Ideal Trade Scenarios for All 30 MLB Teams at the Trade Deadline
Peer into most front offices around baseball these days and you're sure to find desks that look completely unorganized, with charts, papers and scouting reports strewn around like the Tasmanian Devil just passed through.
But there's a method to the madness, one that finds the bulk of major league clubs preparing two different plans for the next five weeks—one that they'll follow if they deem themselves to be contenders and another if they conclude that they'll have to wait until next year to make a run at the playoffs.
Coming up with the plans is one thing, but successfully executing those plans is something completely different. Even the best-laid plans can be thwarted by another club that is willing to pay a higher price for the player or players that one team has targeted.
What follows is a look at the ideal trade scenario for each of MLB's 30 clubs, regardless of whether it figures to be buying or selling when the non-waiver trade deadline arrives just over five weeks from today.
Could the playoff races in both leagues go through Arizona?
Crazy as it seems, the answer is a resounding yes, but only if Arizona Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick and team president Derrick Hall make clear who has the power: general manager Kevin Towers or chief baseball officer Tony La Russa.
"We're not really sure who's calling the shots," one AL exec recently told ESPN's Jayson Stark. "I don't know if anybody knows for sure what they're thinking, because nobody knows who's going to make the decisions."
La Russa has since clarified the team's thinking, telling The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo "Figures we are sellers, not buyers," though it remains unclear whether it's him or Towers calling the shots.
Regardless of who the ultimate decision-maker is, the Diamondbacks should be thinking about taking advantage of the parity that has run roughshod through baseball thus far and listening to offers on the bulk of their 25-man roster.
No fewer than six contenders (Oakland A's, Atlanta Braves, St. Louis Cardinals, San Francisco Giants, Miami Marlins and Baltimore Orioles) could use an upgrade at second base, and it just so happens that Arizona has a former All-Star (Aaron Hill) on a reasonable contract who would certainly interest most, if not all of those teams.
There's the versatile Martin Prado (pictured), who could fill a number of roles on a contending club, and a trio of young middle infielders—Nick Ahmed, Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings—who are sure to draw significant interest from contenders.
With so many teams believing that they are one or two players away from making a deep playoff run, the chances are good that another GM could overpay to ensure that Prado, for example, doesn't wind up strengthening one of the teams that his club is competing against for a spot in the postseason.
Would it surprise anyone if Atlanta Braves GM Frank Wren had dreams at night that involved a fellow general manager, a bottle of bourbon and an agreement that made either second baseman Dan Uggla or center fielder B.J. Upton ex-Braves?
Alas, such an ideal scenario only exists in the imaginations of Wren and Braves fans. But the Braves, who have played losing baseball in June and posted the month's third-worst run differential (minus-23), need to add some reinforcements if they hope to catch the Washington Nationals for the lead in the NL East.
Upgrading second base is an obvious area, but with multiple contenders needing to strengthen the position, the Braves may not be willing to pay what could be a high price for the best options available, which will likely include Arizona's Aaron Hill.
Adding a veteran starter as depth for the rotation, which recently lost Gavin Floyd to a fractured right elbow, is another possibility. But the pickings are expected to be slim, and, again, price may become an issue for the Braves, who may not want to part with the young pitching that sellers are sure to ask for in return.
The ideal situation for the Braves would be this: With contenders focused on adding to their rotations and plugging holes in their lineups, teams peddling relievers aren't able to generate much interest. That could lower the price for the Braves, who, as we examined last week, desperately need to strengthen the bullpen.
Of the six pitchers who have started games for the Baltimore Orioles, only one, Kevin Gausman, has delivered a quality start in at least half of his outings. That's a problem for a team that has its sights set on playing meaningful baseball in October.
After Gausman, Bud Norris and Miguel Gonzalez, the Orioles rotation has been tough to watch. The team's ace, Chris Tillman, has looked like anything but an ace, while Ubaldo Jimenez, one of the team's big offseason additions, has lost the ability to command his pitches and is on pace to walk 113 batters.
While adding a top-flight starter such as the Chicago Cubs' Jeff Samardzija or Tampa Bay Rays' David Price would be ideal, the Orioles have proved that they are capable of making a playoff run without your traditional ace atop the rotation, having done so in 2012 with Wei-Yin Chen serving as the de facto ace in his rookie season.
