reach the big leagues more than Rizzo. Acquired from the San Diego Padres this past winter in the Andrew Cashner deal, Rizzo has been torching Pacific Coast League pitching to the tune of .354/.415/.713 in 48 games with 19 home runs, including 10 in his last 19 games. A minor wrist injury has delayed the screams for him to come to Chicago, but just temporarily.
The block: Despite a May slump, Bryan LaHair has been not only the best story on the Cubs this year, but also their best hitter. LaHair has the ability to hold his own in left field, but that position is held down by Alfonso Soriano and his albatross of a contract.
The solution: With three home runs in his last four games and seven in his last 14, Soriano is hot, with a .611 slugging percentage in May. He's also a daily reminder of everything that went wrong in recent years for the Cubs, and his departure would not only allow the Cubs to get a look at LaHair in left, but also cut a giant cord to their past and let them fully move forward. At $18 million per year through 2014, the Cubs will need to pick up 80 percent or more of Soriano's deal if they want to trade him, but the money is a sunk cost already, so a deal might be worth it solely for public relations purposes while giving fans a preview of the future with Rizzo.
The situation: D'Arnaud is the best catching prospect in the game, and after a slow start to the season because of some pressing and a slow recovery from offseason wrist surgery, he's starting to look like it. Playing in Las Vegas helps anyone's numbers, but with a .340/.392/.713 batting line in 22 May games that includes nine home runs in 94 at-bats, he's looking awfully close to being ready.
The block: Just 26 years old and in his second full season, J.P. Arencibia has some issues in the on-base department, but young catchers who can flirt with a .500 slugging percentage don't exactly grow on trees.
The solution: With Adam Lind sent out and David Cooper showing the Las Vegas club what it's like to have a singles hitter at first base, d'Arnaud could move up to the big leagues and see some time behind the plate while Arencibia gets at-bats at first base, and both players could fill in at designated hitter if the club decides to deal Edwin Encarnacion at the deadline. Trading Arencibia doesn't make sense until the Blue Jays have confidence in d'Arnaud's big league readiness, but he should fetch a healthy return, and the remainder of the season could allow the Blue Jays to better make that decision.
The situation: Myers entered the year with the potential to be one of the brightest young hitters in the game, and he's become just that by hitting for average, drawing walks and having his power blossom beyond most expectations. A promotion to Triple-A two weeks ago hasn't slowed things a bit, as he entered Tuesday's action with averages of .339/.407/.712 in 47 games, and his 16 home runs already represent a career high.
The block: Well, what is Myers? He started the year as a right fielder, but he's played far more center field in 2012, and now the Royals are insisting that his recent time at third base is more than just an experiement.
The solution: While creating some defensive versatility for Myers is laudable, he has no future at the third in Kansas City with the emergence of Mike Moustakas both offensively and with the glove. Further confusing things is that scouts still prefer Myers as a corner outfielder. Lorenzo Cain deserves a chance to nail down the center field job, and left fielder Alex Gordon just signed a big contract, so that leaves right fielder Jeff Francoeur as the odd man out. Francoeur is athletic, a great defender and a good clubhouse presence with a very reasonable contract. The Royals could easily find a taker in order to create an opening in right field for Myers.
The situation: Seen by some as the best prospect in the game, the Rangers have had a difficult time challenging the 19-year-old from Curacao. Among the youngest players at the upper levels, he's hitting .294/.364/.510 in 48 games for Double-A Frisco, and that doesn't come close to telling the whole story, as he's a plus runner with a remarkably mature game, including outstanding defense.
The block: It's interesting to note that when the Rangers signed Elvis Andrus in the offseason, it wasn't technically an extension, and they did not buy out any free-agency years. Texas simply took care of his arbitration time. That keeps Andrus as the Rangers' shortstop through 2014, and his double-play partner, Ian Kinsler, is set to remain in Texas for the next six, or possibly seven, years.
The solution: Leaving Profar in the minors for the next 2½ years would still allow him to reach the big leagues at a reasonable age, but it would make little sense for his development. Kinsler has the bat to play left field, which is a logical long-term solution, but if the Rangers really want to get crazy, dealing a very resonably priced Andrus next July could fetch the kind of roster additions to put the team over the top. And if Profar ends up as good as people think, the Rangers won't miss a beat at shortstop.
Kevin Goldstein covers baseball for ESPN Insider. He has worked for Baseball Prospectus since 2006, where he is a national writer, and has covered the sport for a decade, with a focus on scouting, prospects and player development. He has previously worked for Baseball America and the self-started The Prospect Report. You can find his ESPN archives here, and follow him on Twitter here.
Major League Baseball's draft begins Monday and after months of preparation, executives will finally get a chance to see the unveiling of mysteries -- which have nothing to do with players' skills.
This is the first year of the negotiated draft slotting system, and while the whole thing was theoretically designed to simplify the process and allow teams to take the best available player with their respective choices, many officials are predicting twists. They expect there will be some holes in the new agreement that will be exploited.
"You've got a lot of smart people working for teams now," said one highly ranked executive, "and I bet they've spent the last six months looking for ways to beat the system."
Some will be breaking the spirit of the new rules, officials predict, and some will be above the law.
For example: This year's draft is generally regarded as uninspiring, with a lot of indistinguishable talent, and for that reason, some teams may be looking for the most affordable pick when their choice comes up. Let's say a team is working with a $6.2 million slot allotment, but a player near the top of the team's draft board agrees to sign for $5.7 million.
This could be a win-win for the player and team: The player is chosen a little higher in the draft than projected, and the team saves a little more cap room for choices later in the draft.
Because there are perceived to be no Stephen Strasburg or Bryce Harper difference-makers in this year's draft, it's possible that some teams could follow that strategy. "Although I'm not sure how much of a difference that will make, because of the rules," said one GM.
Decisions like that would be perceived as painting within the lines of the new agreement. But already, there have been indications that some teams have probed for loopholes that the labor negotiators did not intend to create.
Said a NL official: "There are all these smart guys who, 10 years ago, would have been working on Wall Street. Instead, they're working in baseball. Rather than figuring out a way to beat the [financial] market, they've been looking for a way around the new [labor] agreement. It'll be interesting to see what they've come up with."
The D-backs' draft picture is cloudy, writes Nick Piecoro.
• Matt Kemp is headed for the disabled list, and he thinks this injury is more serious than his previous injury. The Los Angeles Dodgers already were prepared to be aggressive in the trade market, and this will only increase their efforts to get better before July 31.
• There has been no change in the negotiations between the Philadelphia Phillies and Cole Hamels -- no progress -- and some rival executives fully expect the left-hander to become a free agent. "Unless the Phillies give him one of the top deals in history, why wouldn't he test [the market]?" said one NL official. "He's so close to free agency."
• Similarly, Melky Cabrera is on the verge of free agency without progress toward a long-term deal with the San Francisco Giants, sources say. And Cabrera is in a great position to cash in, because he had a 201-hit season in 2011 and is on a pace for 248 hits this year. How much will it take to sign him? Well, less than two years ago, Carl Crawford got a seven-year, $142 million deal from the Boston Red Sox, and last week, Adam Jones -- more than a year removed from free agency -- got a six-year, $85.5 million deal from the Baltimore Orioles.
• The first major pitcher to be moved in the market may well be Ryan Dempster of the Cubs. At least one other team has expressed interest in the right-hander, who is eligible for free agency after this season. "He's a veteran, and he's really throwing well," said one evaluator. "He'd make sense for a National League team."
At a time when a lot of teams are not close to determining whether they are buyers or sellers, the Cubs have been in a full-blown rebuild mode, thinking more about the future than about trying to win this year. So moving Dempster makes sense -- even if they wanted to try to re-sign him for 2013.
From Elias Sports Bureau: Dempster is winless through May despite having a 2.90 ERA. Since 1961, he's only the seventh pitcher to have a minimum of five starts and a 3.00 ERA or lower through May and still be winless (Cliff Lee also qualifies this year).
• The Miami Marlins and Giancarlo Stanton closed out a ridiculously great May in style, finishing a sweep of the Washington Nationals. Miami had a Murphy's Law April, but with the Heat nearing the end of their season, the timing for the Marlins' surge couldn't be better.
From Elias: The 22-year-old Stanton finished May with 12 homers, 30 RBI and a .343 batting average. Since 1920, the year runs batted in were compiled on official scores for the first time, only one player younger than 23 had that many homers and RBI and a batting average that high in a calendar month: Joe DiMaggio in July 1937 at the age of 22 (15 HR, 43 RBI, .430 BA).
From Elias: Since divisional play began in 1969, there was only one other game this late into a season in which a last place team scored 20 or more runs against the first place team in their division: On Sept. 20, 2005, the last place Rockies beat the first place Padres 20-1.
