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The Daily Bernie, 7/22/15: Oakland A's continuing talks with Mets on Zobrist

Talks between the A's and the Mets regarding super-utility man Ben Zobrist are starting to heat up, and the Cole Hamels market seems to be picking up as well, among other news.

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Welcome back to The Daily Bernie! It's the best dance in the game, so let's get rolling once more!

  • While nothing is imminent, conversations between the Mets and the A's have picked up, per Kristie Ackert of The New York Daily News. These talks, involving a deal that would send Ben Zobrist to New York, have reached the point where Oakland has identified prospects they would need in return. One name the two clubs discussed previously, per Jon Heyman of, is righty Rafael Montero. Montero has since suffered a shoulder injury, and is currently rehabbing. It is unknown if Oakland still has interest in the 24 year-old. One issue could be the Mets' ownership (absurdly) being hesitant to take on Zobrist's $3MM salary, according to Eddie Coleman of WFAN. Also, strangely, Ken Rosenthal has since reported that there are no ongoing talks between the two clubs. This situation will certainly be one to watch closely.
  • The Dodgers seem to be the team to watch as far as Cole Hamels goes, also per Heyman, but the Rangers also remain interested. The Rangers, at one point counted out of the race for Hamels, are very much back in it, and could very well be bidding against the Houston Astros, per Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News. I would give the edge to the Dodgers and Rangers, as they seem to have deeper farms and are more willing to part with their youth. I personally think Hamels will be a Dodger by the end of the month.
  • The Royals have optioned struggling righty Yordano Ventura to Triple-A, per Andy McCullough of The Kansas City Star. When the 24 year-old wasn't starting brawls, he was giving up runs - 5.19 per nine, to be exact. However, Ventura could find himself back in Kansas City very shortly, as Royals lefty Jason Vargas left his start on Tuesday night with an apparent injury.
  • Some notes from around the league: Dodgers lefty Brett Anderson left his start Tuesday with irritation in his left Achilles tendon (link) (didn't see that one coming); Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has no interest in being traded (link); the Astros have had preliminary talks with the Padres about acquiring righties Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross (link); the Pirates have shown interest in Zobrist, along with infielders Cliff Pennington and Clint Barmes (link); Jon Heyman lists plenty of other notes from around baseball (link) that are definitely worth a read.

Bernie's Daily Deal: Ben Zobrist to the New York Mets for Bartolo Colon, Gavin Cecchini, Michael Fulmer, and Matt Bowman

So the Mets are "hesitant" to take on any money? How about the A's take some on instead, then? The $2-3MM left on Zobrist contract would be swapped for the $5-6MM remaining on Bartolo's, making this trade possible for the Mets. The Mets reportedly covet Zobrist, who would slot in all around the infield and outfield. Losing Bartolo would also help them clear salary to add another bat if they choose to do so.

In return, the A's would receive an old friend and three youngsters. We all know and love Bartolo, whose career was revitalized with the A's from 2012-2013. Colon's 4.86 ERA is ugly, but he is posting his highest strikeout rate since 2011, along with the lowest walk rate of his career. His 3.55 FIP is actually the second lowest of his career. Bartolo would provide leadership to young starters like Chris Bassitt, Kendall Graveman, and even Sonny Gray, and his contract wouldn't be an issue for the A's (who would open up salary space after trading Zobrist, along with Scott Kazmir and Tyler Clippard). Bartolo could even prove pivotal if the A's were to make a surprise postseason run. Bartolo will be a free agent after the end of the season, so his contract would not hurt the A's in the future.

The A's would also receive three young high-minors prospects. Gavin Cecchini, covered in a previous Daily Deal, is a 21 year-old Double-A shortstop. The right-handed hitter walks almost as much as he strikes out, has some nice power and athletic speed, and is an above average defender. Michael Fulmer, a 22 year-old right-hander in Double-A, is enjoying a breakout season. He has posted a 2.16 ERA (2.92 FIP) thanks to the best command of his career. His mid-nineties fastball is complemented by a plus curveball and an above average slider. Fulmer could very well end up in the bullpen, but he has the ceiling of a number two or number three starter, and would likely be MLB-ready at some point in 2016. Finally, Matt Bowman is a Triple-A lefty who has struggled in 2015, but had posted quality walk and strikeout rates in every year prior, with an ERA under 3.50 in each season. Bowman, 24, could be given plenty of time to sort things out in Triple-A Nashville and could step into the back of the rotation (or the bullpen) to start 2016.

This might seem like an overpay for Zobrist, but in all honesty, the A's have all of the leverage. The Mets need to add a bat if they want to contend, and they have said they covet Zobrist. Zobrist is one of the cheaper bats available (as far as contracts go) and the A's are likely one of the only clubs willing to take on a contract like Colon's. Therefore, the A's are in a great position to ask big and receive two quality prospects like Cecchini and Fulmer, along with a fringier guy like Bowman.

That's all for today. The A's take on the Toronto Blue Jays once more at 7:05 P.M. PST. Feel free to dump any links in the comments below. Until tomorrow - lean on, A's fans!