In a perfect world, other contenders will fight it out for Samardzija and Price (assuming the Rays make him available), allowing the Orioles to slide in and snag someone like the San Diego Padres' Ian Kennedy (pictured) with little fanfare.
Boston Red Sox
Rumors about Matt Kemp being traded to the Boston Red Sox began to swirl back in November and recently picked up steam after word broke that the Red Sox had extensively scouted Kemp over the past week, according to The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo.
But Los Angeles Dodgers GM Ned Coletti told Cafardo that Kemp isn't going to be traded, which puts Boston back at square one in trying to find an upgrade over the struggling Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field. As Cafardo notes, to acquire a player of Kemp's caliber, it would likely require the Red Sox to part with one of their prized catching prospects, either Blake Swihart or Christian Vazquez. The club may not be prepared to do that.
Boston could look internally, as second base prospect-turned-center fielder Mookie Betts continues to swing a hot bat after being promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket, posting a .319/.402/.472 slash line in 18 games. But the defending World Champions may prefer to acquire a more established option via trade.
Two names that could be in play are the Philadelphia Phillies' Marlon Byrd and Ben Revere (pictured). While Byrd hasn't played the position regularly since 2011 and struggled with Boston at the end of 2012, hitting .270 with a .606 OPS in 34 games, he could spell Bradley Jr. in center and pick up playing time in corner spots as well.
Revere, a mediocre defensive player, has no power but hits for average (.270 entering play on June 22) and would give the Red Sox some speed atop the lineup, swiping 20 bases in 22 attempts.
Ideally, the Red Sox would be able to land the center field upgrade they need without surrendering one of their best prospects.
The Chicago Cubs' ideal deadline situation is materializing before their eyes. The Cubs sit with what is arguably the most valuable trade chip in the game, Jeff Samardzija (pictured), and you can be sure that contending clubs will engage in a fierce bidding war to pry him out of Wrigley Field.
Ideally, GM Jed Hoyer and team president Theo Epstein will be able to command a package that includes young pitching and the team's catcher of the future in any deal for the team's ace.
Should the Red Sox, the duo's former employers, look to add a front-line starter at the deadline, there could be a match. The upper levels of Boston's farm system include an impressive amount of talent both on the mound (a list that includes Matt Barnes, Anthony Ranaudo and Allen Webster) and behind the plate (the aforementioned Blake Swihart and Christian Vazquez).
Chicago White Sox
While a seven-game deficit in the AL Central is far from insurmountable, the best course of action for the Chicago White Sox is to continue their rebuilding efforts by moving some veteran pieces as the deadline nears.
Shortstop Alexei Ramirez and second baseman Gordon Beckham could be attractive options for contenders, but the middle-infield market is shaping up to be a crowded one, especially if Philadelphia begins shopping shortstop Jimmy Rollins and second baseman Chase Utley.
That might diminish interest in Ramirez and Beckham and keep Chicago's asking price lower than the team would prefer in order to facilitate a deal.
What the White Sox may have, though, is the most powerful bat on the market in Adam Dunn. While he can play first base if needed, Dunn is best suited as a designated hitter, which limits his market to American League clubs.
Ideally, a team like the Seattle Mariners, who have gotten hardly any production from their DH spot (an AL-worst .294 slugging percentage and .570 OPS), would come calling about Dunn, offering up a pitching prospect (24-year-old RHP Jordan Pries, perhaps) who's close to contributing to a big league rotation.
B/R's Kyle Newport recently examined three areas of concern for the Cincinnati Reds heading into baseball's trading season, but the one that continues to be the most glaring—and potentially easiest to solve—is the void in the lineup created by shortstop Zack Cozart.
As Newport notes, the Reds don't necessarily rely on their shortstop to produce offensively, slotting him toward the bottom of the lineup, and Cozart's glove makes up for his lack of production at the plate.
But there's expected to be a plethora of shortstops available, and Reds GM Walt Jocketty would be a fool if he didn't at least check in on what it would take to bring one to Great American Ballpark.
Potential targets include Chicago's Alexei Ramirez, Arizona's Nick Ahmed and Chris Owings and Didi Gregorius (pictured), a former Reds prospect. Ideally, Cincinnati would be able to pick up a more offensively gifted shortstop while retaining Cozart, who could come off the bench as a late-inning defensive replacement.
