Rosenthal: What I’m hearing before the MLB trade deadline

Rosenthal: What I’m hearing before the MLB trade deadline

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It’s AJ Preller’s world, and the rest of the baseball industry is living in it.

Okay, maybe that’s an overstatement. But true to form, Preller is chasing a bewildering number of deals and at least one big move before Tuesday’s trade deadline at 6 pm ET.

Will right fielder Juan Soto be with the Nationals? Will the Cubs find relief for shortstop Willson Contreras, left fielder Ian Happ and possibly David Robertson? The Athletics for righty Frankie Montas and perhaps infielder Sean Murphy or outfielder Chad Pinder, all of whom played in Oakland for Padres manager Bob Melvin?

At this point, perhaps even Preller doesn’t know. At some point, major league sources say, he is exploring each of the above options. For Shohei Ohtani making a run against the Angels, no one in the industry expects the two-way star to make a move.

Other GMs keep their pulse on the market, but few are as innovative and aggressive as Preller. Some teams could take early action on players he’s interested in and close off some options for the Padres. Depending on the course Preller pursues, new avenues may open up for certain clubs.

The Preachers have trade possibilities, shortstop C.J. Abrams and outfielder Robert Hassell III for starters, but two high-ceiling players from the 2021 draft, shortstop Jackson Merrill and outfielder James Wood, are both from Maryland, making them relative locals. Citizens. Preller also has contracts he wants to move, most notably Eric Hosmer, who is owed $20 million this season and $39 million from 2023 to 2025.

The Padres and Cubs have talked about various concepts over the past 12 months, including last summer sending first baseman Hosmer and top prospect to Chicago for an indefinite return. If the Padres land Contreras, it could force the Mets to move on the JD Martinez-Christian Vazquez package from the Red Sox. But the Mets are exploring several other options, sources said.

In addition to the Padres, Montas is a target of the Twins, Yankees and Blue Jays (MLB.com’s John Paul Morosi first spotted the Jays’ interest.) The Astros are among the several clubs reportedly high on Contreras. According to one source, they are more focused on Vazquez.

The last hours will be intense. And Preller, as always, shows up to be in the middle of the action.

Mookie, Trey, Freddy… and Soto, too?


Freddie Freeman and Juan Soto (Geoff Burke/USA Today)

Don’t rule out the Dodgers on Soto. They were tied with the Nationals, and if the Padres pull off an upset elsewhere, LA could have an opening to pull off another deadline upset.

All of this assumes Preller is willing to settle for Soto (especially if he fears the Dodgers are in the mix) and the Nationals are actually willing to trade him (no one will know until Tuesday at 6 p.m.).

Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman keeps tabs on every big name, even when he was with the budget-minded Rays. A year ago, the Dodgers came seemingly out of nowhere to beat the Padres for Max Scherzer and Trea Turner. It would take a more substantial package to land Soto, but imagine if the Dodgers added him to a lineup that included Turner, Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman. Scary.

Brewers’ Hater: Really Available or Not?

The Brewers are rehearsing more work for closer Josh Hader. The conversations may be more than due diligence. But as the Brewers head into their fifth consecutive postseason appearance, their motivation to trade Hader may be increasing.

Three reasons:

• Hader’s $11 million salary could rise to $16 million next season in his final arbitration year before becoming a free agent.

• The choice to limit his appearances to one inning limits his value to the club and will be especially worrisome in the postseason.

• Devin Williams, who has struck out 47 in 28 2/3 innings and has 30 straight scoreless games, could replace Hader as the Brewers’ closer.

Hader, 28, bounced back from a difficult six-game hitting streak in his last four games to allow just one run, raising his ERA from 1.05 to 4.50. Trading him only makes sense if the Brewers can get the hitter they want, or young players to help fill a variety of needs.

For the Blue Jays, less interest

For all the talk about the Blue Jays’ need for a left-handed hitter, they entered Sunday ranked second in the majors in OPS against the right-handed pitcher and third in runs per game. They do not appear strongly in the mixture for Soto. They might not add a left-handed bat, instead focusing on swings and misses.

Any meaningful addition of a left-handed pitcher would likely require the Jays to trade a right-handed bat, a complex two-step process that would likely be difficult to pull off. The Jays also think about disrupting their chemistry. Right-handed hitting outfielders Teoscar Hernandez and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. are among the most popular players in their circle.

Don’t get caught up in labels

Neither the Giants nor the Red Sox can be pure sellers. Both teams will refuse to lose as their playoff chances hover around 20 percent, and both will want to bounce back quickly in 2023.

So the Red Sox look to the major leagues in return for rentals like designated hitter JD Martinez and catcher Christian Vazquez. And the Giants, despite moving some of their own hires — most notably left fielder Carlos Rodon and outfielder Joc Pederson — will focus on improving their major league athleticism and defensive shortstop.

The Rays are another club following their usual practice and considering all angles. For example, when they need offense, they can trade hitters like first baseman Ji-Man Choi.

The Astros, according to sources, are initially showing interest in Choi as a possible alternative to the obvious No. 1 pick, Nationals’ Josh Bell. The Rays are currently shorthanded with shortstop Wander Franco and outfielders Manuel Margot and Harold Ramirez on the injured list. But if they were to sell Choi, they would make other moves to make up for the loss, trying to build a better 13-man position-player squad.

around the horn

• Bell, a native of Dallas, Irving, Texas, told me it won’t affect business over the weekend to Houston. Bell and his wife, Leah, welcomed their first child, a daughter, Noo, in December. Houston is a 3 1/2-hour drive from Dallas, and Bell’s parents could better understand the kid if he spent the next few months of the season with the Astros. He is a potential free agent.

• Reds linebacker Brandon Drury is uncertain whether he has interest from multiple clubs. The Reds may want to explore an extension with Dorey, who turns 30 on Aug. 21 and hit his career-high 20th homer in a pinch on Sunday. Of course, the Reds could always trade Drury and sign him as a free agent. But if they move him, they only lose their right to negotiate with him until the market opens.

• The Rangers are among the teams expressing interest in the Athletics’ Murphy, but a deal is more likely this offseason than last season. If motivated enough, the A’s will move Murphy over the next two days. Otherwise, many teams prefer to wait until they are open to adding a hunter.

• And finally, national team midfielder Ihire Adrianza may one day be at the center of action on deadline day, but not as a player. Adrianza wants to be a general manager, and to that end he is taking sports management courses online at Miami-Dade College through the Honors College.

Classes are held on Mondays and Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. during the school year, but while those hours can be tough for a major leaguer, Adrianza said the job helps him take his mind off baseball.

(Top photo of Willson Contreras: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports)

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