Report: Johnny Cueto could be the Astros’ top trade target

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Dallas Keuchel is set to start the All-Star Game for the American League on Tuesday, but the Astros could sure use some help around him. According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Astros are aiming high in their efforts for a rotation upgrade:

The Astros have keen trade interest in Reds starter Johnny Cueto, and it appears he may even be their top target, if as expected Cueto hits trade market soon, people familiar with their thinking say.

Cueto, an impending free agent, owns a 2.73 ERA and 113/22 K/BB ratio in 118 2/3 innings over 17 starts this season. The 29-year-old is owed around $5 million the rest of the way. With the Reds looking like obvious sellers, he’s a logical candidate to be moved by the non-waiver trade deadline on July 31.

Heyman notes that there is an uneasy relationship between Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and Reds general manager Walt Jocketty from their time together in St. Louis. However, it’s unlikely that their past would prevent a deal from coming together.

Interestingly, while Cueto is apparently a top priority for the Astros, Heyman writes that Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels doesn’t appear to be on their radar. Previous reports have indicated that Hamels wouldn’t be willing to waive his no-trade clause to go to Houston, but he’s also a different situation than Cueto in that he’s making $22.5 million this year with $73.5 million guaranteed from 2016-2018. Picking up his $20 million option for 2019 could potentially sweeten the pot, but it’s understandable why making a deal for Cueto could be more appealing.

Brewers have 3 positive COVID tests at alternate site

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
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MILWAUKEE — The Brewers had two players and a staff member test positive for the coronavirus at their alternate training site in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Milwaukee president of baseball operations David Stearns confirmed the positive results Saturday and said they shouldn’t impact the major league team. Teams are using alternate training sites this season to keep reserve players sharp because the minor league season was canceled due to the pandemic.

Stearns said the positive tests came Monday and did not name the two players or the staff member. Players must give their permission for their names to be revealed after positive tests.

The entire camp was placed in quarantine.

“We have gone through contact tracing,” Stearns said. “We do not believe it will have any impact at all on our major league team. We’ve been fortunate to get through this season relatively unscathed in this area. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get all the way there at our alternate site.”

Milwaukee entered Saturday one game behind the Reds and Cardinals for second place in the NL Central, with the top two teams qualifying for the postseason.

The Brewers still will be able to take taxi squad players with them on the team’s trip to Cincinnati and St. Louis in the final week of the season. He said those players have had repeated negative tests and the team is “confident” there would be no possible spread of the virus.

“Because of the nature of who these individuals were, it’s really not going to affect the quarantine group at all,” Stearns said. “We’re very fortunate that the group of players who could potentially be on a postseason roster for us aren’t interacting all that much with the individuals that tested positive.”