With his velocity down and his ERA and WHIP up, this hasn't been the season that anyone envisioned Justin Masterson putting together in the final year of his contract.
Should the Cleveland Indians come to the conclusion that they're no better than a .500 club as presently constituted and that .500 won't be good enough to make the playoffs—neither one a stretch by any means—moving Masterson will be near the top of GM Chris Antonetti's agenda.
Realistically, Masterson isn't going to command a huge return given his issues this season and impending free agency.
But there is an ideal scenario out there, one that finds a contending GM shut out of the bidding for the best arms available and, in a bit of a panic move, agreeing to send a pair of mid-level pitching prospects to the Tribe in exchange for the veteran right-hander.
After a 22-14 start had the Colorado Rockies thinking playoffs, they have crashed back to Earth, going 12-27 over their last 39 games and looking very much like a team that should be selling at the deadline.
The problem is that the team's biggest trade chip, outfielder/first baseman Michael Cuddyer, isn't expected back until after the deadline, while its second most valuable asset, LHP Jorge De La Rosa, has struggled.
In a perfect world, De La Rosa will begin to show the form that saw him pitch to a 1.93 ERA and 1.00 WHIP over five May starts, reestablishing his value on the trade market. An improved De La Rosa could bring Colorado back a package that includes the team's catcher of the future, allowing the Rockies to slide Wilin Rosario to a corner outfield spot in 2015.
The New York Yankees have shown interest in De La Rosa on more than a few occasions, going back as far as 2010 (h/t Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News), and have a need in the rotation.
A package including John Ryan Murphy (pictured), who is buried behind Brian McCann and Francisco Cervelli on the team's depth chart (and behind top prospect Gary Sanchez in the team's long-term plans), would make sense for both clubs.
Ideally, Joe Nathan will regain his All-Star form and begin locking down the ninth inning for the Detroit Tigers, living up to the two-year, $20 million deal that the team signed him to over the winter.
But if that doesn't happen, the Tigers need to address the situation, as pitching to baseball's highest ERA in the game's final stanza (6.91) and second-highest WHIP (1.65) isn't going to find the Tigers playing meaningful October baseball for long, if at all.
With so many contenders focused on strengthening their starting rotations, the best possible situation for the Tigers is that the market for closers goes largely ignored, allowing them to possibly snag someone like San Diego's Huston Street (pictured) for less than they'd normally have to surrender.
The Houston Astros have been more competitive than expected, and the early returns on top prospects Jon Singleton and George Springer have fans more excited about the team's future than they have been in quite some time.
GM Jeff Luhnow has done a remarkable job of dealing away the team's high-priced veterans in past seasons, leaving the Astros with little to offer contending teams as July 31 draws near. Veteran relievers such as Darin Downs, Chad Qualls and Tony Sipp will draw some interest, but none will bring back much in exchange.
The same goes for currently injured relievers Matt Albers and Jesse Crain, who will have to show that they are healthy and effective in a short period of time—if they're able to return before the deadline arrives.
Perhaps the team's most valuable trade chip is DH/OF/1B Chris Carter (pictured), one of the few right-handed bats with power that figures to be on the market. Carter doesn't hit for average, get on base consistently or play solid defense, but he can go deep, an ability that contending teams can always use on the bench.
Ideally, a contender will make a run at the likes of Chicago's Adam Dunn, fall short and turn to Carter as a less-expensive backup option, sending a mid-level prospect Houston's way in return.
Kansas City Royals
A four-game losing streak has knocked the Kansas City Royals out of the top spot in the AL Central, but they have proven that they are a legitimate challenger to Detroit's reign as division champions.
According to ESPN's Jayson Stark, GM Dayton Moore has been saying that the club will be able to add payroll at the deadline, which opens up a world of possibilities for the Royals to improve. While the bullpen and right field are on Moore's radar, according to Stark, third base should be as well.
It's long been speculated that San Diego would shop third baseman Chase Headley, who is making just over $10.5 million in the last year of his deal. Headley has scuffled at the plate, hitting only .200 with a .616 OPS. But he still plays Gold Glove-caliber defense, and a change of scenery could breathe life back into his bat.
The Padres also have some top-notch relievers and a pair of outfielders, Chris Denorfia and Seth Smith, that could interest the Royals as well.
