What every contender needs at the MLB trade deadline

We’re in the home stretch leading to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, which means the rumor mill is now churning at a pace that’s impossible to keep up with.

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There’s already been a lot of activity, but there’s still a lot more to comes as all 30 teams evaluate their future. For some, it’s which players from other teams can help us win a World Series championship this season. For others, it’s which players can they trade from their own team to help build a better future. For everyone involved, it’s crunch time.

Today, we’re not so much looking at the names most likely to be discussed. We already covered that in great detail last week, and we’ve already seen players on that list traded. Instead, we’re focusing on the contending teams and their biggest needs, which will influence the type of players they’ll be looking to acquire before Tuesday’s deadline.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Needs: Starting pitcher

Arizona addressed its biggest need already, acquiring infielder Eduardo Escobar from the Twins. If there’s a deal left to be made, it should be for a starting pitcher. Even after getting Robbie Ray back from the disabled list, their depth is thin with Taijuan Walker and Shelby Miller sidelined. 

The Atlanta Braves are in the thick of the postseason chase. Will a trade help them separate themselves? (AP)

Atlanta Braves

Needs: Starting pitcher

The Braves have been active ahead of the deadline. There was an obvious need for a reliever. General manager Alex Anthopoulos has actually added two already, bringing in Brad Brach from the Baltimore Orioles and bringing back Jonny Venters from the Tampa Bay Rays. On Monday, outfielder Adam Duvall was acquired from the Cincinnati Reds to help bolster the lineup. Adding a starting pitcher would make sense too. Anthopoulos would prefer that pitcher be controllable for a couple years, but than a rental. 

Boston Red Sox

Needs: Reliever and catcher

Boston addressed its starting rotation Wednesday by acquiring Nathan Eovaldi from Tampa Bay. Then it found Dustin Pedroia insurance on Monday in a trade for Ian Kinsler. Next up should be a bat or a relief pitcher. Boston’s catching situation is in obvious need of an upgrade, but the relief market should be more to their liking.

Chicago Cubs

Needs: None

Chicago’s big offseason signings haven’t paid off yet with Yu Darvish still sidelined by injury and Tyler Chatwood producing wildly inconsistent numbers. To address that, Cole Hamels was acquired on Thursday. That leaves Chicago will no clear needs, but it doesn’t mean the front office will stay quiet either.

Cleveland Indians

Needs: A bat

Cleveland acquired Brad Hand from San Diego last week, so the bullpen should be solid. Next up should be an upgrade for the offense. An outfielder would be ideal with Tyler NaquinBrandon Guyer and Greg Allen all struggling to contribute. Jon Morosi of Fox Sports reports the Indians have talked Bryce Harper with the Washington Nationals, but a Harper trade seems unlikely.  

Colorado Rockies

Needs: First baseman, catcher

Colorado shored up its bullpen with Seung Hwan Oh. Now they need a bat, or possibly two to help the lineup. A sure thing at catcher would help. Their current trio of Chris Iannetta, Tony Wolters and Tom Murphy leave manager Bud Black guessing every day what his best option will be. Colorado’s also been without a steady producer at first base. 

Houston Astros

Needs: None

There didn’t appear to be a pressing need for Houston, but general manager Jeff Luhnow has been busy. Luhnow probably learned from last season’s World Series run that teams can never have enough relievers. In response to that, he’s acquired closer Roberto Osuna, who’s still serving a 75-game domestic violence suspension, from the Toronto Blue Jays, and set up man Ryan Pressly from the Minnesota Twins. Veteran catcher Martin Maldonado was also added as insurance for an injured Brian McCann.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Needs: Starter and reliever

Los Angeles already got the prize of the trade deadline by acquiring Manny Machado. Now they’ll turn their focus to pitching. Rotation depth is always a concern given the injury history of starters Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda and Hyun-Jin Ryu. The emergence of Ross Stripling helps, but insurance would be wise. The same can be said for the Dodgers bullpen, which doesn’t have a sturdy bridge to Kenley Jansen. 

Milwaukee Brewers’ Tyler Saladino is congratulated after hitting a walk-off sacrifice fly during the 10th inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals Tuesday, July 24, 2018, in Milwaukee. The Brewers won 5-4. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Milwaukee Brewers

Needs: Starting pitcher

The Brewers are good, but they’ll need help to take another step forward. They’ve already done a lot, adding veteran reliever Joakim Soria from the White Sox and third baseman Mike Moustakas from the Royals. Starting pitcher became a need too when Brent Suter was lost to Tommy John surgery earlier this week. The Brewers have stated they’re open to making more trades.  

New York Yankees

Needs: Outfielder

The Yankees bullpen became even more unfair with the addition of Zach Britton. Then general manager Brian Cashman landed starter J.A. Happ on Thursday and Lance Lynn on Monday. Those deals seemed to set the Yankees up pretty well. Injuries to Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez could make a bat the priority on deadline day. With Clint Frazier and Jacoby Ellsbury also unavailable, Cashman has so far only added Luke Voit in a minor deal with St. Louis.

Oakland Athletics

Needs: Starting pitcher

The A’s continue hanging around despite problematic injuries in the starting rotation.
Right now, they’re relying on veterans like Edwin Jackson and Trevor Cahill, which is far from ideal. A starter is definitely needed to boost their chances. A bargain rental might be their best bet considering some young starters will be back next season. The bullpen was previously supplemented with a trade for Jeurys Familia.

Philadelphia Phillies

Needs: Starting pitcher

The Phillies were another team deep in the Manny Machado talks. They missed on him, but did get Asdrubal Cabrera from the Mets on Friday. The Phillies also seem more focused on adding Adam Jones to their outfield than trading for a starting pitcher, but starter seems like a bigger need. 

Pittsburgh Pirates

Needs: A lot

The Pirates are contenders again almost by accident after winning 11 straight games in late July. There’s reported interest in Chris Archer, but they’d need a lot more to make a run this season.

San Francisco Giants

Needs: Outfielder, pitcher

The Giants are too close to the NL West and second wild-card position to sell, but they’re not in a great position to buy either. Like Pittsburgh, they should hold or perhaps focus on mild upgrade additions. The outfield is one spot they could add with Hunter Pence’s decline limiting their options there.   

Seattle Mariners

Needs: Starting pitcher

Jerry Dipoto came to life Monday, acquiring relievers Zach Duke and Adam Warren in minor deals.
The Mariners will feel better about their rotation if James Paxton proves healthy. Still, they could use an addition either as insurance or for depth behind Paxton, Felix Hernandez, Wade LeBlanc and Marco Gonzales. Just don’t expect a major name with GM Jerry Dipoto’s resources somewhat limited by his never-ending trading.

St. Louis Cardinals

Needs: Relievers

The Cardinals season is teetering on the brink right now. The bullpen needs some help after Greg Holland busted as a free agent and was designated for assignment last week. Chasen Shreve was brought over from St. Louis over the weekend, but there’s probably not a lot more can do.

Washington Nationals

Needs: Catcher, reliever

The Nationals aren’t much different than St. Louis. The key differences being Washington should have an easier path in the division. Also, this is Bryce Harper’s walk year, so now’s the time to go for it. Catcher is the team’s biggest need with Matt Wieters hurt. Another reliever would be good too with closer Sean Doolittle out for an extended time. But they might have to do something big to truly salvage this season.

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