The Week Ahead: Last-minute trades

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You thought that was the deadline? Nope, THIS is the deadline.

The July 31 no-waiver trade deadline came and went, and yet trades could still be made as long as the key parts involved could make it through waivers, witness the Angels’ acquisition of Scott Kazmir.

But after Monday, even that door closes, at least as far as playoff rosters are concerned. For postseason contenders, it’s now or never as far as improving your team for the home stretch.

So who might go where before the final (and we really mean it) deadline? Here are a couple possible items to watch.

Rich Harden: The scoop is that the Twins made a claim when the Cubs’ flamethrower was put on waivers. The Twins haven’t confirmed that, nor have they denied it. But the addition of Harden to Minnesota, which is just 4 1/2 games behind the Tigers, would add some interest to the AL Central race.

While the teams don’t appear to be close to a deal, at least one source says the sides are talking.

Trevor Hoffman: The Giants reportedly put a claim in on the all-time saves leader, but is he really going anywhere? Aaron says San Francisco is just playing defense.

Brad Penny: The big righty was tossed aside by the Red Sox because he simply never panned out. So could he really end up in Oakland?


Braves at Marlins, Aug. 31-Sept. 3: Atlanta and Florida both enter the week 3 1/2 games behind in the NL wild card race. And who knows, if one of these teams sweeps, maybe they can get back into the divisional race as well.

Giants at Phillies, Sept. 1-3: The Giants had a great weekend, sweeping the Rockies to move into a tie for the NL wild card lead. But now they up the ante with three games against Philly.

Red Sox at Rays, Sept. 1-3: The Rays are in danger of falling out of the wild card race, so this will be a big series. It should be a fun one, as well, with Josh Beckett and Matt Garza facing off on Wednesday.

Cubs at Mets, Sept. 4-6: The last couple of seasons this would’ve been a huge series with playoff implications. This time around, it’s more about heaping helpings of frustration, angst and misery. Good times.

Red Sox at White Sox, Sept. 4-6: Ozzie Guillen’s club is coming off a horrible week, going 1-7 in Boston and New York. If there is any hope for the pale hose, they better get to work this week against first the Twins, then one makeup game vs. the Cubs, before the Red Sox come to town.


Wednesday, 7:08 p.m.: Red Sox at Rays (ESPN)
Wednesday, 10:10 p.m.: Diamondbacks at Dodgers (ESPN)
*Saturday, 4:10 p.m.: Rangers at Orioles (FOX)
*Saturday, 4:10 p.m.:  Red Sox at White Sox (FOX)
*Saturday, 4:10 p.m.:  Giants at Brewers (FOX)
Sunday, 2 p.m.: Red Sox at White Sox (TBS)
Sunday, 8:10 p.m.: Padres at Dodgers (ESPN)

*Check local listings


If you Twitter, you can find me there at @Bharks.

Blue Jays narrow GM search to two candidates: Tony LaCava and Ross Atkins

Tony LaCava
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Blue Jays have narrowed their search for a new general manager down to two candidates: current interim GM Tony LaCava, and Indians vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins. Former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos resigned last month.

LaCava was promoted to interim GM on November 2 and has already made a handful of moves along with new president Mark Shapiro. The club acquired Jesse Chavez in a trade and signed pitchers Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ to multi-year deals.

Atkins worked under Shapiro in the Indians organization for 15 seasons, so it is no surprise that he is a finalist for the open GM position.

The Diamondbacks met with Johnny Cueto’s agent

AP Photo/David Goldman
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Update (7:58 PM EST): Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart met with Cueto earlier this month in the Dominican Republic and made a contract offer that the right-hander turned down. The Diamondbacks maintain interest in the free agent.


Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Diamondbacks spoke with Bryce Dixon, the agent of free agent starter Johnny Cueto. However, Rosenthal notes that Cueto’s price tag is expected to exceed the Diamondbacks’ comfort level.

Cueto, 29, is one of a handful of highly touted starting pitchers in this offseason’s free agent class. He is joined by David Price and Zack Greinke, among others. Jordan Zimmermann inked a deal in the neighborhood of $110 million over five years with the Tigers on Sunday morning, which will serve as a barometer for Cueto.

Cueto finished the 2015 regular season, between the Reds and the Royals, with a 3.44 ERA and a 176/46 K/BB ratio over 212 innings. He made 13 shaky starts with the Royals, but outside of a shellacking in Game 3 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays, pitched well in the post-season. Cueto pitched a complete game in Game 2 of the World Series against the Mets, helping put the Royals up two games to none at the time.

As a result of switching teams during the season, Cueto was not eligible to receive a $15.8 million qualifying offer. This means that Cueto, unlike Zimmermann for example, does not come attached with draft pick compensation.

Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski is reportedly trying to trade Hanley Ramirez

Hanley Ramirez
AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File

Nick Cafardo provides this interesting nugget in his Sunday notes column at the Boston Globe

Hanley Ramirez, 1B-DH, Red Sox — There’s now talk in the front office that Dave Dombrowski is trying to move Ramirez in a deal. The Mariners, Orioles, and Angels seem to be the targets, and all three make sense.

Cafardo notes that “there are huge hurdles to cross” before a trade could happen — like how much of Hanley’s remaining salary the Red Sox would have to eat and what positions the soon-to-be 32-year-old is able to play defensively at this point in his career.

Boston’s higher-ups have asked Ramirez to learn first base and drop 20 pounds this winter. Whatever team is looking to acquire him would probably have to be comfortable with him serving primarily as a designated hitter.

Hanley is owed $68.2 million over the next three seasons and he carries a $22 million vesting option for 2019. He batted just .249/.291/.426 in 105 games this past year.

Ben Zobrist is the “Mets’ No. 1 target”

Ben Zobrist
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Ben Zobrist posted a cool .809 OPS (120 OPS+) in 126 games this summer between Oakland and Kansas City while appearing defensively at second base, third base, and both corner outfield positions.

His steady bat and defensive versatility make him a fit for just about every club in Major League Baseball, and the defending National League champions are among the teams in hot pursuit …

It’s a little odd to see the rebuilding Braves listed there given that Zobrist is 34 years old, but Rosenthal says the interest stems from a “desire for him to serve as [a] model for younger players” as the club prepares to open a new ballpark in 2017. Wasn’t that supposed to be Nick Markakis‘ job?

Zobrist and his agent Alan Nero are believed to be seeking a four-year deal.