The Mets, Cubs and Dodgers entered this season with a combined player payroll of more than $348 million. Yet they entered this week a combined 37 1/2 games out of first place.
These dual extremes, combined as they are, present the first qualification of a fire sale. And with 11 days left in the summer swap season that precedes the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, you'll certainly continue to hear names associated with these three clubs bandied about in the rumor mill.
Really, with so many teams still viable in the playoff hunt, the 2011 trade market has been more tame than usual. Few teams definitively out of the race seem fit for a fire sale, in terms of what they have for sale. The Padres could be baseball's busiest team before the Deadline, as they might unload relievers Heath Bell, Mike Adams and Chad Qualls and outfielder Ryan Ludwick. The Astros could entertain offers for starting pitchers Brett Myers and Wandy Rodriguez, and maybe even outfielders Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn. The Orioles could move Vlad Guerrero and Derrek Lee, the Royals could shop Melky Cabrera and the A's have relief help to dangle.