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The State of the Trade Deadline: Yesterday was pretty sleepy. Will general managers wake up today?

Jul 31, 2014, 8:10 AM EDT

Justin Masterson was traded yesterday. And beyond that it was nothin’ but rumors. Jon Lester and John Lackey are still Red Sox. The Phillies have unloaded no one despite needing to unload just about everyone. Teams like the Brewers and Mariners, who are in tough races and have a need, have been silent. Teams like the Dodgers, who could probably disrupt everyone’s plans if they wanted to, are still quiet too.

That’s somewhat baffling, but here’s where we stand, less than eight hours until the trade deadline:

Jon Lester: There were rumors yesterday afternoon that the Orioles were closing in on a deal for Lester, but nothing happened. The Dodgers are apparently out. The Cardinals were allegedly in before picking up Masterson, but who knows if they still are now. My personal favorite here — the Pirates — has the sort of minor league talent the Sox likely want in return. But you have to figure Pittsburgh is not serious about a long-term extension for Lester, thereby making them balk at unloading the prospect truck. This one could go to the wire.

David Price: He had a bad game yesterday, losing to the Brewers, but I think he can be forgiven for that. The Rays conundrum here is that they’ve been winning lately and it’s really hard to sell off your best player when the fans think you’re contending. But do the Rays themselves think they’re contending? For as hot as they’ve been, there are still many clubs ahead of them in the standings, both in the AL East and the wild card. Mathematically, they still have a less-than-10 percent chance of making the playoffs. Can they forego a big prospect haul for that less-than-10 percent chance? I don’t think I could. If they don’t trade him today, they can’t expect to get nearly as good a deal in August. He won’t clear waivers, in all likelihood, thereby limiting the number of teams to whom the Rays can shop him. It’s gut-check time for the Rays’ front office.

[MORE: 30 seconds to know about the Trade Deadline]

Marlon Byrd: There aren’t a lot of decent bats on the market, making Byrd look like the best one by default. At least the most powerful one, as has 20 homers and a .477 slugging percentage at the break. The Mariners were long thought to be a favorite for Byrd, but they dropped out of the bidding yesterday afternoon. That could just be the Mariners being weird. Or it could be the Phillies being in denial. They have to unload players and Byrd is likely the most marketable one they have. Is Ruben Amaro holding out for too much? Will other teams with offensive needs — say, the Yankees or Royals — sweep in and get a late bargain today?

[MORE: Mariners out on Byrd]

John Lackey: It was reported yesterday that there was a “very good chance” Lackey would be traded by today’s deadline. The Marlins were said to be talking to Boston about him yesterday, but that doesn’t’ seem to be serious. Given that Lackey has a $500,000 team option for next season and given that he’s still a more-than-solid starter, just about every team should be interested in his services. To be honest, though, I have no idea why the Red Sox would want to deal him, so you have to figure they’ll be asking a lot for their bargain basement starter.

[MORE: Lackey to Marlins? Probably not]

Alex Rios: The other prominent bat on the market. He was hit by a pitch and left yesterday’s game, so that may scare people, but it doesn’t seem like a big deal. Rios’ speed and better defensive value may make him a better option than Byrd. He’s also someone who can walk after this season, under contract for what’s left of his $12.5 million this year and a club option for $13.5 million in 2015. The Mariners may have shifted focus to him.

Joaquin Benoit: Relievers are always a hot commodity at the deadline, and Benoit should be the hottest. For one thing, he’s been great this year. For another he has shown that he can and will close or set up, depending on your needs. Finally, the Padres have a “yard sale” sign set up outside of Petco Park so you have to figure they’re talking to people. They were rumored yesterday to be talking to the Dodgers, but it’s unclear how serious that is. Really, everyone needs bullpen help down the stretch, so anyone could snag him.

The Phillies: Byrd, Bastardo, A.J. Burnett, Papelbon, Lee and even Howard and Hamels have been in rumors. Still the Phillies have made no moves. This despite needing to turn the page on this era and think about the future. If nothing happens in Philly, things could get ugly.

As always, keep it on HBT all day, as we will be updating constantly, keeping you up on everything that happens between now and the 4PM Eastern deadline.

