You never know how any trade rumor will play out until the deal is done.
We can sit at our computer screens and read trade rumors 'til our eyes turn to goop and often times we're still no more informed than my grandma.
Just look at last night's Dan Haren trade—did it even occur to anyone that the Angels were serious suitors for the D-Backs' ace?
But even if we don't really know what's going on behind the scenes, it sure is fun to speculate.
In this slideshow are 10 of the most discussed players who could be moved before the trade deadline on Saturday, with arguments for why each player will and won't be traded, followed by my "Deal or no deal?" prediction.
This could be one of the most active deadlines in recent memory. Whatever happens, it will sure be fun to watch.
Why he'd go: Astros GM Ed Wade has finally realized that the team has to rebuild. Moving Oswalt and the roughly $24 million he's owed over the next year-and-a-half would be a big step in the right direction.
Why he'd stay: Oswalt holds a full no-trade clause and is threatening to block a deal to any team that won't pick up his $16 million option for 2012.
That brings the total commitment to $40 million; not many teams could easily pick up the whole tab, and the Astros won't leap at the chance to pay their former ace to pitch for another team.
That's on top of the premier crop of players Houston is demanding in return—the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Derrick Goold says the Astros want “two top prospects, a third minor-league player and a young player who is ‘major league ready’” in exchange for their ace.
Deal or no deal?There's no turning back now. Deciding to hold onto Oswalt now would be like leaving a restaurant after the waiter takes your order.
Oswalt appears to have reneged somewhat on his demand for 2012, and is even open to restructuring his contract to accommodate the team he likes most—the Cardinals.
St. Louis is the likely front-runner in the Oswalt derby, though the Phillies could emerge from the pack if they can work out a three-way deal involving Jayson Werth.
Why he'd go: With top prospect Domonic Brown waiting in the wings, the Phillies have no reason to re-sign Werth at the end of the season. In flipping him now, they could presumably acquire the promising youngsters they'd need to land Oswalt.
Why he'd stay: The Phillies are down, but they're not out; less than four games away from a playoff spot, sending away their best hitter would be questionable, to say the least.
Dealing Werth would presumably mean acquiring a top-flight pitcher to serve as Roy Halladay's deputy.
Sure, a second ace would probably be more important in a playoff series than a solid right fielder, but given that the best candidate to replace him has just 25 career games above Double-A, one has to wonder if the Phillies would be able to reach the playoffs without Werth.
Deal or no deal? While no specific trade scenario strikes me as likely to happen, I think the odds of either the Phillies landing Oswalt or the team simply deciding to give Brown a chance add up to more than 50 percent.
The Rays have somehow emerged as his assumed suitors, though given their roster depth, he might not be worth their while.
More likely candidates are the injury-battered Red Sox, who are no longer in pursuit of Jacoby Ellsbury, and the Tigers, who are in sudden need of a replacement for Magglio Ordonez.
Why he'd go: After proving that they're no longer the laughingstock of the baseball world with a hot April, the Nationals have fallen out of playoff contention. Unless they want to keep him around long-term, he's the quintessential trade deadline sell candidate.
Why he'd stay: The Nationals' philosophy towards Dunn is an unwavering fantasy that he will remain in Washington for years to come—a foolish desire, given his abysmal defense, but that's besides the point.
The team is still optimistic about coming to terms on an extension within the next five days, which is ridiculous given that these talks have been supposedly ongoing since Spring Training and that the only reason he ever upped with the Nats was that he didn't have a choice.
Furthering the problem is GM Mike Rizzo's insane asking price. He's reportedly demanding Gordon Beckham from the White Sox in exchange for "Big Donkey," which is about as likely as Washington offering Stephen Strasburg.
Deal or no deal? The Nationals' hubris will be their undoing. Unless Rizzo does a complete mea culpa this week, the ChiSox (along with every other interested team) will go after one of the several available power hitters who won't cost them their brightest future star.
Why he'd go: The Brewers aren't going anywhere anytime soon, and Hart will command a huge arbitration raise after the season—if he got almost $5 million in in his second arb-eligible year after posting 12 homers and 48 RBI with a .753 OPS, just think how much he'll get this winter now that he's on pace to go 40/126/.917.
Why he'd stay: The Brew Crew might not be ready to give up on next season, so they could decide to keep him around.
More importantly, though, Hart left Friday's game with a thumb injury. If he doesn't prove he's healthy before the deadline, he won't have to worry about cleaning out his locker.
Deal or no deal? The injury doesn't appear to be anything serious, so while his thumb may delay a trade, it probably won't prevent one.
With the possible exceptions of Dunn and Werth, Hart is probably the best outfielder available. Surely some team will make Milwaukee a good offer—expect it to be the Braves.
