One Waiver-Deadline Deal Each Contender Can Make to Secure Playoff Berth
A number of teams have made improvements to their roster prior to the 2012 MLB trade deadline, but they may not be enough to get them into the playoffs.
With the addition of the second wild card this season, there are many more teams in contention for a playoff spot this year. As a result of this, there were fewer sellers at the deadline. When teams begin to fade back, they will be more willing to trade some of their players.
For the sake of this article, a contender is being defined as any team within five games of a playoff spot.
New York Yankees
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The New York Yankees made two deals prior to the 2012 MLB trade deadline, as they brought in Ichiro and Casey McGehee. With these two moves, New York is already in a good position to make the playoffs.
New York has a big lead in the American League East, and as long as they continue to play the way they have over the past few months, the Yankees should be a lock for the playoffs.
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Pitching is going to be key for the Baltimore Orioles if they are going to continue their surprising run to the postseason. The Orioles have three starters, Tommy Hunter, Jake Arrieta and Brian Matusz, with ERAs over 5.00 this year.
Josh Johnson could be on the trading block according to Buster Olney of ESPN (Insider required). Johnson may be expensive, but he would be a great addition for the Orioles as they try to make the playoffs.
Tampa Bay Rays
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Catcher has been a huge problem for the Tampa Bay Rays this season and they missed out on the opportunity to get Geovany Soto prior to the MLB trade deadline. The Rays may have a tough time acquiring a catcher at this point.
If the Oakland Athletics put Kurt Suzuki on waivers, the Rays should take a low-cost risk and try to acquire him. A change of scenery may help Suzuki regain his confidence at the plate.
Boston Red Sox
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After a tough start to the season, the Boston Red Sox have turned things around and put themselves in contention for a playoff spot. They have done so with Felix Doubront as their best starter.
Cliff Lee could potentially be available in an August trade according to Buster Olney of ESPN (Insider required). Boston has the money to afford Lee, and he would become the ace they need.
Toronto Blue Jays
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It is impressive that even in early August all of the teams in the American League East still have a shot at reaching the playoffs. The Toronto Blue Jays still have a hill to climb if they are going to make it there.
Adding a starting pitcher might make that ascent a bit easier for the Blue Jays. Josh Beckett has been identified as a possible August trade target by Buster Olney of ESPN (Insider required), and the Blue Jays should consider going after him.
Chicago White Sox
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Gordon Beckham has done a decent job at second base for the Chicago White Sox this season, but any improvement would bode well for their chances at making the playoffs.
Jed Lowrie could be on the block in August and he is a big improvement over Beckham (h/t Buster Olney of ESPN). Houston would consider dealing him, but he will not be cheap.
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The Detroit Tigers had two needs heading into the 2012 MLB trade deadline: a second baseman and a starting pitcher. They were able to fill both of those needs by trading for Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante.
At this point, the Tigers should feel pretty confident about their chances of making the playoffs with the team that they have.
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There is going to be a big fight in the American League West for playoff spots, and the Texas Rangers have a good chance of coming out on top.
Adding Ryan Dempster really helped the Rangers improve their starting rotation. However, Dempster was not the ace that they were looking for. Cliff Lee could be the key to the Rangers finally winning a World Series, and he is an August trade option according to Buster Olney of ESPN (Insider required).
Los Angeles Angels
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After trading for Zack Greinke, the Los Angeles Angels have put themselves in a very good position to reach the playoffs in 2012. If they cannot edge out the Texas Rangers for the American League West title, they should be able to pick up one of the wild cards.
The Angels could pursue bullpen help in August, but they might be set. If they do try to get a reliever, Francisco Rodriguez or Tim Brydak could be options if they are made available.
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The surprising Oakland Athletics have managed to stay in contention in the American League West even in light of the fact that they have struggled to get production out of a number of positions.
Shortstop has been a big problem for Oakland. They pursued Stephen Drew prior to the trade deadline, but they could not pick him up (h/t Buster Olney of ESPN). Oakland could make another run at him in August.
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Stephen Strasburg has been lights out for the Washington Nationals this season, but they may not have him for the rest of the year. Strasburg is on an innings limit and may be shut down (h/t ESPN).
Washington will need to find someone who can replace Strasburg in their rotation, but they could likely still make the playoffs without making an August deal.
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The Atlanta Braves may not be able to catch the Washington Nationals this season for the National League East title, but they have a very good shot at making the playoffs by winning the wild card.
Finding a power bench bat could be a big addition for the Braves. Jason Giambi has struggled a bit this year, but he could be available (h/t Buster Olney of ESPN). Not only would Giambi provide some power off the bench, but he would also provide more of a veteran presence.
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Following their addition of Jonathan Broxton, it is hard to find an area that the Cincinnati Reds need to improve if they are going to make the playoffs this season.
Cincinnati has to be the favorite in the National League Central at this point, and they will be a tough team to beat in the playoffs.
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The Pittsburgh Pirates were wheeling and dealing prior to the 2012 MLB trade deadline, and they made a number of additions to improve their team. They have been a pleasant surprise all year and have a chance to continue their run into the playoffs.
Arizona offered the Pirates Stephen Drew for two prospects prior to the trade deadline but Pittsburgh turned it down (h/t Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review). The Pirates may be smart to revisit a potential deal in August.
St. Louis Cardinals
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The defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals currently find themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to the 2012 MLB playoffs.
St. Louis' bullpen has been an area of concern this season and the team picked up Edward Mujica to try to shore it up. The Cardinals would be wise to look into acquiring another reliever in August.
San Francisco Giants
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In response to all of the moves that the Los Angeles Dodgers made, the San Francisco Giants went out and acquired Hunter Pence.
The Giants' lineup could still use a bit of improvement. Brandon Crawford has done a decent job at shortstop this year, but adding Stephen Drew would give the Giants a boost. Drew may be available in August according to Buster Olney (Insider required).
Los Angeles Dodgers
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Considering all of the moves that the Los Angeles Dodgers made prior to the 2012 MLB trade deadline, they were certainly big winners.
The Dodgers certainly do not need to make any more moves at this point. Dave Cameron of FanGraphs has suggested that the Dodgers try to go after Cliff Lee since he has been put on waivers.
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Since the All-Star Break, the Arizona Diamondbacks have begun to heat up, which has helped them begin to close the gap between them and both the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants.
Arizona is in a position where they could look to add a bench player to their roster. Juan Pierre could provide some speed and veteran leadership to the Diamondbacks. Buster Olney of ESPN (Insider required) has mentioned that Pierre could be traded in August.