Several baseball executives are calling this the "softest deadline ever'' because they anticipate many more players than ever going unclaimed on waivers and thus remaining eligible to be dealt.
That makes sense considering the economy (and all the whining over the economy). Yet, just before the non-waiver trade deadline, one contending team was willing to take on the entire contract of Jake Peavy ($16 mil per) and one losing team was willing to take on all but $4 million of the contract of Scott Rolen ($11 mil per), and both acquiring teams gave up pieces of some value in the process.
So there will be no guarantees on the waiver wire.
Plus, there are always the Red Sox and Yankees, two big-market teams that have done spectacular jobs from a business standpoint as well as from a baseball standpoint, and those teams can afford to do whatever they want. Who's to say that Boston, if it remains behind the Yankees in the standings, doesn't block any viable starter -- maybe Doug Davis? Jon Garland? How about their old friend Bronson Arroyo? -- who hits the waiver wire? The Yankees need a No. 5 starter, and the Red Sox know it.
Here is a list of players connected to trade talks before the July 31 deadline and their chances to clear waivers and remain eligible to be traded ...
1. Bronson Arroyo, Reds pitcher: He's a winner, but his other stats (WHIP, ERA), probably don't justify his salary. The Reds wanted the Yankees to pay the full $17 million freight through 2010. Realistically, they'd probably have to chip in a few million to make anything work.
2. Adam Dunn, Nationals slugger: That $12 million salary for 2010 should scare anyone off. He was traded after the waiver deadline last year, and it could happen again. Belongs in the American League, a place he has yet to play.
3. Jose Guillen, Royals outfielder: He said it himself. He "s----.'' At $12 million per, he sure does.
4. Aaron Harang, Reds pitcher: Like Arroyo, the former ace hasn't lived up to his high pay.
5. Adrian Beltre, Mariners third baseman: Slick-fielding third baseman hasn't produced to warrant his $13 million salary in Seattle. Very talented player could still help someone.
6. Aubrey Huff, Orioles 1B: He's slipped badly from last year's performance. Some see him as a DH, too.
7. Jason Giambi, A's DH. He'll clear: But he'll have to hit a lot better for anyone to be interested.
8. Melvin Mora, Orioles 3B: He's not happy with his diminished role, but he's earned it. A $9 million salary means no one would dare claim.
9. Miguel Batista, Mariners pitcher: Quirky, intellectual pitcher hasn't justified $7 million salary.
10. Juan Cruz, Royals reliever: For a while in winter, he looked like he'd be underpaid. Then he got $6 million for two years, and now he's overpaid.
11. Ty Wigginton, Orioles infielder: Solid backup is having only a so-so season in hitters' park.
12. Ron Mahay, Royals reliever: Not having his best year.
13. Willie Bloomquist, Royals utilityman: Going rate for utilitymen is less than his $1.5 million salary.
14. Lyle Overbay, Jays 1B: Power slippage means he should clear.
15. Willy Taveras, Reds outfielder: But with .279 on-base percentage, who'd want him?
1. Jon Garland, Diamondbacks pitcher: He'd be a worthwhile pickup. Though he has been mediocre, he is dependably mediocre. Possesses a rubber arm, completed game versus Mets Sunday night (yes, that still counts).
2. Doug Davis, Diamondbacks pitcher: Productive pitcher is seen by some as an NL type.
3. Gil Meche, Royals pitcher: Only four wins and an $11 million salary. But he has talent.
4. Alex Rios, Jays outfielder: Sixty million is a lot, but he can play. The Giants have money. You never know.
5. Carl Pavano, Indians pitcher: Lots of incentives make him a risk to claim. Also has 5.66 ERA.
6. Mark Hendrickson, Nationals reliever: Serviceable lefty relievers have value.
7. Jhonny Peralta, Indians infielder: Ho-hum season for a disappointing team.
8. Jamey Carroll, Indians utilityman: Useful utilityman could catch someone's eye.
9. Ron Villone, Nationals reliever: Started 3-0 but has settled into more Nats-like 3-5.
(Although there's always an outside chance in a couple of cases that a trade could be worked out with the claiming team.)
