Market shifts as deadline nears
The word is that the asking price for Pirates outfielder Xavier Nady has "loosened'' a tad, and that Pittsburgh seems more interested than before in trading him.
The Pirates were said a couple weeks ago by the New York Post to be seeking "two top prospects'' for Nady, who's having a big year (12 HRs, 56 RBIs, .327), but that seems to have come down a tad. Considering the Pirates have Nady, Jason Bay and Nate McLouth all thriving at the big-league level, and 21-year-old Andrew McCutchen playing well (9 HRs, 37 RBIs, .282) at Class AAA Indianapolis, they would appear to have an opportunity to help themselves in other areas by trading Nady or Bay.
"I think they'll probably trade Nady but hold onto Bay,'' one National League executive opined.
The Rays, Yankees, Mets, Phillies, Diamondbacks and Cardinals are among the teams to have inquired about one or more of the Pirates' star outfielders. Several teams are seeking a righthanded bat, making Bay and Nady especially desirable.
The Rays need a right-handed hitting outfielder and have the chips to deal. The loss of Hideki Matsui means the Yankees need an outfield bat, too, and like the Mets and Rays, they would also prefer a righthanded hitter.
Mets general manager Omar Minaya, who traded Nady to Pittsburgh in 2006 when he was desperate for a reliever after Duaner Sanchez's freak shoulder injury, is said to be one Mets person who likes Nady very much. However, the organization's reluctance to trade its top two prospects -- outfielder Fernando Martinez and lefthanded pitcher Jon Niese -- could force them to consider acquiring a solid but slightly lesser player, such as Seattle's Raul Ibanez or Cleveland's Casey Blake.
Teixeira could go ... but not for nothing
The secretive Braves aren't saying whether they're buyers or sellers. But people around baseball wouldn't be surprised in the least if there was a deal just before the deadline involving star first baseman Mark Teixeira.
The Braves are apparently trying to gauge their chances to contend now, and that's understandable since they're in the unimposing NL East. Even so, their chances don't look so hot from here, at seven games out and in fourth place. With all the injury problems they've had (is Mike Hampton ever coming back?), most baseball people ultimately believe reality will set in and Teixeira will be moved.
The Braves won't be able to come close to recouping what they gave to Texas last summer to get one year of Teixeira (Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Matt Harrison and Elvis Andrus). But they'd easily beat two draft choices, which is all they get if he leaves as a free agent.
Angels GM Tony Reagins understandably laughed off the absurd report in a Minnesota paper of third-base prospect Brandon Wood and utilityman Robb Quinlan being the whole package to go to Atlanta for Teixeira as the babble of "bloggers.'' (good line, though some bloggers actually do great work).
As former Oakland GM Sandy Alderson once said about a rumored trade of Jose Canseco (back when he was a 40-40 man for the A's and before he became a disgrace) to the Yankees for something like Roberto Kelly, Mark Hutton and Sam Militello, that package doesn't rent Teixeira for a weekend. Someone will probably wind up renting Teixeira for the final two months, and it may yet wind up being the Angels. But it's going to take a lot more than that.
Sherrill attracting a crowd
While talk of a trade involving Mariners pitcher Erik Bedard has dissipated with each of Bedard's aches and pains, one of the players traded in the Bedard deal, Orioles closer George Sherrill, could still be dealt.
The Marlins, Dodgers, Cardinals, Phillies and Brewers were among teams scouting the Orioles game on Tuesday night. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the Cardinals were interested, and the Baltimore Sun reported interest from the Brewers in Sherrill, one of the All-Star heroes who's done a nice job in Baltimore (29 of 35 in saves, 3.89 ERA). Sherrill is known for having decent stuff but exceptional guts.
The relief market looks a lot stronger than the starting market now. But a couple executives with relievers to sell expressed annoyance that the Nationals dealt Jon Rauch to the Diamondbacks for second-base prospect Emilio Bonifacio, claiming it wasn't enough for Rauch. "I was surprised that's all Washington got,'' one AL executive said. However, Bonifacio isn't bad (one exec likened him to former big leaguer Delino DeShields, who was a top stolen base threat for years), and if anyone knows the D'backs' prospects, it's Nats assistant GM Mike Rizzo. Bonifacio is said to be a fine defender with excellent speed.
The top of a strong relief market includes Brian Fuentes, Huston Street and Damaso Marte, along with Sherrill. A Denver Post report says that the Rockies have asked for Ian Kennedy, Clay Buchholz, Wade Davis or Niese in return for Fuentes.
Other viable relievers who could be dealt include Ron Mahay (though word is the Royals would have to be "overwhelmed''), David Weathers, John Grabow, Cla Meredith, Will Ohman, Mike Gonzalez and two more from Baltimore (Chad Bradford and Jamie Walker).
Washburn talks may stall
If the Yankees can get Jarrod Washburn and get rid of Kei Igawa at the same time, that would be a double coup for them. But the finances may be trickier than first thought to pull of such a deal. And Washburn has a limited no-trade clause and can veto a deal to the Yankees barring an extension, which is another complication.
Around the Majors
With Jorge Posada likely relegated to DH duty if he returns, the Yankees are looking for catching. Some possibilities include Rod Barajas, Gerald Laird, Paul Lo Duca and Miguel Olivo.
The Twins, Giants and Dodgers have shown some interest in the Rangers' Hank Blalock.
Yankees minor league-shortstop Alberto Gonzalez might become an option for the Dodgers if they can't land the Pirates' Jack Wilson or another more established shortstop like David Eckstein.
Marlins pitching coach Mark Wiley must be a magician. He is doing a terrific job with the shocking Marlins, who won't go away. Rick VandenHurk looked like a new man in beating the Braves 4-0 on Tuesday night.
Astros GM Ed Wade certainly has the ability to surprise. And confound. His trade for Randy Wolf seems to suggest he thinks his team is a contender. Perhaps someone should next offer Wade a clue.
Freddy Garcia will hold his pitching showcase Aug. 5 in Miami. Both New York teams have interest, among many others. He is hoping to pitch in the majors in September.