As we rapidly approach the All-Star Break, most teams in baseball have a pretty good idea of where they stand compared to the rest of the league.

While no team has technically been eliminated or clinched a playoff spot just yet, there is only so much a season can turn around in the second half, so teams are either looking to the now or to the future with the trade deadline on the horizon.

Although the deadline is still a decent way off, that doesn’t mean the rumor mill isn’t able to fire up now and again and provide us with some tasty little nuggets to consider before July 31 rolls around.


A number of teams interested in Jeff Samardzija

For teams looking for starting pitching at the trade deadline, a top option isn’t going to come cheap and although Cole Hamels and Johnny Cueto are both on underachieving teams and being shopped, it is White Sox pitcher Jeff Samardzija who could garner the most interest.

Samardzija joined Chicago in the offseason from the Oakland Athletics, and while he hasn’t quite lived up to expectations, he is a strong addition to any rotation and could change a team’s fortunes once the postseason rolls around.

There are a number of teams interested in bringing Samardzija on board, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, and he could have a serious impact on the rest of the season if the White Sox do decide to deal him away:

There’s always so much debate on where he fits on a pitching staff. He’s not a No. 1 and he’s not having the best of seasons, yet he’s one of the more discussed and desirable pitchers on the trade market.

Kansas City, Houston, Detroit, and others are in on him.

Scouts are constantly at this games so he may be the first starting pitcher to move ahead of the deadline.

The numbers this year aren’t great, with a 4.33 ERA and a 5-4 record, but Samardzija showed what he was capable of in 2014 with a combined 2.99 ERA with the Cubs and the Athletics.

For the White Sox, who find themselves 9.5 games behind the Royals and look to be already out of the playoff race, offloading Samardzija for some young talent to jump start a rebuild would make sense and looks likely.


Will Venable and Gerardo Parra on the Cubs radar

Although starting pitching is the focus at the trade deadline, and has been a relative strength for the Cubs through the first half of the season, the same cannot be said of their bats.

Ranking 24th in runs scored, the Cubs need offensive help in the worst way possible as they attempt to stay in the race for the playoffs, and Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports reports that Gerardo Parra and Will Venable are two players Chicago is interested in:

Two names to watch: Milwaukee’s Gerardo Parra, a two-time Gold Glove winner, and San Diego’s Will Venable, who played for Hoyer during his tenure as general manager of the Padres. Both Parra and Venable are considered excellent clubhouse citizens — a theme of recent Cubs’ acquisitions.

Parra has been linked with a number of teams this season, with ESPN’s Buster Olney reporting the San Francisco Giants are also interested. Although his power numbers aren’t great, the .311 batting average and 26 RBI would be a big boost for the Cubs offensively.

Venable’s numbers haven’t impressed as much as Parra’s this year—the veteran center fielder is only averaging .257 with six home runs and 22 RBI—but his connection to Hoyer could lead to a possible move before the deadline.


New York Yankees not in on top pitchers

This season hasn’t gone exactly how the Yankees wanted for star pitcher CC Sabathia.

With some of his skills already starting to slip in recent seasons, the former Cy Young Award winner has been ghastly through the first half of the season, recording a 5.59 ERA and a 3-8 record.

It remains to be seen what the Yankees do with Sabathia—if they decide to stick with him or drop him to the bullpen—but starting pitching is a definite need for the AL East club when the deadline rolls around.

According to Andrew Marchand of ESPNthough, the Yankees won’t be in the market for the top names like Hamels and Cueto and will look a little deeper into the talent pool:

The Yankees seem unlikely to add a top starter. Unless prices drop significantly, an ace like Cole Hamels or Johnny Cueto is probably too expensive. If the Yankees have an injury or want to replace CC Sabathia in the rotation, Adam Warren or Severino could be called upon.

Even with the struggles of Sabathia, the Yankees find themselves on top of the division and in prime position to make it back to the playoffs, thanks in large part to the resurgence of Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez.

But with the Orioles, Rays and Blue Jays all hot on their tails, adding another quality starting pitcher could give New York the boost it needs to survive one of baseball’s toughest divisions.

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