MILWAUKEE -- The calendar turned to July on Wednesday, and Brewers general manager Doug Melvin was looking to deal. That Milwaukee entered the month with a two-game lead in the National League Central made Melvin even more eager to test the trade market. "I've always said I'm a little more motivated when you're doing better," Melvin said. The deadline to make trades without first exposing players to waivers is July 31, and Melvin is particularly open to deals that would bolster his starting rotation. He did it last year on July 6 by acquiring Cleveland left-hander CC Sabathia, who essentially carried the Brewers to the postseason.
Doing it again is much more easily said than done for a number of reasons: The Brewers aren't alone. Most contenders, including all three National League division leaders (the Phillies in the East, the Brewers in the Central and the Dodgers in the West) are on the lookout for arms. Only six of the 30 Major League teams entered play Wednesday more than 10 games out of first place, and the other 24 teams could take a public relations hit if they start dealing away core players. Melvin raises the Mariners as an example. New GM Jack Zduriencik, who took the job after a decade as Milwaukee's scouting director, was expected to be a seller this summer, but the Mariners were just 3 1/2 games out of first place on Wednesday morning. It takes two to make a deal. Melvin and his team scour opposing organizations to identify potential matches, and in the process, eliminate most -- either because they don't have the pieces Milwaukee is looking for or because the Brewers don't have what the other team wants. The Indians, for example, wanted Major League-ready pitching for Mark DeRosa, a player of serious interest to the Brewers, but Milwaukee didn't have those pieces to part with. At best, the Brewers have the potential for matches with 10 other teams. "Probably less than that," Melvin said. Melvin is staying firm in his stance that he won't trade his top two prospects: Third baseman Mat Gamel and shortstop Alcides Escobar. With those two pieces off the table, it will be extremely difficult for the Brewers to cobble together a package to land an impact pitcher. Speaking of impact pitchers, Jake Peavy remains on the Padres' disabled list. He was supposed to be the most highly-sought player on this year's midseason market, but his ankle injury makes it complicated. "I don't know if there's going to be an impact player available," Melvin said. "You never know, these things can change. There are years you think that nothing is going to happen, and all of a sudden there is a flurry of things going." Without an impact player available, Melvin is wary of striking too soon. "That's another thing you have to be careful of. What if you do something now, and then something better comes along?" Melvin said. "We're pretty healthy right now, but what if you go make a deal to fill a hole and then you have an injury to somebody else?" Speaking to reporters in the dugout on Wednesday, Melvin freely admitted that GMs rarely disclose all of their intentions. Often, he said, their public comments are intended to boost their own leverage in trade talks. "Things can change overnight," Melvin said. "But we're only going to do something if it makes sense. We're not going to make a deal just to make a deal."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.