The MLB trade deadline is nearing, and speculation is heating up across baseball. Here is what our writers are hearing today:
Rubin's take: Team sources have repeatedly minimized the likelihood Justin Upton becomes a Met, but it is good to see that general manager Sandy Alderson is at least thinking big rather than resting on his laurels after acquiring Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson from the Braves. The Mets rank last in the majors in team batting average at .233 and are ahead of only the White Sox in runs scored.
"The fact that we have several days means there are other things to be examined, explored," Alderson said Saturday. "It doesn't mean we'll do anything else, but we're certainly continuing to look."
Stark's take: You can forget that talk of Jonathan Papelbon winding up in Washington. A source said he'd be "shocked" if the Phillies end up dealing their closer to the Nationals.
Sources have confirmed a Fox Sports report that the Phillies and Nationals have discussed Papelbon in recent weeks. But those talks have gone nowhere, in part because Papelbon would balk at being traded to any team that would want him as a set-up man or co-closer, and in part because the Nationals don't appear to view him as a significant upgrade over current closer Drew Storen.Washington would alsolikely want the Phillies to pick up much of Papelbon's salary.
Stark's take: Speaking of the Nationals: Clubs that have spoken with the Nationals say they're trying to do "something big" if they make a move at all.
The Nationals have explored a number of bullpen possibilities, other teams say. And there are indications they've spoken with the Reds about Aroldis Chapman and the Padres about Craig Kimbrel. But it's unclear if they can ultimately match up with either team.
The Nationals have told other clubs they have no interest in trading their best pitching prospect, Lucas Giolito, or their highly regarded infield prospects, Trea Turner or Wilmer Difo, in any deal.
Stark's take: An executive of one team said the Reds want one "elite" prospect, plus two more he described as "better than average." As we reported yesterday, however, several clubs have questioned whether Reds owner Bob Castellini ultimately wants to sign off on trading Chapman at all.
Stark's take: The Padres have moved into what another club described as "aggressive sell mode" this week. And moving Shields appears to be atop their to-do list.
But several front-office men have told ESPN.com they're wary of Shields on multiple levels: declining velocity, a .905 OPS by left-handed hitters against him, a 5.01 ERA away from Petco Park and a jump in home-run rate (20 in 126.2 innings this year, versus 23 all last season in 227 innings).