7/30/2013 1:25 A.M. ET
Deadline Chatter: White Sox staying put?
After dealing Crain to Rays, South Siders' next step unclear
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com
The countdown to the non-waiver Trade Deadline is under 48 hours, and things are getting hectic. Rumors are turning into actual moves, with several players changing teams during the day Monday.
From now until the Deadline, which is Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET, we'll be checking in on the trade news around baseball, with help from MLB.com's reporters.
Peavy, Rios could stay put: It seems that the White Sox may have more influence than any other club on just how big the deals are before the Deadline. Chicago holds two of the most coveted players, outfielder Alex Rios and pitcher Jake Peavy, but it's starting to look like they may both stay put.
Or will they?
MLB.com's Scott Merkin reports that general manager Rick Hahn is making it sound as though he's not in a hurry to deal Peavy or Rios. Both players are under contract to Chicago for 2014, and that factors into Hahn's thinking. While on the one hand that could mean their value to another team is increased, it also means that Chicago would have to replace them in '14 if they were dealt.
It's worth remembering that no GM worth his salt is going to say that he's desperate to move a player. That's Leverage 101. So the Sox could still move Peavy or Rios, either this week or in the winter. But it's also possible that they don't make any more big moves.
If Peavy truly is off the market, that might send teams looking at other rotation options such as Bud Norris or Ervin Santana. Then again, the Royals may not move Santana, either. It looks a lot like a seller's market right now, especially as concerns starting pitching.
Pence in demand again: Outfielder Hunter Pence has moved each of the past two Julys, and he has a chance of making it three for three. CBSSports.com reported that the Giants would move Pence, but only at a steep price.
MLB.com's Chris Haft reported that Pence is one Giant who could move, along with reliever Javier Lopez, since he's a free agent at the end of the year. But Pence, who is having a solid year, joins Rios as one of the most desirable hitters on the market and thus wouldn't come cheap.
One report pegged the Reds as suitors, but MLB.com's Mark Sheldon doesn't see that as a fit. Sheldon notes that Cincinnati will soon be getting a similar player to Pence in Ryan Ludwick -- an athletic, right-handed-hitting outfielder with power and a strong clubhouse presence.
So while the Reds surely could use a bat, Pence would be an odd fit for them. That doesn't mean Cincinnati isn't shopping; just that the match with the Giants is difficult to envision.
Rays land a reliever: The White Sox did do one deal on Monday, but it was smaller. Chicago sent reliever Jesse Crain to the Rays, who are usually one of the quieter teams at this time of year. It was a somewhat creative deal, reflecting both teams' desire to get something done.
A Tampa Bay team with few major needs made what could be a very nice peripheral upgrade in acquiring Crain. The return is being called "future considerations," which could be a player or could be cash, or both.
With Crain still rehabbing from a shoulder injury, he's not without some risk. Keeping the return flexible can help cover both clubs depending on how the next two months go for Crain.
With a deep rotation, an offense that's been clicking for nearly three months, and now a bolstered bullpen, Tampa Bay may be done dealing. It remains to be seen whether Chicago is also finished, since the White Sox still have some pieces that might be of real interest to contenders.
Morning moves for Veras, Downs: It's been true for decades: there's nothing easier to fix at the Deadline than a bullpen, and Monday's movement fit in with that wisdom. Before Crain was dealt, Scott Downs and Jose Veras also changed addresses.
Downs, whom the Angels traded for reliever Cory Rasmus, fills a very specific need for the Braves. Atlanta lost its top two lefty relievers to Tommy John surgery, and while Luis Avilan has pitched admirably, Downs immediately becomes Atlanta's primary left-handed specialist, and he earned the win in his first game with the Braves, a 10-inning, 9-8 win over the Rockies on Monday.
Veras goes from Houston to Detroit, and from closing to setting up. Still, he adds depth to a bullpen that has scrambled for much of the year, providing another option in front of Joaquin Benoit.
All for the Angels? With Downs out the door, the Angels may be done dealing. Los Angeles won't be doing any kind of full-on sell-off, not with a team built to win in the short term with Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. On the other hand, the standings make it clear that they also can't afford to bring in any rental players.
So while Yahoo! Sports reported over the weekend that Howie Kendrick and/or Erick Aybar might be made available by the Halos, it's likely that a move like that will wait until the offseason. MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez reported Monday that the Angels aren't completely closed for business, but neither are they especially motivated to do anything else.
Instead, once the winter comes, they'll look at whatever it takes to rebuild a rotation that has been a significant disappointment. And if that takes parting with one of their starting middle infielders, so be it. But for now, that kind of move seems improbable.
Speaking of relievers: The Brewers still have some to part with. Adam McCalvy of MLB.com wrote Monday that bullpenners John Axford and Mike Gonzalez could be on the block.
Axford, 30, hasn't been as effective the past couple of years as he was in 2010-2011, but he has strikeout stuff and closing experience, and that combination tends to draw attention at this time of year. Gonzalez, 35, is still tough on lefties but probably should be kept to specialist duty.
One team that might well call Milwaukee about Gonzalez is Cleveland, which is seeking lefty relief help. MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports that the Indians have interest in Javier Lopez, who is having a better year, but it remains to be seen what exactly the Giants will do before Wednesday.
And one more reliever: There's one reliever with a nice résumé who could be available without giving up any talent. Brian Wilson, he of the 171 career saves, is apparently getting close to being able to pitch for a big league team.
Wilson has missed most of the year following a second Tommy John surgery, but reportedly he could be ready soon. According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Wilson has offers from five teams.
He lists Arizona as one of those clubs, but MLB.com's Steve Gilbert reports that the D-Backs are not in on Wilson. Arizona could use relief help, but Gilbert reports that the aim is more for a lefty than a right-hander.
Bay is available: He may not draw a huge amount of attention, but Jason Bay is the kind of piece that some contending club might find intriguing. And he's now available.
Bay was designated for assignment by the Mariners on Monday as Seattle activated Michael Morse from the disabled list. It hasn't been a great year for Bay by any means, but he has six homers in 106 at-bats against lefties while playing half his games at Safeco Field.
Seattle has 10 days to trade Bay, release him, or send him outright to the Minor Leagues.
As for Morse, he could be a valuable trade chip if the Mariners were to decide to sell. He is eligible for free agency this winter, and having him healthy again at least makes it a possibility to move him. But it sounds as though Seattle does not intend to part with any major pieces between now and the Deadline.
Matthew Leach is a national reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.