MLB Rumour Roundup: Cubs checked in on Marcus Stroman

Jose Quintana strikes out 12 in his Cubs debut, plus the Nationals bolster their bullpen by trading for Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson.

MLB’s non-waiver trade deadline is exactly two weeks away and the hot stove is gaining steam with each passing day.

Rumours are flying left and right as teams get a clearer idea of whether they should be buyers, sellers, or somewhere in between come July 31. Here are some of the biggest rumblings from across the majors.

Stroman for a Cub

The Chicago Cubs contacted the Toronto Blue Jays about a potential Marcus Stroman trade, but it would have cost them a player off their major-league roster, according to Peter Gammons. Gammons also writes the Cubs had an eye on Chris Archer, Michael Fulmer, and Gerrit Cole.

It’s no surprise that the Blue Jays set the bar high in any Stroman discussion seeing as the right-hander has registered a 3.28 ERA this season and is under club control through 2020. Trading the 26-year-old would signal the Blue Jays are entering a full rebuild, which is contradictory to what Toronto’s front office has preached in recent weeks.

Chicago is in danger of missing the post-season altogether after its World Series victory in 2016. Entering play Monday, the Cubs trailed the Milwaukee Brewers by 4.5 games in the National League Central and the Colorado Rockies by 5.5 for the second wild-card spot. Last week’s Jose Quintana trade bolsters a starting pitching staff that has disappointed this season, but the reported interest in young arms may indicate Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer aren’t yet finished tinkering with the rotation.

Martinez sweepstakes picking up

The Detroit Tigers have been taking calls on outfielder J.D. Martinez and there have reportedly been plenty of suitors. The Rockies, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Kansas City Royals are all in the mix as potential trade partners for Detroit to consider.

Martinez was sidelined for the first month and a half of the season with a sprained foot, but has been very productive since his return, hitting 16 home runs and posting a 1.025 OPS in 56 games. The Miami native is in the final year of his contract, so the return Detroit would potentially receive may be hampered by Martinez’s rental status. However, if there are enough teams expressing strong interest, a bidding war could net the Tigers a larger haul.

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Astros target relief help

The Houston Astros have the best record in the American League, but that doesn’t mean they are content with their current roster. Houston has been targeting relievers, with Tigers closer Justin Wilson reportedly on its radar.

Wilson has stabilized the ninth inning for the struggling Tigers, proving to be a reliable successor to Francisco Rodriguez, who struggled mightily out of the gate in 2017. Wilson, a left-hander, has made 37 appearances this season, pitching to a 2.29 ERA and picking up 10 saves, only blowing one of those opportunities.

Houston currently ranks sixth in the AL in terms of bullpen ERA, but sits first in total strikeouts and second in opponents batting average. All-star Chris Devenski has become one of the most fearsome relieves in MLB while Ken Giles, Luke Gregerson, Tony Sipp and Michael Feliz are strong options for manager A.J. Hinch to turn to. Brad Peacock could also potentially move back into the bullpen once some of the Astros’ injured starters return from the disabled list.

Adding Wilson would help make up for the loss of Will Harris, who recently landed on the DL with right shoulder inflammation. At full strength, that relief corps would be one of the strongest in baseball.

Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Justin Wilson. (David Dermer/AP)

Home run champ for the taking

It’s not often you can pick up a reigning home run champion in the middle of the summer, but that’s a very real possibility for any club looking for a power boost after the New York Yankees released Chris Carter last week.

Carter clubbed a National League-best 41 home runs last season with the Brewers, but struggled to produce for the Bronx Bombers through the first half of the season. In 62 games with the Yankees, the slugger hit eight home runs and posted a lowly .201 batting average.

With Carter’s services available for the taking, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports the Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics are considering bringing him in.

The Rangers already have a player of Carter’s skill set occupying first base in Mike Napoli, who has collected 20 home runs on the season, and highly regarded 23-year-old Joey Gallo has seen action there as well. Shin-Soo Choo has been Texas’s primary designated hitter, so it remains to be seen how exactly Carter would fit on the roster. Perhaps the Rangers would dangle Napoli as a trade piece if they were to acquire Carter.

Oakland has been trying to get younger, recently parting ways with veterans Trevor Plouffe and Stephen Vogt, so adding Carter would seem counterintuitive.