The non-waiver Trade Deadline is fast approaching, and the topic of trades is dominating baseball discussion these days. The expanded postseason format has complicated the picture, as many clubs are still deciding whether to buy, sell or stand pat.
From now until the July 31 Deadline, we'll be checking in on the trade news around baseball, with help from MLB.com's reporters. The countdown is under way.
Next? Paging the South Side ...
After the Matt Garza domino finally fell and the right-hander went to the Rangers, the natural question around baseball was who would be next, and a lot of people think it'll be Jake Peavy -- including Peavy, heading for a showcase start Thursday in Chicago.
Thing is, Peavy isn't the only one wearing pale hose who should be considering the possibility of playing elsewhere in August. Numerous reports have teams looking to acquire shortstop Alexei Ramirez, relievers Jesse Crain and Matt Lindstrom, outfielder Alex Rios and perhaps even high-priced slugger Adam Dunn.
So while much of the news lately has come from the North Side of Chicago, it's a good idea to keep an eye on the South Side, too.
On Wednesday, MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan reported that the Rangers are actively pursuing Rios, citing Major League sources. Part of the reason the Rangers are interested is because Rios, batting .278 with 12 home runs and 48 RBI in 95 games, is signed for 2014 and would give the team insurance if Nelson Cruz is suspended. Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com added via Twitter that the Rangers also could be interested in White Sox center fielder Alejandro De Aza.
According to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, the White Sox turned down a deal with the Cardinals for Ramirez that, according to a scouting source, involved pitcher Carlos Martinez, a right-hander rated as the Cards' No. 2 prospect by MLB.com. CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman reported the Sox did not turn down Martinez, however.
Gonzales also reported the Sox are skipping a Minor League rehab stint for Crain, ensuring he gets a Major League look off the DL before the Deadline hits next week, with the Red Sox, Braves, Dodgers, Reds and D-backs among the teams scouting not only Peavy but Crain.
Whether Rios is moved remains up in the air, with ESPN's Jayson Stark suggesting Rios' recent slump is cutting down on suitors; however, the Rangers are possibly still interested. Dunn, a slugger with a hunger for the postseason as the player with the most games played (1,812 and counting) without reaching the October tournament, would seem to be ripe for the picking in a Deadline deal, but his $15 million salary for 2014 seems prohibitive -- plus, he doesn't want to play in the playoffs anywhere else.
"I don't have any control over it, but I want to do that here," Dunn told MLB.com's Scott Merkin. "That's why I came here. I know everything hasn't worked out like I wanted it to or anyone has."
Melvin: Brewers not selling
With Francisco Rodriguez out the door, the Brewers have a few other pieces that teams reportedly are inquiring about, including starters Kyle Lohse and Yovani Gallardo.
But Brewers general manager Doug Melvin isn't going to label his team's plans one way or the other, except to say the Brewers aren't opening the barn door.
"I want to make this clear: We weren't going to trade K-Rod if we weren't going to get what we thought was a good deal," Melvin told MLB.com's Adam McCalvy and other reporters after the Rodriguez deal. "This isn't where we're selling. I'm not a believer in 'buyers' and 'sellers' -- I'm a believer in making a good deal. Deals that help good ballclubs are the best deals that work."
Melvin said he's received interest in some unnamed position players and said he's "not motivated" to move Lohse and he's "not shopping" Gallardo. Stark reported that any deal for Lohse would have to include a first-round pick, which the Brewers lost as compensation for signing him, and that Gallardo's stuff has not impressed scouts lately.
Marlins' Ruggiano likely a catch
During Deadline season, even a promotion can be a signal for action to come. Two promotions of top prospects make it even more likely that a trade is on the way.
As MLB.com's Joe Frisaro reported, that seems to be the case for Justin Ruggiano, for sure, and perhaps Juan Pierre as well, now that Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick have been promoted from Double-A Jacksonville.
Frisaro wrote that because Ruggiano is out of options and doesn't figure to be part of the team's plans next year. He is a strong candidate to be moved either at the Deadline or sometime in August during the waiver trade period. According to various reports, the Yankees, Rangers, Phillies and Giants have some level of interest in the 31-year-old outfielder, who's been mired in a slump this month. Pierre, a fan favorite, is less likely to be moved, Frisaro wrote.
Cubs back to work
After the Garza trade took up a lot of negotiating time, the Cubs are moving on to the next deal, which may or may not involve sending Alfonso Soriano back to his original organization, the Yankees.
Club president of baseball operations Theo Epstein met with Soriano in Arizona to discuss which teams he'd waive his no-trade rights to join. Numerous reports on Wednesday said Soriano let Epstein know that a move to the Yankees would be OK with him, although it's still his preference to stay in Chicago through his contract.
"I feel comfortable, but sometimes you have to move on," Soriano said, according to a tweet from MLB.com's Carrie Muskat, before taking a day off to clear his mind.
While Soriano's salary of $18 million this year and next is bound to be at issue in any negotiations, Epstein made it clear the Cubs remain willing to make moves this summer that will help the team in the long run.
"We're in that position where we can improve the organization by continuing to build a strong farm system," Epstein said. "It comes at the expense of a win or two the rest of the season, unfortunately, that's the position we're in. I'm not pleased that we're in this position, but I'm really pleased with the talent we've been able to bring into this organization."
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.