The shocker of the day was not a trade but the lack of a trade. Alfonso Soriano was publicly shopped for weeks, but when all was said and done and postured and leaked, the multitalented Soriano remained a Washington National.
After the trade deadline came and went, Nationals general manager Jim Bowden put the happiest face possible on a development that does nothing to further the Nationals' stated intentions to rebuild the organization and bring back a haul for Soriano. The great likelihood is that Soriano leaves at year's end and the Nats get nothing but a couple of draft choices in return.
"I think he just blew it,'' one competing baseball executive said of Bowden. "I think he's waiting for a white knight -- a white knight who never came.''
Said Bowden, "We felt the best deal to make is no deal. He's one of the best players in the game.''
While the second part of that statement is true, the first is highly questionable.
While Soriano has been quoted as saying he prefers to stay in Washington, he didn't necessarily mean beyond this year. A person close to him suggested there was "no chance'' Soriano would sign a long-term contract with Washington, particularly if former Braves president Stan Kasten sticks to his rule about not giving no-trade clauses. (Kasten once lost a chance to sign Alex Rodriguez for the Braves over that very issue.)
In the meantime, Bowden turned his failure to trade Soriano and a handful of other veterans into a cause for celebration. Bowden talked extensively to the Dodgers, the Angels, the Tigers and about seven other teams about Soriano. But competing GMs said he was making "unrealistic'' or "insane'' demands.
From the Angels, Bowden sought Ervin Santana and shortstop prospect Erick Aybar, the very offer the Angels made for Miguel Tejada, who's much more valuable due to the remaining three years on his contract at a bargain rate. From the Dodgers, Bowden sought a haul: pitcher Chad Billingsley and infielders Andy LaRoche and Joel Guzman. The Dodgers were prepared only to surrender Guzman, and they did that, sending him to Tampa Bay for Julio Lugo.
"At the end of the day, it was a very simple decision keeping Alfonso Soriano,'' said Bowden, who answered "no'' when asked if he ever came close to dealing Soriano.
Bowden sounded like he was patting himself on the back for a decision that made little sense to anyone else in the room.
Tejada also stays put
There was plenty of incompetence to go around in the Baltimore-Washington area. The Orioles shopped superstar shortstop Miguel Tejada, and as it turned out, their out-of-touch owner Peter Angelos had no intention of trading him
The Angels made what was by all accounts a terrific try -- top young pitcher Ervin Santana and shortstop prospect Erick Aybar -- only to be turned away after being told that their proposal would be "taken to ownership.'' The Astros and the Rangers also bid aggressively on Tejada, in vain.
Maddux traded to Dodgers
Greg Maddux was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for infielder Cesar Izturis. Maddux waived his no-trade power and approved the deal that brought him much closer to his homes in Las Vegas and Dana Point, Calif., if only a little closer to the pennant race.
The four-time Cy Young Award winner leaves the Cubs for a second time. After the 1992 season he signed a free-agent contract with Atlanta, where he spent the majority of his career. He came back to the Cubs after 2003, signing a three-year, $24 million deal. The Cubs have agreed to pay half of what remains on Maddux's contract, which amounts to close to $2 million.
Izturis made his 2006 debut in late June after coming back from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. The former Gold Glove shortstop has seen time at third base and second base while batting .252 with one home run and 12 RBIs in 32 games.
The Cubs also have traded second baseman Todd Walker and cash to the Padres for minor league right-hander Jose Ceda, according to the Associated Press.