David Price likely staying put

Jon Lester and David Price were both scheduled to pitch Wednesday. One took the mound. The other didn't. So what should we make of that?

Well, here's what people around the game were making of it Tuesday night and Wednesday morning:

Lester (who was scratched from the Red Sox's lineup): Gone.

Price (who did in fact pitch for Tampa Bay): Uh, not so much.

Now let's put that in proper perspective. Other clubs report that the Rays are definitely still listening on their ace, and are still open to moving him. But it appears that will only happen if it's such a massive deal, they can't possibly turn it down.

And you can understand why. Price was pitching Wednesday for a chance to deliver something historic to his team. The Rays were once 18 games under .500. They were playing Wednesday to get to 54-54. And only three other teams in history have ever been that far below sea level and made it back to .500 at any point in the season.

"So could you imagine," mused one exec Wednesday morning, "him going out there, striking out 15, winning and then they trade him? That would be really, really hard to do."

Hey, you think? So for the Rays to trade Price now, it has to be a deal so loaded -- or overloaded -- that their players, their fans and the rest of North America would look at it and say: "They had to do that. They'd have been nuts not to."

So where normally, in the hours before the trade deadline, price tags tend to go down, or at least get more realistic, the Rays have held tight. From all we've heard, the asking price hasn't necessarily gone up -- but it certainly hasn't gone down, either.

"I'd say they're kind of where they were all winter," said another exec. "Yeah, they'd trade him. But you've got to make it so they can't say no."

And they didn't trade Price this winter, at those same prices, if you'll recall. And they didn't trade him a few weeks ago, when that's still what they were asking. So obviously, the only way it can happen now is if some team really gets desperate.

And while that can happen as the trade-deadline pressure builds, it's looking less and less likely by the minute.

Ready to Rumble

• Teams that have spoken to the Phillies report they haven't given up on moving Cliff Lee before the deadline. But the Cardinals' trade for Justin Masterson appeared to remove Lee's most likely potential destination. The Phillies had scouted the St. Louis system. The Cardinals had looked into Lee's health and investigated how he'd fit. But the dollars attached to Lee, and the Phillies' asking price of a "major prospect," motivated the Cardinals to turn elsewhere.

• Nonstop buzz around the sport this week: The Marlins are "going for it." Their main focus: starting pitching they can control beyond this season. That's a shopping list believed to include names such as John Lackey, Wade Miley, Ian Kennedy, Tommy Milone -- and even David Price.

• The Red Sox continue to be open to trading both Lackey and Lester, as long as they get a big league starter back. But one of the issues they're facing in dealing Lackey is a fear from other clubs that he won't honor a contract that would pay him $500,000 next year if he doesn't get an extension. "I'd be interested," said one exec whose team needs a starter. "But is he even going to play? How can you trade for a guy when you can't be sure he's even going to play next year?"

• The Orioles are still shopping for starting pitching and left-handed relief. But teams that have spoken with them now think it's unlikely they'll deal for a starter. They kicked the tires on Lester but never got far. They dabbled in the A.J. Burnett market but backed off. And there are indications they talked to Houston about Dallas Keuchel. But with Ubaldo Jimenez on the road back, they appear more likely to zero in on bullpen upgrades. Two relievers they've been linked to: Neal Cotts and Oliver Perez, two left-handers who aren't just left-on-left specialists.

• The Yankees' latest target: bullpen depth. We've heard they've called on Joaquin Benoit, James Russell and Antonio Bastardo, among others.

• Outfield bats the Yankees have checked in on this week: Marlon Byrd and Dayan Viciedo.

• Scouting sighting: Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos turned up in Buffalo on Tuesday to watch left-hander Sean Nolin pitch. As did an Indians scout. Cleveland had talked to Toronto about Masterson before dealing him to St. Louis, for what it's worth.

• And Toronto is one of several teams that are telling clubs they can't take on any significant money in any deal. The others: Atlanta and Kansas City, although the Royals could be able to add payroll if it's a starting pitcher they could plug into James Shields' spot in the rotation next year.