Trade winds rustle a few branches
Blockbusters fizzle, but handful of players find new homes
Some two dozen trades involving at least one Major Leaguer have been made since May 28. Not only were the numbers down from previous seasons, the marquee names were also missing from the deals that did go down before Sunday's 4 p.m. ET deadline to make trades without going through the waiver process.
Unlike recent midsummer sessions, when such talents at Carlos Beltran, Nomar Garciaparra, Kris Benson, Shannon Stewart and Aramis Ramirez changed teams, this year's bartering did not include any blockbuster deals or superstars changing teams.
Among the more notable players changing uniforms were Preston Wilson, Bret Boone, Joe Randa, Matt Lawton, Kyle Farnsworth, Jody Gerut, Jay Payton, Eric Byrnes, Shawn Chacon and Phil Nevin.
After weeks of communication between buyers and sellers and endless speculation, the biggest names on the market stayed where they were, including Boston's Manny Ramirez, Kansas City's Mike Sweeney and Jeremy Affeldt, Texas' Alfonso Soriano, Baltimore's Sidney Ponson, Cincinnati's Adam Dunn, Austin Kearns, Sean Casey and Ken Griffey Jr., Pittsburgh's Mark Redman and Jose Mesa, Florida's A.J. Burnett and San Francisco's Jason Schmidt.
This summer session was a bear market thin on top talent. There were only a handful of sellers, which further served to drive up prices of the players who were on the market. Buyers kept waiting for prices to fall, but in most cases it didn't happen.
"We're not buying the hundred-dollar carton of milk," Boston GM Theo Epstein said. "It just doesn't make sense. We'll find something else to substitute in the recipe instead."
The Red Sox picked up Tony Graffanino and Alex Cora, but held on to Ramirez after negotiations with the Mets broke down.
"If you take a narrow view of it we didn't make a deal today, but we did make lots of smaller transactions that have bolstered this big league team," Epstein said. "[Ramirez is] really happy to be here. This is where he wants to be, this is where he is and as we demonstrated through our actions in the end, we want Manny, too."
For most teams, standing pat or something close to it was the order of the day.
"There's nothing out there that makes sense for us," Houston GM Tim Purpura said. "We're not going to do something that mortgages our future, financially. If we do anything, it has to make sense in the long term as well as these next two months."
While it is not unheard of for teams leading their division race or the Wild Card to stand pat, that five of the current eight leaders made a combined total of three trades in July is something that hasn't happened in the last 10 years.
Three teams leading their division or the Wild Card race -- the Cardinals, Angels and Astros -- had not made a July trade while the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves acquired Minor Leaguer Matt Lorenzo from the Rangers for pitcher Kevin Gryboski, and Farnsworth from Detroit for Zach Miner and Roman Colon.
The White Sox finally made a move Sunday morning, acquiring infielder Geoff Blum from San Diego for Minor Leaguer Ryan Meaux.
Talks were ongoing on several fronts, but most GMs did not expect to make deals in the final hours before the deadline.
"There's nothing going on," Kansas City GM Allard Baird said Sunday. "I have not spoken to anybody this morning and I don't anticipate anything happening. If it does, it would surprise me."
The weekend leading up to the deadline saw several other deals go down, but nothing that could be characterized as blockbuster.
The Red Sox picked up Jose Cruz Jr. from Arizona for right-hander Kyle Bono, infielder Kenny Perez and cash considerations. The notion that Cruz was coming in to take Ramirez's spot on the roster was quickly quashed, however, as the Red Sox indicated Ramirez wasn't going to be traded.
Seattle made a trio of deadline-beating deals, sending catcher Miguel Olivo to San Diego for catcher Miguel Ojeda and right-hander Nathanel Mateo. The Mariners also acquired right-hander Jesse Foppert and catcher Yorvit Torrealba from San Francisco for outfielder Randy Winn, and sent lefty Ron Villone to Florida for Yorman Bazardo and Michael Flannery.
Winn's arrival in San Francisco would seem logical if the Giants were preparing to package their excess outfielder(s) for another move, but nothing had transpired as of Sunday evening.
The Yankees' search for pitching led the club to Chacon, who was acquired from Colorado. The right-hander became the 10th different Yankees pitcher to start a game this month, something that hasn't happened since August of 1959.
Clubs kept open the possibility of last-minute deals, but overall the market headed toward the deadline with as few transactions as it witnessed during recent weeks.
There were, however, a few players changing teams. Here's a rundown of this summer's other deals to date:
Baltimore and Colorado swapped outfielders, with Eric Byrnes going to the Orioles and Larry Bigbie going to the Rockies.
For Byrnes, it was the second change of address in two weeks. On July 13 he had been dealt, along with infielder Omar Quintanilla, from Oakland to Colorado for pitchers Jay Witasick and Joe Kennedy.
Oakland obtained Payton from Boston in exchange for pitcher Chad Bradford.
The Padres tried to send Nevin to the Orioles for Ponson, but Nevin vetoed that deal. San Diego eventually sent Nevin to Texas for right-hander Chan Ho Park.
The Rockies sent Chacon to the Yankees for right-handed pitchers Ramon Ramirez and Eduardo Sierra.
The Nationals traded pitcher Zach Day and outfielder J.J. Davis to Colorado for center fielder Preston Wilson.
The Padres acquired veteran third baseman Joe Randa from the Reds for Minor League pitchers Justin Germano and Travis Chick.
The Red Sox obtained veteran infielder Graffanino from Kansas City for left-hander Juan Cedeno and outfielder Chip Ambres.
The Yankees picked up lefty Al Leiter from the Marlins for a player to be named.
The Indians and Cubs, two teams who spent the month of July on the cusp of contention, swapped outfielders, with Gerut going to the Cubs and Jason Dubois joining the Indians. Gerut spent two weeks with the Cubs before getting traded to Pittsburgh on Sunday for Lawton.
In June, the Phillies obtained reliever Ugueth Urbina and infielder Ramon Martinez from Detroit for second baseman Placido Polanco.
The Giants started things off on May 28 by sending pitchers Jerome Williams and David Aardsma to the Cubs for reliever LaTroy Hawkins.
Pittsburgh, thought to be one of the busiest teams on the trade front, made just two moves, acquiring Minor League infielder J.J. Furmaniak from San Diego for catcher David Ross and then getting Gerut for Lawton just before the deadline.
The Tigers acquired infielder John McDonald from the Toronto Blue Jays for a player to be named later.
Boone went to Minnesota on July 11 for a player to be named later and cash.
The Phillies sent Tim Worrell and cash considerations to Arizona for infielder Matt Kata.
The Red Sox sent infielder Ramon Vazquez to Cleveland for Cora.
The Padres and Yankees started the month of July off with what would be one of the few multi-player deals to go through. The Padres obtained reliever Paul Quantrill while the Yankees picked up pitchers Darrell May, Tim Redding and cash considerations.
Jim Molony is a writer for MLB.com. MLB.com reporters contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.