Best trades that didn’t happen

Sometimes the most interesting trades are the ones that don’t happen.

Consider this fascinating change-of-scenery exchange that the Miami Marlins and New York Mets kicked around, according to major league sources:

Outfielder Jason Bay to the Marlins for reliever Heath Bell and catcher John Buck.

The deal never was close, sources said. But it would have enabled both clubs to purge players who are flopping miserably this season.

The money almost would have matched up, too — Bell and Buck are owed a few million more than Bay through the length of their contracts (Bell’s deal expires after 2014, Buck’s and Bay’s after 2013).

Bay, who is batting .162 with a .558 OPS, could have become the Marlins’ left fielder, enabling Logan Morrison to eventually move to first base, where he would replace Carlos Lee.

Buck, who is batting .168 with a .582 OPS, would have fulfilled the Mets’ desire to add a catcher.

And Bell, who has a 5.66 ERA and lost the closer’s role after signing a three-year, $27 million free-agent contract, would have gotten a fresh start in the Mets’ reeling bullpen.

The deal might not have helped either club, considering the recent struggles of all three players. But how much could it have hurt?

Bay, Bell and Buck all are certain to clear waivers, so perhaps the teams can revisit the idea again later this month.


Tough man to trade


Lee rejected a trade to the Dodgers in early July. He rejected another one to the Yankees on Tuesday, according to And the Marlins took a curious approach in trying to move Lee to the 15 teams that could acquire him without restriction under his limited no-trade clause.

The Houston Astros covered virtually all of the approximately $9 million that Lee was due when they sent him to the Marlins on July 4, with Miami responsible for only a prorated portion of the minimum salary.

But the Marlins, according to one club that spoke with them, actually wanted as much as $2.5 million in a trade for Lee — even though they basically weren’t paying him anything.

Needless to say, the discussions failed to progress.


How the Orioles struck out


The Baltimore Orioles struck out in their quest to acquire right-hander Joe Blanton from the Philadelphia Phillies, with neither team budging on their desired exchange in cash and prospects.

The Orioles also spoke with the Seattle Mariners about right-hander Kevin Millwood, but the Mariners wanted a better return than the O’s were willing to offer, considering that Millwood’s salary is only $1 million, sources said.

There also was an earlier potential deal between the Orioles and Kansas City Royals, according to sources — at least one young Orioles pitcher, perhaps right-hander Jake Arrieta, for righty Luke Hochevar and reliever Jonathan Broxton.

The Reds later acquired Broxton.


Timing is everything


A week or so before the non-waiver deadline, the Milwaukee Brewers thought they were close to trading Francisco Rodriguez to the San Francisco Giants.

Rodriguez had just taken over for John Axford as the Brewers’ closer. Righty Brad Penny had just had a bad outing for the Giants. And then the Brewers went to Philadelphia, and K-Rod crumbled.

The Giants quickly backed off.