Buyers and sellers spar for deadline deals

Wed Jul 30, 2014 3:06pm EDT
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Visions of acquiring a difference-making player for this season or possible future stars stir the imagination of Major League Baseball fans ahead of Thursday's trade deadline.

Teams are free to wheel and deal until 4 p.m. ET July 31 with contending teams keen to bolster a run for the postseason, while also rans look to unload pricey players in return for prospects who might someday blossom into stars.

Rumors are rampant, with Boston Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester becoming a prime figure in deadline scuttlebutt after last year's World Series winners scratched him from Wednesday night's scheduled start against the Toronto Blue Jays.

With the struggling Red Sox (48-59) 12 games off the pace in the AL East and Lester (10-7, 2.52 ERA) poised to become a free agent in the offseason, it was widely expected the southpaw would be dealt to a contending team.

Another top-flight pitcher, David Price (11-7, 3.08 ERA entering Wednesday's games) of Tampa Bay, has loomed as a prominent candidate for a trade by the small-market Rays after a dismal start that left them 24-42 by June 10.

The Rays, however, have burned bright since and after having won 11 of their last 12 games stood 53-54 and seven games behind the division-leading Orioles pondering their postseason chances.

A possible rebuilding phase for Colorado, with an NL-worst 43-63 record, has seen vaunted Rockies hitters Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez mentioned as possible trade targets of teams aching to add offensive punch for the stretch run.

Teams in the middle of the pack, meanwhile, were weighing their odds about whether to become buyers, sellers or bystanders come the trade deadline.   Continued...

Jul 25, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester (31) throws a pitch during the second inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports