The Dodgers and Yankees remain the more likely destinations, for two reasons: Their farm systems are among the deepest in baseball, and neither is on the list of 10 teams to which Darvish can block a trade, as first reported by MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal.
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The Indians, however, are one of the clubs that would require Darvish’s assent to any trade.
Darvish’s willingness to accept a move to Cleveland is unclear, although the Indians’ sales pitch shouldn’t be too difficult: They are the defending American League champions, have an excellent opportunity to return to the World Series, and Darvish will be a free agent after the season, at which point he can choose his team for the long term.
The Rangers are expected to ask the Dodgers for one of their top two prospects in any deal for Darvish: right-hander Walker Buehler or outfielder Alex Verdugo. The Dodgers are more willing to move Verdugo than Buehler.
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• With the Cubs’ agreement to acquire left-hander Justin Wilson and catcher Alex Avila from the Tigers, the market for left-handed relievers is moving. The Orioles’ Zach Britton and Padres’ Brad Hand are the biggest remaining names, with the Dodgers, Astros and Nationals among the teams working diligently to add an elite left-handed reliever.
The competition among those World Series hopefuls will be intense, given the knowledge that at least one will leave the bidding without Britton or Hand. In other words, the Orioles and Padres have market-driven reasons to maintain high price tags. As of Sunday evening, multiple industry executives viewed the Dodgers as the favorites to land Britton.
• The Astros’ need for starting pitching has been magnified in recent days. Two days after Dallas Keuchel lasted three innings in his return from the disabled list, Lance McCullers Jr. continued an unsettling trend: He has not lasted beyond the fifth inning in any of his last four starts. His ERA in July was 9.64.
Unless the Astros surprise the industry by landing Darvish, Sonny Gray or Justin Verlander, their most plausible option could be Cardinals right-hander Lance Lynn.
• Recent Yankees acquisition Jaime Garcia is about to make Trade Deadline history: When he makes his Yankees debut, he’ll become the first pitcher in Major League history to start three games for three different teams in the same 20-day span, according to research by MLB Network and the Elias Sports Bureau.
• Even after losing Chris Owings to a broken middle finger on his right hand, the D-backs aren’t aggressively looking for infield help, although a rental such as Oakland’s Jed Lowrie is possible.
Jon Paul Morosi is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.