1. On Sunday Night Baseball last weekend, the Atlanta Braves had a 2-0 lead with Brandon Beachy on the mound, and Tyler Pastornicky tried a flip behind his back to get the lead runner on a force at second. Dan Uggla could've caught the ball, but clearly, the best choice would've been to throw to first and take the out -- and given Pastornicky's defensive struggles, it might've been a last straw for the Braves, who desperately need defensive efficiency at that position.
Some on the coaching staff had preferred to open the season with Andrelton Simmons as their everyday shortstop, and now they'll get their wish: Simmons, who can be spectacular defensively, has been called up after hitting well in Double-A.
3. Mark Attanasio, Brewers owner, isn't ready to wave a white flag.
2. Mike Morse could be back Friday, writes Adam Kilgore.
From ESPN Stats and Info
2.84: Seconds it took Will Middlebrooks' home run to clear the Green Monster, the fastest HR to leave any park this season.
4: Home runs the Blue Jays hit off Jason Hammel, all against fastballs.
8: Runs the Mariners scored in consecutive innings against the Rangers, becoming the fourth team since 1900 to score 8 or more runs in consecutive innings, per Elias.
30: RBI for Giancarlo Stanton in May, tying a Marlins record for that month.
From ESPN Stats and Info: When Holland is good, he's really good. And when he's bad, he's really bad. In the last two seasons, Holland has four shutouts, tied for the most in the American League. He also has failed to make it through the second inning three times, tied for the most in baseball.
From Elias: Mike Trout (21) and Bryce Harper (21) both scored at least 20 runs in May. It's the first time in baseball's modern era (1900 to date) that two players scored 20 or more runs in a month at age 20 or younger. In fact, the only other under-21s to score 20 or more runs in a month in the same season were Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays in 1951 (Mantle in May, Mays in July).
3. Last year, A.J. Burnett walked 83 and had 25 wild pitches in 190.1 innings. This year, he's got 14 walks and one wild pitch in 50 innings, and he shut down the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday, retiring 17 straight batters.
4. The Yankees won and avoided last place, writes David Waldstein.
6. The Boston Red Sox showed some heart against the Tigers, writes Scott Lauber.
7. The Tigers squandered a lead.
14. The Astros were blown out.
16. The Angels' winning streak ended.
17. The Athletics' offense continues to stink.
A recent 12-game losing streak may have erased any doubt the Chicago Cubs would be sellers as the July trade deadline approaches. While Theo Epstein would love to unload Alfonso Soriano, his most valuable bargaining chip could be Ryan Dempster, who sports a solid 2.90 ERA.
Epstein was non-committal about Dempster's future earlier this week, telling Toni Ginnetti of the Sun-Times there has been an "open dialogue" with the pitcher about his future on the North Side.
The 35-year-old Dempster is in the final year of a four-year, $52 million deal and is in line to ask for a multi-year deal, a route that Epstein may be reluctant to travel.
ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney says at least team has expressed interest in Dempster, who could be the first major pitcher moved at the deadline:
- Doug Mittler
Cubs looking to 2013 - and beyond
"At a time when a lot of teams are not close to determining whether they are buyers or sellers, the Cubs have been in a full-blown rebuild mode, thinking more about the future than about trying to win this year. So moving Dempster makes sense - even if they wanted to try to re-sign him for 2013."
What Anthony Rizzo has been doing to Triple-A pitching is starting to get a little ridiculous. The Cubs first base prospect is batting .354/.415/.713 at Iowa, including 17 home runs and 46 RBI in 46 games. Skipper Dale Sveum said recently the club will "have to talk" about calling up the first baseman in June.
Is a call-up on the horizon?
Cubs vice-president of scouting/player development Jason McLeod tells Paul Sullivan in Thursday's Chicago Tribune that Rizzo is in the "finishing stages" of his stay at Iowa.
Rizzo is expected to be back in the lineup Thursday after Iowa's game at Omaha was rained out on Wednesday night. He suffered a right wrist injuring during Sunday night's game in Memphis, and was removed in the sixth inning.
CBSSports.com's Scott Miller gives two reasons why Rizzo hasn't been called up yet. One of them? Finding a way to fit both Rizzo, a pure first baseman with no experience at any other position, and upstart slugger Bryan LaHair into the same lineup. Without the luxury of the DH in the NL, two possible options for Chicago are to move LaHair to the outfield -- or trade him.
