The MLB trade deadline is nearing, and speculation is heating up across baseball. Here is what our writers are hearing today:
Stark's take: The Orioles haven't decided yet whether they're sellers or buyers, or some combination of both, as they head toward the deadline. But if they decide to buy, they've been looking for a left fielder with power, preferably right-handed. So Justin Upton, who can be a free agent after this season, is a perfect match on that score.
The Orioles also have had interest in the Padres' controllable starting pitching, particularly Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner. But one executive who has spoken with each club says it's difficult to envision how the teams could match up on that big a deal unless the Orioles were to include pitcher Kevin Gausman. And just a few days ago, Orioles manager Buck Showalter described the thought of trading Gausman as "comical." One friend of Showalter told ESPN.com: "Buck's not going to let that happen."
Crasnick's take: Jayson Stark has reported that the Dodgers and Rangers are the leading candidates in the Cole Hamels sweepstakes (with the Cubs and Red Sox apparently on the fringes). But now another team has jumped into the fray. The Arizona Diamondbacks, according to a source, have contacted the Phillies to express their interest. The Diamondbacks are on Hamels' no-trade list, so he would have to give his permission to allow a deal to be consummated.
But Hamels has pitched relatively well at Chase Field in his career (4-2, 3.32 ERA), and Arizona's farm system is good enough that the D-backs can put together a representative package of young talent. At the very least, the addition of another suitor can only help drive up the price for Hamels -- a welcome development as far as the Phillies are concerned.
Crasnick's take: After fortifying their bullpen with the acquisition of Steve Cishek from the Miami Marlins, the St. Louis Cardinals have turned their attention to adding a left-handed-hitting first base bat. An ESPN.com source confirmed a report by Derrick Goold of the St. Louis-Post Dispatch that the Cardinals have talked to the Brewers about Adam Lind, who has an .865 OPS and a 2.7 WAR with Milwaukee. Lind is making $5 million this season and has a $7 million club option for 2016 (with a $2 million buyout), so the financial burden of acquiring him wouldn't be particularly onerous. And the Brewers are 20 games behind St. Louis in the NL Central, so the whole intra-divisional aspect of a trade wouldn't be much of an impediment.
Stark's take: Other teams report the Giants have checked in on a wide range of names beyond Cole Hamels and David Price -- from Yovani Gallardo to Jeff Samardzija to Mike Leake. They were also in on Johnny Cueto before the Reds traded him to Kansas City, and on Scott Kazmir before he went from Oakland to Houston, but they're really only looking for a "significant upgrade" over the group they won the World Series with last year, other teams say.
They're not viewed as a likely landing point for Hamels, however, and the Tigers still haven't decided whether to make Price available.
Stark's take: Clubs that have spoken with the Orioles say they're getting a feel for what teams might be willing to offer for their large group of prospective free agents -- Matt Wieters, Chris Davis, Wei-Yin Chen, Bud Norris and Tommy Hunter. But those teams don't expect the Orioles to do any large-scale sell-off unless they fall to at least six games out in the wild-card race. They're currently 3 back of Minnesota, the current leader for the second wild-card spot, with four games remaining before the deadline. And if they gain ground this week, they could still add an outfield bat, thought it would likely be a bat off the bench.
Stark's take: Texas is currently 7 games out in the AL West and 4 back in the wild-card race. But GM Jon Daniels has told other clubs the Rangers haven't given up on contending. So they could conceivably buy and sell at the same time, adding long-term pieces like Cole Hamels while moving a prospective free agent like Yovani Gallardo.
But teams that have spoken with them also report the Rangers don't view those moves as necessarily linked. They could deal for Hamels and still keep Gallardo if they don't like the offers they get, or could trade away Gallardo and not add another starter. But their chief objective appears to be to position themselves to win next year. So they're actively shopping for controllable starting pitching, such as Hamels and the San Diego tandem of Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross.
Stark's take: The Pirates have actively shopped Pedro Alvarez in recent weeks, with no apparent success. So while they've checked in on a long list of potential first-base upgrades, from Adam Lind to Adam LaRoche to James Loney, teams that have spoken with them say they've been trying to find a landing spot for Alvarez first, to free up payroll and create a lineup opening for another first baseman. Multiple sources have played down reports linking them to Boston's Mike Napoli.