It's now six days until baseball's non-waiver Trade Deadline, and trade talk is the one topic that dominates the game these days. Clubs are finally gaining some clarity as to whether they're buyers or sellers, and it seems there's a significant move just about every day.
From now until the Deadline on Tuesday (4 p.m. ET, to be exact), we'll be checking in on the trade news around baseball, with help from MLB.com's reporters. The countdown is under way.
HanRam goes west: The Dodgers have one huge asset this trading season, and they showed again on Tuesday that they're more than willing to use it. The Dodgers' prospect trough is a bit dry, but the cash reserves are deep. So general manager Ned Coletti took advantage of new ownership's coffers in acquiring Hanley Ramirez and Randy Choate for a decent but unspectacular package of talent. The key was the Dodgers' willingness to take on all of Ramirez's hefty contract.
When the Dodgers tried to acquire Carlos Lee earlier in the year, they also attempted to do so more with cash than with talent. There aren't a lot of big deals left on the market that the Dodgers could absorb, but at this point, they may not have to. The primary remaining goal for the Dodgers is a starting pitcher, and Coletti may well have enough talent on hand to pull off a deal for Ryan Dempster.
His position is enhanced by the fact that the Cubs don't appear to have any other viable options for the veteran right-hander (see Braves item below). Chicago's only options at this point may well be to deal Dempster to the Dodgers for whatever they can get, or hold onto him and take the Draft-pick compensation.
Marlins may not be done: On the flip side of that big deal are the Marlins, who also may not be done dealing. Frankly, it doesn't make a lot of sense for the Fish to stop now, if the goal is to bolster the next few Miami teams.
Carlos Lee would be at the top of the sell list, given that his contract expires at the end of this year. Other candidates could include Josh Johnson (who's drawing lots of interest), Ricky Nolasco, and perhaps even Heath Bell.
Still, Johnson would be hard to part with unless a really impressive package were offered. He and Nolasco are both signed through next year, and with Johnson, the 2013 Marlins could well be a contending team. Without him, it starts looking like a longer-term project, and that might be difficult to sell in Miami.
Braves moving on: As for Dempster, it looks a lot like the Braves have ended their pursuit of the right-hander. MLB.com's Mark Bowman wrote Wednesday that general manager Frank Wren made that quite explicit.
"We've moved on," Wren said.
That doesn't mean Atlanta is done seeking a starter. Quite the contrary. The focus returns to the man who's been their top target all along, the Brewers' Zack Greinke.
Such a deal won't be easy, though. Bowman indicates that even if the teams agree on a trade, getting a deal completed might be contingent upon Atlanta and Greinke at least making some progress on an extension. Milwaukee wants a package that includes top prospect Julio Teheran from Atlanta, so the Braves would want to have some level of confidence that they would be getting Greinke for more than just the next nine or 10 weeks.
Rangers seek a difference maker: Texas is also in the market for a premium starting pitcher, and the same seems to be the case for the Nationals. MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan wrote Tuesday night that the Rangers have little interest in starters from the just-a-guy category, due to a large number of capable options on hand.
What general manager Jon Daniels would love to acquire is a front-line starter, someone who would be sure to start for the Rangers in a playoff series. Think Cliff Lee in 2010.
There are a few starters like that who might be available, starting with Greinke and possibly including Johnson -- depending on how you value him at this point in his career. Texas also had interest in Cole Hamels before the lefty agreed to a new deal with Philadelphia.
If it comes down to a prospect bidding war for any of these guys, no team has more ammo than the Rangers. What they'd be willing to part with is a separate question, but if Texas goes hard after any of the available pitchers, it's hard to see Daniels being outbid.
Matthew Leach is a national reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.