Sifting through the rumors: Blue Jays – Halladay, Overbay and Bradley

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*The Yankees are expected to inquire about Roy Halladay, and new Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said trading within the AL East will “never be a stumbling block” for him.
The Red Sox figure to get back into the chase for Halladay is that’s the case. The Phillies still have the young talent to pull off a Halladay acquisition, though they may run into budget issues at some point. Also,’s Ken Rosenthal believes the Angels could again target Halladay, particularly if they fail to re-sign free agent John Lackey.
It makes all kinds of sense for the Jays to trade Halladay now. They’re big long shots for 2010 anyway, and there may well be more quality starters available at the trade deadline next year than there are in free agency right now. With Tim Hudson out of the mix, there’s a huge drop-off from John Lackey to Randy Wolf, Rich Harden and the rest of the free agent options.
The Yankees’ chances of landing Halladay would likely hinge on their willingness to part with Jesus Montero, who may well be the second biggest offensive talent in the minors behind Atlanta’s Jason Heyward. One of Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes would likely have to be involved as well. Hughes has the greater value of the two at this point, and it’s highly unlikely that the Bombers would part with both he and Montero. The packages that make the most sense are Chamberlain and Montero or Hughes plus outfielder Austin Jackson.
The Red Sox would probably be willing to part with Clay Buchholz if it would allow them to keep both Casey Kelly and Daniel Bard. The Jays, though, would likely insist on acquiring two of the three, particularly since most of the rest of Boston’s intriguing prospects are in the low minors. One exception is outfielder Josh Reddick, who could be positioned as a potential long-term replacement for Alex Rios.
The Jays would want three from the Phillies big four: J.A. Happ, Kyle Drabek, Dominic Brown and Michael Taylor. The Angels have less talent to part with than usual, though the Jays would presumably be very interested in Erick Aybar if he was made available. Mike Napoli, Brandon Wood and right-hander Jordan Walden would also be brought up in talks.
*Lyle Overbay, who was nearly traded back to Arizona for Chris Snyder last week is now a possibility for Seattle after the Mariners were turned down by their own free agent, Russell Branyan.
Perhaps this is nothing more than the Mariners trying to put some heat on Branyan, who is holding out for a two-year deal. Overbay’s name is getting kicked around everywhere else, so if the Mariners could figure that throwing their hat into the ring will cause Branyan to reconsider their offer of one year and an option.
If there’s actually something to the rumor, then outfielder Michael Saunders and infielder Matt Tuiasosopo could be possible returns for Overbay, who will earn $7 million next year and then become a free agent. The idea of going year to year with their first baseman is attractive to Seattle, since prospect Mike Carp isn’t far away. The Blue Jays are open to moving Overbay because they’re interested in installing Adam Lind at first base.
*The Toronto Sun’s Bob Elliott believes the Jays still have some interest in Milton Bradley and repeats the Bradley-Lyle Overbay-Luis Castillo rumor that made the rounds on Monday.
Bradley makes an awful lot of sense for the Jays if the Cubs are willing to pay a chunk of the $21 million he’s owed over the next two years. Bradley is being viewed as a liability because of that salary and maybe he is, but he just led the entire American League in OPS with the Rangers in 2008. With Overbay out of the picture, the Blue Jays would have the option of using him as a full-time DH or rotating him into the outfield when he’s healthy. There’s probably nothing to the three-team proposal involving the Mets, but Bradley is there for the taking if the Jays want him.

NL Wild Card Game: Cubs vs. Pirates lineups

Jake Arrieta

Here are the Cubs and Pirates lineups for tonight’s Wild Card game in Pittsburgh:

CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
LF Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
3B Tommy La Stella
2B Starlin Castro
C Miguel Montero
SS Addison Russell
SP Jake Arrieta

Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted Tommy La Stella in the lineup over Jorge Soler or Chris Coghlan, so he starts at third base and Kris Bryant shifts to left field. Bryant started just four games in left field all season, compared to 136 starts at third base. Also of note: After batting Addison Russell ninth–behind the pitcher–116 times this season Maddon has him in the more traditional eighth spot tonight.

RF Gregory Polanco
3B Josh Harrison
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Starling Marte
C Francisco Cervelli
2B Neil Walker
SS Jordy Mercer
1B Sean Rodriguez
SP Gerrit Cole

Pedro Alvarez started 119 games at first base for the Pirates and with right-hander Jake Arrieta on the mound he was the presumed starter tonight, but instead manager Clint Hurdle has benched the 27-homer slugger in favor of utility man Sean Rodriguez. Alvarez is vastly superior to Rodriguez offensively, especially versus a righty, but he’s also very shaky defensively. During the regular season Rodriguez started a grand total of one game at first base against a right-hander, so this qualifies as a hunch by Hurdle.

The Cardinals are optimistic about Yadier Molina’s status

St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina celebrates as he arrives home after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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Jenifer Langosch of reports that Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina‘s bum thumb responded well after participating in baseball activities Tuesday, including catching, hitting, blocking balls and the like.

This morning Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said that he’s now even more optimistic that Molina will be on the NLDS roster. The Cards’ first game will be Friday against the winner of tonight’s Cubs-Pirates tilt.

Having Molina would obviously be a boon for the Cardinals on the field. For a look at what Molina means to the Cardinals off the field, however, take some time to go read Derrick Goold’s excellent story about what Molina’s teammates think of him. Short version: the world. It’s worth your time, even if you’re not a citizen of Cardinals Nation.