Cards-Springer reunion?

Oakland’s big fish is gone, Matt Holliday having been traded to the Cardinals last week. But a recent rumor suggested that the A’s and Cards are talking again, this time about 40-year-old righty reliever Russ Springer, who enjoyed the best two years of his career working for St. Louis manager Tony LaRussa and pitching coach Dave Duncan in 2007-2008.

One of Springer’s best friends on the A’s, fellow righty Michael Wuertz, has seen his name bandied about in a number of ways over the past few weeks, but given the constitution of Oakland’s bullpen, it’ll take a solid return package to prompt A’s GM Billy Beane to surrender his most reliable reliever.

Shortstop Orlando Cabrera is will being mentioned in trade rumors, too, most notable with the Twins, but Cabrera isn’t in any hurry to leave. He’s on a one-year deal with the A’s and seems to be very happy living in the East Bay, and with no clear heir at the position, Oakland might decide to keep and re-sign him as one of the few veterans to anchor what will almost certainly be an extremely young team next season.

–Mychael Urban

Marlins interested in Grabow

Add the Marlins to the list of teams interested in Pirates lefty reliever John Grabow.

According to a National League source, the Marlins and Pirates have discussed possible trade scenarios that would land Grabow in Florida. 

Upgrading the bullpen remains a priority for the Marlins as they hope to improve their playoff chances.

Grabow, 30, has appeared in 44 games for Pittsburgh, while posting a 3-0 record and 3.57 ERA in 45 1/3 innings. The Marlins bullpen entered Wednesday with the fifth best ERA in the National League — 3.79.

In second place behind the Phillies in the National League East, the Marlins are in the process of searching for experienced relievers. Grabow broke in with the Pirates in 2003, and he’s been in 389 games.

A durable lefty, he was involved in a career high 74 games and 76 innings in 2008.

Pittsburgh’s third-round pick in 1997, Grabow has 39 strikeouts and 28 walks on the season. Ironically, left-handed hitters are batting .275 against him, while right-handers have a .246 average. 

Grabow is signed for $2.3 million this year, and he will be eligible for free agency next season.

In recent weeks, Florida’s bullpen has added veteran right-handers Brendan Donnelly and Luis Ayala.

— Joe Frisaro

Orioles Targeting Bell?

Acquiring reliever George Sherrill seems to be the most attractive option for the Dodgers because the Orioles are rumored to want a package in return that centers on Double-A slugging third baseman Josh Bell and not any key players on the current Dodgers active roster. To get either of the two front-line starters on the block — Toronto’s Roy Halladay or Cleveland’s Cliff Lee — it is believed the Dodgers must give up either Clayton Kershaw or Chad Billingsley out of their current starting rotation. They could make a push for Lee if the Indians would accept a package of prospects in lieu of either Kershaw or Billingsley. — Ken Gurnick

Sherrill talks heating up?

The Orioles have been mostly quiet as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, but multiple news outlets are reporting that the Dodgers are hot on southpaw closer George Sherrill. Sherrill has also been linked to the Angels, which could start an inter-city bidding war.

Baltimore is believed to be looking at teams with infield prospects, and the Dodgers’ Josh Bell and Angels’ Brandon Wood have both reportedly come up in trade talks. Both of the Orioles’ current corner infielders — Aubrey Huff and Melvin Mora — could be eligible for free agency next season, and Baltimore wants to get younger at the corners like it did in the outfield.

Sherrill, who was acquired in last season’s Erik Bedard trade, was named to the All-Star Game in 2008 and narrowly missed the same honor this season. The left-hander has been strong for Baltimore but could help further kick the Orioles’ rebuilding movement into gear.

— Spencer Fordin

Washburn could be fit for Tigers

Oh, what a difference a turn in the rotation makes. When Jarrod Washburn made his last start, baffling the Tigers over seven scoreless innings, the Mariners looked like a team that could make a run in the AL West after all. The Mariners didn’t win another game from their other four starters, and as Washburn prepared for his next start Tuesday night, rumors heated up about Washburn on the selling block.

The Tigers had as good of a view as anybody at what Washburn could do, and as a team in search of a left-handed starter, they couldn’t help but be impressed. If the Mariners as serious about listening to offers for the southpaw in his final year of his contract, look for the Tigers to at least inquire. The challenge for them is that so many other teams are in need of solid, consistent starters that Washburn’s value could rise quickly, especially now that a few contenders had injury concerns emerge.

The Tigers had an appealing package for the Mariners in trade talks for J.J. Putz over the winter, including left-handed power hitting such as Jeff Larish. But these Mariners are a different team than last fall.

— Jason Beck

Buchholz is the bait

If the Red Sox are going to pull off a blockbuster trade by Friday’s deadline to land one of the marquee players they have targeted — Roy Halladay, Victor Martinez, Adrian Gonzalez or Cliff Lee — it stands to reason that Clay Buchholz is probably going to have to be included.

Knowing this, Buchholz took the hill for the Sox on Tuesday night for the last time before the deadline and seemed unfazed by the circumstances. He allowed nine hits over 5 2/3 innings, but just two runs. Buchholz would have gotten the win if not for the implosion of the bullpen.

After the game, he seemed unfazed by his name continually churning in the rumor mill. Perhaps this is because Buchholz has been the subject of rumors at this time of year for three seasons in a row.

“Those are things that you can’t control and I’m a firm believer in doing the things that you can do to help a team win and not really think about anything else,” Buchholz said. “It doesn’t matter what I want or what I say, it’s what the organization needs. So i just let it go in one ear and out the other until somebody in here tells me something about it. I really don’t pay any attention to it.”

