It's now five 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.
Whither JJ? No player seems to draw more contradictory reports than Marlins right-hander Josh Johnson. Depending on whom you read, he's either already halfway out the door or there's no chance he's going anywhere. Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, however, reports that it's closer to the latter than the former.
Frisaro wrote Wednesday that the Fish are "planning on retaining" Johnson, but that they're maintaining their usual stance that almost nobody is completely untouchable. And in a market where the top starting pitcher, Cole Hamels, is already off the board, Miami could receive a pretty convincing offer for Johnson.
Among the teams that appear to be in on Johnson are the Rangers and the Blue Jays, and if he officially hits the market, the list of suitors will likely grow long. Even with a spotty health history, Johnson has the stuff to be a front-of-the-rotation starter, and there aren't a lot of those on the market this July or any time.
Phillies fallout The Phillies signed Hamels to a long-term megadeal late on Tuesday night, indicating that at least one piece won't be sold from the reigning NL East champs. But that doesn't necessarily mean there's much more clarity in the Phils' situation than there was 24 or 48 hours ago.
Barring something really shocking, the Phillies still look more like sellers than buyers between now and the Deadline. MLB.com's Todd Zolecki reports that the Phillies could move Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence and maybe even Cliff Lee as they attempt to figure out exactly how to apportion their payroll and build a winning team in the near future.
There was some buzz around the Phils about the possibility of making a run following their fourth straight win, but the reality is that the odds are almost impossibly long. Even with the run, they're 14 games out in the National League East, 9 1/2 out in the Wild Card race, and needing to pass six teams to get into Wild Card position. They may not blow the whole thing up, but buying would be extremely hard to justify.
The A's keep searching: Oakland has one priority, and it's not a secret: general manager Billy Beane wants an infielder, ideally a shortstop. One leading candidate has come off the board with the trade of Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers, and MLB.com's Jane Lee reports that Oakland was in fact strongly in on Ramirez.
There's no shortage of fallbacks, though. Jimmy Rollins, Yunel Escobar and Stephen Drew have all been circled by trade rumors, and any would be an upgrade for a team that has watched Cliff Pennington struggle mightily at the plate this year. The problem for the A's is that none of those players' teams seem motivated to move them. The Blue Jays and D-Backs are still in contention, and the Phillies don't seem to have Rollins near the top of their for-sale list.
Few teams are bolder than the A's, so you can likely expect them to do something. But what exactly that something will look like remains to be determined.
Dodger makeover: Earlier today in this very space, it was noted that the Dodgers didn't part from the core of their farm system in order to add Ramirez, and so they could still strike a deal for Ryan Dempster. Remarkably, L.A. could still make not just one but two more acquisitions.
Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports that not only is Dempster in the picture, but the Dodgers would like to bring in another bat as well. The outfield is the first area that comes to mind, but the options aren't limited to flycatchers. Gurnick notes that the possibilities include Corey Hart, Aramis Ramirez, Chase Headley, Victorino, Pence and Michael Cuddyer.
"We're in the starting-pitcher market," general manager Ned Colletti said Wednesday. "We're in the market for another position player, maybe another reliever. We have the [financial] wherewithal as long as we can find somebody to do business with. We're still active."
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.