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.
Greinke officially on the block: Starting pitching is the story of the day. Thursday brought significant news in the chase for rotation help, as the Brewers officially conceded that Zack Greinke will in fact be traded before Tuesday's Deadline.
General manager Doug Melvin confirmed his stance to USA Today on Thursday. Now the question is when, and to whom, Greinke will be moved.
Atlanta has long been an avid pursuer of the former American League Cy Young Award winner, and given that the Braves are apparently out on Ryan Dempster, they are free to focus all of their efforts on getting a deal done with Milwaukee. The Rangers also have strong interest, according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan and Mark Bowman, and reports have suggested that the White Sox could get in on the chase as well.
According to Bowman, the Braves will be a favorite if and when Greinke hits the open market this winter. But that may present a challenge for general manager Frank Wren. It may be hard to justify giving up the farm for Greinke when the Braves might be able to get him for only cash over the winter.
With Cole Hamels off the market, Greinke is unquestionably the No. 1 starter available, and it's likely more clubs will get involved over the coming days. It wouldn't be shocking if a deal is done before Sunday, when Greinke is next slated to pitch for the Brewers. Every start that a contender gets from him has value, so there may be urgency to get a trade done before then.
The other guys: Greinke can only go to one team, and there are quite a few teams seeking rotation help. So the market seems to be taking shape for the various Plan B options around the two leagues.
James Shields has emerged as a pitcher of significant interest to several teams. The Rangers seem to be high on that list, Sullivan writes, and Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers also have an eye on the Tampa Bay right-hander. Shields isn't having a great year, but he was an AL Cy Young Award contender last year. And he's been tremendously durable, which is an advantage over someone like Marlins ace Josh Johnson.
Texas ranks Greinke and Shields at the top of its priority list, while the Dodgers still seem to be focused on Dempster. If that can't get done, Shields would be an option for Los Angeles. He could potentially land with either Los Angeles team, actually, since the Angels have interest as well. Shields has the benefit of a very club-friendly contract, with team options through 2014.
Then there's Matt Garza, who, like Shields, has proven himself in the AL East. Garza's problem is health. He's currently sitting with a triceps injury, and he's not scheduled to pitch until Monday -- the day before the Deadline. If Garza is healthy, he could fetch a significant return. If he's not, he's unlikely to be dealt.
Marte provides leverage: The Pirates made an addition without a trade on Thursday. They called up their top offensive prospect, outfielder Starling Marte, ranked No. 31 among all prospects by MLB.com entering the year. Marte has been on a torrid pace in June and July after a somewhat slow start to the year, and there's some chance that he could be the offensive answer the Bucs are seeking.
That doesn't mean they're done looking, though. MLB.com's Tom Singer points out that Marte actually provides Pittsburgh some leverage in its search for another bat. If he takes off, the Pirates are in a position where they can walk away from unfavorable deals and concentrate on getting something truly productive done.
It's worth noting that they'd like to do that. Even with Marte on the roster, the Bucs are seeking to add a bat to deepen their lineup. Opportunities like this year don't come around every year at PNC Park, and they're trying to seize it.
Yanks to stay in-house: Ah, the luxury of a 7 1/2-game division lead. The Yankees are showing no urgency whatsoever to add a third baseman in the wake of Alex Rodriguez's wrist injury.
They might have some interest in a secondary piece, perhaps a platoon option to take a little of the strain off of Eric Chavez, but as far as pursuing someone like Chase Headley or Aramis Ramirez, it looks like a no-go. In fact, general manager Brian Cashman told ESPNNewYork.com that "Eric Chavez is the solution," about as firm a declaration as general managers ever make at this time of year.
The Yankees are in very little danger of falling out of their division lead, and they expect Rodriguez back before the regular season ends. So they're just not going to be that aggressive in seeking a third-base option to fill in for Rodriguez.
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.