1. Roy Halladay, Jays starter: Sorry, he's stuck.
2. Felix Hernandez, Mariners starter: Seattle got a lot of calls on him from teams (including the Tigers and Red Sox) that wondered whether the Mariners might worry about whether they could keep him long term. But he's one of the best in the game and gets claimed by many.
3. Heath Bell, Padres closer: Spectacular season and low salary means he's wanted by all.
4. Adrian Gonzalez, Padres 1B: Superstar player making 30 cents on the dollar. No shot he gets through.
5. Marco Scutaro, Jays SS: Breakthrough year bodes well for his free agency, though.
6. Chad Qualls, Diamondbacks reliever: Reliable type could help many.
7. Michael Wuertz, A's reliever: Very underrated pitcher is coveted by many.
8. Brian Bannister, Royals starter: Yankees tried for Bannister late, but K.C. decided they wanted to keep him, after all.
9. Josh Willingham, Nationals outfielder: One of the hottest hitters in baseball right now (.592 slugging percentage).
10. Gary Sheffield, Mets slugger: A couple of AL teams are interested, but he's getting only 400 grand from the Mets.
11. David Eckstein, Padres infielder: A bargain for 850 grand. Worth it for attitude alone.
12. Jason Frasor, Jays reliever: Having excellent season in Jays' 'pen.
13. Mark Teahen, Royals infielder: The Cubs are one of many who might take him.
And here are some late winners and losers from the deals that did or didn't go down ...
1. Tigers:Jarrod Washburn is a superb pitcher. And they upgraded rotation without having to move Rick Porcello, Ryan Perry or any of their very top prospects.
2. Jarrod Washburn: Wisconsin native should be thrilled to be in the Midwest with a shot at getting back to the World Series.
3. Cardinals: Remade lineup with Mark DeRosa and Matt Holliday.
4. Matt Holliday: Never seemed comfortable in Oakland. Could see him staying in St. Louis
5. Red Sox: Wanted Adrian Gonzalez most, but Victor Martinez almost fits better with his versatility. Not a bad start with five hits, either. Also, kept Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard, Casey Kelly and Ryan Westmoreland.
6. Victor Martinez: Cried at the thought of leaving Cleveland. But Boston isn't a bad spot for a switch-hitter.
7. Marlins: Tiny-market team winds up buying Nick Johnson. Like it.
8. Dodgers:George Sherrill was a highly successful closer in the AL East who goes West to set up in L.A.
9. Phillies: Bolstered their rotation with Cliff Lee, and maybe he's not quite Roy Halladay, but they got to keep their top three prospects, too (Kyle Drabek, J.A. Happ and Dominic Brown). Nice work.
10. Indians: In retrospect, it appears they were on orders to cut payroll. But they kept quiet about it, went about their business and did what was necessary
11. Cliff Lee: Philadelphia seemed to be a popular spot, and Lee must be thrilled to leave a small-market team that wouldn't extend him and couldn't hit for him.
12. Pirates: President Frank Coonelly and GM Neal Huntington have thick skins and a plan to be better. Pirates fans will need to be patient, though.
13. Giants: Batting champ Freddy Sanchez isn't a bad get. Though Nick Johnson would have been better than Ryan Garko for first base.
14. Kevin Towers: He has to be relieved to be done with the Jake Peavy ordeal, and have four young pitchers and $60 million in savings to show for it. Trades for Bell and Gonzalez would have made sense.
15. White Sox: Peavy threw pain-free Sunday and goes off on his rehab now. It's a gamble, sure, but if he pitches to his usual form, they have as formidable a rotation as the one that won it all for them in 2005. Hard to question White Sox GM Ken Williams.
16. Jake Peavy: Made the right call this time. With two more months to think about it, he realized the South Siders are serious about winning, while San Diego's more into saving.
17. All Major League players: With Peavy's contract absorbed, it shows that maybe the economy isn't quite so terrible as some have believed or suggested.
1. Roy Halladay: Speechlessness after non-trade told the tale. On the whole, he'd rather be in Philly (and probably a few other places, too).