- Doug Mittler and Jason A. Churchill
GM Ruben Amaro tells Ken Rosenthal Halladay's injury will not impact contract talks with Hamels, who is headed for free agency after the season. One school of thought says the Phils could be more motivated to deal Hamels at midseason if they fall out of contention.
Meanwhile, ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney hears there has been no progress in the negotiations between the Phillies and Hamels and some rival executives fully expect the left-hander to become a free agent. "Unless the Phillies give him one of the top deals in history, why wouldn't he test [the market]?" said one NL official. "He's so close to free agency."
- Doug Mittler
Schumaker is scheduled to return to St. Louis Thursday in order to undergo an MRI after suffering a pulled hamstring in Wednesday's 10-7 loss to the Braves.
Schumaker, wjp opened the season on the disabled list with an oblique strain, has played regularly with center fielder Jon Jay and right fielder-first baseman Allen Craig sidelined. Craig is scheduled to come off the disabled list Friday against the Mets and will likely be replaced by Schumaker, reports Joe Strauss of the Post-Dispatch.
- Doug Mittler
The Detroit Tigers have placed right-hander Doug Fister on the disabled list with more side problems and have optioned Ryan Raburn to Triple-A Toledo. Raburn was supposed to be at least half of the answer at second base but is hitting .146 with a .420 OPS in 37 games.
The Tigers, who went all-in by signing Prince Fielder to a mega deal over the winter, appear ripe to hit the trade market for help at second base and on the mound. Fister will be back and healthy, we have to assume, but starting pitching depth could still be on GM Dave Dombrowski's wish list.
Second base is a tough position to fill via trade right now, as the potential targets are on teams still in contention, such as Toronto's Kelly Johnson. Marco Scutaro could be an option if the Colorado Rockies, who are 12 1/2 games back starting play Wednesday, continue to slide.
Starting pitching may be pricey, but there should be some solid arms available, potentially including Matt Garza and/or Ryan Dempster of the Chicago Cubs, Zack Greinke of the Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago White Sox right-hander Jake Peavy, and possibly even southpaw Cole Hamels, with whom the Philadelphia Phillies have yet to agree an extension beyond 2012. Peavy, however, currently pitches for the division leader, so he's not likely to be going anywhere while the Sox remain in contention.
The Tigers have called up left-hander Casey Crosby to fill in for Fister, and he could become part of the trade bait to land such veteran help. Crosby will make his big league debut Friday against the Yankees.
- Jason A. Churchill
When Brent Morel comes off the disabled list -- which could be as soon as Saturday -- he better double check the lineup before automatically jogging out to third base.
There are no assurances that Morel, who was hitting just .225 when he landed on the DL with a back problem, will keep his starting job, reports Mark Gonzalez.
Manager Robin Ventura stressed Morel must show no limitations from the injury that made him vulnerable against certain pitches. Ventura also has a viable option in Orlando Hudson, even if he is hitting .185 in his first nine games for the White Sox.
- Doug Mittler
Pedroia feels he could be ready to return by the end of the weekend series with Toronto, but a trip to the disabled list remains an option, reports Nick Cafardo in Thursday's Boston Globe. The Red Sox could juggle their roster to accommodate infielder Pedro Ciriaco, who was hitting .304 at Triple-A Pawtucket entering Wednesday.
The Sox will go with Nick Punto at second base anytime Pedroia is unavailable, suggesting the team's lineup will suffer some from the difference in the ability at the plate between Punto, a defensive specialist, and the former MVP.
ESPN's Stephania Bell discusses the injury and what the club is going to attempt to do to help Pedroia stay off the DL. There's a chance, but it's a wait-and-see proposition.
If Pedroia has to sit out for a few weeks, the Red Sox also could summon shortstop prospect Jose Iglesias from Pawtucket.
- Doug Mittler and Jason A. Churchill
The feel-good story of April ended Wednesday when the Rockies designated 49-year-old Jamie Moyer for assignment.
The lefthander says he hopes to continue his career after spending a few days in California watching one of his sons graduate and play baseball. The Rockies will be on the hook for the balance of Moyer's $1.1 million salary.
Will another team give Moyer a chance? His two most recent outings -- 13 runs in 8 2/3 innings -- give little reason for optimism. Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports that Moyer had privately become bad for team morale. "All you had to do was watch the body language of those behind him when he pitched. There was a feeling of helplessness, and at times, inexcusable defense," Renck writes.