Ideally, Kansas City will be able to take on salary to avoid having to give up the best that its farm system has to offer, perhaps addressing multiple areas of concern in one fell swoop.
Los Angeles Angels
Heading into the weekend, ESPN's Buster Olney (subscription required) took a look inside the problems surrounding the relief situation in Los Angeles, with perhaps this passage the most damning:
The Angels rank 25th in bullpen ERA, just ahead of the Rockies and the Blue Jays, despite the fact that the team's relatively sturdy rotation has limited the number of bullpen innings. But Angels relievers have a staggering 99 walks in 206 innings, and only four bullpens have a worse K/BB ratio.
It goes without saying that the Los Angeles Angels need to add relievers that can throw strikes on a consistent basis, and if they just so happen to be left-handed relievers, all the better, as the Angels are without a southpaw in the bullpen.
There are no shortage of relievers expected to be available that fit that description, including Houston's Darin Downs and Tony Sipp (pictured), Arizona's Joe Thatcher and, if the Texas Ranges decide to start selling off pieces, the Rangers' Neal Cotts.
Ideally, the Angels will be able to strike a deal for one or more of those arms before the market really heats up.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The rumors of David Price ultimately finding his way to the Los Angeles Dodgers simply will not go away, with the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin the latest to call the Dodgers the favorites to land the Rays ace.
That the Dodgers are looking to add another starter makes sense considering that neither Josh Beckett nor Dan Haren is a sure thing to continue performing as well as he has. With the Price rumors continuing to build, let's assume for a second that he is the team's primary target.
Obviously, adding the 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner isn't going to be cheap, and the Dodgers will most definitely have to include CF Joc Pederson as the centerpiece of any package. Pederson, who by all accounts is ready for his MLB debut, is likely to interest the Rays more than third baseman Corey Seager, who would be blocked by Evan Longoria, or LHP Julio Urias, who is still years away from stepping on a major league mound.
With so many contenders focused on trying to get Samardzija out of Chicago, the time for the Dodgers to strike may be now. Ideally, the team will be able to work out a deal for Price before his market heats up.
That the Miami Marlins have been able to remain in the thick of the National League playoff picture without Jose Fernandez, the ace of the staff, is one of the bigger surprises in baseball. Could the Marlins shock everyone a second time by trading for Tampa Bay's David Price to fill the void?
A guest over the weekend with Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette on MLB Network Radio's Front Office, Marlins GM Dan Jennings said that owner Jeffrey Loria was willing to "open the checkbook" at the deadline.
Miami had scouts watching Price's last start, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, and the club is one of the few teams in baseball with an abundance of young pitching, both in the majors and minors.
The team's top prospect, LHP Andrew Heaney (pictured), would almost certainly be the player a package was built around, but adding Price to the rotation could have long-term effects on the Marlins success.
Price would not only become the team's ace in Fernandez's absence, but he'd serve as the veteran leader of a young, talented rotation, serving as a mentor for the group as well.
Ideally, the Marlins would be able to land Price, which, while it comes at a high price, could ultimately lead to both he and Giancarlo Stanton committing to the team for the long term.
While I stand by what I wrote last week, that finding a full-time upgrade for Mark Reynolds at first base would strengthen the Milwaukee Brewers in two spots—first base and the bench—the Brewers are content with Reynolds and Lyle Overbay, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Todd Rosiak.
So let's focus on the bench. Milwaukee's pinch hitters have combined for only one extra-base hit, a .556 OPS and 53 wRC+. Adding another bat to the bench makes a lot of sense, especially one that has some pop.
The problem is that the most attractive power bats expected to be available, such as Chicago's Adam Dunn, come with significant salary attached. The Brewers aren't in a position to add significant salary—not unless they're able to shed some salary of their own.
In a perfect scenario, the Brewers will be able to flip second baseman Rickie Weeks—and his $11 million salary—to a contender, allowing them to then focus their attention to a player like Dunn, who could replace Overbay as Reynolds' backup and the team's primary left-handed bat off the bench.
Despite having only two members of the starting rotation—Kyle Gibson and Phil Hughes—pitch to sub-5.00 ERAs, the Minnesota Twins have remained in contention. While Ricky Nolasco has been better of late, pitching to a 4.50 ERA over his last five starts, the Twins just don't have the pitching needed to remain contenders.