2. Royals: Injuries have wrecked them. But couldn't they have done anything?
3. Brewers: The team that imported CC Sabathia last year comes up with Claudio Vargas this time.
4. Cubs:John Grabow should help, but rival Cardinals were one of the biggest winners.
5. Twins:Orlando Cabrera isn't bad, but he doesn't match Washburn or Peavy. And where's the relief?
6. Reds: I like Rolen to improve a young clubhouse. But where's the sale?
7. Astros: Fully committed to the do-nothing party.
8. Nationals: Did trade Nick Johnson, Lastings Milledge and Joe Beimel, so give 'em credit for that. But shouldn't Dunn be Done there?
• The Phillies' deal for Lee more than anything is what killed the chances for a Halladay trade. That was the best match for the Jays. Once that happened, it now appears that the chances for a deal decreased dramatically. It seems that GM J.P. Ricciardi's bosses weren't anxious to upset the fan base unless something spectacular emerged, and in their minds it did not.
• Texas probably matched up second best with Toronto. But as reported by T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com, Halladay's reluctance to go to Texas was a stumbling block for the Rangers, who tried hard for Halladay. Top slugger Justin Smoak was discussed in those talks, and Toronto talked about sending $5 million to Texas toward Halladay's 2009 $14.25 million salary. But the Rangers also were reluctant to part with young pitcher Derek Holland, so there never was an agreement. Ricciardi denied to the Boston Globe that Halladay didn't want to go to Texas, but word is that Ricciardi informed the Rangers he didn't believe Halladay would go there. Halladay has a 6.14 lifetime ERA in Rangers Ballpark, the highest of any existing park with at least 10 innings logged (it's slightly higher at old Shea Stadium, and new Yankee Stadium)
• The discussed Dodgers-Padres blockbuster involving Adrian Gonzalez and James Loney was interesting. In one scenario, Heath Bell would have been included, and the Dodgers would have sent shortstop prospect Ivan DeJesus, young pitcher James McDonald, young infielder Blake DeWitt and others to San Diego.
• There was talk of a Bell-to-the-Angels deal in which San Diego would have received reliever Jose Arredondo, starter Sean O'Sullivan and infielder Sean Rodriguez.
• The Red Sox talked abut top prospect Buchholz in a couple deals (for Halladay or Gonzalez) but are happy to keep him. With a dynamic breaking ball and athleticism, he's seen as a potential No. 2 starter.
• Jerry Hairston Jr. isn't a typical Yankee pickup, but he fits them. They certainly could use a versatile guy like him, and will.
• Omar Minaya may have had a journalistic point when he called out Adam Rubin, who sought career advice from Mets higher-ups. But Minaya hurt his job security with his ad-libbed shot at the beat writer (though, with three years to go on his contract, the Mets don't especially want to fire him). If he is let go, the replacement isn't likely to be a big-name GM but rather his assistant John Ricco, a trusted adviser who is Minaya's opposite in many ways. He's much more reserved.
• One quote not worth getting. Gary Sheffield told papers he favored Minaya over Rubin in the credibility battle. Of course, Sheffield probably couldn't pick Rubin out of a lineup. Plus, he's surely hoping to get an extension from Minaya. In any case, Sheffield is the last one who should be judging anyone's credibility.
• Two coveted free agents this winter could be Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd and Dodgers GM Ned Colletti. Colletti's contract calls for a mutual option, meaning if he declines, he's free. Both have done an excellent job this year.
• Either man could become a candidate for Nationals GM. Other worthy candidates may include White Sox assistant GM Rick Hahn, Marlins exec Dan Jennings, Red Sox assistant Jed Hoyer and Rays exec Gerry Hunsicker -- though Hahn's turned down some GM chances before, and Hunsicker, in particular, likes his current situation in Tampa. Acting GM Mike Rizzo is another candidate.
• My Branch Rickey Award ballot: 1. Billy Pierce, ex-White Sox star whose Chicago Baseball Cancer Charities has raised $11 million since he founded the organization in 1971; 2. Cliff Lee, who's heavily involved with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation and whose son, Jaxon, is a leukemia survivor; and 3. Vernon Wells, who donated $1 million to the Jays Care Foundation upon signing his contract.
• It's time to go tweet. I've hit 15,000 followers, far beyond my wildest dreams (but still not quite half Peter King's gaudy total). To follow, go to Heyman on Twitter: http://twitter.com/SI_JonHeyman.