x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

The period of subterfuge arrives in the MLB

The trading deadline period usually brings out the secretive side of the MLB sides.

July is Major League Baseball's month of little white lies.

It is four-plus weeks of smoke screens, bluffs and rumours leading to the trading deadline on the final day of the month. It is a crucial we-are-in or we-are-out period when teams must decide if they are buyers or sellers.

It is when contenders try to add key pieces and the non-contenders dump overpriced assets and free-agents-to-be. Trades will be made, but not before a delicatessen's worth of baloney will be spoken.

The general managers of losing teams will privately demand multiple prospects for a starting pitcher of modest or declining talent, while publicly claiming not to be shopping the pitcher at all.

The general managers of winning teams will privately seek to add anyone capable of delivering just one extra victory down the stretch, while publicly claiming to be thrilled with his team as currently constituted.

Players in the trade-rumour mill will publicly pledge undying loyalty to their bottom-feeding teams, while privately begging their agents to facilitate a move to a first-place team, like, yesterday.

In any case, get ready to hear these names, among many, in the gusty trade winds:

- Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies The veteran left-hander, an elite talent, has been through this twice before - going from Cleveland to Philadelphia in 2009 and from Seattle to Texas in 2010. The money due to him, up to US$77 million (Dh282.8m) through 2016, however, means only the super-wealthy need call.

- Jonathan Papelbon, Philadelphia Just 18 months after being wooed from Boston for $50m over four years, this top-shelf closer is like a Rolex on a dog in Philly.

- Matt Garza, Chicago Cubs The sturdy right-hander is having a nice run, which the Cubbies should convert into two more prospects who will never win a World Series.

- Andre Ethier, LA Dodgers If the Dodgers fail to vault into contention in the next few weeks, the best opportunity to shed one of their four expensive outfielders (along with Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford and Yasiel Puig) is now.

- Jake Peavy, Chicago White Sox The injury-prone right-hander arrived in a July 2009 trade and could leave the disappointing Sox the same way.

- Jesse Crain, White Sox The hard-throwing set-up man is putting up Papelbon numbers without the Papelbon price tag.

- Alex Rios, White Sox Still vibrant at 32, the middle-of-the-order hitter is producing runs in a vacuum.

- Bud Norris, Houston The Astros are going so young, so cheap that even a 28-year-old, $3m starter has been in the wrong city all along.

- Glen Perkins, Minnesota Closers having great seasons for crummy teams are always gossip magnets, but especially in July.

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