The Opener: Trades, Rays, Cubs


On the heels of trade season kicking into high gear last night, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on around the baseball world throughout the day today:

1. Will more deals be swung today?

We saw trade season kick off in earnest yesterday as the Marlins and Twins swapped right-handers Dylan Floro and Jorge Lopez, the Dodgers and Guardians swapped righty Noah Syndergaard and infielder Amed Rosario, and the Angels clearly declared themselves buyers by taking Shohei Ohtani off the market just hours before swinging a deal for right-handers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez in the biggest trade of the year so far. With just five days until the trade deadline on Aug. 1, more deals could be announced as soon as today. Recent reports have indicated that infielder Jeimer Candelario is on the Angels’ radar. The White Sox were discussing righty Lance Lynn with multiple clubs yesterday and seem certain to deal him after the Giolito/Lopez swap. A reunion between the Dodgers and right-hander Joe Kelly has also been discussed.

2. Eflin MRI:

Rays righty Zach Eflin exited yesterday’s start after just four innings and went for an immediate MRI on his left knee after experiencing discomfort during a rocky outing (five runs in those four frames). Eflin, who inked a three-year deal worth $40MM in Tampa Bay over the winter, entered yesterday’s outing with a 3.36 ERA on the season and has been one of the team’s most consistent arms. However, he has chronic knee issues that have plagued him dating back to his amateur days. The right-hander had surgery on both knees in 2016 and underwent a second right knee procedure in 2021.

The Rays were already on the lookout for rotation help after losing Jeffrey Springs and Drew Rasmussen for the season. Any absence for Eflin would only accelerate their bid to acquire starting pitching. They were among the teams talking to the White Sox about Lynn as recently as yesterday, and they’ve previously been linked to Marcus Stroman, Jordan Montgomery and Jack Flaherty, among others. The Rays are off today, so an update on Eflin isn’t a guarantee, but his status will be pivotal with regard to their level of aggression as the deadline looms.

3. Cubs’ last stand?

Despite being considered a likely seller by much of the baseball world for much of the season to this point, the Cubs are reportedly still evaluating their approach to the trade deadline on August 1. Muddying the waters on the decision for president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer is the club’s play in recent weeks, as the Cubs have won seven of their last eight, making them 8-4 since the All Star break and 12-9 in July. In the event the club decides to sell, Chicago has some of the most interesting rentals on the market this July in right-hander Marcus Stroman and center fielder Cody Bellinger.

The Cubs are six games back of the division lead and 4.5 games back of a crowded NL Wild Card race. That being said, they also sport the NL Central’s only positive run differential and could put themselves back over .500 for the first time since May with a series win in St. Louis this weekend. Lefty Justin Steele takes the mound for the club against tonight opposite Cardinals right-hander Miles Mikolas for the first game of a four-game set that will take the clubs into deadline day, when Hoyer and his front office will have to make a decision on the Cubs’ course of action.

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