The MLB trade deadline is less than a month away and the rumours are starting to fly. Here is some of the biggest buzz from around the majors.
Blue Jays scout Gray
The Skinny: The Toronto Blue Jays were among the teams to scout Oakland Athletics pitcher Sonny Gray earlier this week, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Scouts from the Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins were also in attendance.
Analysis: While Gray is certainly an intriguing piece, the Blue Jays are more than likely just doing their due diligence in scouting any arms that may end up on the trade market. The presence of a scout does not mean the clubs are engaging in negotiations, especially when the two teams are set to play each other soon.
After pulling off the blockbuster Josh Donaldson trade in the 2014 off-season, Oakland may also be wary of partnering with Toronto in another major deal. Additionally, the Blue Jays may not want to empty their prospect cabinet after trading away 11 pitching prospects this time last year. A starting pitcher like Gray is probably an unrealistic target for Ross Atkins and the rest of his staff at the moment.
Gray is having a disappointing first half of the 2016 campaign, but the former first-round pick finished third in American League Cy Young voting last season. If a team is able to pry him out of the Bay Area at the end of the month, they would acquire a front-line starter with sky-high potential.
Yankees willing to move big names?
The Skinny: The New York Yankees are fielding calls on a number of players, including relievers Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman and are prepared to listen to offers on the likes of Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, Brett Gardner and others, as per ESPN's Buster Olney.
Analysis: The Yankees are in an unfamiliar position at this year's trade deadline. Now 7.5 games back in the AL East and 5.5 games out of a Wild Card position, they have to consider selling. It is believed the Yankees are trying to shuffle the deck in an effort to prepare for the highly anticipated 2018 free agent class, which could see a number of the league's superstars test the market.
Miller is probably the most attractive trade chip of the bunch as the all-star is one of the premier relief pitchers in MLB and is due to make a fairly team-friendly $9 million in each of the next two seasons. Chapman has had no trouble transitioning to the American League East as the hard-throwing lefty has amassed 17 saves while striking out 34 batters over 23 innings.
Beltran is in the midst of a renaissance season, batting .293 with 19 home runs. Clubs eyeing a proven playoff performer need look no further than the 39-year-old switch-hitter. Over 52 post-season games, Beltran boasts an OPS of 1.115 and would be a nice addition to a team with legitimate World Series aspirations.
Rangers in talks to bolster rotation
The Skinny: The Texas Rangers have been in contact with the Tampa Bay Rays regarding starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi, ESPN's Jim Bowden tweets. Texas has also recently been linked to veteran hurler Ervin Santana of the Minnesota Twins.
Analysis: The Rangers currently boast the top record in the American League and appear poised to add some pieces to fuel a deep post-season run. Jeff Banister's club has been firing on all cylinders as the offence ranks fourth in the American League in runs scored, while the starting pitching sits third in ERA. However, the injury bug has hit the Texas rotation hard recently with Yu Darvish, Colby Lewis and Derek Holland all landing on the disabled list. Suddenly that group of starters doesn't look so sturdy behind ace Cole Hamels.
Adding Odorizzi would give the Rangers a boost as the 26-year-old has shown promise with a 3.89 ERA over his young career. The right-hander has not played up to expectations so far this year, but is a cost-effective, controllable arm who isn't set to hit free agency until after the 2019 season. Would the small market Rays be willing to part with a cheap starter with high potential? As per Bowden, Tampa Bay would be looking for a young, impact bat in return. The Rangers could offer a package centred around one of Jurickson Profar, Joey Gallo or Lewis Brinson in an effort to land Odorizzi.
Santana is an unusual target for Texas as he is a fly ball pitcher who wouldn't figure to suit the homer-friendly Globe Life Park. Furthermore, the Dominican Republic native is putting together a lacklustre campaign for the last-place Twins and is still owed $27 million over the next two seasons.
Royals and Athletics looking to swing a deal?
Analysis: The Royals have been one of baseball's streakiest teams to this point in the season, and the starting rotation is mostly to blame for the inconsistency. Entering Saturday's action, Kansas City's starters have pitched the third fewest innings in MLB. The bullpen remains a strength, but has suffered a major blow with Wade Davis's recent trip to the disabled list due to a forearm strain. Adding a resurgent Hill and his 2.25 ERA would help reduce the relievers' workload.
Current right-fielder Paulo Orlando is enjoying a strong 2016, posting a batting line of .325/.349/.420 but doesn't offer much in the way of power for a Royals squad that has hit fewer home runs than any other team in the AL. Reddick, who is set to become a free agent at the end of this season, could bring some more thunder to Kansas City's lineup.
The teams partnered up on a deal last summer, when the Royals acquired Ben Zobrist from Oakland.