Trade deadline preview: Dempster, Johnson among names to watch
Baseball's non-waiver trading deadline is at 4 pm Eastern time today
The Cubs are looking to trade pitcher Ryan Dempster and maybe Alfonso Soriano
Josh Johnson, Josh Beckett and Hunter Pence could also be moved today
Baseball's non-waiver trading deadline arrives at 4 p.m. Eastern time today, giving teams mere hours to either upgrade their rosters or cash in their veterans without having to expose those players to waivers.
It has been an active deadline period thus far with big names like Zack Greinke, Hanley Ramirez, Kevin Youkilis and Ichiro Suzuki donning new uniforms. Monday night brought five new deals, with the Cubs trading lefty starter Paul Maholm and platoon outfielder Reed Johnson to the Braves for a pair of minor leaguers including pitching prospect Arodys Vizcaino, and sending catcher Geovany Soto to the Rangers, the Blue Jays sending outfielders Travis Snider and Marcus Thames to the Pirates and Mariners, respectively, for relief help, and the Dodgers acquiring displaced Mariners closer Brandon League for two more minor leaguers.
Meanwhile, there are still several contenders who have yet to make an addition, including the Reds, Cardinals and Nationals. The Phillies, who were expected to be active sellers, have yet to complete a trade as well. Here, then, is a quick look at some of the rumored and reported deals, players and teams to keep an eye on as the deadline draws near. Stay with SI.com all day for running commentary from Jay Jaffe and Joe Lemire, who will have a live blog starting at noon and going through the deadline, and for post-deadline commentary from Tom Verducci.
The Cubs and Dodgers have been in protracted talks about Ryan Dempster, who has used his 10-and-5 status (10 years in the majors, the last five with the same team) to let the Cubs know that he'll only accept a trade to the Dodgers. Reportedly, the Dodgers have balked at sending back the kind of prospects the Cubs want, and the Cubs have countered by trying to get the Dodgers to take Alfonso Soriano and his contract, which has $36 million remaining over the next two years, along with Dempster. Dempster is a free agent after this season, so the Cubs have close to no leverage here and are reportedly desperate to work out a deal.
The Phillies and Orioles were reportedly close to a deal that would send Joe Blanton to Baltimore, but the trade has been held up due to the fact that neither team wants to be on the hook for the $3 million Blanton is owed over the remainder of the season.
On the block
With Paul Maholm now a Brave and Dempster possibly heading to L.A., Matt Garza could be the next Cubs starter to be flipped. The Reds, Blue Jays and Rangers have reportedly shown interest, but late word was that the Rangers are backing off.
The Phillies are shopping their entire starting outfield -- Hunter Pence, Shane Victorino, and Juan Pierre -- with the Giants, Reds and Dodgers among the teams reportedly showing interest. With the Blanton trade still pending, the Phillies have yet to make a deal despite expectations that they'd be active sellers.
FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported early Tuesday morning that Arizona is looking to "pull off a blockbuster for a premier starting pitcher," suggesting that 24-year-old rightfielder Justin Upton, who was fourth in the National League MVP voting last year but has been no stranger to trade rumors in recent years, could be in play.
With Huston Street signing an extension and Brandon League now a Dodger, the Royals' Jonathan Broxton should be the primary focus for any team looking to add a potential closer.
The Cardinals are reportedly open to trading 21-year-old pitching prospect Shelby Miller, who was rated the eighth-best prospect in baseball coming into the season by Baseball America, but has posted a 5.44 ERA in Triple-A this year due largely to an excess of home runs and walks.
The Indians are reportedly listening to offers for right fielder Shin-Soo Choo and starter Justin Masterson, though they are apparently not eager to deal either.
Twins first baseman Justin Morneau and Padres third-sacker Chase Headley remain on the block, though neither seemed particularly close to being dealt Monday night. Headley remains under club control for two more years, and Morneau is owed $14 million for the 2013 season.
There was a lot of speculation about a potential trade that would send Diamondbacks shortstop Stephen Drew to the A's on Monday, but Arizona seems unlikely to be sellers. Still, there are a number of teams that could use a shortstop, including the Pirates, Braves and Blue Jays, though oddly Toronto shortstop Yunel Escobar has also been floated as a solution to other teams' problems at the position, as has Jimmy Rollins, though Rollins' contract and 10-and-5 status seem likely to keep him in Philadelphia.
Among the big-name pitchers reportedly under discussion are the Rays' James Shields, the Marlins' Josh Johnson and perhaps the Phillies' Cliff Lee, though recent reports suggested Lee is unlikely to be moved.
Giants outfielder Nate Schierholtz has asked to be traded in light of his reduced playing time and the Giants apparent pursuit of additional outfield help.
First baseman Lyle Overbay was designated for assignment by the Diamondbacks to make room for newly-acquired third baseman Chris Johnson but is drawing some trade interest from teams looking for a left-handed bench bat, including the Reds and Orioles. The Rangers are also likely to trade catcher Yorvit Torrealba, who was designated for assignment in the wake of the team's acquisition of Geovany Soto on Monday night.
The Red Sox were reportedly listening to offers for Josh Beckett on Sunday night, though Beckett's poor performance and the $31.5 million he's owed over the next two seasons could make a deal difficult.
As expected, the Braves added a starter in Paul Maholm, and the Orioles are in pursuit of one in Blanton, but the Rangers have yet to reinforce a starting rotation that very much needs help.
The Rangers did add catching help in Geovany Soto, but the Rays remain in more desperate need of such a player.
The Pirates brought in fading Blue Jays prospect Travis Snider to add outfield depth and Alfonso Soriano could actually help the Dodgers in the short term if he does wind up coming over from the Cubs. The Rays, Tigers and Orioles all still need to add a bat be it at first base, an outfield corner, or designated hitter.
There has been very little action on the third baseman market, but the A's and Angels still need help at the hot corner.