MLB.com Columnist

Jon Paul Morosi

Morosi: Yankees, A's talking trade

Morosi: Yankees, A's talking trade

The Yankees and Athletics have had recent trade discussions, sources confirmed to MLB.com, although it remains unclear whether the Yankees have greater interest in Oakland right-hander Sonny Gray or first baseman Yonder Alonso.

Gray has become an increasingly appealing target for the Yankees over the past several days, with the news that Michael Pineda will be lost for the next calendar year due to Tommy John surgery. Gray, who isn't eligible for free agency until after the 2019 season, could help offset Pineda's absence next season as well.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported Monday that a top-level Athletics scout recently watched the Yankees' Class A Charleston affiliate. That's a strong indication of the Yankees' interest in players on Oakland's Major League roster.

The Yankees' motivation to speak with the A's about Alonso is clear: Their first basemen have combined for a .671 OPS this season, second worst in the Major Leagues entering Monday.

Alonso, 30, is one of the most likely players in professional baseball to be dealt before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. He's having a career year (.924 OPS, 21 home runs); he will be a free agent after the season is over; and A's executive vice president Billy Beane acknowledged over the weekend that the team needs a full rebuild.

Eight players have started at first base for the Yankees in 2017, including four within the last two weeks. The team's Opening Day first baseman, Greg Bird, requires ankle surgery that will almost certainly end his season.

The Yankees' willingness to make a substantial trade has increased in recent days, sources said. The team is 4-9 in July and has scored the second-fewest runs in the American League this month. Their lead over the Twins for the second American League Wild Card has dwindled to half a game.

Other trade notes

• The Nationals emerged from the weekend as one of the early Trade Deadline winners, having secured Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle to address a bullpen that was badly in need of upgrades.

Turns out, Nats general manager Mike Rizzo wants to add another impact reliever.

Sources said Monday that the Nationals remained in contact with teams on a number of bullpen trade candidates, including Phillies right-hander Pat Neshek, Tigers left-hander Justin Wilson and Pirates left-hander Tony Watson.

The Nationals believe they can win the World Series this year, and they're wary of the bullpen scuttling those hopes in yet another postseason. Former closer Drew Storen blew saves in the 2012 and 2014 National League Division Series, and Washington relievers took the losses in NLDS Games 4 and 5 against the Dodgers last October.

• The frenetic American League Wild Card race continues to complicate the decisions of general managers around the league. In a development few could have anticipated even one week ago, the Mariners have won five consecutive games to move past the Royals, who have lost six of seven.

The Royals still are telling clubs they plan to buy at the Trade Deadline, continuing a stance general manager Dayton Moore has had since his team stumbled through April. The Mariners, meanwhile, had no intention of acquiring rentals before the All-Star break, but that calculus could change as they consider ways to address their top priority -- rotation depth.

Seattle hasn't reached the postseason since 2001, the longest active drought in the Majors. The Mariners' roster would be difficult to disassemble inseason due to the volume of large contracts on the books. So if the team's record gives general manager Jerry Dipoto a reason to make "buy" trades, he'll probably oblige.

• They may not be the biggest names ahead of Trade Deadline 2017, but the industry surely took note of home runs by Toronto's Steve Pearce and Baltimore's Seth Smith on Monday night. Both are respected veteran hitters with postseason experience. As such, they have a good chance to be playing elsewhere by July 31 -- especially Smith, who (unlike Pearce) is a free agent after this season.

Jon Paul Morosi is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.