Questions that need answers as trade market begins to heat up

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The week leading up to the draft, one MLB executive mused Tuesday afternoon, is like a school vacation. During that time, general managers can sort of forget about the challenges facing their major league team and instead listen to their scouts detail what they see in the high school and college talent available, and dream about days to come.

But by the time the third round of the draft ends, reality sets in, and general managers dive back into their big league work. "And now," the executive said, "it's back to the grind."

Indeed, because a little more than a third of the 2015 season has been played, and the July 31 trade deadline is just 51 days away. In late April, executives might have been reluctant to call up a peer and ask if they're going to be pre-deadline sellers, because this line of inquiry might be perceived as an insult. But now teams are increasingly defined, the standings are hardening, and niceties aren't necessarily expected or required.

Some evaluators believe there will be some June trades, especially if the Oakland Athletics continue to drift. But mostly, they say, teams are likely to wait to exhaust the opportunity for a wild-card spot, given how everyone saw two wild-card teams reach the World Series last year.

Like weathermen checking the ever-changing conditions, some evaluators are watching how the following issues shape the trade market.

1. When will Oakland's 'for sale' sign go up?

The A's continue to drift in the standings, and on Tuesday, they wasted a strong Sonny Gray outing, as Susan Slusser writes. Oakland is 23-37 and 11 games out of first place, and other than a recent burst of wins, the team has shown nothing that leads people to believe it might contend.

Other executives know Athletics GM Billy Beane is not one to dally; he is a deal-maker, willing to discuss any player at any time, and Oakland could theoretically have assets to move, from the versatile Ben Zobrist to veteran left-hander Scott Kazmir to catcher Stephen Vogt.