  1. Eutaw's Finest - Jul 31, 2014 at 8:16 AM

    Hey now you forgot about that blockbuster Felix Doubront trade yesterday!!

    • proudlycanadian - Jul 31, 2014 at 8:24 AM

      That may have been a mercy killing rather than a blockbuster.

    • proudlycanadian - Jul 31, 2014 at 9:45 AM

      We have a trade to report. Lester has been traded to a Mystery Team.

      • proudlycanadian - Jul 31, 2014 at 9:49 AM

        Wow! For Cespedes and Gomes.

      • proudlycanadian - Jul 31, 2014 at 9:53 AM

        I typed too quickly. Lester and Gomes for Cespedes.

  2. corky2141 - Jul 31, 2014 at 8:22 AM

    FIRE RAJ

  3. koufaxmitzvah - Jul 31, 2014 at 8:24 AM

    Hope the Dodgers keep Kemp. He’s the reason why they’ve actually won more than 3 games in a row for the first time this season.

  4. jrbdmb - Jul 31, 2014 at 8:24 AM

    *Could* get ugly? Things are ugly for the Phillies already. Except perhaps for face-of-the-franchise Utley, nobody else should be untouchable.

  5. sandpiperair - Jul 31, 2014 at 8:28 AM

    There is no way that Lackey is playing for $500,000 next year. However, maybe the team that controls him can work out an extension that pays him properly. He is definitely not the value he looks like on paper.

    • dsaverno - Jul 31, 2014 at 8:44 AM

      could not disagree more. Before the 2010 season, he signed a 5 year $80+ million contract with the Red Sox that included a club option, or insurance policy, built in for the 2015 season. That option would come due if he missed significant time with an elbow injury at any time during the length of the contract. He missed an entire year (2012) with an elbow injury, though the Red Sox still paid him $15,250,000 for the season. He should honor the contract.

      The contract he signed would have been for significantly less money if the option was not in place. It actually would have been lower by the net present dollar value of the likelihood of injury and the expected time missed. I’m sure his agent explained that to him. He decided to take more money and assume the injury risk in that option. If he never had any intention to honor that clause, he stole money from the Red Sox.

      • sandpiperair - Jul 31, 2014 at 8:49 AM

        Yes, that’s what the contract says, but regardless, you won’t see a pitcher of that caliber playing for the league minimum. He has threatened to retire before playing for that amount, but I think that whatever team gets him will have to sign him to an extension.

      • dsaverno - Jul 31, 2014 at 8:55 AM

        shouldn’t have agreed to it, then. He assumed he wasn’t going to get hurt and he was wrong.

      • sandpiperair - Jul 31, 2014 at 9:02 AM

        We can agree on that, but contracts are not always fulfilled these days.

      • DavieO - Jul 31, 2014 at 9:18 AM

        While I agree he should honor his contract, if the team doesn’t trade him I could see them tearing that up and giving him an extension. I’d offer 3 years at $27-33M, with the 1st year starting in 2015. Then put a 2-4M buyout (or even opt out by Lackey) in there for the 3rd year in 2017. He should still be an effective #2 or #3 starter for the next two years and give them some stability in their lineup. Lackey did ask for a trade, but I think he figures if he is traded he can work on redoing his contract for next year with the new team. Think he would be happy to pitch in Boston for a couple of more year to finish out his career.

  6. DavieO - Jul 31, 2014 at 8:31 AM

    I don’t see why they need to trade Lester or Lackey unless they get back what they want. They are in the driver’s seat on a deal for both. Hopefully they won’t settle on players just to make a deal since it had been hyped for the past week or so.

  7. gothapotamus90210 - Jul 31, 2014 at 8:35 AM

    Byrd wouldn’t waive his NTC to Seattle had they not picked up his option. They’re only one of four teams he has an NTC for.

  8. deathmonkey41 - Jul 31, 2014 at 8:41 AM

    Reuben Amaro considered trying to jettison some of the bad contracts he created and use them to replenish the farm system, but at this time, he thinks this team is close to contending, so he signed everyone to extensions.

    • skeleteeth - Jul 31, 2014 at 9:01 AM

      Ahh good ‘ol Sandwich Amaro. HOW YANKEES DOING?!?

