There are now just 10 days left for MLB teams to consider trades that will shape their immediate or long-term future.
The waiver trade deadline period ends on Aug. 31, and teams will then set their rosters in terms of postseason eligibility.
Thus far, the month of August has seen minimal transactions, the most significant being the trade of Joe Blanton to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the beginning of the month.
It's almost an inevitability that trades will occur in the next 10 days, and we at Bleacher Report will work hard to keep you updated on all the latest as the waiver-trade deadline approaches.
Here are some of the hottest rumors floating about right now.
If you're an MLB team looking for an effective sinker-balling pitcher who can give you five innings and not much more, look no further than Boston Red Sox pitcher Aaron Cook.
On Thursday, Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe tweeted that Cook, Felix Doubront and Andrew Miller had all been placed on waivers.
Cafardo also mentioned in his "Sunday Baseball Notes" column that the Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals could all have interest in Cook before the end of the waiver-trade deadline.
Seattle Mariners pitcher Kevin Millwood has been a stalwart in the rotation this season with 24 starts, 138.1 innings and a 4.29 ERA.
According to Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe, Millwood could well be an attraction for several teams if he is placed on waivers.
He apparently hasn't landed on the waiver wire as of yet, but one veteran MLB scout told Cafardo that Millwood would definitely be a draw for contending teams.
“He’s got ice water in his veins and he knows how to get big outs,” the scout told Cafardo. “A guy like that isn’t going to do the Mariners any good going forward, but he could solidify a rotation.”
In the days leading up to the MLB non-waiver trade deadline, Chicago Cubs left fielder Alfonso Soriano made it clear that he was not willing to waive his 10-5 rights and approve a trade to the San Francisco Giants.
Has Soriano changed his mind since?
Apparently, the answer is still no.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported last week that Soriano had cleared waivers, meaning that he can be dealt to any team, provided Soriano approves the deal.
Late last week, Soriano was asked once again if he would consider a trade to the Giants.
"I don't think so, because San Francisco is not good weather to play," Soriano said. "It's on the West Coast, and I never played on the West Coast. But we'll see what happens. I'll see if they call and talk with my family to see. It's not my call. So I want to talk with my family in case they call and see what happens."
With Melky Cabrera out for the rest of the season after a 50-game suspension for a positive PED test, the Giants are seeking options, with Gregor Blanco and Justin Christian temporarily filling Cabrera's role.
As the San Francisco Giants figure out what to do with their situation in left field following the suspension of Melky Cabrera, one expert wonders whether Kansas City Royals right fielder Jeff Francoeur should be considered.
The Royals have top prospect Wil Myers waiting in the wings, hitting .310 with 34 HR and 99 RBI on the season.
However, as Ken Rosenthal correctly pointed out, the asking price for Francoeur may be a bit rich for the Giants, who have already traded away one top prospect in Tommy Joseph in exchange for right fielder Hunter Pence.
Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Josh Beckett lost his 11th game of the season on Sunday night, giving up four runs on seven hits in six innings to the New York Yankees.
Heyman wonders whether the Red Sox would still be inclined to deal Beckett before Aug. 31 and suggests the Texas Rangers would be a fit. Heyman quoted an MLB executive as saying as much.
"He'd be better in Texas,'' the executive said. "With Nolan Ryan there, he'd be much better.''
Scott Hairston has been a valuable contributor for the New York Mets this season, hitting .274 with 14 HR and 44 RBI. He has also given given manager Terry Collins flexibility with his versatility in the field.
However, does Hairston now have more value to the Mets as a trade chip in the month of August?
Ken Davidoff of the New York Post believes he does.
Now is not the time to shop young players under control, such as Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy and Josh Thole. Those are winter trade possibilities; you want to engage all teams in players like that.
As an impending free agent, Hairston is different. He can parachute in to a contender and help—enough, the Mets can hope, that a claiming club would be willing to give up a lower-tiered prospect. A warm body with potential.
With his relatively low $1.1 million salary, Hairston would almost assuredly be claimed. The question is whether it's a team trying to block another contending team or a team that values Hairston's abilities and is willing to offer the Mets at least something in return.
The Mets have not engaged in negotiations with Hairston for a contract extension as of yet. However, under GM Sandy Alderson, the Mets have set a precedent in offering extensions during the season. Tim Byrdak was signed to an extension last August by Alderson.
Again, the subject of outfielders comes up in the wake of Melky Cabrera's suspension.
This time, it's speculation surrounding Cleveland Indians outfielder Shin-Soo Choo.
Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer discussed a possible deal between the Indians and San Francisco Giants involving Choo, who is hitting .284 with 15 HR and 49 RBI this season.
However, Hoynes also correctly pointed out that several obstacles would likely block the Giants from bidding for Choo's services.
Choo is not eligible for free agency until 2014 and is currently only signed through this year, so any American League team in contention could easily claim Choo if he is placed on waivers.
In addition, several NL teams who have a worse record than the Giants would have to pass on Choo. The Arizona Diamondbacks are one of those teams that could easily block the Giants from Choo.
It's always nice to speculate, but this is a deal that has almost zero chance of happening.
The Boston Red Sox are reportedly using a current stretch of games to determine their fate by Aug. 31.
According to WEEI.com, GM Ben Cherington will determine the direction of his team after a slate of games that includes playing the Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels, whom they will face six times in the next 10 days.
How the Red Sox fare from now until that last game against the Angels on Aug. 31 will determine whether Cherington is buying or selling.
“I don’t think it’s a 12-day question. I think every day, we consider doing things. That’s another marker on the calendar, certainly, but every day we consider doing things,” Cherington said. “We knew that this stretch of games—Texas, New York, L.A.—were pretty damn important. We’re trying to win as many of them as we can and see where we are at the end of that stretch.”
Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco was activated from the disabled list and in the lineup for Monday night's game against the Cincinnati Reds.
With just 41 games remaining for the Phillies and the likelihood that they're out of the playoffs for the first time since 2006, Polanco could well be playing as an audition for contending teams as he works his way back from lower-back inflammation that sidelined him for four weeks.
Polanco has an option for next season, but the Phillies would more than likely buy it out at $1 million. In addition, there could be contending teams who see value in Polanco for the final weeks of the regular season.
Polanco also has postseason experience with three different clubs during his career, always a valuable asset.
It was reported by Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com last week that Chicago Cubs closer Carlos Marmol cleared waivers. However, does any contending team have interest?
While Marmol has been outstanding in the second half, posting a 1.42 ERA with seven saves since the All-Star break, there has been no scuttlebutt on the net whatsoever regarding any team's possible interest in the 29-year-old closer.
The reason for that is likely his contract.
Marmol signed a three-year, $20 million contract prior to the 2011 season that was heavily back-loaded. Marmol is due to make $9.8 million next year in the final year of the deal.
While his recent play has been encouraging, no team is willing to take on that additional year for a closer who has a history of streaky play throughout his career.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum recently gave Marmol a vote of confidence, saying he was comfortable going into next season with Marmol as his closer.
“I don’t see why not,” Sveum said. “Right now, knock on wood, he’s been as good as anybody in baseball (since) he’s been back in the closer’s role.
“I’m comfortable with him. … A lot of times people forget those last three outs are difficult (even) for the Trevor Hoffmans and the Dennis Eckersleys.”
Judging from the inactivity regarding Marmol, Sveum may be the only one that has that confidence.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.