Cheap Seats

There doesn't seem to be much heat on the hot stove

In something of a surprise, at least to me, it appears that the trade market -- especially for starting pitchers -- has become pretty stagnant.

The Cubs tried -- and failed -- to deal Ryan Dempster for a mediocre prospect only to have him reject the deal to Atlanta and ask to be traded to the Dodgers instead. Now Los Angeles, with all the leverage, doesn't want to give up anything worthwhile for Dempster. Word out of Chicago is that the veteran righthander is more likely than not to stay put -- unless the Dodgers bid against themselves or the Wee Bears decide just to give Dempster away.

Another Cub, Matt Garza, is dealing with some supposedly minor maladies and won't pitch again until after the deadline. So the suspicion is that he is unlikely to be dealt.

James Shields of the Rays has gained some interest lately. But he's been miserable in July, which likely will depress his trade market. Why deal for a guy that is ice cold, especially if you're concerned that he might have an injury?

The one guy everyone seemed to want, Cole Hamels, is off the market after signing a ridiculous $144-million pact with the Phillies. That deal may prompt Philadelphia to try to flip one of its other pricey starters, most likely Cliff Lee. But his deal is ridiculous on its own. So he's going to be a tough sell if Philadelphia doesn't offer cash as part of the deal.

That leaves Zack Greinke, a guy who is limited by the perception that he couldn't handle the pressure of a competitive market. The Brewers are forced to sell because he won't take a deal Milwaukee has dangled. Doesn't sound like the Brewers are in a great spot to demand a princely return for their ace.

I don't know if the reason for the current hot stove league stagnation is the loss of draft pick compensation for traded free agents, if contending teams are happy with their pitching or if general managers' appetite for absorbing bad contracts has been exhausted. But I sure thought we'd see a lot more movement than we have up to this point when it comes to starting pitchers. The prospect offers don't just seem to be there like they have been in the past.

It seems the most action might come from bullpenners being shifted.

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