  9. cshearing - Jul 31, 2014 at 8:41 AM

    I’m guessing the asking prices are just too high. GMs are less likely to trade away top prospects now than ever before, IMO. Having some young guys contributing that are cost-controlled is too important.

    • proudlycanadian - Jul 31, 2014 at 8:56 AM

      Some of the sellers seem to be asking for players that the other teams consider to be untouchable. No harm in asking, but the sellers have to be realistic especially if the guy they are selling is a rental.

  10. sdelmonte - Jul 31, 2014 at 8:52 AM

    New York predictions:

    Colon stays, for now. I am thinking that the Mets’ desire for salary relief over prospects here might be a factor. Would like to see him moved, but I don’t think they would get much. And keeping him another month or two isn’t a bad thing.

    No other moves from the Mets. The team is chugging along at last, and I just don’t see much reason to tinker with things unless there is really good offer. Small chance of a surprise involving Murphy. Smaller chance involving pitching prospects leaving – that happens in the offseason

    One more starter in the Bronx. The bullpen is being stretched real thin now, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Cashman looks for someone to be the fifth man and then moves Capuano into the pen.

    One bat for the Yankees. But not a game-changer. For now. If come the waiver deadline this team is still where it is now, I expect a bigger move.

  11. sandpiperair - Jul 31, 2014 at 8:53 AM

    Recently, baseball people have speculated that teams are more reluctant to overpay for a rental player, especially since a “playoff run” could consist of exactly one game. Now people are expecting that Lester, who is up after this season, is going to bring back a huge return of top prospects? I can see why that may not happen. I think the Sox will have to settle here for a moderate package.

    • DavieO - Jul 31, 2014 at 9:22 AM

      Or stick to their guns and get what they want for him. If he isn’t traded they can try again next month, of course he’d have to clear waivers to get to the team that wants him. The could try one more time to extend him. After seeing all the media, the team and players saying all these great things about him, maybe they can come to agreement on length (I don’t think dollars is the issue, it is the length of the deal). Or they can make him a qualifying offer and at least get a draft pick for him if someone signs him.

  12. largebill - Jul 31, 2014 at 8:54 AM

    Deadlines have a compelling effect on GM’s. Not guaranteeing we will see moves today, but just saying the deadline can help close the gap between asking price and offering price for Price or others. A prospect who was untouchable last week might be available at 3:45 this afternoon.

  13. dsaverno - Jul 31, 2014 at 9:13 AM

    I’m pleasantly surprised that the Indians got back a player expected to be an average regular or platoon starter (via Keith Law) for Masterson. The big Jamaican looks broken this year and may have accepted a one-year qualifying offer after the season, if offered. I’m inclined to think the Tribe would have just let him walk. Something with promise for nothing of future value is always a good thing.

  14. corvetteman6 - Jul 31, 2014 at 9:21 AM

    This just makes zero sense if you’re a Pirates fan
    Why not go after Lackey? The guy is solid
    Give them Alvarez. He’ll, give them Charlie Morton
    And you’ll have a good arm locked up for next year too
    Instead, you’re going for a rent an arm who will be gone come fall and
    you’ll be gone some prospects too. For what? To show MLB and your fan base that
    you’re serious about winning?
    Lester alone won’t do it, not with holes at 3rd, right and 1st and a weak bench
    This will go down as an all time blunder if it is done and it is the only thing the club does

    Lackey is a much better option

    • dsaverno - Jul 31, 2014 at 9:32 AM

      A Fan’s Trade Deadline Lament

      –a prose poem in 10 lines

  15. Bob Loblaw - Jul 31, 2014 at 9:33 AM

    I know the Dodgers have those three top prospects the Phillies want so badly, but to me, I would rather only get one of them and dump Howard/Papelbon with Hamels. I think the Dodgers would jump at that deal. They are printing money there and they would have a 1-2-3 that would be second to none. Plus to have a former WS MVP in Hamels, whose career postseason ERA is 3.09 while both Greinke and Kershaw are over 4 in the postseason.

    Ruben…make the deal…Hamels/Howard/Papelbon for [whichever one of those prospects you want].

