With 15 days remaining until the deadline to make trades without going through the waiver process, normally this would be the time of year when activity on the trade front would start to pick up.
But that hasn't happened yet.
"I think we could see fewer deals done this [July] than we've seen in a while," one general manager said. "A lot of teams are looking, but there's not much available, and what is [available] is too expensive."
The market has been further cooled by a lack of sellers. Most teams are either buying or in a wait-and-see mode, and even those clubs that will likely be sellers at some point aren't ready to do so unless they fall further out of the race.
Through Sunday's games, 13 teams were within single digits of the Wild Card lead and 18 teams were within nine games of a division lead.
"Look at St. Louis," the GM said. "They're [8 1/2] out and [six] games under .500, they've got some guys [contending] teams would want, like [Jason] Isringhausen, but they're not selling. Why should they? The division's still winnable and maybe they get [Chris] Carpenter and [Mark] Mulder back and make a run. A lot of teams you might think are [sellers] are like that. They like their [respective] chances, and so they're not ready to start moving guys yet."
That does not mean there hasn't been plenty of talks between teams, and as long as the communication lines remain open, there's always a chance it could lead to a deal down the road.
Here's a trade front update as of Monday:
Angels: Once offered a $3 million contract by the Angels in 1998, 32-year-old right-handed starter Koji Uehara might still be a target for the team. Uehara, who signed with the Yomiuri Giants instead of the Angels, may be seeking to leave Japan to join the Major Leagues. If so, look for the Angels to get back in the bidding.
Astros: The Boston Globe reported that contenders around the league are watching the Astros to see if they'll hold a fire sale if they deem themselves out of postseason contention. The report indicates the Mets are "trying like crazy" to deal for ace starter Roy Oswalt, and the Red Sox will likely attempt to do the same. Oswalt, however, is one of Houston's untouchables. Brad Lidge, Dan Wheeler, Jason Jennings and Mike Lamb are expected to draw offers.
Brewers, Indians: The Dallas Morning News reported that the Indians, along with the Brewers, have shown "significant interest" in acquiring Rangers outfielder Kenny Lofton. The Indians, who had a scout watching the Rangers over the weekend, could certainly use their one-time center field staple. With David Dellucci injured and Trot Nixon having a disappointing season, the Tribe is looking for a veteran outfield bat.
Lofton was hitting .309 with 20 stolen bases entering play Monday. He has appeared in 84 playoff games, so he would provide postseason experience. It would be a reunion with the Indians, where the 40-year-old Lofton spent nine seasons. Lofton is signed for $6 million, which means he has roughly $2.6 million left. He gets an extra $100,000 if he's traded.
Mets: With an ailing rotation and memories of the 2006 postseason pitching problems fresh, the Mets are looking for starting pitching. With prime target Mark Buehrle out of the picture, the Mets have since been linked to fellow White Sox starters Jose Contreras and Javier Vazquez. The Mets are also in a difficult situation regarding their outfield. Moises Alou and Endy Chavez are both on the disabled list, which would make dealing Lastings Milledge a gamble, and in any case, Milledge's trade value is apparently not what it was a year ago.
Padres: GM Kevin Towers told the San Diego Union-Tribune that if he makes a trade, he is more likely to trade for a starting pitcher and a bench player. Towers previously acquired outfielder Milton Bradley and catcher Michael Barrett.
Pirates: As has been the case in recent years, the Bucs will likely be sellers in an effort to continue to strengthen the club's young core. Pitchers Salomon Torres, Shawn Chacon and Tony Armas Jr. and shortstop Jack Wilson are among the veterans who could be moving on.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Monday that the Pirates are one of several teams that have inquired about the availability of Braves rookie catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. According to the paper, the Braves want a young but established pitcher in return for Saltalamacchia, who can also play first base. Two pitchers fitting that bill from the Pirates are Ian Snell and Tom Gorzelanny.
Royals: As reported previously by MLB.com, the Royals are interested in moving outfielder Reggie Sanders, but Sanders must first demonstrate that the hamstring problem that has kept him on the disabled list since May has healed. Sanders hit .367 in limited duty earlier this season, and if healthy, could be the corner-outfield bat with power that some contending teams have been seeking.
Twins, Yankees: Both teams are reportedly interested in Oakland first baseman Dan Johnson, who is hitting .257 with 10 homers. Trading Johnson would open up first base for highly touted and heavy-hitting prospect Daric Barton. The 21-year-old is hitting .322 with six homers and 51 RBIs with Triple-A Sacramento.