With young arms such as Sean Gilmartin, Trevor May and Alex Meyer getting close to making their major league debuts, including one of them in a deal for a veteran starter doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
Minnesota has a handful of veteran bats—left fielder Josh Willingham, catcher Kurt Suzuki and newly signed first baseman/designated hitter Kendrys Morales—that are sure to be of interest to contenders. Ideally, the Twins will be able to extract some more young arms, whether for the rotation or the bullpen, in exchange for their veteran bats.
New York Mets
New York Mets GM Sandy Alderson is one of the masters of waiting for the ideal trade deadline situation to materialize, holding on to Carlos Beltran in 2011 just long enough to get the San Francisco Giants to agree to send right-hander Zack Wheeler to the Mets in exchange for the veteran slugger.
Alderson reportedly has a chance to do business with Giants GM Brian Sabean again, as the leaders in the NL West are said to be one of the teams with interest in Mets second second baseman Daniel Murphy, according to the New York Daily News' Andy Martino.
But the Mets aren't sure whether they're selling or buying just yet.
While he plays a premium position, one that multiple contenders could stand to upgrade, the odds of Murphy bringing back a Wheeler-type prospect are pretty thin.
That said, Murphy is a valuable trade chip, one that, ideally, Alderson will dangle in front of contenders until an opposing GM is ready to give in to his asking price, which it stands to reason would include a young middle infielder with upside who is ready to contribute to a big league club.
Someone like the Seattle Mariners' Nick Franklin would fit that description, though the Mariners are set at second base with Robinson Cano and won't be calling the Mets about Murphy.
New York Yankees
The question isn't whether the Yankees will add a starting pitcher at the deadline, it's how many pitchers they need, as an unnamed AL executive wondered aloud to the New York Post's Joel Sherman recently:
Right now, they are dodging bullets. They have a lot of five- and six-inning guys, and they are about to negate the effectiveness of [Dellin] Betances and [Adam] Warren by leaning on them too much. They need to get on the board by adding a starter. Heck, I think they need two.
After Masahiro Tanaka, New York's entire starting rotation falls under the umbrella of "five-and-six-inning guys," which leads to an overworked bullpen and disappointing results at the end of the season.
Tampa Bay is unlikely to deal Price within the division, while the Bronx Bombers don't have the young, close-to-major-league-ready pitching that the Cubs are going to want in exchange for Samardzija.
What the Yankees do have, however, is catching depth, and there are a handful of teams that figure to be selling at the deadline that could use a young backstop for the future. As previously mentioned, Colorado's Jorge De La Rosa could be a target (if he's healthy), as could Chicago's John Danks.
The wild card, of course, is the team's ability to take on significant salary.
Should Philadelphia shop Cliff Lee (pictured), who has injury concerns, or Cole Hamels, the Yankees would be one of the few teams around that would be able to absorb all of the remaining salary, which, in theory at least, should drive down the amount of talent that they'd have to surrender in exchange.
Ideally, the pitcher(s) that the Yankees acquire will not only be able to contribute to the team's rotation in 2014, but in 2015 and beyond as well.
Arguably the most complete team in baseball, the Oakland A's are one of the only teams heading into the deadline without a major hole to fill on the roster.
Sure, the club could use more production out of its second basemen, who have combined for a miserable .565 OPS, but the A's aren't about to abandon their belief in the platoon system, seeing how far it's gotten them.
But with Scott Kazmir having a less-than-stellar track record of staying healthy and Jesse Chavez and Sonny Gray having made a combined 42 starts over their respective careers, Oakland would benefit from adding some starting pitching depth.
The A's don't have the prospects that it would take to swing a deal for Price or Samardzija, and the team isn't going to take on significant salary, which takes the likes of Philadelphia's Cliff Lee out of the realm of possibility.
Ideally, the A's would be able to land the starter they need as insurance by dipping into the team's catching depth, with three players on the active roster (John Jaso, Derek Norris and Stephen Vogt) all capable behind the plate.
It's no wonder Philadelphia GM Ruben Amaro Jr. continues to hesitate about blowing things up. Despite continuing to play losing baseball, the Phillies remain within five games of first place in the mediocre NL East.
