Futures Game Notes: Padres ready to sell, might listen on Headley

The Padres have quickly fallen out of contention and appear to be sellers as the trade deadline approaches. (USATSI)
The Padres have quickly fallen out of contention and appear to be sellers as the trade deadline approaches. (USATSI)

NEW YORK -- Two of the Padres' NL West rivals were on the buy-sell fence in the days before the All-Star break.

Not the Padres.

Even before they couldn't get a hit off Tim Lincecum, the Padres had already stopped thinking of themselves as possible long-shot contenders after losing 14 out of 15. After spending a few weeks dreaming of trading for a pitcher like Ricky Nolasco or Yovani Gallardo, they quickly shifted into sell mode.

At Sunday's All-Star Futures Game, the biggest in-season gathering of baseball executives, the word was that the Padres are open for business, and that they would even listen if someone wants to talk about third baseman Chase Headley.

The Padres still aren't eager to move Headley, and it would take a big offer for a team to have a chance to get him. A more likely scenario would have the Padres trading some of their bullpen arms (Huston Street, anyone?) and/or starter Edinson Volquez.

Headley was one of the biggest names on the market last July, and the Pirates worked hard on a deal they eventually backed away from. Headley had a big second half. The Padres made a limited effort to sign him to a long-term deal last winter, and Headley then told them he wouldn't negotiate during the season.

The Padres were two games over .500 and just one game out of first place in the middle of June. Not even a month later, they've fallen to 13 games under .500 and 9 1/2 games out of first place.

Other notes from the Futures Game:

 The Orioles are still looking for pitching after trading for Scott Feldman, but they also realize that there's room for improving their offense. And just as the Orioles' biggest in-season boost last year came from calling up Manny Machado, there's a chance that the most significant move they'll make within the next two months will be to call up Henry Urrutia.

Urrutia isn't projected to be the long-term star that Machado is, but there's no doubt that his bat intrigues the Orioles.

"He hit .365 in Cuba," said general manager Dan Duquette, who was at Citi Field watching Urrutia in the Futures Game. "He didn't play for a couple of years, so we sent him to Double-A, and he hit .365. Then he went to Triple-A, and he hit .365 [actually .367].

"We don't have too many guys who hit .365. So maybe we should take a look at him."

 The trade market so far has been heavy in starting pitchers (but not in aces), and heavy in relief pitchers (but not in closers). It has not so far been heavy in hitters, and that could put the Mariners in a good position -- once they get around to selling.

The Mariners have been slow to indicate to opposing teams what they're going to do, but the strong assumption has been that they'll eventually market hitters like Raul Ibanez and Kendrys Morales. Ibanez has 24 home runs, leading some to speculate that he'd be a perfect player for the Yankees (who watched him leave last winter to sign with the Mariners as a free agent).

"It's unbelievable to watch him," said one scout who just saw the Mariners. "When he gets a pitch to hit, he doesn't miss it."

 You could argue that three of the six teams currently in first place don't really have a closer. The worse news for the Tigers, Red Sox and Diamondbacks is that there's no guarantee that any true ninth-inning answer will show up on the market this month.

Ask scouts if there is any closer who could be dealt who you feel comfortable carrying into October, and the answer tends to be, "Only Jonathan Papelbon, and the Phillies might not trade him."

Even if Papelbon does reach the market, Tigers people continue to insist that he's out of their price range, and some Red Sox people say that he made such a bad impression on the way out that they can't imagine a reunion.

 As colleague Jon Heyman wrote, the Cardinals are among the teams that have talked to the Cubs about Matt Garza.

A Cardinals-Cubs trade would be a real rarity. The last major-league trade between the two rivals occurred almost 11 years ago, in August 2002, when Jeff Fassero was the big name going from the Cubs to the Cards.

The only other Cubs-Cardinals trade in the last 33 years was in June 1995, when Todd Zeile went from the Cardinals to the Cubs.

People familiar with the Cubs say that the Theo Epstein-Jed Hoyer braintrust wouldn't have a problem trading within the division (and with a rival), and the feeling is that it wouldn't bother Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak, either.

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