CLEVELAND -- Bluff-gate is in full swing.
With less than 48 hours left before the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline, the White Sox and their suitors are deeply involved in a game of high-stakes poker.
At this point, anything goes as all interested parties have and will continue to angle and posture for as long as they can in order to secure the best deal possible.
So while members of a front office might say one thing, it could -- and most likely -- have no bearing on how they really feel.
On Monday, that played out as both the White Sox and the teams who have shown the most ardent interest in their biggest trade chips -- Jake Peavy and Alex Rios -- indicated they would rather fold their hands than complete any deals before Wednesday’s 4 p.m. (EST) deadline.
As has been his protocol, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn wouldn’t specifically discuss any names or rumors. But shortly after he traded reliever Jesse Crain and cash to the Tampa Bay Rays for players to be named later and/or cash, Hahn upped the ante.
[More: White Sox deal Crain to Rays in complicated move]
The first-year GM noted he hasn’t been asked by ownership to reduce payroll and isn’t prepared to make a deal unless he’s satisfied with the return because he can.
When he moved Crain on Monday, Hahn removed the only remaining player on the 25-man roster who isn’t under contract for next season.
“There certainly is no urgency to make a deal now,” Hahn said. “I’m not any under matching orders from (owner Jerry Reinsdorf) or (executive vice president Kenny Williams) to cull payroll at this time. It’s more about doing what’s the best baseball deal now. When you have a situation like Jesse, who’s a free agent at the end of the year, or Matt Thornton, the urgency to do something prior to the deadline is a little bit greater. But for guys controlled in 2014 and beyond, whether we make a move or not is going to be based on the talent exchanged and whether that makes us better in the future.”
Hahn represented he’s holding aces.
The move is not only expected, it is necessary.
Earlier Monday, both the Oakland A’s, who a team source believes is ahead in the Peavy sweepstakes, and Texas Rangers, who have been hot after Rios, reportedly got word out their pursuits have slowed down significantly.
Yesterday, the St. Louis Cardinals, who reportedly have interest in Peavy and Alexei Ramirez, publicly said they won’t make any major moves before Wednesday.
Reports are all three teams believe the White Sox want too much in return for players who are owed significant salary.
[More: Dan Hayes on Crain deal, White Sox deadline strategy]
Peavy is owed roughly $5.28 million this season and $14.5 million more in 2014. Whatever team adds Rios would be on the hook for about $4.55 million this season and at least $13.5 million in 2014 (his 2015 option includes a $1 million buyout).
It’s only logical the White Sox play just as strong a hand in return.
Peavy and manager Robin Ventura played their parts before batting practice.
Peavy, who has sounded for several days like he knows he’ll be traded, is preparing like normal for his Tuesday night start against the Cleveland Indians.
“That’s all you can do,” Peavy said. “I’m here and expected to go out and unless I hear anything pitch against Cleveland tomorrow. Obviously we all hear the speculation and know that there’s stuff being talked about. My coaches and general manager are keeping me up to date.”
Ventura also reiterated he’s moving forward as planned with Peavy scheduled to pitch. He knows there’s a chance it might not happen but won’t make a change unless it’s necessary as long as the White Sox have a contingency plan in place.
That plan arrived in Cleveland on Monday in the form of Triple-A pitcher Andre Rienzo, who could start if Peavy were dealt.
But those are all hypotheticals Ventura won’t address them unless required.
“My contingency is that Jake is pitching,” Ventura said. “If that doesn’t happen than something needs to be put in place. We’ve discussed it, but he is pitching for me as of now. … (Tuesday) at some point we’ll have a better idea of what’s going on and what’s out there and all that kind of stuff. We’re not going to be caught short. … We’re covered in case any of these things come up.”
[More: White Sox slide to 29th in latest MLB power rankings]
Peavy admits he knows more than he can let on.
He has applauded both Hahn and the front office for keeping him abreast of any and all discussions, the last of which occurred on Sunday morning. Peavy also said he hasn’t interfered in talks and tried to steer Hahn toward a deal with particular teams because he wants the White Sox to get the best deal possible.
While he’s not 100 percent certain he’ll be dealt, Peavy knows one cold hard fact: the shenanigans and bluffs and raises and calls will continue until the last minute possible.