It is all up to the Tampa Bay Rays.
If the Rays are inclined, they can make the biggest deal before next Thursday's non-waiver trading deadline by sending left-hander David Price to another contender. The St. Louis Cardinals are reportedly pushing to be at the front of the line if indeed the team parts with Price.
Price is eligible for arbitration for the final time at the end of this season --- the 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner could easily wind up with a $20 million salary for 2015 through the process -- and free agency at the end of next season. The Rays would get maximum value if they traded Prince this week, when a team would have him for the rest of this season and all of next.
The Rays are 4 1/2 games out in the AL wildcard race and 7 1/2 games back in the AL East standings after winning 25 of their last 36 games. What president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman is weighing is whether to keep Price and go for what would be the franchise's first World Series title or trade him and get enough in return to set themselves up for a number of future runs at a championship.
While Friedman figures it out, here are five players who should be changing uniforms before the non-waiver deadline next Thursday:
--Bartolo Colon, RHP, Mets --- Colon is signed through next season and is still a very effective starting pitcher despite 41 years old and quite rotund However, the rebuilding Mets could use the young talent he could fetch in a trade. Colon is 9-8 with a 4.03 ERA and a fine 100/19 strikeout-walk ratio in 134 innings. He surely impressed scouts Wednesday when he retired the first 20 batters he faced in his start at Seattle.
--Jorge De La Rosa, LHP, Rockies --- Eligible for free agency at the end of the season, De La Rosa would make a nice rental starter for a contender. The 33-year-old is 11-6 with a 4.19 ERA in 21 starts, including an impressive 6-2 with a 3.49 ERA in 10 home starts in the thin air of Denver. He also opened scouts' eyes Wednesday by holding the National League-East leading Washington Nationals to two runs in 7 1/3 innings while out striking out 11.
--Jonathan Papelbon, RHP, Phillies --- Interest has been surprisingly light in a closer who has converted 23 of 26 save opportunities with a 1.96 ERA in 41 games. Furthermore, he has 309 saves in his 10-year career. However, Papelbon's personality rubs many people raw. He has been so vocal about wanting out of Philadelphia that the Phillies will absorb almost all of the remaining $31 million left on his contract to get rid of him.
--Alexei Ramirez, SS, White Sox --- Despite appearing in his first All-Star Game last week and hitting .280 with eight home runs and 17 stolen bases in 101 games, Ramirez is a goner in Chicago. He is 32, becomes a free agent at the end of the season and the White Sox have a ready-made replacement at Triple-A Charlotte in Carlos Sanchez.
--Kurt Suzuki, C, Twins --- Suzuki has been a great bargain for Minnesota after being signed to a one-year, $2.75-million contact as a free agent in the offseason as he has hit .312 in 84 games. He is outstanding handler of pitchers and a clubhouse favorite. However, Suzuki is also 30 and the foundering Twins need to find out if rookie Josmil Pinto is the long-term answer at catcher.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
--Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has been trying to fit four starting outfielders into three spots for more than a year and the situation is ready to come to a head --- and become a potential distraction in the midst of a tight NL West race with the San Francisco Giants.
Mattingly believes his best alignment is Andre Ethier in left field, Yasiel Puig in center fielder and Matt Kemp in right field.
Nothing wrong with that on the surface. Beneath the surface, though, it is going to cause plenty of problems.
Kemp still believes he can be a Gold Glove center fielder and says if he has to play on a corner then he wants it to be left field. The gifted Puig would easily make the transition from right field to center field but he is a bone-breaking collision waiting to happen every time he chases a fly ball because of his propensity to not call off the other outfielders.
Then there is the case of Carl Crawford winding up as a $20.25-million fourth outfielder. He won't be happy about that.
--The Colorado Rockies are on their way to not only a fifth consecutive losing season but oblivion as they are 41-60, last in the NL West with this yeas NL batting leader (Troy Tulowitzki) and last year's NL batting champion (Michael Cuddyer) on the disabled list.
That's only part of the Rockies' problems. Their unusual --- to be kind --- front office structure just doesn't work.
General manager Dan O'Dowd is a figurehead while assistant GM Bill Geivett runs the major league operation. Geivett is also the only executive in the big leagues with an office in his team's clubhouse, adjoining manager Walt Weiss' office at Coos Field.
. That is far too close for comfort for Weiss, who is chafing at the arrangement.
Owner Dick Monfort has always been loyal to a fault to his employees and it's long past time for him to put sentimentality on the shelf and blow the operation up.
--The Hall of Fame inductions ceremonies are this weekend in Cooperstown and a star-studded cast will receive baseball's ultimate honor -- Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas, Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa and Joe Torre. That is truly a six pack of greatness.
Senior writer John Perrotto is The Sports Xchange's baseball insider. He has covered Major League Baseball for 27 seasons.