The Braves made a deal on Sunday and didn't even have to cough up any prospects in the process.
Brad Brach joins the Braves' bullpen after a bit of a rough go of it in Baltimore this season. A 2016 All-Star, Brach's track record is excellent, but he's pitched to a 4.85 ERA and 1.77 WHIP (yikes) this year. From 2014-17, Brach had a 2.74 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and struck out 9.5 batters per nine innings. The Braves are obviously betting that he'll return to form thanks to a change of scenery. If not, well, they didn't really give up all that much to get him.
Wheeler market stays hot
It's certainly looking like the Mets will not trade Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard before Tuesday's deadline, but fellow right-hander starter Zack Wheeler is another story. On that front, here's the latest from MLB.com's Mark Feinsand:
The Yankees, Brewers and Reds are among the teams that have been connected to Wheeler, though it is believed that at least a half-dozen teams have expressed interest and scouted Wheeler's recent outings.
This season, Wheeler has pitched to a 4.33 ERA and 2.66 K/BB ratio across 19 starts. In those recent outings noted above, though, he's looked significantly better. As a former sixth-overall pick, Wheeler's always had upside, and indeed Wheeler boasts an impressive four-pitch repertoire -- fronted by a mid-90s fastball and hard slider. As well, Wheeler isn't eligible for free agency until after the 2019 season, so he's more than a rental.
With Wheeler, though, you also get the health concerns. He had Tommy John surgery in March of 2015, and he dealt with shoulder issues prior to that. Last season, he was beset by biceps tendinitis and a stress reaction in his arm. He's been healthy thus far in 2018, but the history is grim. No doubt the Mets can find a taker and probably get a strong return. Said taker, though, is going to be betting heavily on Wheeler's ability to answer the bell each time out.
And speaking of the rapidly approaching July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, we're here to update you on all the juicy rumors and, you know, actual trades as we approach this key date on the MLB calendar. if you want to catch up, and .
Now let's dig into more of Sunday's scuttle:
Archer market still hot
rays had two scouts watching top yankees lip prospect justus sheffield yesterday, adding intrigue to chris archer rumors (as @Joelsherman1 mentioned). another scout said: "was just ok ... fighting fastball command." padres still seen as current favorites for archer -- if he goes— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 29, 2018
We learned Saturday that the Yankees and Dodgers have some level of interest in Archer, and Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tweeted that the Cardinals are also perhaps still in the mix. As Heyman reports, though, the Padres still look like the front-runners.
Archer, 29, hasn't pitched at an ace level since 2015, when he finished fifth in the AL Cy Young balloting. However, the underlying skills are there, as is the "ace-ish" upside. What greatly adds to Archer's market appeal is that -- assuming his two club options are exercised -- he's under contract through the 2021 season at bargain rates. As for the Padres, it may seem odd for a team on pace for 98 losses to align themselves with deadline buyers, but Archer's years of control dovetail with their competitive window, which could open as early as next season.
As for the Yankees, they just added J.A. Happ to the rotation, and they have the deepest bullpen in baseball. Perhaps, though, Archer's deep familiarity with the AL East Luis Severino are motivating their interest. For now, though, the Padres still look like the leading Archer contenders.
Dodgers focused on Ranger relievers?
The Dodgers of course have the deadline's biggest fish -- i.e., Manny Machado -- in the fold, and their rotation is generally healthy for the first time in a long time. As such, the front office is likely to focus on the bullpen before the deadline arrives. Speaking of which, here's this nugget from Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News:
Kela, the 25-year-old closer with the career ERA+ of 133, would be the real catch. He's also under team control through the 2021 season. The 24-year-old Leclerc also has a strong record of run prevention and isn't eligible for free agency until after the 2022 season. The lefty Claudio's surface numbers are down a bit this season, but he's got a strong recent track record at both the ERA and command-and-control levels. He's 26 and under team control through 2021. Diekman, also a lefty, is 31 and in his walk year. He's long had control issues, but he doesn't have the stark platoon issues you typically see in left-handed relievers.
From the Rangers' standpoint, their best tradable relievers also come with multiple years of control, and as such they can expect a pretty healthy return should they decide to move one or more of Kela, Leclerc, and Claudio. That said ...
