MLB Trade Rumors: All 30 Teams' Biggest Needs Heading into 'Deadline Day'
We're more than 100 games into the MLB season, and with the trade deadline rapidly approaching, it's make-or-break time for many clubs in playoff races.
We've already seen big names like Zack Greinke and Hanley Ramirez head west, but other stars like Josh Johnson, James Shields and Chase Headley could be on the move to shake up playoff races across the country.
So it all comes down to the final third of the season. Will your team be a buyer or a seller? Does it already have what it takes to make the playoffs, or is it a player away?
Here are all 30 teams' biggest needs heading into "deadline day."
Record: 51-50 (third in NL West, 5.5 GB of Wild Card)
Need: Starting pitcher
Why: While they were struggling, a great deal of attention was paid to the possibility of Arizona dealing superstar outfielder Justin Upton. But after a 7-3 stretch over their past 10 games to get them right back in the playoff hunt, the Snakes might be buyers rather than sellers at the deadline.
D-Backs starting pitchers have been their biggest problem this year, with a rotation ERA of 4.27. Wade Miley has been a great surprise for Arizona, but Ian Kennedy is not repeating his magic from last year, Trevor Bauer has not surfaced as a worthy MLB pitcher yet, and the end of the rotation has been a revolving door of question marks.
Arizona has a decent bullpen and sufficient hitting, but if it is going to catch up to the Giants in the West or the Braves in the wild-card race, it will need to get better starting pitching down the stretch.
Record: 56-44 (second in NL East, currently holding second Wild Card)
Need: Starting pitcher
Why: He's only in his second season, but Craig Kimbrel might be the best closer in the game right now. With Kimbrel and lefty setup man Jonny Venters, the Braves can all but guarantee a win if they hold the lead after seven innings. However, it's been difficult to find a starter that can hand the bullpen the lead they need.
Other than Ben Sheets (3-0, 0.50 ERA in 18 innings), the best ERA for a Braves starter is 3.71 by Tim Hudson. Overall, Atlanta's staff ranks 22nd in all of baseball with a 4.22 starter ERA.
Although they could not complete the deal with the Cubs to acquire Ryan Dempster, look for the Braves to trade for a legitimate No. 1 or No. 2 starter before the deadline.
Record: 52-49 (second in AL East, 3.0 GB of Wild Card)
Need: Third baseman
Why: Mark Reynolds, one of the few hitters in baseball that could rival the awful strikeout numbers of Adam Dunn, is hitting .206 with only eight home runs. Wilson Betemit is hitting .251 and is a huge defensive liability. The club doesn't view either as a long-term solution at third.
That's why it's no surprise the Orioles have been linked to San Diego third baseman Chase Headley. So far, the Padres product is hitting .265 with 12 home runs, and he would be a huge upgrade for the O's.
Boston Red Sox
Record: 51-51 (fifth in AL East, 5.0 GB of Wild Card)
Need: Starting pitching
Why: When looking at the 2012 Red Sox roster before the season, the last need you would expect them to have would be starting pitching. However, Jon Lester has a career-worst 5.49 ERA, Josh Beckett has been a problem on and off the field, Clay Buchholz has struggled mightily and Daisuke Matsuzaka is 0-3 since returning from injury.
It's safe to say no rotation has underperformed more than Boston's. Ownership needs to make a big splash at the deadline to attempt to shake up the organization and save the drowning season before it's too late.
Record: 41-58 (fifth in NL Central, 14.5 GB of Wild Card)
Need: Trade Ryan Dempster and continue to rebuild
Why: Enough is enough for Ryan Dempster. The longtime Cub has been nothing but loyal to the organization, and it is time for them to deal him once and for all. The starter has a 2.25 ERA this year, which includes a shutout streak of 33 innings.
Due to his incredible year, Dempster has a high value for the Cubs. If they could acquire a few prospects that will be MLB-ready in a year or two, this would be a win for both teams.
Chicago White Sox
Record: 55-46 (first in AL Central)
Need: Middle infielder
Why: This is by no means a big need for the White Sox; they have simply made so many other moves at the deadline that this is all that's left. The deal to get Kevin Youkilis is looking brilliant, while Brett Myers will surely strengthen their bullpen, and although they could not trade for Zack Greinke, Francisco Liriano is certainly not a bad consolation prize.
