So, Jeremy Guthrie was July’s top pitching acquisition

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So far among AL starters anyway.

Jeremy Guthrie couldn’t solve Coors Field, but he appears to have found his comfort zone in Kansas City. The veteran right-hander backed up his eight shutout-inning performance against the White Sox last week with seven more scoreless innings Tuesday in a victory over the A’s.

Guthrie allowed just three hits and struck out eight tonight. He lost his first three starts as a member of the Royals, but he’s now sporting a 4.02 ERA and a 26/7 K/BB ratio in 31 1/3 innings for the club. That puts him ahead of July’s more hyped American League pitching imports:

Zack Greinke (LAA) – 1-1 with a 5.54 ERA in four starts
Ryan Dempster (Tex) – 1-1 with an 8.31 ERA in three starts
Francisco Liriano (ChW) – 0-0 with a 5.65 ERA in three starts
Anibal Sanchez (Det) – 1-3 with a 7.97 ERA in four starts

And all Guthrie cost the Royals was a soon-to-be released Jonathan Sanchez.

Given that Guthrie is eligible for free agency at season’s end, one wonders if the Royals will try offering him an extension before much longer. He was perfectly solid for the Orioles before washing out in Coors Field, so it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to offer him $12 million for two years and see if he bites.

Report: Padres interested in Maikel Franco

Philadelphia Phillies v Washington Nationals
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The Padres may have some interest in acquiring Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco, according to a recent report from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. It seems unlikely that the team would deal their starting third baseman with J.P. Crawford (fractured left hand) sidelined through July; to that end, however, they signed infielder Danny Espinosa as minor league depth on Friday and have reportedly been eying the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre, among other veteran options.

Franco, 25, entered Sunday batting .255/.297/.425 with nine home runs and a .721 OPS in 229 plate appearances this season. While he has yet to live up to the .280+ average, 1.9+ fWAR he posted during his rookie campaign, he’s been a solid 20+ home run producer over the last few years and shown some stability at the hot corner. He’s also under team control for the next three years and could provide some much-needed insurance behind the Padres’ current third base option, 27-year-old Christian Villanueva.

Rosenthal notes that the Phillies could strike a deal for one of San Diego’s relievers, though no one specific has been connected to the team yet — and the club probably wouldn’t be able to finesse a one-for-one deal given the quality of the Padres’ pitchers. The Phillies’ bullpen has looked downright abysmal over the last month, placing 11th-worst in the league with a collective 5.34 ERA and 0.3 fWAR. Their failure to procure a viable reliever beyond Seranthony Dominguez, Victor Arano and Edubray Ramos lends a certain urgency to any potential deal they make over the next few weeks, though the official trade deadline is still over a month away.