We are another day closer to the trade deadline, and the three biggest arms available remain with their current teams.
Rumors have been flying recently regarding the futures of David Price, Cole Hamels and Jon Lester. All three starting pitchers would be fantastic acquisitions for teams harboring World Series hopes.
However, no significant plays have been made on any of the three aces. That could change in the coming days.
Here are updates on two of the top three left-handers in addition to one veteran who's a slightly cheaper— but still effective—option.
You'd think Hamels would be viewed as the consolation prize for teams unable to grab either Lester or Price. However, the way the Philadelphia Phillies are valuing Hamels, it would appear the veteran lefty is the most prized asset at the trade deadline.
According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Philly is asking for a king's ransom in return for Hamels:
Yet, according to one-ranking official directly involved with the talks, the Los Angeles Dodgers recently asked for Hamels. They were told the price would be three of their top prospects - center fielder Joc Pederson, shortstop Corey Seager and left-handed pitcher Julio Urias.
Sorry, the Dodgers said, but no interest.
The Phillies haven't dropped their price tag, and are insisting on three top prospects and a mid-tier prospect in any deal for Hamels. Yet, since no one else has come forward, they could lower the asking price if Hamels is packaged with bad, bloated contracts like ones belonging to Howard and Papelbon, clearing more than $150 million off the books.
Another potential hang-up is the Phillies' insistence that whoever trades for Hamels will have to foot a lot of the bill for his remaining contract. ESPN.com's Jayson Stark reported that Philadelphia will only pay $10 million toward his deal, meaning his new team would be paying out $20 million a year for his services.
Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweeted out that the 30-year-old is less likely to be traded than Price or Lester:
If the Phillies reach a point where they want to trade Hamels, they'll have to settle for one of two scenarios: They eat a ton of money but get great prospects, or they don't pay much of his deal and get a slightly lesser trade return.
They can't have it both ways.
For now, though, Philadelphia looks content to hold onto Hamels.
The Tampa Bay Rays' resolve won't be shaken. They're content to hold onto David Price if they feel the return isn't good enough.
In fact, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman reported that their asking price—no pun intended—has actually risen:
'I believe so,' one person familiar with their thinking said when asked whether they'd likely hold onto their stars. 'Simply put, it will take more than it would have a few weeks back'
Most folks believe the price will be too high for a trade now. They've come from 18 games below .500 to two below, at 52-54, following their 10th win in 11 games. They are only four games out of a wild-card position.
'Guessing Price is sold at 200 percent markup or not moved,' one rival GM said.
Heyman added that the Dodgers were one of the biggest players for Price. With Hamels and Lester on the market, Los Angeles will likely decide that the Rays ace costs too much.
Fox Sports' Jon Morosi reported that Price will start today's game against the Milwaukee Brewers unless something earth-shattering happens:
Since the 28-year-old isn't a free agent until after next season, you can understand why Tampa is holding out for the best deal possible. Price is also among the hottest pitchers in the majors. He's won his last five starts, posting a 1.36 ERA (per Baseball-Reference.com).
The Rays are smart to wait until next season. The market might not be as flush with starting pitching, and it's possible teams would be more desperate to get him.
If Lester, Price and Hamels all fall through, why not go after baseball's version of Benjamin Button, Bartolo Colon?
As entertaining as he is to watch, Colon would be a nice addition for a team hoping to finish strong in the stretch run and make the playoffs. Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reported that the Kansas City Royals are interested in both he and A.J. Burnett:
A new possibility has emerged for the Mets’ Bartolo Colon, although it remains to be seen how serious it is. According to major league sources, the Kansas City Royals are considering making a run at one of Monday night’s starters in New York, Colon or Philadelphia’s A.J. Burnett.
This nugget comes with the significant caveat that the Royals might not be able to add the payroll necessary to acquire either pitcher. That will be determined over the next few days, but the team’s evaluators are said to like both veterans.
The playoff door isn't completely closed on the Royals. They may be five games back of the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central, but they're only 3.5 back in the wild-card race at the time of writing.
Taking on Colon's contract would be an issue, but if Kansas City is serious about improving, it will make the finances work somehow.