The MLB trade deadline is one of the most exciting times of the year for hardcore baseball fans. Some teams have fallen by the wayside and are selling players in order to cut payroll, get rid of bad contracts and stock up on prospects to build for the future. Other teams are buyers and are stocking up on arms in the bullpen, bolstering their starting rotation and filling gaps in the lineup to push for October.
The National League East is one of the most hotly contested in all of baseball this year.
The emergent Washington Nationals have busted out of the gate with hot young talent and have surged to the division lead. However, young ace Steven Strasburg is fresh off Tommy John surgery and is approaching the club-imposed pitch limit on his season. When he is shut down, the Nationals will need an arm to plug the gap in their rotation.
The inconsistent Atlanta Braves sit in second place, currently four games behind the Nats. Inconsistent outings by young starters Mike Minor and Randall Delgado, along with another prolonged slump by (All Star?) Dan Uggla, trouble with scoring runs against left-handed pitching and uncharacteristic bad outings by setup man Jonny Venters have the Braves treading water at this point in the season. Young phenom Andrelton Simmons provided a spark, but after breaking his pinkie finger just before the All-Star break, the Braves may have to look for offense in other places. The Braves are definitely going to be buyers to try to overtake the upstart Nationals.
The surprising New York Mets are scraping together wins and currently sit in third place in the division heading into the second half of the season. Most picked this team to finish near the bottom of the division, but R.A Dickey and David Wright have the Amazin' Mets believing again. The Mets currently sit 1/2 game behind the Braves and should be buying by the trade deadline.
The Miami Marlins are in a disappointing fourth place. The Marlins made the biggest splash in all of baseball during the offseason by acquiring sought-after free agents Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, Mark Buehrle and Carlos Zambrano during the offseason. The Marlins also added fiery manager Ozzie Guillen and opened the season in a new ballpark. After recently adding Carlos Lee from the Houston Astros, the Marlins left no doubt that they intend to be buyers at the trade deadline.
The Philadelphia Phillies, fresh off a division title last season, sit stagnant in last place. Injuries have plagued the Phils and they currently sit 13 games out of first place. The Phillies will be in full rebuilding mode by the trade deadline and should move players such as Cole Hamels, Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence and Cliff Lee.
So, in this competitive division, what do the Braves do and who should they target? There are plenty of big names that could move by the 2012 MLB Trade Deadline and this article will list five players who would fit with the Braves.