Yahoo Sports! reported Tuesday that the Red Sox made a couple of proposals to the Jays for Halladay that included Buchholz. However, Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi told the Web site that he is still not close to a deal.

“Nothing is close,” Ricciardi said. “Nothing is happening.”

In the meantime, enticing highly-touted prospects around the league like Buchholz will have to wait another few days before being sure of their fate.

Ian Browne

As injuries mount, Brewers still shopping

I just called Brewers general manager Doug Melvin to see if the news of
Jeff Suppan’s rib-cage strain — an injury that often sends a pitcher
to the disabled list — changes his plan of attack for Friday’s
nonwaiver trade deadline.

The answer was no.

“We’re
still looking for guys who are available,” Melvin said. “We’d like to
get a starter. We’ll have to wait a few days before we find out [about
Suppan]. We’ll evaluate then.”

Even if it’s bad news, Melvin will be smart about his aggressiveness on the market.

“I’m not going to go out and give up a better player just because Suppan is out,” he said.

Suppan
underwent an MRI scan on Tuesday after complaining of tightness in his
side. Right-hander Dave Bush is already on the disabled list with a
triceps injury, and Seth McClung and Mike Burns were tried out as starters
and then bounced from the rotation (McClung is now hurt and Burns is
back in Triple-A). Another new starter, Carlos Villanueva, allowed five
runs in four innings on Tuesday.

“It’s been tough right now even
though we’ve been healthy,” Melvin said. “I have confidence in these
guys getting better, but we haven’t pitched well. When you’re not going
well, you don’t get the breaks, either.”

Melvin confirmed that
he remains in touch with Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik, who holds a chip
in left-hander Jarrod Washburn, who was 8-6 with a 2.70 ERA ahead of
his Tuesday night start in Toronto. Washburn, a Wisconsin native, is a
free agent after the season, and FOXSports.com speculated that
Zduriencik, Milwaukee’s former scouting director, might consider
injured second baseman Rickie Weeks in return. Zduriencik drafted Weeks
in 2003.

Acknowledging that the teams have been linked in
published reports, Melvin said, “We’d like to add a starter, but Jack
hasn’t decided yet if he would move one or not.”

— Adam McCalvy
 

7/28 Cubs wait and see

Cubs GM Jim Hendry says he’s been busy talking to other teams, but wasn’t sure if the Cubs will add any players by Friday’s trade deadline. The team should get a “new” player when catcher Geovany Soto returns from his oblique injury sometime in early August. Soto was taking batting practice and expected to get into a game this week. Ted Lilly (inflammation shoulder) also will rejoin the team in mid August. That’s two.

However, the Cubs could use some left-hand help in the bullpen. Sean Marshall is the only southpaw.

“I have no idea if we’ll do anything by Friday,” Hendry said.

The Cubs players have said they feel all the pieces are in place. Hendry appreciated that they feel they’re good enough to three-peat in the NL Central.

“I think they know how we do our business,” Hendry said. “If we find something by Friday, that’s what we’ll do.”

Some long-rumored deals are never consumated. And, Hendry said he’s completed transactions with Oakland GM Billy Beane in five, 10 minutes. Who knows?

“I think some of the best trades we’ve made, I’ve put the least amount of time into them,” Hendry said.

— Carrie Muskat

Harang has limited no-trade

Among the Reds starting pitcher Aaron Harang has figured prominently in trade rumors as July 31 nears. Harang said he has a partial no-trade clause but was hazy on Tuesday with the details about which teams.

“I don’t know which teams I put,” Harang said. “I put them down a couple of years back.”

Harang, who is starting on Wednesday, has one guaranteed left on his contract beyond this season. He’s making $11 million this year and $12.5 million in 2010 with a $12.75 million option for 2011.

“You can’t let it bother you, especially being a veteran guy, your name is going to come up more times than not,” Harang said of the rumors. “You just can’t let it affect how you go out and play every day. I’m going to show up at my locker each day. You really don’t know. I will know if they ever call me into the office and tell me. I’m not worried about it.”

— Mark Sheldon

White Sox acquire Kotsay for Anderson

Brian Anderson got his wish to be traded, and in the process, the White Sox apparently have added a valuable veteran piece to their bench for the playoff push over the next two months.

Anderson, 27, was traded to Boston in exchange for Mark Kotsay and cash considerations on Tuesday. Kotsay, 33, is a .281 hitter with 110 home runs and 614 RBIs over 13 Major League seasons. He batted .257 with one homer and five RBIs in 27 games for the Red Sox in 2009 before being designated for assignment on July 24.

Kotsay’s arrival now makes either Dewayne Wise or Josh Fields expendable for Chicago. Kotsay ranks third among all Major League outfielders with his 113 assists since the start of the 1998 season, trailing Bobby Abreu (117) and Vladimir Guerrero (115), but also can back-up Paul Konerko at first base.

Of even greater importance is Kotsay’s .373 career average as a pinch-hitter, an extremely weak area for the White Sox at present. Wise had been serving as a defensive replacement and a left-handed hitting reserve outfielder, while Fields had been spelling both Jim Thome at designated hitter and Konerko at first base.

It was just five days ago when Anderson told MLB.com that he would like to be traded so he could get a fresh start at playing regularly somewhere else. For the moment, that start doesn’t look as if it will come in Boston, as the White Sox top pick in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft will be sent to the Minors. He hit .238 with two home runs and 13 RBIs in 65 games before being optioned to Triple-A Charlotte on July 20. Anderson is a career .225 hitter, with 20 homers and 75 RBIs in 334 games.

–Scott Merkin