The White Sox are fairly young up the middle with Alexei Ramirez and Gordon Beckham, but the two are hitting just .269 and .230, respectively. Don't look for Chicago to make a move, though; these two have great potential, and the White Sox will give them their chance to show it.
Record: 60-40 (first in NL Central)
Need: Top-of-the-order outfielder
Why: The Reds currently have the best record in the National League, but they could still use help towards the top of their batting order. Brandon Phillips is more of a No. 2 hitter than a leadoff guy, and Jay Bruce and Drew Stubbs both strike out too much to fill that role. Ryan Ludwick has some nice power numbers, but he has been inconsistent throughout his career.
As Mark Sheldon of MLB.com notes, the Reds could seek the help of Denard Span, Shane Victorino or Juan Pierre. A move like this could be good for the Reds, but they should not feel pressed to trade. At 20 games over .500, there is no necessity.
Record: 50-51 (Third in AL Central, 5.0 GB of Wild Card)
Need: Starting pitching
Why: The names are there in the starting rotation, but there is no consistency. Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez and Derek Lowe all appear past their primes, and the starters have a collective record of 36-44.
They won't go after Josh Johnson, but they could potentially make a run at Tampa Bay's James Shields. In the competitive AL Central, though, the Indians may be inactive at the deadline and wait until the offseason to improve.
Record: 37-62 (fifth in NL West, 18.5 GB of Wild Card)
Need: Starting pitching
Why: The Rockies have started 12 different pitchers already this year, and none of them have experienced any success. Their staff ERA of 6.28 is almost a run worse than any other team in Major League Baseball.
However, don't expect the Rockies to do anything but sell at the deadline. They are so far out of contention that all they can hope to do is build for next year.
Record: 53-48 (second in AL Central, 2.0 GB of Wild Card)
Why: The Tigers are finally getting quality starts from pitchers not named Justin Verlander, and their trade for Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante fills their needs on the mound and in the infield. With Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder in the middle of the order, as long as the role players can get on, the Tigers will score.
Although a right-handed bat off the bench could be a valuable asset, Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski has already told Jason Beck of MLB.com that the Tigers "are set at this point."
Record: 34-68 (sixth in NL Central, 23.0 GB of Wild Card)
Why: Is there anything the Astros don't need? They are blatantly the worst team in baseball, and for Houston, the numbers don't lie. The 'Stros don't have a .300 hitter with more than 40 at-bats, don't have a starter with an ERA under 4.00 and recently traded their ace Wandy Rodriguez.
While the team is obviously in rebuilding mode and may improve in the years to come, Houston can expect to be a miserable team for the immediate future.
Kansas City Royals
Record: 41-59 (fifth in AL Central, 13.5 GB of Wild Card)
Need: Rebuild by dealing Jonathan Broxton, others
Why: The Royals are a better team than their record shows (or at least will be soon). With that being said, 2012 is over for them, so they need to spend this trade deadline preparing themselves to make a run next year.
Jonathan Broxton is the perfect candidate for them to trade. He signed a one-year contract with them, and during that time he's been an All-Star. Because of that he will likely command a high salary and more years with his next contract, which is something the Royals won't want to take on.
Therefore, deal him at the deadline for a player that can help the team make a run in 2013.
Los Angeles Angels
Record: 55-46 (second in AL West, second Wild Card)
Need: Relief pitching
Why: The Angels already made the biggest noise of the offseason by adding C.J. Wilson and Albert Pujols. Then they brought up MVP candidate Mike Trout from Triple-A. Now they make the deal of the trade deadline by acquiring Zack Greinke—but somehow they may not be done quite yet.
Ernesto Frieri and Scott Downs have been solid at the end of games, and the bullpen has a collective ERA of 3.34, but the Angels may be looking for another solid arm with more playoff experience for the playoff push.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Record: 55-47 (second in NL West, 2.0 GB of Wild Card)
Need: Starting pitching and outfielder
Why: The Dodgers have already been busy at the trade deadline, acquiring Hanley Ramirez, but now they need to turn their attention to starting pitching and an outfielder.
Bobby Abreu was great in his prime, but he's no longer a threat, and Tony Gwynn Jr. is nowhere near a starting outfielder. If the Dodgers could make a bid for Shane Victorino or Hunter Pence, they would probably have the best outfield in the National League.
