Matt Kemp wants to be the Dodgers’ center fielder or he’s open to being traded

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Matt Kemp wants to be the Dodgers’ starting center fielder again and if they aren’t willing to grant him that request he’s open to a trade, agent Dave Stewart revealed to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.

Here’s an exact quote from Stewart, just for proper context:

Whatever they want to do we’re favorable to, as long as it gives him an opportunity to play every day. He’d like to eventually go back to center field. He’s not opposed to right or left. But his hope at some point is to get back to center.

Certainly nowhere near a trade request–and the rest of Rosenthal’s article pushing the potential trade angle is actually quote-free–but there’s absolutely zero indication that the Dodgers have any plans to move Kemp back to center field, so if that’s going to be a sticking point in the future the issue will come to a head eventually.

Kemp hasn’t started a game in center field since mid-May, when manager Don Mattingly determined that the 29-year-old’s defense is no longer suitable for the position. He’s hit decently in 42 games as a left fielder, batting .279 with three homers and a .751 OPS, but Kemp’s defense there has hardly screamed “this guy is still probably a really good center fielder!”

Kemp is making $21 million this season and is owned another $21 million in 2015 followed by $21.5 million per season from 2016-2019. He signed the eight-year, $160 million contract extension in November of 2011, after finishing runner-up in the MVP balloting to Ryan Braun. That year he hit .324 with a .986 OPS, but since signing the deal he’s hit .283 with an .811 OPS while missing 156 of a possible 421 games.

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).