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The Daily Bernie, 7/8/16: Rumors run wild on busy Thursday

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Plenty of scouts were in attendance for Rich Hill’s Thursday gem, and the Red Sox added a veteran infielder, among other news.

Oakland Athletics v Houston Astros
Hill was fantastic in Houston - but could that have been is last start as an Athletic?
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Welcome back to the Daily Bernie! Thursday was full of rumors and activity around baseball, so there’s a lot to cover. It’s the best dance in the game, so let’s get rolling once more!

  • Jon Heyman of todaysknuckleball.com covered tons of MLB news in his Inside Baseball column, including quite a bit of A’s news. In particular, he listed starter Sonny Gray as his prediction for the most-discussed pitcher at the deadline this year, along with Rich Hill as the best pitcher actually moved. Heyman mentions the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers as two of the teams most interested in the veteran southpaw, even noting that the Dodgers have had their eye on him since the offseason. He also mentions that if Gray and/or outfielder Josh Reddick are indeed available, they will create a “feeding frenzy”. For tons more news from all around baseball, be sure check out his column.
  • Hill was superb on Thursday night in Houston, striking out 10 batters against two walks over six innings of one-run baseball to get the win. As expected, there were many scouts in attendance to watch hill - roughly fifteen, in fact, according to Robert Murray, also of todaysknuckleball.com. Murray notes that two of the teams in attendance were the aforementioned Red Sox and the Miami Marlins. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle adds that the Dodgers, Toronto Blue Jays, Detroit Tigers, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, and Houston Astros were also watching Hill. Most of these clubs have been linked to Hill for a while now. Miami, however, is an interesting addition to the list of teams with interest. Having been in attendance to watch Sonny Gray and Ervin Santana on Wednesday, the Marlins find themselves only six games back in the NL East and three behind for the second Wild Card spot. Their only reliable starter is ace Jose Fernandez and their farm system isn’t incredibly strong, so Hill does seem like a decent fit.
  • Those same Red Sox, very active this July, have added to their infield by acquiring Aaron Hill from the Milwaukee Brewers. In exchange, Boston gave up two prospects in righty Aaron Wilkerson and infielder Wendell Rijo. The move has been announced on Twitter. Hill’s pull tendencies make him a natural fit for Fenway Park, and the 34 year-old has quietly been solid this season, posting a 103 wRC+ for Milwaukee. He should provide solid right-handed infield depth. While neither of the two prospects sent to the Brewers are big names, both are interesting. Wilkerson has dominated the minors as a starter this season, but is already 27 and has yet to make it to the majors. Rijo is quite the opposite - the 20 year-old second baseman has decent potential, but hasn’t hit well at all in Double-A this year. All in all, an adequate return for a player that the Brewers acquired as a salary dump.
  • Some hits from around the league: The Royals desperately need starting pitching; the Red Sox are monitoring Phillies righty Jeremy Hellickson; Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez could be moved and is “amenable” to a trade; Mets righty Matt Harvey’s season could be over; the Rangers have released lefty Eric Surkamp and sold his rights to the Korean Hanwha Eagles; Marco Estrada, Matt Carpenter, and Cory Gearrin were among the notable names to hit the disabled list Thursday.

Bernie’s Daily Deal: Rich Hill and John Axford to the Detroit Tigers for Christin Stewart and Joe Jimenez

I promise you all, I tried. I really did try to find a trade that would work with the Marlins, but their system is simply devoid of high-minors talent. The Tigers, however, are very interesting. With Jordan Zimmermann hurt, their only consistent starter remaining is rookie Michael Fulmer, and sitting six and a half games back of the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central (and two games back of the second Wild Card) the Tigers need an upgrade. Similarly, their bullpen could afford to take a flier on Axford, or perhaps Marc Rzepczynski.

Christin Stewart is in the midst of a breakout season. The 22 year-old outfielder has an 18% walk rate and 19 home runs in High-A, leading to an absurd .249/.401/.520 slash line. My only concern for him is his defense - he is fairly athletic and quick for his six foot frame, but his routes could use some work. He should be at least a passable left fielder and could end up a middle of the order bat.

Joe Jimenez, 21, has posted absurd minor league numbers out of the bullpen. The righty has struck out a ridiculous 55 batters in only 32 innings between High-A and Double-A this year, against only 10 walks. His high-nineties fastball and wipeout slider have made him unhittable for minor league hitters thus far.

That’s all for today. The A’s, behind former Astro farmhand Daniel Mengden, will play the second game in Houston against Collin McHugh at 5:10 PM PST. Feel free to dump any links in the comments below. Until next time - lean on, A’s fans!