Realistically, the Phillies need a serious infusion of young talent into the organization, which is stuck with burdensome contracts to veteran pieces and lacks the high-end young talent to replace them once their play on the field takes a significant turn for the worse.
Ideally, the club should be open to listening to offers on anyone and everyone, including Cole Hamels (pictured), who is due $90 million over the next four years, and Cliff Lee (assuming he comes back healthy before the deadline), who has a $25 million salary in 2015 and a $27.5 million vesting option (or $12.5 million buyout) for 2016.
Shedding salaries like those would give the club significant flexibility going forward, both in terms of making trades and making a splash in free agency, not to mention the package of talent both pitchers would bring back (Hamels far more than Lee).
In a perfect world, an established starting pitcher would fall from the sky and land in Pittsburgh Pirates GM Neal Huntington's (pictured) office, giving the Pirates the piece that they need to stay in contention at no cost.
Pittsburgh desperately needs to strengthen a starting rotation that has been among the least effective in baseball, but the Pirates aren't going to surrender the young talent that other teams will want (SP Gerrit Cole, SS Alen Hanson and OF Gregory Polanco) to acquire a front-line piece.
While there's no shortage of mid-level arms expected to be available—players like Chicago's Jason Hammel—do the Pirates want to surrender a few mid-level prospects to rent a veteran for a few months, one that might not be enough to get the club back to the postseason?
San Diego Padres
First and foremost, San Diego's ownership needs to make clear which member of the three-headed monster it has put in place to take over for recently fired GM Josh Byrnes is the one with the ultimate say on potential trades.
Once contenders know who to ask for when they call, the Padres can expect an influx of inquiries from contenders around the game. They have veteran bats (3B Chase Headley and OF Carlos Quentin) and veteran relievers (Joaquin Benoit, Troy Patton, Huston Street and Dale Thayer) that are sure to draw interest.
Should the club put starter Andrew Cashner (pictured) on the block, it could potentially bring back a package of significant talent, though that would undeniably weaken the team's rotation both now and in the future.
Ideally, the Padres will be able to bring back some young bats that are close to making an impact in any deal that they make, bolstering what has been baseball's most inept lineup.
San Francisco Giants
One of the best teams in baseball has a gaping hole up the middle, one that needs to be filled if San Francisco plans on making a deep playoff run.
The Giants have used four different players at second base this year, and they have combined to hit .177 with a .576 OPS. Brandon Hicks, the team's everyday starter, is hitting only .172 with a .627 OPS.
Changes are needed, and there are a handful of second basemen expected to be available.
Perhaps the most ideal target would be Philadelphia's Chase Utley, but he can refuse any trade, and Philadelphia has steadfastly refused to listen to offers on the former All-Star in the past. Additionally, it's unclear whether the Giants have the prospects the Phillies would want in exchange.
More realistic options could include Arizona's Aaron Hill and New York's David Murphy.
Seattle is playing winning baseball and sits in a three-way tie for the second of the American League's two wild-card berths, but the Mariners need more offense if they hope to put some distance between themselves and the rest of the field.
Preferably, that offense will come from an outfielder, one with some pop in his bat. Seattle's outfielders have combined to hit only 13 home runs (third-worst in baseball) while posting a .635 OPS, tied with the Cubs for the game's lowest mark.
Seattle doesn't have much room to add salary, which limits its options, but the team does have a valuable trade chip to play with in infielder Nick Franklin (pictured). Ideally, GM Jack Zduriencik will be able to flip Franklin for a slugging outfielder, preferably one with multiple years of team control remaining.
St. Louis Cardinals
It would be shocking to see St. Louis include top prospect Oscar Taveras (pictured) in any deal, especially since GM John Mozeliak has a track record of not trading his best young talent, but the Cardinals have some work to do as the deadline draws near.
Only San Diego's second basemen have put up a lower OPS (.484) than the group that the Cardinals have used this season, a group that's hit to a .538 mark. With Kolten Wong now on the disabled list with a strained shoulder, making a move to acquire a short-term upgrade may have become a necessity rather than an option.
Wong will be joined on the disabled list by Jaime Garcia and Michael Wacha, according to MLB.com's Jennifer Langosch, as both starters are dealing with shoulder issues. While Wacha's injury isn't believed to be serious, bum shoulders are always concerning.
