Or it could wind up being an actual waiver claim, as the White Sox found out last year when the Blue Jays said Chicago could have outfielder Alex Rios and the $60 million or so left on his contract.
With names like Manny Ramirez, Adam Dunn and Derrek Lee possibly still floating around, August brings a new brand of trade intrigue, with a dose of contract issues mixed with the never-ending search for one more piece to the puzzle.
"I think you'll see a lot of action in the [trade] game still in August," Cubs GM Jim Hendry said.
It's a second chance for some teams to catch up on some business that they weren't able to get done before the non-waiver Deadline. That means the White Sox search for a big bat and the Rays' search for that one more piece to keep up with the Yankees and more will be ongoing.
You can count the Red Sox in the category of those still searching, and it shouldn't come as a shock if they're involved in some business this month.
"I think we have the resources, both in prospects and dollars, to reach out in August, if appropriate, to help this team," Boston GM Theo Epstein said.
The nuts and bolts:
Over the next month, deals involving players on 40-man rosters cannot be made unless the players have cleared waivers. A player exposed to waivers can be claimed by any team and -- if there are multiple claims -- the player would be offered to the team with the lesser record.
At that point, a team has 48 hours to either try to work out a trade with the claiming club or remove the player from waivers. A player can only be pulled back from waivers once, but if he clears waivers either the first or a second time through, a team can attempt to trade him to any club.
This year's names to watch could include Ramirez -- depending on how the Dodgers fare in the dog days of his last season under contract -- and other big names with big contracts such as the Cubs' Carlos Zambrano and Lee. Zambrano is owed about $60 million through 2013, so a claim is unlikely and a trade prohibitive, but Lee can be a free agent at the end of the season. The catch for Lee: Although the Cubs played the part of sellers before the non-waiver Deadline, he invoked his no-trade clause to reject a deal to the Angels.
The rumors surrounding Dunn also figure to continue through the month, unless or until he and the Nationals come to an agreement on a long-term contract. It's hard to imagine, however, that he would get through waivers without being claimed, and the Nationals wouldn't just let him go (a la the Blue Jays and Rios last year), knowing that they're due compensation Draft picks if he leaves as a free agent. The approximately $4 million left on his contract isn't much of a deterrent for teams that might want him, or might want to keep foes from getting him, to put in a claim.
Usual suspects for August trades are veterans who have been there before, like starters Livan Hernandez of the Nationals and Kevin Millwood of the Orioles, or pieces to the puzzle that could help a team down the stretch -- like the D-backs' Adam LaRoche and Kelly Johnson, both signed to one-year deals but not among those traded out of Arizona in July.
Could the Brewers' Prince Fielder, making $10.5 million this year and eligible for arbitration next year, draw interest in August as well? Is Chone Figgins a trade possibility if the Mariners can find a taker for the remainder of his four-year, $36 million contract that runs through 2013?
As long as any deals are consummated before the end of business on Aug. 31, the players acquired are eligible for postseason play with their new teams -- which makes Aug. 31 a harder deadline of sorts than July 31.
Last year was a pretty big year for August deals -- with Rios going in the waiver claim to the White Sox, and waivers sparking trades of Carl Pavano to the Twins, Scott Kazmir to the Angels and Billy Wagner to the Red Sox, all of whom pitched in the postseason for their new teams.
In other August deals, Jamie Moyer went from the Mariners to the Phillies in 2006, Larry Walker went from the Rockies to the Cardinals in 2004, Rickey Henderson went from the Padres to the Angels in 1997, and two of the most famous lopsided trades in history -- John Smoltz from the Tigers to the Braves for Doyle Alexander in 1987, and Jeff Bagwell from the Red Sox to the Astros for Larry Andersen in 1990 -- took place after the players passed through waivers.
The lure of the August deal is that extra boost toward the playoffs, and one player can be just the ticket for that. You might wind up with a pitcher who helps down the stretch and returns the following year, or the guy who catches the final out in the World Series.
"Sometimes you help yourself with those guys," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said before the non-waiver Deadline. "We got [Vicente] Padilla that way a year ago, and when I was with the Yankees we got Charlie Hayes that way. You can continue to pick up some players who can help you."