Manny Acta on Indians’ need for trade deadline help: “That’s an understatement”

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Asked yesterday if he thinks the Indians need to make a move prior to the July 31 trade deadline, manager Manny Acta replied: “That’s an understatement.”

And that was before they lost to the Twins on a walk-off hit after taking a 1-0 lead into the ninth inning.

Here’s what Acta told Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

We know that from top to bottom. We’re working on it. People need to understand that it takes two to tango. You can have your Christmas list and your wishes, but you need someone else to engage with who is also going to work. It’s very easy to say go grab such and such. Go grab such and such. But they belong to somebody. It’s not like you’re going to a grocery store and grabbing something.

Shin-Soo Choo and Grady Sizemore are both on the disabled list, leaving the Indians short-handed in the outfield, and Hoynes reports that their “focus is on a middle-of-the-order right-handed hitter” and “they could use a starting pitcher as well.”

However, don’t expect the Indians to make any blockbuster deals. They’re contending a year or two sooner than expected, thanks largely to how pathetic the AL Central is right now, but Cleveland is highly unlikely to give up one of their top prospects to add veteran help.

If they’re willing to settle for a mid-rotation starter and a platoon bat, Acta and company should be able to find some dance partners.

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).