Various trade rumors have been alive and well for quite some time, but there have been some new developments over the weekend regarding the Washington Nationals and Toronto Blue Jays.
The Nationals' bullpen ERA ranks 20th in the MLB, although closer Drew Storen is one of the best in the league having compiled a 1-0 record and 19 saves with a 1.11 ERA and 0.781 WHIP in 25 games (24 1/3 innings). However, that hasn't stopped the Nats from exploring the trade market for closers.
Washington has contacted the Cincinnati Reds regarding the availability of closer Aroldis Chapman, according to FOX Sports' Jon Morosi. No deal is close and the trade talks are said to be preliminary. Chapman, 27, is the subject of early trade rumors because the Reds could be a seller at the deadline if their postseason hopes further dwindle between now and late July.
He's under contract through the 2016 season, so Cincinnati could get good value in return for his services. But as of right now, the Reds aren't ready to part ways with some of their top players.
"The only opinion that matters, though, is the one belonging to owner Bob Castellini, and Castellini, from what I'm told, still is not read to concede," says FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal. "Now, most in the organization understand that the team needs to move pieces such as Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Aroldis Chapman and Jay Bruce. The trick now is convincing Castellini that is the direction to go and the team should not be reluctant to act even before hosting the All-Star Game."
The Nats lost reliever Craig Stammen for the season and the team traded away Tyler Clippard and Jerry Blevins in the offseason, which has clearly affected the bullpen.
The Oakland Athletics are in a similar situation as the Reds. They have fallen behind and still sit in last place of the AL West, but general manager Billy Beane is not ready to give up just yet. They have a number of players who have been the subject of trade rumors, such as Ben Zobrist, Scott Kazmir and Tyler Clippard, and they're guaranteed to provide the A's with assets.
"The A's have performed well by run differential as well as the BaseRuns metric used by FanGraphs. However, they are 13 games below .500 and 10 games back in the AL West," writes Brad Johnson of MLBTradeRumors.com. "The bullpen is a serious issue. Other clubs are looking to snipe players like Ben Zobrist and Tyler Clippard. Expect GM Billy Beane to jump on a properly enticing offer."
The Blue Jays are the latest club to inquire about one of these players. They recently contacted Oakland regarding the availability of Clippard because they are looking to upgrade their bullpen, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. Toronto's relievers own a 3.56 ERA (17th in MLB) and just snapped their streak of 34 consecutive games without a save on Friday night.
The Jays have also been in contact with the Philadelphia Phillies regarding Jonathan Papelbon, but unless Philly is willing to cover a good portion of his salary, it's unlikely the two sides strike a deal because Toronto's payroll is said to be tight.
We'll have a better idea regarding the availability of Chapman and Clippard as we get closer to the trade deadline.