David Price and Jon Lester were traded before the nonwaiver deadline in 2014. Price, Cole Hamels and Johnny Cueto got dealt in '15.
Those were the days.
The '16 deadline lacked top-of-the-rotation star power -- the best starters moved were Rich Hill, Matt Moore, Drew Pomeranz and Andrew Cashner.
Not to spoil anyone's fun, but if I were a general manager I would not be terribly excited about the starting pitchers who are likely to be available.
I also would not part with top prospects for any of these pseudo-aces, at least not the way each is performing at the moment.
That said, things change quickly, and pitchers such as Jose Quintana, Gerrit Cole and Sonny Gray are more than capable of getting hot in the six weeks leading to the deadline.
For now, this much is known: While most of the top contenders are likely to pursue rotation help, the market includes more questions than answers.
Consider where some of the biggest names stand:
His ERA is 5.30, but don't count on the White Sox offering any discount. Quintana, 28, might simply need a change of scenery, and he is under club control at below-market salaries through 2020.
Is it reasonable to expect him to return to his previous level? Probably, but the left-hander has pitched more than 6 1/3 innings in only three of his 13 starts. His strikeout rate is at a career-best level, but his walk and home-run rates would be career-worsts.
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As with Quintana, teams will want to see more.
Cole, 26, had thrown four straight clunkers before rebounding against the Rockies on Tuesday night. His strikeout rate would be the lowest of his career, and his 4.54 ERA would be the highest. He already has allowed, ahem, a career-high 15 homers in 83 1/3 innings.
Would the Pirates move Cole when he remains affordable at $3.75 million and his trade value seemingly is dipping? Would they even discuss him when they control him for two more seasons and are just 4½ games out in the NL Central?
Cole might be a more realistic trade candidate in the offseason, particularly if he stays healthy after an injury-marred 2016.
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Different story than Quintana and Cole; Gray's performance has trended upward since his return from a strained right shoulder on May 1.
True, his ERA is 4.37, but his curveball has never looked better, his strikeout rate would be his highest over a full season and five of his last six outings have been quality starts.
Gray, 27, is at the same service level as Cole, earning $3.575 million this season with two more years of control remaining. The question is whether teams will trust his health. He missed time with trapezius and forearm issues last season, then had his shoulder trouble in April.
The Tigers seem almost certain to sell, but Verlander is not currently at peak value -- not with an ERA of 4.68 and a walk rate that is by far the highest of his career.
Verlander, 34, still is striking out hitters, still brings considerable presence. But he is earning $28 million per season through 2019, and his service time affords him full no-trade protection.
Anything is possible if the Tigers pay down enough of Verlander's contract. But let's just say the circumstances for a trade are not ideal.
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An in-season move with Greinke never was likely, not when he is owed $138.5 million from 2018 to ’21 and can block trades to 15 clubs.
And now, with the D-backs leading the race for the second NL wild card by eight games?
Forget about it.
The good news for the D-backs is that Greinke is pitching well enough to make the possibility of an offseason trade more realistic. His ERA is 3.00, his strikeout rate would be his highest since 2011 and his walk rate would be his lowest ever for a full season.
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Let's see, he has a 4.57 ERA and the chance to opt out after this season -- or stick a team with his age 32 to 35 seasons if he isn't confident of beating the remaining four years and $84 million on his contract in free agency.
No team will part with big-time prospects while absorbing such risk. And if the potential return, in the Giants' estimation, is minimal, then why bother making a deal?
A better idea: Trade Jeff Samardzija, who is due $54 million over three years after this season.
Samardzija, 32, leads the NL with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 100 to 12. He has a 3.08 ERA in his last nine starts.
His contract does not include a opt-out, but one of its provisions is nearly as problematic: Samardzija holds a 21-team no-trade clause.
Chris Archer/Alex Cobb/Jake Odorizzi
Pay attention! The Rays currently lead the race for the second AL wild card. In fact, almost the entire AL is in contention - the White Sox and Athletics are the only teams that are not within three games of a playoff spot.
The Rays' surprising play does not mean they are wedded to Archer, who is under a club-friendly deal through 2021 -- Tampa Bay operates as a low-revenue team must, forever balancing short- and long-term interests.
Then again, remember how upset Evan Longoria and Co. were by the trade of Logan Forsythe to the Dodgers? The clubhouse might revolt once and for all if the Rays traded Archer in the middle of a pennant race.
It would be far easier to justify moving Cobb, a potential free agent -- particularly with younger pitchers such as Jacob Faria emerging as viable alternatives.
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The Twins are in a classic Catch-22 with Santana. They probably will not trade him as long as they remain in contention. But if they fade, their drop-off likely will include a regression by Santana, which only will hurt his trade value.
That regression might have began Wednesday night, when Santana allowed five runs in five innings against the Mariners, increasing his ERA from 2.20 to 2.56. Prior to that start, his .156 opponents' batting average on balls was the lowest in the majors -- by, gulp, 54 points!
Santana, 34, actually might be more valuable to the Twins than he is to other clubs, stabilizing the rotation as the team continues to rebuild. He is earning $13.5 million this season and next, and his deal includes a 2019 option that could vest if he throws enough innings.
I know what you're thinking: His fastball averages 86 mph, managers cannot trust soft tossers to win in the postseason, etc., etc.
Well, heaven forbid teams covet someone who actually knows how to pitch.
Vargas, 34, is a potential free agent who will be owed less than $3 million at the deadline. His 2.10 ERA, second in the AL, would drop to 1.51 if you took away one poor start against the Yankees.
Some regression is likely, given Vargas' peripherals, but my bigger concern would be his ability to remain effective through October in his first full season after Tommy John surgery.
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Here is another intriguing left-handed rental -- maybe even more intriguing than Vargas, considering that Garcia, 30, is younger and throws harder.
Garcia, in his last five starts, has produced a 1.49 ERA while striking out 28 and walking seven in 36 1/3 innings.
Right-hander Julio Teheran, under control through 2020, is pitching better of late, but his strikeout rate is down and his home-run rate is soaring.
The Braves probably will hold him -- for now.
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His recent no-hitter in the middle of a spectacular four-start run seemingly increased his appeal, but how many teams would want to pay him $13 million at age 34 next season?
That's right, Volquez has another year left on his contract, likely tempering any excitement over his availability. His 3.72 ERA indicates that he probably could help a contender as a back-end starter. But at this stage of his career, he's not the kind of pitcher a team such as the Yankees or Astros would covet for their postseason rotation.
For what it's worth, both his strikeout and walk rates are the highest they have been since 2012.