Seven hours or so until the non-waiver trade deadline and all is quiet on the Mets' front. The odd rumor about Raul Ibanez or Arthur Rhodes appears to have faded into the background as names like Ivan Rodriguez, Kyle Farnsworth and Latroy Hawkins change teams. Not that I'd be especially interested in any of those guys, though Pudge would represent an upgrade over Brian Schneider, if not so much over Ramon Castro (Pudge's otherworldly gamer-ness and clutchitude notwithstanding).
A few years ago, a team like the Reds that had no intention of resigning a player like Adam Dunn would just trade him to whomever would give them the best return. Now, thanks largely to Billy Beane, the Reds know that holding onto Dunn and allowing him to walk away at the end of the season means two fat draft picks for them next June. Armed with that information, the Reds can insist on a return that they value at least as much as those picks. If they don't find another team willing to pony up the players or prospects to meet or exceed the perceived value of those picks, well the Reds will just close up shop, book a couple of months worth of Dunn bombs and then wave goodbye in October.
Ibanez is in a similar position, though he isn't nearly as valuable as Dunn in the short- or long-term. Regardless, he will likely be a Type A free agent this offseason and would be worth the same two draft picks as Dunn or Albert Pujols or Alex Rodriguez or any other Type A. Were the current compensation system burned and discarded, the Mariners couldn't hope to get much more than a Carlos Muniz for Ibanez. As it stands, they're asking for Jon Niese or Robert Parnell, and the Mets are wise not to budge on those demands. If the Mets could get Ibanez for a couple of so-so prospects it'd be a coup, if only for the draft picks, and I guess the slightly-better-than-marginal upgrade that Ibanez represents over Endy Chavez. Chavez is a crummy hitter, but Ibanez is nothing to write home about, and over the course of 60 games the difference is almost negligible. Of course, the Mets proved last year that every game counts (as if we didn't already know that), so I suppose every little bit helps.
One rumor yesterday indicated that the Diamondbacks offered Chad Tracy for Dunn. That sounds like a pretty good deal for the Reds, and the Mets probably can't compete with that. The closest they have to Tracy would be Mike Carp, who has hit well at Binghamton. The caveat there is that he is repeating the league, so his performance is a little less impressive than it might have been last season.
Some small part of me thinks that Omar Minaya will pull off a last-minute deal for a name that we haven't even heard. I keep harping on Aaron Harang for some reason, mostly because he is still reasonably aged, is signed to a decent contract, and may actually be a bit undervalued this year as a result of his 4.76 ERA (95 ERA+). His peripheral stats are all very strong: 108 strikeouts, 34 walks in 123.0 innings. His .331 BABIP is quite a bit higher than his career norm of .314 and well above the usual league norm (~.300). His FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) is 4.24, which is a half-run lower than his actual ERA. Maybe he's run into a bit of bad luck this season. Again, as I've mentioned each time I've fawned over Harang these past few days, there's no real reason to believe that he's available, considering all of those things I just mentioned. Still, I have a funny feeling that Minaya might pull something out of his ass. He's got seven hours, so he better get some lube.
Then again, the non-waiver trade deadline is exactly that: the last day players can be traded from one team to another without having to pass through waivers. As we've seen in recent years, plenty of transactions take place in August despite the specter of waiver claims hanging over any deal. I don't necessarily think that a Manny Ramirez would clear waivers without being plucked by some team, but Jarrod Washburn or someone like that could. So, even if the Mets don't get anything done by 4pm EDT that doesn't mean they won't try to improve the team in August.