Why he'd go: The Blue Jays are out of the playoff picture, so they have no reason to hold onto Downs, a soon-to-be free agent. His 2.45 ERA and 3.44 K/BB ratio make him one of the best of a pretty thin crop of available relievers.
Why he'd stay: Downs projects as a Type A free agent after the season, and the Jays value their anticipated compensation picks. They want a better package than their expected draft bonuses, and many teams are balking at the cost.
Deal or no deal? With few alternatives available, some desperate team will give in to Toronto's demands—or at least come close enough for the Jays to compromise.
The Red Sox could be the best bet to land him; they're in desperate need of a seventh-inning bridge to Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon.
Why he'd go: A utility man with pop would be useful for a lot of teams, but a rebuilding club sitting 31.5 games out of first isn't one of them.
Why he'd stay: With the Orioles firmly out of the race, rumors started circling about Wigginton's availability more than two months ago. The main reason he's still in Baltimore is the O's' exorbitant asking price.
GM Andy MacPhail is reportedly demanding a quality young shortstop in exchange for Wigginton, a 32-year-old utility man who's gone .209/299/.310 since May 23.
It seems like every report of a team being interested in him contains the phrase "but the price is too high."
Deal or no deal? At least the Nationals can justify their demands for Adam Dunn because he would probably be the best hitter to be dealt this season.
The Orioles could have made a similar claim about Wigginton a couple months ago, but not any more.
The market is filled with potentially available, similarly skilled utility infielders who could be obtained much less painfully. If the O's don't back down, they'll get nothing.
Why he'd go: MLB's home run leader is due for a massive arbitration raise this winter, and Toronto will have trouble paying him what he's due.
Why he'd stay: After a strong start to the 2010 season, the Blue Jays might fancy themselves contenders in 2011. In that case, they wouldn't want to lose their most powerful bat.
Deal or no deal? The Blue Jays probably don't want to trade Bautista, but for a player with his power and versatility, he could help a lot of clubs in a lot of ways. I'm betting some team will make them an offer they can't refuse.
With an outfielder and a third baseman on the DL, the Tigers could definitely use Bautista to fill either spot and are probably the frontrunners for his services.
The Angels and White Sox are rumored to be interested as well, but the acquisitions of Dan Haren and Alberto Callaspo probably take Los Angeles out of the running, and Chicago seems to care more about obtaining a power hitter than Bautista specifically.
Why he'd go: He'll likely earn upwards of $6 million in 2011—probably more than the stingy Marlins would be willing to pay for an outfielder when they have so many other options available.
Why he'd stay: Florida would be selling low on Ross, who's in the midst of his worst offensive season since 2006. In addition, while Ross probably has a lower long-term ceiling than the Fish' other outfield options (Cameron Maybin, Michael Stanton, and 2009 NL ROY Chris Coghlan), he's been their best outfielder this year.
Most importantly, though, the Marlins have gone 8-2 since the All-Star Break and now sit less than seven games out of a Wild Card spot. In other words, the front office isn't ready to sell.
Deal or no deal? At this point, it seems likely that Florida will hold onto him. He might be gone by next year, but he should finish the season in Miami.
Why he'd go: He's a free agent after the season, so if the Marlins wave the white flag there will be no reason to keep him. And even if they still think they're in the race by the end of the week, it's not like Cantu (.721 OPS) is doing them much good anyway.
Why he'd stay: The Marlins might not think top prospect Logan Morrison is ready for the Big Show. Other than that (and that's not necessarily a good reason), they should accept any offer that seems tempting.
Deal or no deal? Most teams see Cantu as a utility player or a backup infielder, not as a starter. In other words, he doesn't belong in Florida's lineup anyway.
Given that he's attracted interest from a number of teams, the Marlins should send him to another team and get something in return instead of just putting him on the bench and getting nothing.
If they're not ready to call up Morrison, fine, but why not deal Cantu and use whoever they get as the center of a package for someone like Adam LaRoche?
The Rangers, seeking insurance for the volatile Chris Davis, seem to be the frontrunners at the moment.
The Rockies are also struggling for an infield bat, and the Giants are so desperate for offense that Cantu would become one of their best hitters.
Why he'd go: The Brewers can't afford to sign him long-term and aren't likely to be contenders before his contract expires next year. If they were willing to eat some salary, they could rake in a huge return at the deadline.
Why he'd stay: Milwaukee is understandably hesitant to raise the white flag on 2011 eight months before Opening Day, They aren't wild about paying him to play for another team, and, like the Nationals, have asked for Gordon Beckham in return.
Deal or no deal? Trading Fielder would make a good deal of sense, but unfortunately it's probably not going to happen.
Don't count the White Sox out yet, but Beckham is essentially untouchable. The Angels, who were most likely to be willing to take on salary in such a deal, probably don't want to lose too many more prospects after selling the farm for Dan Haren.