All-Star pitchers brace for potential deadline trades
SAN DIEGO — Baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline is three weeks away. That means three weeks from now, one or more of the arms featured in tonight’s All-Star Game might be pitching in a Red Sox uniform.
The second wild card spot, which arrived in 2012, has allowed many clubs to wait until late July to decide whether they are sellers.
“I think even the Pirates, you know, two weeks ago if you would’ve asked (general manager Neal Huntington), you might have had a different answer than you would today,” former Red Sox and current Pittsburgh reliever Mark Melancon said yesterday. “The teams change. They fluctuate depending on the wild card standings.”
Melancon, a free agent after this season and four-time All-Star, would be an attractive rental. The righty’s career took off after an abysmal 2012 with the Sox, and he entered the break with a 1.23 ERA.
Bullpen help isn’t a stated priority for the Red Sox after acquiring Brad Ziegler, but the team did just lose Craig Kimbrel for an estimated 3-6 weeks.
(Kimbrel’s surgery yesterday, a left knee arthroscopy and partial medial meniscectomy, was successful, the team said.)
If the Pirates fall out of the race, someone might land a great arm. They’re 46-43, which puts them 71/2 games back of the NL Central-leading Cubs, but just 11/2 games out of a wild card spot.
“Nobody updates me because nobody really knows,” Melancon said of his status. “Neal Huntington probably knows, and I don’t even know if he knows every second of every day. Like I said, wild card dependency, need dependency and then injuries and all that stuff, those things can happen so quickly. Kimbrel obviously and Ziegler, that happened really fast.”
The Marlins (47-41) won three in a row entering the All-Star break and have added Fernando Rodney. They’re tied for second place in the National League East with the Mets and also tied with the Mets for the second wild card.
Marlins ace Jose Fernandez would be incredibly difficult to land via trade no matter how they’re doing, but fat chance they sell him while they’re in a pennant race.
“We believe that we can compete,” Fernandez said yesterday. “We believe that we’ve got a good team and we got a chance.”
Asked if he felt the trade rumors surrounding him weren’t as heavy as they’ve been at this point in years past, Fernandez said what most do: He blocks it out.
“I try not to pay attention to that stuff,” said Fernandez, who has 154 strikeouts in 1071/3 innings and is just 23. “Because the only thing that I can control is to pitch and get people out and help my team to win a ballgame every five days, so that’s what I try to do.”
(One thing to watch tonight: Fernandez told David Ortiz on Sunday that if they face each other, he would throw the slugger three fastballs at 90 mph just to see how far he could hit them. Ortiz was Fernandez’ favorite player growing up, and the right-hander never has faced him.)
One team definitely selling are the All-Star host San Diego Padres, who have talked with the Sox.
Lefty starter Drew Pomeranz was a first-round pick by the Indians in 2010. The following year, he was traded for the first of three times, so he knows the drill.
“After the first time I got traded — I was in the bullpen warming up for a game in Double A and I got called back in and got traded — that was probably the most crazy it could be,” said Pomeranz, an All-Star this season. “And once I got traded the next time, it got a little easier. And I got traded the next time, it’s just part of it.
“You see stuff, you hear stuff. .?.?. You read it, whatever. I’d love to win. I like it here. I would love to win here as well.”
Has he thought, even privately, about where he might like to win?
“Not really because like I said, it really doesn’t matter if I worry about it,” Pomeranz said. “Just when you think you’re settled, something seems to happen.”
Pomeranz hopefully will get a heads up if he has to go to, say, Boston.
“I know (Padres manager Andy Green) is usually pretty good about informing us of what’s going on, and I haven’t heard anything,” Pomeranz said. “So just wait and see.”