Major League Baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline is Thursday at 4 pm ET. The most prominent deadline rumors surround left-handed aces Jon Lester of the Boston Red Sox and David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays.

A week ago, most experts would have said Price was most likely to be dealt. But the Rays have won nine of their last 10 games, including two of three against the Red Sox. Tampa Bay (51-54) is now unlikely to deal Price, who is a free agent after next season. The Rays could always trade him this offseason for a return of top-level prospects.

Boston (48-57), on the other hand, ended a five-game losing streak on Sunday and is 10 1/2 games behind Baltimore in the American League East. The Red Sox are 7 1/2 games back in the wild-card standings. Lester is a free agent after this season, and for months has said he would like to sign an extension with the Red Sox. Recently, the 30-year old added that he would re-sign with the Red Sox after becoming a free agent, even if the club trades him prior to Thursday’s deadline.

“It’s a really interesting dynamic, especially with Lester willing to be traded and also come back and sign,” former New York Mets and Baltimore Orioles general manager Jim Duquette said on MLB Network Radio’s The Front Office. “I thought he let them off the hook and opened up that door to let them improve the team if they felt it was necessary […] The blockbuster-type deal, they are so hard to put together and with the way Tampa has played, Price is likely off the market.”

“I think it would be really hard to trade Lester and think you’re going to get him back [in free agency],” added Jim Bowden, the former Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals GM.

Bowden thinks the Dodgers and Cardinals are the most likely trade partners to make a short-term deal.

“How much do you give up?” Bowden asked. “I wouldn’t give up a top prospect for a two-month rental. To me, it’s got to be for David Price.”

So, if Price is off the market and the price for two months of Lester is too high, who could actually be moved by Thursday’s deadline?

“I think [Colorado Rockies left-handed pitcher pitcher] Jorge De La Rosa has a chance of being traded from the Rockies to the Yankees,’’ Bowden said. New York Yankees general manager “Brian Cashman has not stopped pounding the phones. […] What he’s done at Coors Field over the years is amazing. This guy wins games, and you put him in New York, he’s going to do really well and be big for them.”

Duquette expects Texas Rangers outfielder Alex Rios and New York Mets right-handed pitcher Bartolo Colon to be dealt, also.

As of this blog entry we can’t tell you what’s going to happen, but listen to MLB Network Radio, Sirius channel 209 and XM channel 89, for the latest information, expert analysis and reaction to every deal.

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