Here are five interesting stories in Major League Baseball this week:
The high price of success
The trade deadline is 1 p.m. Monday, and teams are scrambling to improve their clubs. But the price for premium talent is high. The Cubs gave up four players to acquire left-handed closer Aroldis Chapman – who is only signed through this season – from the Yankees. The Indians picked up his replacement, left-hander Andrew Miller, from the Yankees for four more players. The Miami Marlins picked up right-handers Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea from the Padres for four prospects, including their lone top-100 prospect. The bottom line is, if you want to upgrade your club, its going to cost you.
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Yankees having a fire sale
The Yankees marketed their three bullpen studs – Dellin Betances, Miller and Chapman – this season. The slogan, “No Runs DMC” (Dellin, Miller, Chapman) appeared on shirts and hats – a takeoff on iconic rap group Run DMC. All that is left is “D,” as the Bronx Bombers have turned into sellers. “We’re trying to get back to a situation where we can build an uber team and a sustainable one,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. “So we’ll see where it takes us, but that’s the effort that we’ve got going on here, and I think fans should be excited by that.” The Yankees were an uber team in the late 1990s and into the 2000s, winning titles in 1996, ’98, ’99, 2000 and ’09. But their last playoff win was in 2012. The sale likely isn’t over. Outfielder Carlos Beltran (.304 average, 22 homers, 64 RBIs) and right-hander Ivan Nova (7-6, 4.90 ERA) are also rumored to be on the block. It’s a whole new ballgame in the Bronx.
The Indians are going for it
The Cleveland Indians are 60-42 with a 4 1/2-game lead on second-place Detroit in the American League Central. Simply put, they are going for it, having acquired Miller from the Yankees. The Indians gave up a lot, parting with two of their top-three prospects – outfielder Clint Frazier and pitcher Justus Sheffield. Minor-league pitchers Ben Heller and J.P. Feyereisen were also sent to the Yankees. The Indians seemed to have Jonathan Lucroy wrapped up in a deal with Milwaukee, but the catcher invoked his no-trade clause. The Indians are rumored to be in the mix in the Jay Bruce (.265, 25 homers, 80 RBIs for Cincinnati) sweepstakes and are also rumored to have interest in Beltran. “I’ve said it from the beginning: Any opportunity to win, we don’t take lightly,” Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti told the Akron Beacon Journal. Perhaps the Cavaliers started a new trend for the city of Cleveland.
Dodgers in the thick of things
The Giants have not been able to shake the Dodgers this season, despite major injury woes for Los Angeles. With four starters, including ace Clayton Kershaw, and four relievers on the disabled list, they find themselves just two games out of first in the National League West. Now they are looking for reinforcements. Rumors have them linked to Bruce, White Sox left-hander Chris Sale (14-4, 3.17 ERA) and outfielder Josh Reddick (.296, eight homers) of the A’s. They are also rumored to be in the mix for right-hander Chris Archer (5-14, 4.42 ERA) and left-hander Matt Moore (7-7, 4.08 ERA), both of Tampa Bay. Bud Norris left his Dodgers start with back muscle tightness with one out in the first on Sunday, so perhaps that factors in to their quest for pitching at the deadline.
Giants buying, A’s selling (again)
The Giants need bullpen help, and lost out on closers Miller and Mark Melancon, who went to the Nationals. They are rumored to be looking at Jeremy Jeffress (2.22 ERA, 27 saves) and Will Smith (1-3, 3.68 ERA), both of the Milwaukee Brewers. They got a shot in the arm offensively when they picked up Eduardo Nunez from the Twins on Thursday. He provided a spark with a two-run double in a 5-3 win over the Nationals on Saturday. The Giants went 2-11 coming out of the All-Star break while their offense sputtered. They got second baseman Joe Panik and right-fielder Hunter Pence back this week from injuries and have won two in a row. But the feeling is they need some arms. Across the Bay, the A’s are in their usual selling mode. On Saturday, they traded outfielder Billy Burns to Kansas City. Left-hander Rich Hill and Reddick are “trade bait,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser, but they are also talking extension with Hill. Stay tuned.
Compiled by Chris La Marr