Every MLB Team's Early Blueprint to Winning the 2013 Trade Deadline
The offseason is when MLB teams shape their roster for the upcoming season, but the trade deadline is when they shape them for the stretch run and postseason.
Injuries and ineffectiveness will inevitably create unexpected areas of need for most teams between now and July, and as always, the trade deadline will be a flurry of activity league-wide.
Contenders look to add the final piece to what they hope is a championship roster, while teams out of contention look to build for the future by moving some of their veteran pieces.
Obviously, a ton will change between now and July 31, but here is an early look at each MLB team's blueprint for success at the coming year's trade deadline.
Upton and the Diamondbacks don't need another deadline of distracting trade rumors.
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Don't be afraid to use pitching depth to improve in other areas.
The Diamondbacks already dealt highly-touted pitching prospect Trevor Bauer this offseason to improve at shortstop, acquiring Didi Gregorius from the Reds.
However, they still have an abundance of starting pitching and while that is never a bad thing to have, the team should use that depth to shore up any needs that may arise between now and the deadline.
Avoid Justin Upton rumors.
This is provided Upton is still with the team come July, but if the team does end up keeping him this offseason, they can't let incessant rumors become a distraction for the outfielder at the deadline.
The Diamondbacks need to avoid taking their stance of "we're willing to listen to offers" and either trade Upton or make him unavailable, for the good of the team and Upton.
Corey Hart could give the Braves offense a huge boost.
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Trade for Corey Hart.
The Braves could still sign someone to play left field before the start of the season, but as it stands now, it appears as though they will enter the season with Martin Prado in left and Juan Francisco at third base.
With left-handed hitters Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman and Brian McCann in the middle of the lineup, a right-handed bat with some pop would be a major addition. Hart could be available if the Brewers fall out of the race, as he's set to hit free agency at season's end.
Welcome Brandon Beachy back into the rotation.
While Kris Medlen stole the show for the Braves in the second half, it was Beachy who was on his way to a breakout season before injury struck and he underwent Tommy John surgery.
The 26-year-old was 5-5 with a 2.00 ERA in 13 starts before going on the shelf, and he could be back by midseason if he avoids any setbacks.
The Braves would be wise to find a way to open up a rotation spot for him as soon as he's ready, as he could be as big an addition as any pitcher potentially on the market.
Dylan Bundy and the rest of the Orioles top prospects should remain untouchable.
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Stick to philosophy of not trading minor-league talent.
The Orioles have built their roster largely from within, climbing out of the AL East cellar on the strength of good drafting and player development.
At the deadline last season, they balked at moving any of their top young talent and they should stick to that way of thinking once again this season.
Find a cheap power bat.
Among their small-scale moves at the deadline last season, the Orioles traded for veteran slugger Jim Thome and managed to get a .744 OPS in 101 at-bats out of him.
They will likely be looking to add some pop to their lineup at the deadline again this season. Upcoming free agents Justin Morneau, Carlos Pena and Jeff Francoeur all fit the bill as potentially low-cost veteran power sources who could be available come July.
Boston Red Sox
A healthy and productive Jacoby Ellsbury could be the deadline's marquee trade chip.
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Trade Jacoby Ellsbury if the team is out of the playoff picture.
If the Red Sox fall out of contention by the deadline, they will have perhaps the best trade chip on the market in center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury.
The free-agent-to-be will be looking to bounce back from an injury-plagued 2012, and if he can even show flashes of being the player he was in 2011, the Red Sox could get a huge prospect package for him.
Shop Jarrod Saltalamacchia to fill any needs.
While not everyone is a fan of the Red Sox active offseason of veteran signings, they enter the 2013 season without any major holes in their lineup. That is provided they can come to terms with Mike Napoli to man first base.
Injuries will inevitably change that, and the team has another solid trade chip outside of Ellsbury in Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The slugging catcher is a free agent at season's end, and with Ryan Lavarnway ready to step in, the team is unlikely to re-sign him.
Catching is always in demand at the deadline, and the team may be able to find someone willing to overspend to add the 27-year-old backstop.
Could Matt Garza net a Zack Greinke-sized return at the deadline?
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Trade Matt Garza.
The Cubs likely would have moved Garza last year had it not been for an injury that wound up ending his season, and while he may not have the value he did last year given the extra year of control he came with, he could still be the top available arm come July.
The possibility remains that the Cubs could look to extend the 29-year-old, but if that doesn't happen, he'll be the rebuilding club's best chance of landing an impact prospect in July.
Trade any other veteran who generates interest.
The Cubs have a handful of veterans set to hit free agency at season's end who will likely be on the block this year as well. None have the value of Garza, but there are some potentially solid additions to contenders on the roster.
Outfielders David DeJesus and Nate Schierholtz, starters Scott Baker and Scott Feldman and reliever Carlos Marmol all have contracts set to expire at the end of 2013, and outfielder Alfonso Soriano will continue to be shopped as well.
Chicago White Sox
Expect Gavin Floyd to be on the move at the deadline if he's not traded before the start of the season.
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Trade Gavin Floyd.
Whether they are in contention or not, the White Sox could look to move Gavin Floyd, as they saw enough from Hector Santiago last season that they'd likely be confident in moving him into Floyd's rotation spot.