Throw in Adam Wainwright's recent injury scare, and it's clear that Cardinals would benefit from adding some insurance to the rotation, just in case.
The club certainly has the high-end prospects to acquire Chicago's Samardzija or Tampa Bay's Price, but the cost of doing so—and the cost of retaining either pitcher's services past 2015—makes a deal highly unlikely.
The same could be said for the idea of sliding Matt Carpenter over to second base and seeking a short-term replacement, such as San Diego's Chase Headley, at third base.
Ideally, the Cardinals will be able to add players at both positions without having to surrender one of their prized youngsters.
Tampa Bay Rays
Buried in the AL East, the inevitable—trading David Price, the ace of the team's staff—is quickly drawing near for Tampa Bay.
While the ideal scenario would be for the Rays to stumble into a Tropicana Field-sized bundle of cash, with which the club could work out a market-value extension with the southpaw, that's about as likely to occur as me waking up tomorrow morning and being seven feet tall.
So we turn to the second scenario, which finds the Rays bringing back an impressive package of young talent, one that equals or eclipses what the club got from Kansas City before the 2013 campaign for Wade Davis and James Shields.
There are only a handful of teams that have deep enough farm systems to offer such a package. The Dodgers could build a deal around center fielder Joc Pederson, the Cardinals around center fielder Oscar Taveras and the Rangers around second baseman Rougned Odor or, perhaps, catcher/first baseman Jorge Alfaro.
Ideally, the Rays will be able to land a big-time middle infield or outfield prospect and two young starters with upside, all of whom are close to contributing at the major league level, as the key pieces in a deal involving Price.
No team has been decimated by injury like the Texas Rangers (consider that Mitch Moreland was the team's fourth first baseman to land on the disabled list this year), and it only makes sense that the club would look to sell off some veteran pieces and retool for 2015 and beyond.
While GM Jon Daniels wouldn't commit to being a seller at the deadline, when asked by CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, he did acknowledge that he's gotten multiple calls on some of his more attractive trade chips, including shortstop Elvis Andrus, third baseman Adrian Beltre, right fielder Alex Rios (pictured) and pitcher Joakim Soria.
"It has to be a compelling baseball deal for us to consider moving one of our [core] players," Daniels told Heyman. "We haven't given up on this year."
To their credit, the Rangers have hovered around .500, sitting with a 35-40 record. But they trail first-place Oakland by nearly 12 games in the AL West and are nearly five games out of a wild-card berth, with seven teams ahead of them in the standings.
Staying in contention is going to become increasingly difficult.
Ideally, Daniels will look to move some of that veteran talent—Rios and Soria specifically—for young pitching, whether it be in the rotation or the bullpen.
Toronto Blue Jays
Sitting atop the AL East suits the Toronto Blue Jays just fine, but if the club would like to stay there, GM Alex Anthopoulos is going to have to bring in some reinforcements.
The Blue Jays could use an upgrade at second base, as Brett Lawrie is more valuable to the club at third base, where Juan Francisco is struggling. Adding someone like Chicago's Darwin Barney (pictured), a defensive whiz who should be obtainable at a minimal cost, would allow the team to slide Lawrie back to the hot corner and put Francisco's bat on the bench, strengthening three spots with one move.
But the club's primary focus should be to bring in another established starter to bolster the starting rotation. Ideally, that would be a front-of-the-rotation arm, such as Samardzija or Price, though a deal for the latter is unlikely given Tampa Bay's expected aversion to dealing Price within the division, especially to a team that could, feasibly, afford to sign him to an extension.
The Blue Jays have the young pitching (Drew Hutchison, Sean Nolin, Daniel Norris and Aaron Sanchez) to build an attractive package around and, were they to add one of the two premier arms on the market, could put significant distance between themselves and the rest of the division.
Washington doesn't have much in the way of holes to fill on its 25-man roster, and the first-place Nationals aren't looking to make a big splash as the deadline approaches, according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson.
They're one of the few contenders that figure to be selling at the deadline, with spot starter/long reliever Ross Detwiler (pictured) the team's only real trade chip given its aversion to moving infielder Danny Espinosa.
Ideally, teams that miss out on the bigger pitching names available will come asking about Detwiler, prepared to offer a pair of mid-level prospects for the 28-year-old southpaw.
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