Josh Outman will replace Moyer in the rotation and start Friday against the Dodgers.
- Doug Mittler
Move over, Jonathan Lucroy. You have company when it comes to bizarre baseball injuries of 2012.
After the Nationals' 5-3 loss to the Marlins on Wednesday, manager Davey Johnson revealed reliever Henry Rodriguez had slammed a bathroom door shut on his right index finger. After a day off Thursday, Johnson hopes Rodriguez will be able to pitch if needed Friday against the Braves.
Lucroy, the Brewers catcher, said he was hurt while reaching under the bed for a sock while his wife, Sarah, shifted a suitcase that fell and struck his right hand, fracturing the fifth metacarpal.
- Doug Mittler
Kemp will undergo an MRI on Thursday to determine the extent of the injury, but a trip to the disabled list seems like a foregone conclusion. The question is how long will the Dodgers'cornerstone player be sidelined this time.
As for immediate help, MLB.com's Ken Gurnick says the Dodgers are still considering whether to recall Jerry Sands, activate Juan Rivera or a third option like promoting Alex Castellanos, Josh Fields or Jeff Baisley. Rivera is currently on a rehab assignment as he recovers from a hamstring injury.
There has been ample talk that the Dodgers are willing and able to be trade deadline buyers now that a new ownership group is in place. If the injury to Kemp is a serious one, the process could accelerate.
- Doug Mittler
General manager Sandy Alderson acknowledged Tuesday night what has been speculated for weeks -- that the Mets will reach out to David Wright's agents during the 2012 season. Alderson did not say a formal offer to the franchise third baseman would be presented, but he did not rule it out, either, reports Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com.
Wright is under the Mets' control through the 2013 season, including a team option for next year at $15 million. "I think what I've said in that regard is that we certainly will talk to his agent sometime this season," Alderson said. "I don't want to infer that we will make an offer; we won't make an offer. We expect to talk his agent this season certainly."
Chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon backed up Alderson's comments Wednesday, but added there is not an urgency to act right now because Wright is under the Mets' control for another year.
There was talk over the winter that the Mets might consider trading Wright, but that talk has disappeared due to the club's surprising start. Wright was hitting above .400 before a recent slump, and has put to rest any concerns about his health, only enhancing his value.
ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney has more on the Mets' future in Wednesday's blog:
- Doug Mittler
"The Mets need help in the middle of the diamond, at catcher, in the middle infield, and they may make intermediate moves as they wait for the maturation of their core of young pitching. But they don't intend to throw around big dollars, sources say, and while there has been speculation that signing Wright may require a 10-year investment, the Mets may be much more conservative in these negotiations than expected. Wright is 29 years old and is competing for a batting title, but the Mets may well be looking to spend their dollars on power hitters, as they push forward, slowly. We'll see."
Francisco Liriano returned to the starting rotation Wednesday, tossing 88 pitches en route to six shutout innings and nine strikeouts versus the Oakland Athletics. While it was a nice soft landing for the left-hander -- facing the A's lineup -- he did face several right-handed batters and his stuff was very good. Perhaps good enough to suggest he's viable trade bait this summer.
Liriano succeeded in this start with a fastball in the 91-94 mph range -- several 93s -- and inducing some swings-and-misses with both his mid-80s change up and his slider. The slider is key, as it's been his out pitch his entire professional career.
Of his nine punchouts, a half dozen of them came on the slider -- each of those six swinging -- which bodes well for the 28-year-old. He also avoided the base on balls, issuing just two on the day, despite throwing just 51 strikes.
Liriano is slated for free agency at season's end and if the Twins aren't looking to lock him up they'll likely field calls on the former ace. If he continues to progress back to form, adding him could be a major coup for a club looking for starting pitching, including the Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Dodgers.
- Jason A. Churchill
Mike Trout Is Pretty Good, Too.
Mike Trout is off to a great start. In just 129 plate appearances this season, the 20-year-old outfielder is hitting .304/.364/.522. Combine that with his spectacular defense, and it looks like Trout is well on his way to becoming one of the best players in baseball. Although Trout has been great this season, Bryce Harper has overshadowed his performance. And while Dave Cameron recently told us that Harper could be on his way to a historic season, Mike Trout isn’t that far behind.
