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The Daily Bernie, 7/21/16: Trade market heating up

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A top A’s official was at a division rival’s minor league game on Tuesday, and another division foe acquired a slugging first baseman on Wednesday, among other news.

Toronto Blue Jays v Oakland Athletics
How much longer does a struggling Sonny Gray have in Oakland?
Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

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

  • With the trade deadline less than two weeks away, the market is finally heating up and rumors are coming closer and closer to reality. In a rather interesting move on Wednesday afternoon, the Chicago Cubs acquired lefty Mark Montgomery and righty Jordan Pries from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for first base prospect Daniel Vogelbach and righty Paul Blackburn. The deal has been made official. Montgomery, 27, has been a solid reliever for the Mariners this year, posting a 2.34 ERA in 61.2 innings. He is very versatile, and the Cubs can use him as a LOOGY, a middle reliever, or even a swingman. He still has five years of team control remaining after 2016. Vogelbach, the headliner on the Mariners’ side of the deal, is a big left-handed hitter that doesn’t do a whole lot other than hit. Not exactly stellar in the field, he has long been destined to DH for an American League club and will likely end up replacing Adam Lind.
  • Things continue to go south for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ace Clayton Kershaw just suffered a setback in his recovery from a back injury, and now southpaw Alex Wood will join him (and fellow lefties Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brett Anderson) on the disabled list. Wood will undergo an arthroscopic debridement of his left elbow and miss eight weeks. Losing these three quality lefties could certainly encourage the Dodgers to add a starter at the deadline, especially considering that some of the remaining members of their rotation - namely Scott Kazmir and Brandon McCarthy - have had their own unsightly injury histories.
  • It isn’t much better for the Texas Rangers right now. First baseman Prince Fielder, who has really struggled in 2016, has hit the disabled list and could be facing season-ending neck surgery, per T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. Outfielder Shin-Soo Choo was also placed on the disabled list with back inflammation. This is not good news for a team already slumping and in need of serious pitching help. If the Rangers are sending Kyle Lohse to the mound every fifth day, they can’t afford to lose two potent bats. However, help could be on the way - it has been well-known that the club has been aggressive in its search for an arm. Notably, on Tuesday, Padres GM A.J. Preller and A’s top evaluator Billy Owens were in attendance at the Fricso Roughriders game, the Rangers’ Double-A affiliate, per Dallas Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The Rangers have shown interest in Padres righty Andrew Cashner (whom the Friars would like to move prior to his start Thursday, per Jon Morosi of Fox Sports) but have reportedly grown lukewarm. On the contrary, Texas has shown strong interest in A’s starters Rich Hill and Sonny Gray. Nothing seems imminent at this time, but things could develop quickly.
  • The Cleveland Indians have reached out to the Milwaukee Brewers regarding star catcher Jonathan Lucroy, as Buster Olney of ESPN reports. This is likely a direct result of the injury to Indians catcher Yan Gomes and the setback their star outfielder Michael Brantley suffered on Tuesday. While Cleveland doesn’t seem like the type to make a splash at the deadline, they are sitting in first place in the AL Central and have also been heavily connected to Yankee fireballer Aroldis Chapman. Their rotation is easily one of the best in the league, so if the Indians were to add Lucroy and a dominant bullpen piece, their club could become one of the best in the game.

Bernie’s Daily Deal: Sonny Gray to the Texas Rangers for Lewis Brinson, Luis Ortiz, Yohander Mendez, and Ryan Cordell

Personally, I don’t think Gray should be dealt, and a deal within the division would make me especially nervous. However, the Rangers could pony up a serious package in exchange for the young right-hander, and the two clubs have made many high profile deals in the past.

Despite his off year, Gray will demand a haul. The headliner is Lewis Brinson, one of my favorite prospects in the game and a potential five tool superstar. A fantastic defensive centerfielder, Brinson flashes a dynamic power/speed combination. While his .232/.284/.456 slash line in Double-A isn’t all that impressive, a player with Brinson’s speed and swing should manage much higher than a .253 BABIP. Only 22, the right-handed hitter could be the franchise centerfielder that Oakland desperately needs.

The secondary pieces are quite talented as well. Luis Ortiz is only 20 years old and is already flashing mid-rotation stuff, commanding a mid-nineties fastball to go with a plus slider and changeup. However, the righty has to overcome his own body - at 6’3” ad 230 pounds, he’s not quite the prettiest guy out there. He also has a bit of an injury history, but if all goes right could possibly fill Gray’s shoes. Yohander Mendez is a bit of a Sean Manaea-lite. He throws in the low nineties with a great changeup and a decent breaking ball, and at only 21 he has already made it to Triple-A. The biggest concerns surrounding Mendez are his low velocity and injury history, but if all breaks right perhaps he could be a back-end arm. Finally, Ryan Cordell is a very versatile 24 year-old. He has shown quite a bit of pop in Double-A, smacking 17 home runs to go along with 9 stolen bases. Last season, he played everywhere except second base, catcher, and pitcher. He is a solid outfielder and could be an average infielder, so if the bat develops the right-handed hitter could become very useful.

That’s all for today. Gray will take the bump in the opener of a four game set against the Tampa Bay Rays. He will be opposed by Matt Moore. First pitch is at 7:05 PM. Feel free to dump any links in the comments below. Until next time - lean on, A’s fans!