Jed Jacobsohn/Associated Press
The MLB trade deadline arms race is on.
The Toronto Blue Jays and San Diego Padres have already made moves to improve their respective pitching staffs, and more transactions could be on the way before the 4 p.m. ET deadline Monday afternoon.
Lance Lynn and Dylan Bundy have had their names tossed out on the rumor mill in recent days, and it appears they are the best starting pitchers available on the market.
The Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels are two of the few teams likely out of the postseason race, and because of that, they could be two of the biggest sellers. The list of buyers is longer than it typically is because of the expanded playoff format, which has left more teams in contention with a month to go.
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According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic and Fox, San Diego, Toronto and the Chicago White Sox are in on Lynn.
Rosenthal noted the connections within the San Diego organization to Lynn, including manager Jayce Tingler’s time spent on the Rangers coaching staff.
San Diego made its first pitching move Saturday by acquiring reliever Trevor Rosenthal from Kansas City, but it could use starting help. The Padres have two starters with an ERA over five and would utilize Lynn as their ace, with Dinelson Lamet and Zach Davies beneath him in a potential rotation.
Tingler’s team is five games back of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West and owns the most victories of any team outside of first place in the NL.
If the Padres assemble a top three of Lynn, Davies and Lamet and have more support for Rosenthal in the middle innings, they could be a formidable foe for any NL team with their strong offense headlined by Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado.
Toronto has been the most active team on the market to date, as it made a pair of deals with the Seattle Mariners to acquire Taijuan Walker and Daniel Vogelbach.
Even though they have Walker in their rotation, the Blue Jays may not feel content with him and Hyun-Jin Ryu topping the group since they have suffered many injuries.
Nate Pearson and Matt Shoemaker were already on the 10-day injured list going into Saturday, and reliever Jordan Romano joined them with a finger injury.
The Blue Jays need as much help as possible to compete with the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East, and with a handful of ballclubs in the wild-card hunt. The White Sox are one of those wild-card contenders, as they are locked in a three-way fight with Cleveland and the Minnesota Twins for the AL Central crown.
Chicago is not in dire straits in its rotation, with Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease and Dallas Keuchel in place, but it could use more experience in one of the toughest divisional battles in baseball.
If Lynn were traded, he would be an automatic upgrade to whichever rotation he joins. He entered Saturday at 4-0 with a 1.59 ERA, 0.860 WHIP and 50 strikeouts. The right-handed hurler has not allowed more than two earned runs in seven starts and fanned at least six batters in those appearances.
Since the Rangers are 12-20 entering Sunday, they should explore every option to deal their most valuable piece to try to bring in some top prospects.
A similar amount of suitors are reportedly lining up to attempt to broker a deal for Bundy.
According to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, Minnesota is “showing interest” and the Atlanta Braves and the White Sox “are involved’ in trade talks for the right-handed pitcher.
The Angels have already shown a willingness to trade, as they sent Tommy La Stella to the Oakland Athletics on Friday night.
Since Bundy is their most prized trade asset, the Angels may set a high price tag on the 3-2 pitcher. Bundy has fanned 44 batters over 38.1 innings and recorded a 2.58 ERA and 10.3 strikeouts-per-nine-innings, which is the highest total of his career in that category.
The Twins are in the best shape of the three teams linked to Bundy, as they have Jose Berrios and Kenta Maeda topping their rotation. But with Jake Odorizzi on the injured list and Randy Dobnak struggling Saturday against the Detroit Tigers, the Twins may be more motivated to bolster their rotation depth.
Minnesota’s motivation to get better at the deadline could also be driven by the success of Cleveland and the White Sox. The three teams are separated by 1.5 games in the AL Central standings.
If the White Sox were to land Bundy and keep him away from the Twins, it would be viewed as a massive coup in the hunt for first place. However, there is a chance neither AL Central side lands Bundy and he goes to Atlanta, which has dealt with injuries and poor pitching form since the start of the 60-game campaign.
Max Fried, who is 5-0, is the only starting pitcher the Braves can rely on for every trip to the mound. That simply is not good enough when trying to fend off four teams for the National League East title.
If Atlanta fails to bring in Bundy, it should explore other avenues to improve a staff that must complement the power Ronald Acuna Jr., Freddie Freeman and others bring at the dish.