    • dsaverno - Jul 31, 2014 at 10:03 AM

      wow . . .just. . . wow.

      • Bob Loblaw - Jul 31, 2014 at 10:24 AM

        wow…what?

      • dsaverno - Jul 31, 2014 at 10:39 AM

        I’m stunned to near-silence. Adding the highest-paid paperweight and the highest-paid reliever to a pitcher that already has a market-value contract running through 2019 (!) and, AND, expecting a top-flight prospect in return. Hamels + The Pile of Money formerly known as Ryan Howard + Paps = 0 future value. That’s $60 million in 2015 for Hamels. . . and maybe 60 good relief innings. And that doesn’t even include future years.

        As an Indians fan, that would be like wondering why we can’t just trade Swisher and Bourn for Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. Hello, Hello, Mr. Ryan are you still there? The Twins just had the all-star game and they have some cash rolling around in the seat cushions of their couch. Hey, why not?

      • Bob Loblaw - Jul 31, 2014 at 10:47 AM

        That’s why it’s called “desperate”. I didn’t say it was a fiscally good deal for the Dodgers. Remember, this is the team that is now printing money in MLB. And if they want Hamels enough, maybe they eat the money before they give up the prospects. And to have the top 3 of Kershaw/Greinke/Hamels going into the playoffs has to be very appealing for them.

        It’s just a thought…we’ll see what the Phillies end up doing. My guess? Amaro does nothing because he sucks.

        ps your example sucks because neither Swisher or Bourn are even 1/10000th the player that Hamels is.

      • koufaxmitzvah - Jul 31, 2014 at 10:58 AM

        Just because you don’t like the Dodgers, and that they are printing money (?), you decide to come up with one of the silliest ideas for a trade this side of the HBT’s Winter Meetings threads?

        Dodgers are not desperate. They lead by 3 games in the NL West on a team that has mostly underachieved this year (they are in the midst of their first 4+ game winning streak of the year) and are playing quite well.

        Stick to law, Chachi.

      • dsaverno - Jul 31, 2014 at 11:04 AM

        btw, Cole Hamels past four years: 15.9 fWAR. Bourn+Swish: 20.2 fWAR. I’ll admit Hamels is probably better going forward (same age as Bourn, who has skills that don’t typically age well) but he has a (curse word redacted)-ton of money owed to him for a long time, while Borny&TheBro are off the books in 2 years, not 5 years. Plus, I don’t think teams would want to pay that much for a pitcher who has been on the DL for a shoulder injury, an elbow injury, and a bicep tendonitis injury. Seems way too risky.

        I used them as an example because, for a small market team like the Tribe, their $28 million combined salary is as much of an albatross as the Phils classic veteran overpays(tm).

      • Bob Loblaw - Jul 31, 2014 at 11:14 AM

        Whoa where did you see me say I don’t like the Dodgers? I am a Phillies fan but that doesn’t mean I don’t like them. And they obviously want Hamels…even more so now that the A’s have really gone for it.

        Look, it may be silly and that’s fine. But I think if Amaro went to the Dodgers and said we will give you Hamels and Howard for one top prospect, I think they take the deal in a second. Paps was added in as a dream. If you don’t think the Dodgers take that deal, then you are undervaluing just how many billions with a B the dodgers are printing there at Chavez Ravine.

  16. corvetteman6 - Jul 31, 2014 at 9:50 AM

    Looks like Lester going to A’s
    Glad to hear it

  17. nysportsrule - Jul 31, 2014 at 9:55 AM

    Lester and Gomes for Cespedes. Unconfirmed.

    • proudlycanadian - Jul 31, 2014 at 9:58 AM

      It seems to be real.

  18. dsaverno - Jul 31, 2014 at 10:02 AM

    Breaking News, RAJ wants to trade Cole Hamels for Mike Trout’s age 42-43-44 seasons. MLB league office Stepianed him, though.

  19. raysfan1 - Jul 31, 2014 at 10:06 AM

    Rays prediction:
    There is no Price trade in-season because no large haul of prospects is truly offered. Likewise no “gut check” for the Rays over the issue for the same reason.
    Price gets traded in the off season for a package similar to one of the pundits’ spit-balling sessions that they have printed and labelled as rumors.

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