L.A. is also pushing for Ryan Dempster of the Cubs. There are some question marks after Clayton Kershaw, although Chad Billingsley, Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano have all pitched well. With Dempster, though, L.A. would have to become the new favorite in the NL West.
Record: 47-54 (fourth in NL East, 10 GB of Wild Card)
Need: Stop the fire sale and keep Josh Johnson
Why: There's no move the Marlins could make to get them to the 2012 playoffs, but management needs to think about the fans. It's a brand new name and a brand new stadium, and so much hype was created to make baseball in Miami relevant again.
Slightly more than halfway into the season, the team is struggling, and it has shipped away Anibal Sanchez, Omar Infante and former face of the franchise Hanley Ramirez.
If the Marlins trade away ace pitcher Josh Johnson, they've all but given up on being relevant any time soon. So for the fans, hold onto your big guns (including Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes) and do things to make your team a playoff threat in 2013.
Record: 45-55 (fourth in NL Central, 11 GB of Wild Card)
Why: This year is over for the Brewers. They're 11 games back and already dealt Zack Greinke. Now they need to keep going and sell more high-priced pieces in order to free up cap space and get younger. Guys like Aramis Ramirez, Randy Wolf and Francisco Rodriguez all could help a team make a playoff push but have little value to the Brewers.
Record: 43-58 (fourth in AL Central, 11.5 GB of Wild Card)
Need: Swap Denard Span for a pitcher
Why: Denard Span has incredibly high trade value because he is under team control at a low cost for three more years. Therefore, the Twins have some leeway if they wanted to trade him at this year's deadline.
According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, management has decided that the only way they will move him is if they get a major league starter in return (h/t MLBtraderumors.com).
New York Mets
Record: 49-53 (third in NL East, 8.5 GB of Wild Card)
Need: Relief pitching
Why: With their dreadful start to the second half, the Mets have already taken themselves out of contention for a wild-card berth, but they are a team that will be ready to compete in 2013. They have some of the big pieces, including David Wright, Ike Davis and R.A. Dickey, along with up-and-coming studs in Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler, but their bullpen is trouble.
With a bullpen ERA of 5.07, the Mets have the only relievers in the MLB with an ERA over 5.00. Frank Francisco isn't a proven closer, Jon Rauch is looking old and Bobby Parnell is somehow not effective even with a 100 MPH fastball.
The Mets also need to get rid of Jason Bay. Carl Crawford, he feels your pain.
New York Yankees
Record: 60-41 (first in AL East)
Need: Third baseman
Why: They don't, but Brian Cashman might think they do. At 60-40, they have the best record in the American League and lead the Orioles by 7.5 games. No one is going to catch them, but the Yankees are always willing to make a deal.
Alex Rodriguez is out six to eight weeks after being drilled by a King Felix fastball, but the Yankees have Eric Chavez and Jayson Nix. The two have combined for 12 home runs, only three less than A-Rod's total of 15 (in 100 fewer at-bats). Still, don't be surprised if they make a run at highly touted third baseman Chase Headley.
Record: 55-46 (second in AL West, first in Wild Card)
Why: In 82 games as the A's starting shortstop, Cliff Pennington is hitting an embarrassing .197. If they are going to make a playoff run, they need someone up the middle that could hit at least at the Mendoza line.
Look for the A's to seek Yunel Escobar or Stephen Drew to give them more offense. If he has a movie dedicated to his GM work, Billy Beane should be able to pull off a move at this year's deadline.
Record: 45-57 (fifth in NL East, 12.5 GB of Wild Card)
Need: Trade either Shane Victorino or Hunter Pence
Why: The Phillies already fulfilled their biggest need of 2012 by signing Cole Hamels to a long-term extension. However, that leaves them paying four players (Hamels, Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard) a whopping $95 million in 2013.
If the Phils can trade Victorino or Pence to get a prospect and free up salary, they should be right back near the top of the National League in 2013.
Record: 58-43 (second in NL Central, first in Wild Card)
Why: The Pirates already fulfilled their biggest need by acquiring Wandy Rodriguez from division foe Houston, so an outfielder is only a plus at this point.
