ESPN releases the first-half Sunday Night Baseball schedule

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The Sunday Night Baseball schedule for the first half of the season has been released, and it breaks down thusly:

April 3:   San Francisco at Los Angeles Dodgers (ESPN2)
April 10:  N.Y. Yankees at Boston
April 17:  Texas at N.Y. Yankees
April 24:  Cincinnati at St. Louis
May 1:  N.Y. Mets at Philadelphia
May 8:  Atlanta at Philadelphia
May 15:  Boston at N.Y. Yankees
May 22:  Chicago Cubs at Boston
May 29:  Cincinnati at Atlanta (ESPN2)
June 5-July 3 TBD
July 10: N.Y. Mets at San Francisco
July 17:  Boston at Tampa Bay

Six of 11 of the named games don’t include the Yankees or the Red Sox. I think this is actually an improvement over years past. Of course, there are, like, five games there in June in that “TBD” row which could more than uneven that out. UPDATE: Orioles’ outfielder Adam Jones says the lack of O’s games on Sunday night is “lame az hell.”

Ah, who cares. MLB.tv is good and cheap. If you get sick of ESPN shoving the Yankees and Red Sox down your throat on Sundays you can watch anyone else the rest of the week to make up for it.

The Astros’ pursuit of Sonny Gray is “heating up”

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Jon Morosi of MLB Networks reports that talks are “heating up” between the Astros and Athletics on a Sonny Gray trade. Gray, obviously, would represent a big upgrade for the Astros’ rotation. He has a 3.66 ERA and has struck out 85 batters while walking 28 in 91 innings.

Morosi adds that Gray is not the only option for the Astros, as they are also talking to the Tigers about a potential acquisition of Justin Verlander and Justin Wilson. That would obviously be a much tougher deal to negotiate given Verlander’s 10/5 rights giving him veto power over any trade, not to mention the massive amount of money he’s still owed on his contract.

Also: I’m pretty sure that it’s in the MLB rules that any trade between the Tigers and the Astros has to involve Brad Ausmus, C.J. Nitkowski and Jose Lima, and that’s not possible given their current occupations and/or their deaths in 2010.

Marlins trade David Phelps to the Mariners for four prospects

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The Miami Marlins have sent reliever David Phelps to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for four prospects. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand and Ken Rosenthal had rumors of the deal first, Jon Morosi, Jeff Passan and Jon Heyman (among others) all reported the trade at virtually the same time.

Phelps, 30, had a fantastic 2016 season, posting a 2.28 ERA in 64 games while striking out 11.8 batters per nine innings. He’s not been as strong this year, but he’s still been a solid setup man, posting a 3.45 ERA in 44 games while striking out 51 batters and walking 21 in 47 innings. He throws in the mid-90s and induces grounders. The Mariners could probably use rotation help more than bullpen help, but solid innings are solid innings at one point and improving your pen takes some of the pressure off of your rotation. Phelps will help Seattle with that. He’s under team control for next year too, so this is more than a rental.

The top prospect in the deal is Brayan Hernandez, a 19 year-old outfielder from Venezuela, currently playing in low-A ball. Also in the deal: righty Brandon Miller, righty Pablo Lopez and righty Lucas Schiraldi who, yes, is the son of ex-big leaguer Calvin Schiraldi. None of these guys are blue chippers, but you never know what’ll happen. It’s a volume return for the Fish.

We’ve already seen some big bullpen names move, including David Robertson, Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson. Among others who could be moved:  A.J. Ramos (Marlins); Justin Wilson (Tigers); Addison Reed (Mets); Jerry Blevins (Mets); Brad Hand (Padres); Tony Watson (Pirates); Juan Nicasio (Pirates); Brad Brach (Orioles); Drew Storen (Reds); and Raisel Iglesias (Reds).