Ben Cherington denies the Youkilis trade reports

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Danny Knobler of CBS Sports.com reported today that the Red Sox are saying they’re definitely looking to trade Kevin Youkilis. GM Ben Cherington, however, is denying that:

General manager Ben Cherington denied a report that the Red Sox were telling teams they “definitely intend to trade” Kevin Youkilis.

“That’s inaccurate,” Cherington e-mailed WEEI.com Friday afternoon. “Some teams have checked in on him. We haven’t told any teams we plan to trade him. It’s our job to listen if teams have interest. He’s swinging the bat well since coming off the DL and [is] a big part of our team and lineup.”

OK, well, if I was running a team and I had a guy I wanted to trade I’d act like I didn’t want to trade him either. And it’s worth noting that, among the guys in the rumors game, Knobler doesn’t whiff all that often.

My guess is that someone on the team is giving him the straight dope and Cherington is making sure to (a) be diplomatic in the interests of not making Youkilis feel unwanted; and (b) is trying to make the team sound less interested in moving Youk for purposes of leverage preservation.

Francisco Rodriguez is being sued by his former landlord

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John Wisely of the Detroit Free Press reports that current free agent reliever Francisco Rodriguez is being sued by his former landlord for damage to the rented property as well as missing artwork. The landlord is asking for $80,000 after having kept Rodriguez’s $15,000 security deposit.

The lawsuit says that Rodriguez damaged a bedroom TV, a crystal floor lamp, glass shelves in the bar, glass tiles in the master bath, and a Moroccan mirror in the powder room. Additionally, the suit claims that the bedding is stained and paint has chipped, as well as other damages. And the piece of art that is allegedly missing, which depicts a tiger, is valued at more than $10,000.

Rodriguez has not yet been served with the suit, but the landlord has been speaking to his managers.

The Nationals released Rodriguez, 35, two weeks ago after having signed him to a minor league contract in late June. He started the season with the Tigers, but struggled to a 7.82 ERA over 25 1/3 innings before being released.

Report: Rays acquire Lucas Duda from the Mets

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MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports that the Rays have acquired first baseman Lucas Duda from the Mets. The Mets will receive pitching prospect Drew Smith in return, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

Duda, 31, is batting .246/.347/.532 with 17 home runs and 37 RBI in 291 plate appearances for the Mets this season. He’ll provide a potent bat in the Rays’ lineup as they attempt to overcome their current 2.5-game deficit in the AL East.

Smith, 23, is the Rays’ No. 30 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He ascended from High-A to Triple-A already this season, posting an aggregate 1.60 ERA with a 40/9 K/BB ratio over 45 innings across four stops with High-A Lakeland (Tigers), High-A Charlotte (Rays), Double-A Montgomery, and Triple-A Durham.