Elliott: Royals, Cubs, Astros scouting Jays-A's

By Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network

Who is going where before the non-waiver trade deadline?

Well, one way of getting an indication of which way the wind is blowing is to check out what scouts are watching teams with available arms heading towards the July 31 trade deadline.

Watching Francisco Liriano pitch against the Oakland A’s Monday night at the Rogers Centre were among others, evaluators from the Kansas City Royals, Chicago Cubs and the New York Yankees. 

Liriano was “just ok,” going deep in counts seven three-ball counts on the 18 hitters he faced, including two walks and a wild pitch. He did not get hurt by it the inconsistent command thanks to catcher Russell Martin (Montreal, Que.) throwing out ex-Jay Rajai Davis and 3B Josh Donaldson blocked off the bag with a knee as Davis slid in head first.

Liriano did manage to work five innings and throw 86 pitches in five innings allowing a solo homer to Matt Carpenter. Working on three days rest, he managed to last longer Monday than he did in his previous two starts combined.

The Royals, who are chasing the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central, added three arms from the San Diego Padres on Monday. KC added starter Trevor Cahill, closer Brandon Maurer and reliever Ryan Buchter from the Padres, while pitchers Matt Strahm and Travis Wood, minor league infielder Esteury Ruiz and cash went to San Diego.

The Royals are still looking for more starting help, according to execuitves from other teams.

The Cubs and Yankees scouts are likely in town to see Oakland’s Tuesday starter Sonny Gray. Besides the Yankees and the Cubs, there is talk that the Seattle Mariners and Houston Astros are on Gray. 

Although the Cubs could be looking for relief help -- and the Jays have Joe Smith on the table. Last week when the Cubs were Atlanta, Blue Jays scout Sal Butera was watching. 

The right-hander has won three straight decisions this month allowing 12 hits and four runs in 18 1/3 innings.

On Sunday in Cleveland, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Astros had scouts watching Estrada. Once again that was before KC’s deal with San Diego. Before Saturday’s Blue Jays loss in Cleveland, two National League scouts said that the Jays were only interested in moving payers who were soon to be free agents ... like reliever Joe Smith, Estrada and Liriano.

That was before the Jays were swept out of Cleveland ... in a much more decisive manner than the American League Championship Series last fall.

And before Monday’s series opener, GM Ross Atkins told reporters that losing had altered the Jays approach. 

“A month ago, we were talking about the need for our team to play well and to get hot,” Atkins said. “We didn’t have to absolutely catch fire, but we haven’t done that. We haven’t gotten hot, we haven’t gotten on a streak. Now we’re in a position where it’s a lot more difficult to add to a team like this objectively, subjectively, as you look to it. 

“The scale of deciding whether we add or subtract has definitely changed.”