Jon Lester

The State of the Trade Deadline: Yesterday was pretty sleepy. Will general managers wake up today?

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Justin Masterson was traded yesterday. And beyond that it was nothin’ but rumors. Jon Lester and John Lackey are still Red Sox. The Phillies have unloaded no one despite needing to unload just about everyone. Teams like the Brewers and Mariners, who are in tough races and have a need, have been silent. Teams like the Dodgers, who could probably disrupt everyone’s plans if they wanted to, are still quiet too.

That’s somewhat baffling, but here’s where we stand, less than eight hours until the trade deadline:

Jon Lester: There were rumors yesterday afternoon that the Orioles were closing in on a deal for Lester, but nothing happened. The Dodgers are apparently out. The Cardinals were allegedly in before picking up Masterson, but who knows if they still are now. My personal favorite here — the Pirates — has the sort of minor league talent the Sox likely want in return. But you have to figure Pittsburgh is not serious about a long-term extension for Lester, thereby making them balk at unloading the prospect truck. This one could go to the wire.

David Price: He had a bad game yesterday, losing to the Brewers, but I think he can be forgiven for that. The Rays conundrum here is that they’ve been winning lately and it’s really hard to sell off your best player when the fans think you’re contending. But do the Rays themselves think they’re contending? For as hot as they’ve been, there are still many clubs ahead of them in the standings, both in the AL East and the wild card. Mathematically, they still have a less-than-10 percent chance of making the playoffs. Can they forego a big prospect haul for that less-than-10 percent chance? I don’t think I could. If they don’t trade him today, they can’t expect to get nearly as good a deal in August. He won’t clear waivers, in all likelihood, thereby limiting the number of teams to whom the Rays can shop him. It’s gut-check time for the Rays’ front office.

[MORE: 30 seconds to know about the Trade Deadline]

Marlon Byrd: There aren’t a lot of decent bats on the market, making Byrd look like the best one by default. At least the most powerful one, as has 20 homers and a .477 slugging percentage at the break. The Mariners were long thought to be a favorite for Byrd, but they dropped out of the bidding yesterday afternoon. That could just be the Mariners being weird. Or it could be the Phillies being in denial. They have to unload players and Byrd is likely the most marketable one they have. Is Ruben Amaro holding out for too much? Will other teams with offensive needs — say, the Yankees or Royals — sweep in and get a late bargain today?

[MORE: Mariners out on Byrd]

John Lackey: It was reported yesterday that there was a “very good chance” Lackey would be traded by today’s deadline. The Marlins were said to be talking to Boston about him yesterday, but that doesn’t’ seem to be serious. Given that Lackey has a $500,000 team option for next season and given that he’s still a more-than-solid starter, just about every team should be interested in his services. To be honest, though, I have no idea why the Red Sox would want to deal him, so you have to figure they’ll be asking a lot for their bargain basement starter.

[MORE: Lackey to Marlins? Probably not]

Alex Rios: The other prominent bat on the market. He was hit by a pitch and left yesterday’s game, so that may scare people, but it doesn’t seem like a big deal. Rios’ speed and better defensive value may make him a better option than Byrd. He’s also someone who can walk after this season, under contract for what’s left of his $12.5 million this year and a club option for $13.5 million in 2015. The Mariners may have shifted focus to him.

Joaquin Benoit: Relievers are always a hot commodity at the deadline, and Benoit should be the hottest. For one thing, he’s been great this year. For another he has shown that he can and will close or set up, depending on your needs. Finally, the Padres have a “yard sale” sign set up outside of Petco Park so you have to figure they’re talking to people. They were rumored yesterday to be talking to the Dodgers, but it’s unclear how serious that is. Really, everyone needs bullpen help down the stretch, so anyone could snag him.

The Phillies: Byrd, Bastardo, A.J. Burnett, Papelbon, Lee and even Howard and Hamels have been in rumors. Still the Phillies have made no moves. This despite needing to turn the page on this era and think about the future. If nothing happens in Philly, things could get ugly.

As always, keep it on HBT all day, as we will be updating constantly, keeping you up on everything that happens between now and the 4PM Eastern deadline.

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

Screenshot 2016-02-07 at 10.16.43 AM
Elsa/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.

Video: 2016 will be a season to remember

Carlos+Correa+Houston+Astros+v+Arizona+Diamondbacks+Ctyu5RiU3SWl
Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.

It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.