It's now less than a week 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 some significant moves have already taken place.
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.
Wandy finally moves on: One of the longest goodbyes in recent memory was completed on Tuesday night when Wandy Rodriguez was sent to Pittsburgh for three prospects. It seems like a nice haul for the Astros, who will be paying a good chunk of Rodriguez's salary, but in the near term, the intrigue is on the other side of the deal.
Rodriguez, rumored to be out the door for at least a year now, has a new home -- and it's in the same division, in a friendlier ballpark for left-handed pitchers. It may seem odd that the Pirates, who are third best in the league in runs allowed and 11th in runs scored, added a starter rather than a bat. But a closer look indicates that it makes sense.
Pittsburgh's starters come with few guarantees -- James McDonald has faded a bit lately and has never thrown more than 171 innings in a big league season. Erik Bedard's health history is well known. And Kevin Correia has been decent, but is certainly replaceable. Adding a dependable, consistently effective starter like Rodriguez gives the Pirates considerable security and some insurance against a breakdown from one of their other starters.
And maybe most important, they're not done. The Bucs would still love to add an outfielder, especially one who contributes on both sides of the ball. One name to watch is the Angels' Peter Bourjos. There's a potential fit there, with Los Angeles willing to deal Bourjos for a bullpen upgrade and Pittsburgh flush with relievers who might be available for an outfielder.
Bourjos also fits one other key criterion for the Pirates: He's not going to be expensive for a good while yet. He still has that coveted "zero-to-three" status, meaning that he's not yet eligible for arbitration.
Tatman to Tampa Bay: The Rays have made a small move, acquiring "Tatman" Ryan Roberts from Arizona for Minor Leaguer Tyler Bortnick. The move doesn't necessarily reveal anything about either team's intentions between now and the Deadline, and instead reflects more short-term realities. Tampa Bay needed a player fitting Roberts' description, able to play third base and a couple of other positions while offering the potential for some offense. Arizona needed a roster spot for John McDonald and wanted to clear playing time for youngster Ryan Wheeler.
The Rays remain one of the most intriguing teams around, with the possibility of buying, selling or both depending on the offer. Few teams play their cards closer to the vest than Tampa Bay.
Arizona, meanwhile, does not appear headed for any sort of large-scale selloff. MLB.com's Steve Gilbert wrote Tuesday night that general manager Kevin Towers has more or less ruled out dealing Justin Upton or Stephen Drew prior to the Deadline. The Snakes are playing to win in 2012, and they've decided -- wisely, it would seem -- that their best chance of doing so is with Upton and Drew on the roster.
Nats narrow their focus: The official company line from the Nationals is that they're not interested in a starter, thanks to the presence of John Lannan and to a lesser extent Chien-Ming Wang. And yet MLB.com's Joey Nowak reports Tuesday that it might not be quite so cut and dried.
Per Nowak's report, Washington won't add a warm body just to add one, which makes sense due to the aforementioned hurlers. But if the Nats could bring in a starter more of the impact variety, someone who'd be an actual upgrade over those gentlemen, they'd consider it. Washington is still facing a shutdown of ace Stephen Strasburg once he reaches an innings limit, believed to be somewhere in the 160-170 range.
In the meantime, it seems Washington would like to add a middle infielder, shoring up an area that is currently compromised due to Ian Desmond's injury. That's a much more achievable goal and seems a more likely outcome for the National League East leaders.
More Dempster fallout: It doesn't seem that a great deal has changed regarding Ryan Dempster's situation since Tuesday afternoon. However, MLB.com's Mark Bowman notes an interesting wrinkle in the dealings.
Atlanta, which had formerly been loath to include any of its top pitching prospects in any deal, agreed to send Randall Delgado to Chicago for Dempster in a deal that's still on hold. That caught other teams' eyes and has them calling back on at least one player they once thought was untouchable. If the Dempster deal doesn't go through, the Braves might have more potential partners than previously believed. Atlanta continues to covet Zack Greinke, but he won't come cheap at all.