CLEVELAND -- Entry on the to-do lists of both manager Clint Hurdle and general manager Neal Huntington when the Bucs are back in Pittsburgh at the end of this Interleague swing through Baltimore and Cleveland: Take a meeting to discuss needs, and the available currency to pay for them, on the gradual approach to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. "I haven't yet been involved in the internal discussions, but Neal and I will regroup when we get home," Hurdle said prior to Sunday's series finale against the Indians. "Once you get past the 50-game mark, one-third of the season, you start looking realistically and what you need and where your surplus might be, and start looking for matches.
"We've been engaged with other clubs for the last six weeks now. There's no traction anywhere." In his own pregame meeting with reporters, Huntington put it another way: "It's an obvious trade market now. It's non-existent." Mid-June is a relatively tentative time, anyway. The additional and significant drag right now is the introduction of second Wild Card postseason spots in each league, which naturally has more teams on the fence. "We've been told by some clubs that they are going to hold out as long as they can to sell tickets, and keep their fans engaged," Huntington said. "That will obviously take multiple sellers off the market, and you can't blame them for trying to stay in it."
Hurdle said he expects the complications of the new Wild Card berths to lead to a move in the Trade Deadline that has often been debated in the past."With that extra Wild Card, every passing week everybody is trying to decide, 'Is it sooner, or is it later?'" Hurdle said. "The hard part is we're not the only club looking for specific things. A lot more clubs are involved, so it gets pushed back. Teams are taking longer to see if they are buyers or sellers."