The Toronto Blue Jays made a couple of deals heading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline a year ago and both were designed to shore up the bullpen.
They dealt outfielder Travis Snider - a former first-round pick - to Pittsburgh for reliever Brad Lincoln and sent Eric Thames to Seattle for another hard-throwing reliever in Steve Delabar.
At the very least, Alex Anthopoulos won the Delabar deal, seeing as how he blossomed into an All-Star (with a little help from the fans) this year. The Mariners ended up dealing Thames to Baltimore for another minor leaguer.
The swap with Pittsburgh hasn't quite panned out so far. Lincoln has had a couple of shining moments with the big club, but has spent the bulk of this season with Buffalo in Triple A.
It was a pretty active week headlining up to the deadline last year. The Angels landed the biggest name getting right hander Zach Greinke from Milwaukee for a trio of prospects including shortstop Jean Segura. The Halos gambled on getting a rental in Greinke and the move backfired when he signed with the Dodgers in the offseason. And the Angels didn't even make the postseason.
Detroit did well, giving up three prospects - including pitcher Jacob Turner - to Miami to get right-hander Anibal Sanchez and second baseman Omar Infante - two players who were key in getting them to the World Series against the Giants.
The Dodgers' new ownership made some huge noise, getting Hanley Ramirez from Miami and Shane Victorino from the Phillies before pulling off the biggest blockbuster of many a year on August 25, getting Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto from Boston in a nine-player swap.
Those deals didn't exactly pay immediate dividends for the Dodgers, partially because Crawford was injured. But a year later, with a boost from Yasiel Puig, they are in first place in the National League West and look like they could be World Series contenders.
Still, the team that did the best at the deadline a year ago was San Francisco. The Giants added Hunter Pence from the Philllies for outfielder Nate Schierholtz and two prospects and then second baseman Marco Scutaro, who turned into a playoff hero from Colorado. Pence added a colourful quirky brand of leadership that helped propel the Giants to their second World Series victory in three years.
Ironically, the Giants could turn into big time sellers this year now that they've fallen to fourth in the NL West. The Dodgers and Arizona are only seperated by a game and a half in the West, so they could both be active.
St. Louis is on top in the Central, but could be in the market for starting pitching. With Tim Hudson suffering that horrible broken ankle, East-leading Atlanta could be looking for a pitcher as well.
The American League could be a little quieter, since Texas has already landed Matt Garza from the Cubs and Baltimore has picked up late reliever Francisco Rodriguez from Milwaukee. White Sox right-hander Jake Peavy could be the biggest starting pitcher name to get moved this time around.
It's hard to say where the Blue Jays stand in all of this. They're 10 games behind Baltimore for the second Wild Card spot with 61 games left to play, so loading up for a run doesn't make much sence. The Blue Jays aren't about to "blow it up" either, when their stated plan was to be serious contenders for a three-year span.
I could see a reliever or two being moved. Lefty Darren Oliver (who's close to retirement) comes to mind and maybe a utility-type player such as Emilio Bonifacio.
If any starting pitcher is moved, I'd bet on Mark Buehrle. He upped his stock considerably with that two-hit shutout of Houston on Thursday night (yeah, I know it was only the Astros). Buehrle might look good in the rotation of a National League contender like the Dodgers, Cardinals, Diamondbacks or Braves.
The most interesting team to watch might be the Yankees. They're only 2 1/2 games back of the second Wild Card slot in the AL and re-acquired Alfonso Soriano. The Yankees are always in it to win it and being this close may be just the temptation they need to go all in again. The non-waiver trade deadline is this Wednesday afternoon at 4pm et.
Elsewhere, right-hander Marcus Stroman is continuing to put impressive numbers with the Blue Jays' AA New Hampshire affiliate. On Wednesday, he struck out 11 members of the Harrisburg Senators over 6 2/3 innings in a no decision. The 5'9" flamethrower is 5-2 with a 2.99 ERA. He's struck out 79 while only walking 19 and opponents are only hitting .216 against him. In his last five starts, Stroman has gone at least six innings and twice into the seventh.
He just might be a candidate for the Blue Jays' starting rotation next spring.