LHP Jake Diekman, a rental, is most likely #Rangers player to go, per sources. Gallo trade called “unlikely.” Would make more sense for TEX to deal long-term bat in off-season, when teams have greater flexibility to add position players. Interest in Gallo noted by @Evan_P_Grant.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 29, 2018
If the Rangers aim to pivot back to contention as early as next season, then those young bullpen arms are worth keeping. The Dodgers, meantime, can certainly find the bullpen depth they seek on the Texas roster, but they may have to pay a heavy price if they want to pry the young, non-Diekman arms away from the Rangers.
Buccos want pitching
You sort of have to squint to consider the Pirates to be contenders. Thanks to their recent hot streak, they've above the waterline, but the SportsLine Projection Model gives them just a 6.8 percent chance of making the postseason. Is that enough to justify buying before the deadline? Maybe so in Pittsburgh. Pitching seems to be the focus ...
Right now, the Pirates rank 11th in the NL in rotation ERA and also 11th in rotation FIP. On the bullpen side, the Pirates rank 11th in relief ERA but a solid fourth in bullpen FIP. On balance, yes, Pittsburgh could certainly use some pitching if they're going to be serious wild-card threats down the stretch.
Braves narrowing focus
A 7-13 mark in July has dropped the Braves out of wild-card position, so they're probably looking to make some trade noise before we get to August. For a long time, it's been speculated that the Braves would seek to upgrade third base. However, that's reportedly not their deadline priority ...
#Braves more focused on adding pitching than Beltre, per sources - Camargo good defender, higher OPS than Beltre (.789-.747) in similar number of at-bats. ATL, however, is looking to upgrade bench, whether now or in August. Beltre a consideration for right acquisition cost.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 29, 2018
Johan Camargo with his 116 OPS+ thus far and, as noted, plus fielding, has been an asset, not a liability. While the Braves have been linked to Adrian Beltre, it's not likely that Beltre -- although a future Hall of Famer -- would be an improvement upon Camargo in the here and now.
While it may seem strange for an organization with as much young pitching as the Braves have to focus on arms, that appears to be the case right now. Contenders are always spoiling for bullpen depth, and the Braves could perhaps also benefit from a near-term known quantity in the rotation.
On that front ...
See above for the appeal of all those Texas relievers.
Braves, Cubs after Brach
As for the Orioles' ongoing sell-off, right-handed reliever Brad Brach may be next to go ...
Brach, 32, is in his walk year. This season, he's logged a 4.85 ERA and 2.00 K/BB ratio in 39 innings. That said, he was a strong and steady presence in the Baltimore bullpen from 2014-17, so any team that acquires will likely be betting that he still has that potential in the short run.
Jones staying put?
Orioles outfielder Adam Jones is a veteran in his walk year playing for a terrible team, and those kinds of players tend to attract deadline buzz. That's certainly the case with Jones. However, it increasingly sounds like he won't be going anywhere ...
On 105.7 the Fan, Dan Duquette on if there is better than 50 percent chance Adam Jones stays an Oriole past deadline: "I do. I believe he’ll be an Oriole on Wednesday. These veteran players it’s a tough, tough decision. Rest assured that we have wrestled with that decision."— Steve Melewski (@masnSteve) July 29, 2018
Jones has 10-and-5 rights, which means he can veto any trade. Typically, players will waive those rights in exchange for, say, the exercising of a contract option of the offer of an extension. With Jones, though, he's about to turn 33, and he's shown signs of decline this season. As such, contenders may be hesitant to commit to him on the fly. Jones is an exemplary leader and clubhouse presence, but production is what matters above all. Given all that, Dan Duquette's probably right that Jones is staying put.
San Fran in limbo
The Giants are among the teams in tough spot right now. Coming into Sunday's slate, they're two games below .500 and 7 1/2 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West. They're also six games out of the second wild-card spot in the NL. In matters related, the SportsLine Projection Model gives the Giants a meager 3.9 percent chance on making the playoffs. Offsetting all that is that the Giants conducted themselves like contenders all offseason and have a long-standing organizational reluctance to rebuild. That stew of considerations leads to this ...
As one #SFGiants person said, "We just need the players we have to start playing better.'' But it's getting late in the game. They could selectively sell, but there's no buzz that they're engaged on adding anything of significance. Team is in a tough spot right now.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) July 29, 2018
So not close enough or flexible enough to buy but not willing to commit to a sell-off. That's the holding pattern in San Fran right now.