Matthew Pouliot

Justin Morneau

Pirates, Orioles likely to pass on Justin Morneau

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It sure sounds like Justin Morneau is more likely to be dealt in August than before Wednesday’s deadline.

According to John Perotto of the Beaver County Times, the Pirates have “next-to-zero” interest in Morneau as they weigh an upgrade at first base or in right field. Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun is among those reporting that the Orioles aren’t having any conversations regarding Morneau. They may be focused more on a cheaper option in Seattle’s Michael Morse.

It’s entirely possible that Morneau won’t be dealt at all. The Twins have little to gain for keeping him the rest of the season, but they may want him back, albeit at a significant paycut, for 2014.

The Rangers are even open to trading Matt Garza

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Texas Rangers
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That’s according to FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal. The Rangers will consider just about anything as they attempt to improve before the deadline. That means Elvis Andrus. It means Joe Nathan. And it means the newly acquired Matt Garza, who was just picked up from the Cubs for four prospects nine days ago.

Garza is 1-0 with a 1.88 ERA in two starts for his new team and 7-1 with a 2.95 ERA overall this season. If the Rangers traded him, it wouldn’t be a sign that they’re giving up on 2013; they’d want a big bat in return to put in their lineup alongside Adrian Beltre. Nelson Cruz is likely about to serve a 50-game Biogenesis suspension, and even with Cruz, the Rangers rank just ninth of the 15 AL teams in runs scored this year.

As for possible fits for Garza, it’s hard to come up with anything obvious. The Diamondbacks don’t have any expendable bats. The Rangers probably wouldn’t be all that interested in Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford from the Dodgers. A Garza-for-Carlos Beltran trade with the Cardinals might make sense if Oscar Taveras were healthy and ready to step into the St. Louis outfield, but he’s not. Garza to Atlanta for Justin Upton? Probably not. Garza to Baltimore for Nick Markakis? He’d be no lock to help the Rangers. Garza to Boston for Jacoby Ellsbury? That might have made a little sense before the Red Sox just got Jake Peavy, but not as is. Cleveland? It’d probably have to be a three-team deal with youngsters going elsewhere.

Blue Jays aim for Angels’ Howie Kendrick

Howie Kendrick
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2:32 p.m. EDT update: FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal hears that the Angels are likely to keep Kendrick since they haven’t been offered the kind of starting pitcher they want.

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Residing in last place with a 49-57 record in the AL East, the Blue Jays aren’t looking for any rentals at the trade deadline. However, they do have their eyes on the Angels’ Howie Kendrick, according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.cn.

Kendrick could fill the hole at second base that’s been a problem for Toronto this year. The Blue Jays recently tried Brett Lawrie there, only to quickly move him back to third. The 30-year-old Kendrick has hit .301/.344/.446 with 11 homers and 45 RBI in 395 at-bats for the Angels. He’s under control through 2015 and is owed about $22 million over the next 2 1/3 seasons, but he became a bit more expendable last night with the pickup of Grant Green in the Alberto Callaspo deal with Oakland.

In return for Kendrick, the Angels would certainly prefer young, cost-controlled starting pitching. The Jays don’t have a lot to offer, though, not with Brandon Morrow hurt yet again. Chad Jenkins, their most major league-ready pitcher in Triple-A, is also on the DL. They do have intriguing arms further away, but those might not be so tempting to an Angels team that will aim to contend in 2014. Infielder-outfielder Emilio Bonifacio would make sense as a lesser part in a deal, but not as the prime piece.