By Larry Fine
(Reuters) – With one week to go before next Monday’s trade deadline, Major League Baseball’s haves and have-nots are sizing each other up for a pennant push this season or a build-up for the future.
Teams in the “cellar” often become “sellers” in July, and there are plenty of bottom-dwelling ball clubs with high-priced stars who are happy to part with them to start rebuilding.
Pitchers such as Detroit’s Justin Verlander, Texas’ Yu Darvish and Oakland’s Sonny Gray have been mentioned in trade rumours as have hitters including Ian Kinsler of the Tigers, Blue Jay Melky Cabrera and even Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton.
Buyers figure to include the Houston Astros, New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Dodgers, Washington Nationals, Colorado Rockies and Milwaukee Brewers.
The AL-leading Astros on Monday said the team was more interested in bolstering their bullpen despite being linked in trade talks to starters Gray and Verlander.
“We were thinking we may have to go out and get a depth starter. That’s no longer the case. If anything, we’re going to have to put guys in the bullpen,” Jeff Luhnow told Astros Radio.
The Chicago White Sox have already been prominent sellers, and likely will be joined by the A’s, Tigers, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, San Diego Padres, Marlins and San Francisco Giants.
Many teams are on the fence, trying to gauge their 2017 chances, including the Texas Rangers, Kansas City Royals and Tampa Bay Rays.
It can make for complicated negotiations.
“It’s not only figuring out where your team fits, but also having more clarity of who is available and who isn’t,” an unnamed American League general manager told mlb.com
The Boston Red Sox are trying to have it both ways, having just called up prized third base prospect Rafael Devers in hopes he is ready for pennant race pressure rather than pay the trade market price for a veteran to fill their need at the hot corner.
The 20-year-old Devers, ranked as the 12th best prospect in baseball by MLBPipeline.com, joined the American League East leaders in Seattle on Monday for the start of their series against the Mariners.
Some teams jumped into the trade deadline market early, with the Yankees snagging third baseman Todd Frazier and relievers David Robertson and Tom Kahnle from the White Sox for a package of prospects including promising outfielder Blake Rutherford.
The Tigers traded slugging outfielder J.D. Martinez to the Arizona Dimaondbacks for highly rated infield prospects.
And the Cubs, trying to shake off their hangover following World Series celebrations marking the end of their 108-year title drought, sent prospects including outfielder Eloy Jimenez to the crosstown White Sox for starting pitcher Jose Quintana.
(Reporting by Larry Fine; Editing by Rory Carroll)