Using the same methodology that Dave used in his Harper article, Trout’s current performance puts him in some pretty good company. Using wRC+, Trout is currently tied for the 14th best season by a 20-year-old.
|1915||Babe Ruth||Red Sox||42||103||0.315||0.376||0.576||0.448||181|
|1939||Ted Williams||Red Sox||149||677||0.327||0.436||0.609||0.464||158|
There are some pretty exceptional names on that list. Though Trout isn’t performing as well as Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb or Alex Rodriguez, he’s matching the production of many hall-of-fame players. In fact, only three players on this list — Abner Dalrymple, Greg Luzinski and Gregg Jefferies — aren’t in the Hall of Fame. Alex Rodriguez is still active — and there will likely be some debate over his hall-of-fame merits based on his past steroid usage — but he clearly has a deserving resume.
Trout has shown he has abilities as a hitter, but he’s also regarded as an elite defender. Trout has managed to rack up a 4.9 UZR so far this season. And while UZR isn’t entirely dependable in a small sample, this is a case where the scouts and the stats agree. Mike Trout is — and will continue to be — a phenomenal defense player.
And because of that, Trout should be able to put up a strong WAR if he continues to hit at this level. He’s already been worth 1.7 wins this season, but he’s accumulated that total in fewer than 200 plate appearances. To determine how the rest of the season might shake out, we can look at Trout’s ZiPS projection. Trout’s Rest of Season ZiPS projection expects that Trout will post a .339 wOBA going forward. It also projects that Trout to be worth about three more wins this season — which would bring his season total to 4.8 WAR.
If Trout managed to finish the season with that win total, it would rate as the 16th best season by a 20-year-old. And if that weren’t impressive enough, there’s a chance that ZiPs is being conservative with its projection of Trout’s defense. In the 430 plate appearances ZiPS projects going forward, Trout is expected to produce a 3.3 UZR. He’s already accumulated 4.9 in just 129 plate appearances, so there’s a good chance he’ll exceed his UZR projection.
But if ZiPS is 100% accurate, and Trout does finish the season with a 4.8 WAR, that would still be incredibly impressive. Trout’s performance would put him on par with Johnny Bench, Jimmie Foxx, Willie Mays and Jason Heyward. Three of those players are in the Hall of Fame. And some pretty flattering things were written during Heyward’s rookie season.
Mike Trout may be a year older than Bryce Harper — and he may have slightly more experience in the big leagues — but what he’s doing at 20 years old is almost equally as impressive. If anyone is going to challenge Harper for the title of the game’s best player five years from now, it’s almost certainly going to be Trout.
Max Scherzer on His High BABIP and K-Rate.
Max Scherzer is having a Jekyll-and-Hyde-type season. The Detroit Tigers right-hander has the highest strikeout rate (12.0) of any American League starter, but he also has the highest BABIP (.394) and has a 5.67 ERA. According to a major-league scout who has seen him multiple times this season, the numbers aren’t misleading: “He has either been striking guys out or giving up hard-hit balls.
6:31pm: Castro is "first on the list of players [the Cubs] won't trade," according to a team that recently spoke to the Cubs, reports Danny Knobler of CBS Sports. Knobler also says the Cubs have told teams that they will cover as much as $45MM of the approximately $48MM remaining on Soriano's contract if the outfielder is moved (Twitter link). At least one team has already expressed interest in Dempster, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.
1:45pm: The Cubs are letting teams know that nearly every player except Jeff Samardzijais available in trades, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports. Some teams are already calling the 18-32 Cubs about potential deals.
"We're starting to get some early calls now," president of baseball operations Theo Epstein told Nightengale. "There might be fewer sellers than usual and a lot more buyers. This has a chance to help us. We need core players."
Starlin Castro could be obtained for two impact prospects, according to Nightengale. First baseman Bryan LaHair and starters Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster could also be acquired. The Cubs will contribute cash in a deal involving Alfonso Soriano, who earns $18MM per season through 2014.
Though Epstein's longtime team, the Red Sox, hasn't been a seller for years, Chicago GM Jed Hoyer was trading Major Leaguers for prospects as recently as last summer. He acquired Joe Wieland and Robbie Erlin from the Rangers for Mike Adams in 2011 when he was the Padres' GM.
Don't believe they would trade Castro
Dempster AND Lahair are no brainers though
Cubs have told teams that they will cover as much as $45MM of the approximately $48MM remaining on Soriano's contract