The rumor season is still several weeks from kicking in to high gear. Jim Duquette recently spoke to a handful of general managers and was told “there is zero trade talk going on around Major League Baseball right now.”
When teams start talking, or in some cases continue conversations, there could be a lot of movement in July as front offices search for ways to improve rosters or help speed up a rebuild process.
Dan O’Dowd, the Rockies’ former GM, took a look at trades he thinks could benefit five surprise contenders … the Mets, Astros, Twins, Rays and Cubs. And O’Dowd pointed to Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer making deals with the A’s and Phillies as two ways to help the pitching staff.
Dan O’Dowd thinks trading for LHP Scott Kazmir and RHP Jonathan Papelbon will help two areas without costing them much in terms of players. According to O’Dowd, the A’s and Phillies would not cost “that much in terms of talent as long as Chicago agrees to pay the money” left owed to both players.
O’Dowd explained that by acquiring Scott Kazmir, the Cubs could move Travis Wood to a swing-role, leaving Kyle Hendricks in the rotation. And by adding Jonathan Papelbon, Hector Rondon could be used as a setup man.
The Cubs figure to be connected to Scott Kazmir, along with several other teams, but Jonathan Papelbon’s contract might keep teams from trading for him unless the Phillies are willing to kick in a lot of money.
Once Billy Beane pulls the plug on the season and starts trading his players, Scott Kazmir figures to be a hot commodity on the trade market. The A’s are 13-23, 8 1/2 games back of the first place Astros and are 2-8 in their last 10 games.
Scott Kazmir is a free agent at the end of the season and makes $11 million this year, the second of a two-year contract ($7 million in 2014, $11 million in 2015, $4 million signing bonus) he inked with Oakland in December 2013. Kazmir’s contract calls for him to receive a $500,000 bonus if he is traded and includes a $50,000 bonus if he makes the All-Star team.
Kazmir has really gotten his career back on track after not pitching in the majors in 2012. Kazmir was 15-9 in 32 starts for Oakland last year with a 3.55 ERA, a 1.16 WHIP and 3.35 WHIP. Kazmir allowed 171 hits with 50 walks and 164 strikeouts in 190 1/3 innings. Kazmir faded after the All-Star break, which should be a concern for any team looking to trade for him this season.
In his last 13 starts of 2014, Kazmir was 4-6 with a 5.42 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP thanks to a horrible August. Kazmir gave up 26 runs on 38 hits with 12 walks and 16 strikeouts in 30 innings in August (7.80 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, teams hit .319 against him).
Scott Kazmir has been very good in his first seven starts of the season. Kazmir is 2-1 with a 2.78 ERA, a 1.06 WHIP and 3.89 FIP. Kazmir has allowed 32 hits with 16 walks and 43 strikeouts in 45 1/3 innings.
There is an obvious connection to Joe Maddon and Dave Martinez from their time together in Tampa (2006-09). Kazmir had two of his best seasons with Maddon as his manager (2006, 2008). And if the Cubs acquired Kazmir, he would be reunited with two staff mates from the second half of last season, Jon Lester and Jason Hammel.
RHP Jonathan Papelbon is one of several players the Phillies are expected to trade prior to the deadline. But the same was said last year when it was obvious to everyone except Ruben Amaro Jr. that he needed to start the rebuild process. The Phillies are really struggling and are 12-23 on the season, 8 1/2 games back of the Mets.
Trading for anyone currently on the Phillies’ roster might prove to be rather challenging. Amaro Jr. is on record that he is not giving any of his players away and expects full value in return. If the Phillies actually make any deals before the deadline it could be a rather busy July for Ruben Amaro Jr. and the front office.
Jonathan Papelbon has pitched well in 14 appearances out of the Phillies’ pen. Papelbon has allowed two earned runs on 10 hits with four walks and 16 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings. Papelbon has a history with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. Papelbon left Boston after the 2011 season and even with all of the issues going on with the Red Sox at the time it is doubtful Epstein would have re-signed him because of the payday he was looking for on the open market.
Papelbon signed a four-year, $50 million contract with the Phillies that includes a vesting option for 2016 worth $13 million. Papelbon is owed the remainder of $13 million for this season and is very close to turning the option into a guaranteed fifth and final year of the contract. The option kicks in if Papelbon finishes 55 games this season (2015) or 100 games combined in 2014-15.
Of the 66 games he appeared in last season, Papelbon finished 52 of them. He has finished 13 of the 14 games he has pitched in this year. Papelbon is within finishing 35 games of receiving $13 million for the 2016 season. Papelbon picked up his seventh save of the season Wednesday and become the Phillies’ All-Time saves leader. Papelbon has saved 113 games with Philadelphia.
Jonathan Papelbon has a limited no-trade clause and can block deals to 17 teams.
If the Cubs keep playing good ball and stay in the mix for a spot in the post-season, it is believed the front office will attempt to improve the roster. The obvious need for the Cubs right now is in the starting staff and bullpen, but making trades this early in the season seldom happen. As long as the Cubs keep winning games, the rumors will get louder because one of the deepest organizations in the game has the pieces in the farm system to improve the big league team.