MLB Rumors: Padres in talks with Cubs for Willson Contreras; Frankie Montas now the Yankees’ No. 1 target

The trade deadline is four days away and late Friday night the biggest throwing token fell as the The Reds sent right-hander Luis Castillo to the Mariners for four prospects. The trade likely puts Seattle out of the running for Nationals prodigy Juan Soto, whose market would be reduced to four teams. With that in mind, here are Saturday’s Trade Deadline rumors.

Padres in talks for Contreras

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The Padres are in talks with the Cubs over receiver Willson Contreras, reports ESPN. Contreras will become a free agent after the season and is almost certain to be traded before Tuesday’s trade deadline. San Diego’s catchers are hitting .258/.311/.366 this season, which is better than the .225/.294/.364 positional average, though Contreras is still a significant improvement.

Heading into Saturday, the Padres had a 2.5-game lead for a wildcard berth, despite having lost 21 of their last 36 games, and the offense struggled at times. The Padres could use offensive assist at multiple positions, including the outfield. The bullpen could also use the reinforcement, with Taylor Rogers recently removed from the closer role.

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The Phillies acquired infielder Edmundo Sosa from the Cardinals for left-handed prospect JoJo Romero, the team announced Saturday. Sosa finished last season as the Cardinals’ starting shortstop, although he fell into a utility role this year and struggled. St. Louis is deep in the infield, so they traded Sosa for an interesting bullpen play.

As for Philadelphia, their shortstop and second base production leaves a lot to be desired this year, although Jean Segura is expected to return from his broken finger next week. Romero, 25, has allowed 21 runs in 21 2/3 career big league innings, though his mid-90s fastball and tough change give him a chance to be a long-term misfire.

Blue Jays interested in Fulmer

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The Blue Jays are among the teams interested in Tigers right-hander Michael Fulmer, reports MLB.com. Fulmer pitched a scoreless eighth inning in Toronto on Friday. The Tigers have several relievers to peddle at the deadline — Andrew Chafin and All-Star Gregory Soto are among them — although Fulmer is an imminent free agent, so moving him is urgent.

Throwing is top priority for a Blue Jays team that has been on an offensive tear in recent weeks. Fulmer has turned into a slider machine that lacks bats, although he also has walking issues. He’s the kind of rental bullpen who moves out every year on the deadline and is an upgrade to every competitor’s bullpen.

Montas becomes the Yankees’ No. 1 target

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With Castillo off the board, athletic right-hander Frankie Montas is now the Yankees’ No. 1 target, reports USA Today. It’s gotta go to Oakland and Montas is the team’s best remaining trade chip. The right-hander missed two starts with a minor shoulder issue earlier this month, but has looked strong in both starts and has been pitching at a high level for several years now.

New York is looking for a rotational upgrade and will likely have to win a bidding war to acquire Montas. Several other suitors need help with the rotation and Montas is appealing as he will remain under the control of the team next season as a referee-eligible player. He’s not a hire, and as Castillo’s trade showed, the price tag for two playoffs of an impact starter is high.

A’s, the brewers spoke Laureano

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Athletics and Brewers discussed outfielder Ramón Laureano, according to the New York Post. Laureano is one of the A’s best remaining trade tokens and he will remain under the team’s control until 2025, so he is a long-term addition. Center field has been a weakness for the Brewers all season and Laureano is an improvement over the Jonathan Davis/Tyrone Taylor field.

Currently in first place in the NL Central, Milwaukee could use another bat to lengthen the roster and Laureano also brings an element of speed. His defense tends to be overrated — Laureano’s arm is top-notch, though his reach and routes are just ok — but the Brewers’ center players have hit .213/.272/.313 this year, and that isn’t going to fly when you’re fighting for a division title.

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Rather than redeem it at the deadline, the Rockies closer signed Daniel Bard to a two-year contract extension worth around $19 million. The 37-year-old bard will be a free agent after the season and was a top trade candidate. Bard, the 2020 NL Returning Player of the Year, remains one of the best batsmen and passers on the ground. The Rockies kept Trevor Story and Jon Gray at the deadline last year, but couldn’t re-sign them as free agents. This time they were smart enough to extend Bard before he hit the market.

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The Dodgers added veteran right-hander Chris Martin to their bullpen. Utility Zach McKinstry went to the Cubs in one-on-one trade. Martin adds depth to a bullpen that is without Blake Treinen (shoulder inflammation) and Daniel Hudson (torn ACL), among others. The Cubs get a versatile bench play with some pop in McKinstry.

Rays bring Peralta

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The Rays acquired veteran outfielder David Peralta from the Diamondbacks. Minor league catcher Christian Cerda travels to Arizona in a one-for-one trade. Tampa is in the bottom third of the league in points per game, and Peralta is giving them a much-needed power bat, although the left swinger needs a squad partner. He will give the Rays a boost while they wait for Wander Franco, Manuel Margot, Harold Ramirez and others to return from the injured list.

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