Andrew McCutchen is an All-World outfielder in center, but collectively, Pirates left fielders have compiled a .195 batting average. They have enough talent to likely secure a playoff spot, but if Pittsburgh hopes to do anything once it reaches the postseason, it needs to add offense.
San Diego Padres
Record: 43-60 (fourth in NL West, 15.0 GB of Wild Card)
Need: Trade Chase Headley for prospects
Why: With many teams in the playoff hunt looking for a corner infielder and Chase Headley producing, his trade value is at an all-time high. A-Rod's injury for the Yankees could be a huge blessing for San Diego, because the Padres know if the Yankees are interested, they will do whatever it takes to complete the deal.
The Padres are far from contending, especially in the talented NL West. By trading Headley, they can continue to rebuild for the future.
San Francisco Giants
Record: 55-46 (first in NL West)
Why: Melky Cabrera is having the season of his life, but other Giants outfielders Angel Pagan, Nate Schierholtz and Gregor Blanco have been less than spectacular this year.
The aforementioned Shane Victorino or Hunter Pence could be a great fit in San Francisco, but after renting Carlos Beltran from the Mets last season and missing the playoffs, the Giants could be reluctant to make a move and hurt their farm system.
Record: 47-57 (fourth in AL West, 9.5 GB of Wild Card)
Need: A little bit of everything
Why: The Mariners aren't a bad team, but they aren't particularly strong anywhere either. Jesus Montero's .262 average leads everyday players. Justin Smoak's 13 home runs are respectable, but his .189 average is horrendous.
Outside of King Felix, this team has few cornerstones. With Ichiro headed to the Yankees, a new position player needs to step up and be the rock of the lineup.
St. Louis Cardinals
Record: 54-48 (third in NL Central, 3.5 GB of Wild Card)
Need: Starting pitcher
Why: Kyle Lohse, Jake Westbrook, Lance Lynn and Adam Wainwright are a solid four starters, but the fifth guy in the rotation has been a huge question mark for the Cardinals. Without Chris Carpenter, they've tried Joe Kelly and Jaime Garcia, but neither has stuck.
With Francisco Liriano and Zack Greinke off the market, the only pitcher they may go after is James Shields. Otherwise, don't be shocked if they go to a four-man rotation down the stretch if they're desperate for a playoff spot.
Tampa Bay Rays
Record: 53-49 (second in AL East, 2.0 GB of Wild Card)
Need: Don't sell
Why: James Shield and Wade Davis are both on the trading block, but the Rays would be making a huge mistake to trade either of them. They're only two games back of the second Wild Card, and Evan Longoria will be returning back to the lineup shortly.
David Price has been dominant as a starter and Fernando Rodney has been lights out closing games, so if the team can put up runs, it can certainly make a wild-card run.
Record: 59-41 (first in AL West)
Need: Starting pitcher
Why: After losing out on the Zack Greinke sweepstakes, the Rangers must be dying to make a big splash before the deadline. Neftali Feliz has been hurt almost all year, Roy Oswalt is not the pitcher he used to be, Colby Lewis is out for the season and between Matt Harrison and Yu Darvish, the Rangers lack a legitimate No. 1.
A Josh Johnson or James Shields-caliber pitcher would be huge, but they may be hard for Texas to acquire. The Rangers might pray what they have is enough and stay the way they are.
Toronto Blue Jays
Record: 51-50 (fourth in AL East, 3.5 GB of Wild Card)
Need: Starting pitching
Why: Through 101 games, the Blue Jays have used 10 different starting pitchers, and only two of them have logged more than 100 innings on the year. Brandon Morrow and Carlos Villanueva have been having solid years as starters, but the Jays definitely need to add a front-of-the-rotation arm to make a playoff run.
A pitcher like Francisco Liriano would have been ideal for Toronto, but they probably will not want to give up what it will take to get Josh Johnson.
Record: 61-40 (first in NL East)
Why: The Nationals are the most complete team in baseball. Their starting rotation is superb, their bullpen is lights out (especially now that Drew Storen is back) and they have been hitting the ball well. Jayson Werth will also return to the lineup soon, which will be a huge boost for Washington.
Their only problem will be if they actually go through with shutting down Stephen Strasburg. John Lannan will be valuable coming up from the minors, but there's no replacement for Strasburg in all of baseball.