The Sox have shopped the free-agent-to-be Floyd this offseason, and while he has been unable to duplicate his 2008 success (17-8, 3.84 ERA), he's been a durable, solid starter for the White Sox and would no doubt be a welcome addition to a number of teams at the deadline.
Improve the farm system.
The White Sox have had one of the worst minor-league systems in all of baseball for several seasons now, as they are historically quick to pull the trigger on swapping prospects for veterans at the deadline.
With a big-league roster that is very quickly getting old across the board, the team has to begin laying the groundwork for the future, and if they can make it to next offseason with all of their key prospects still in the system and a few others added to the mix, the deadline would be a win.
Speedy prospect Billy Hamilton should be considered untouchable.
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Don't trade Billy Hamilton or Tony Cingrani.
The Reds have as complete a team as any in baseball heading into the season, but they will no doubt have an area of need or two when the deadline rolls around.
The club has a handful of prospects on the verge of major league contribution, led by speedster Billy Hamilton and left-hander Tony Cingrani. Even if a significant need presents itself, the team should hold onto those two, as they will be a big part of the club's future success.
Aggressively improve where needed.
While I don't think the Reds should trade either of the above players, I do think they should be aggressive at the deadline and not afraid to pull the trigger on a deal that could push them over the top.
This is a team that has all the pieces to make a legitimate run at the World Series, so there is no reason they shouldn't be playing for now.
All-Star closer Chris Perez would be a welcome addition to any contender's bullpen come July.
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Trade Chris Perez.
The Indians were expected by some to sell big this offseason, and while they dealt Shin-Soo Choo, they have been quiet otherwise on the trade front.
Relief pitching is always in demand at the deadline, and that may be the best time for the team to pull the trigger on moving closer Chris Perez.
He's an All-Star, but the team has a solid internal option in Vinnie Pestano to take over and isn't getting any cheaper entering his third year of arbitration after making $4.5 million in 2012.
Flip Brett Myers and Mark Reynolds for prospects.
Cleveland was much more active than anyone anticipated in free agency, inking Nick Swisher to a four-year deal and also adding veterans Brett Myers and Mark Reynolds.
Myers and Reynolds both agreed to one-year deals, and they should both have value at the deadline as Myers can be an innings-eating starter or a late-inning reliever, and Reynolds provides power if nothing else.
Cleveland has as thin a farm system as anyone, and the two veterans could certainly be used to improve that come July.
It may be time for the Rockies to test the waters on Carlos Gonzalez.
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Test the market value of Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki.
The Rockies appear to be headed for another season of mediocrity, as they have a good enough offense that they won't be embarrassingly bad, but their pitching will likely keep them from finishing anywhere but the NL West basement.
Not much help is on the way in the minors, either, so it may be time for something drastic in Colorado. The Rockies would be smart to test the waters on superstars Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki, if for no other reason than to see what exactly their two biggest assets are worth.
Something needs to be done to improve the rotation, and a blockbuster trade of one of them may be the answer.
Trade Rafael Betancourt.
Long one of the best setup men in baseball, Betancourt shifted to the closer's role last season after the team traded Huston Street and he held his own with 31 saves and a 2.81 ERA over 60 appearances.
The 37-year-old will make $4.25 million in 2013 and has a mutual option for the same amount in 2014, and while that is not overly expensive, the Rockies will likely look to move him at the deadline.
That will open up the ninth-inning role for newly acquired Wilton Lopez, who had 10 saves and a 2.17 ERA for the Astros last season.
The Tigers should look to improve at shortstop, where Jhonny Peralta has become a below-average option.
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Look to improve at shortstop if a viable option is made available.
The Tigers picked up their $6 million option on Jhonny Peralta this offseason more as a result of how weak the free-agent market was at shortstop than Peralta's production.
The 31-year-old hit just .239 with a .689 OPS last season while providing average defense at best. He'll be a free agent at the end of the season and the Tigers don't have an in-house replacement, so if someone like Asdrubal Cabrera or Jed Lowrie is made available, the team should do what they can to upgrade before the offseason.
Don't hesitate to promote Nick Castellanos if he proves ready.
The Tigers had a hard time putting together a starting outfield last season, as Austin Jackson and Andy Dirks battled injury, Brennan Boesch forgot how to hit and as a result, Quintin Berry and Avisail Garcia saw far more action than expected.
Things should be better this season with Dirks, Jackson and newly signed Torii Hunter set to open the season as starters.
However, if top prospect Nick Castellanos (.320 BA, 10 HR, 57 RBI as a 20-year-old) continues to produce in his first full season above Single-A, the team should not hesitate to promote him and start him over Dirks.
The Astros should either commit to Jed Lowrie long-term or deal him this July.
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Trade or extend Jed Lowrie.
As the Astros continue to rebuild, few players on their roster are untouchable, but at the same time few have trade value at this point, as they are essentially a Triple-A team of minor league veterans.
One player who does have value is shortstop Jed Lowrie, who broke out with 16 home runs and 42 RBI in just 340 at-bats before an ankle injury cost him roughly two months.
The Astros weren't willing to move him at the deadline or this offseason unless they were blown away. At this point, they are still so far from contention that they need to either decide he is the long-term answer at shortstop and lock him up, or move him and continue to add young talent.
Trade any other veteran with value.
The Astros have a handful of veterans on the roster that were added this offseason on one-year deals who could be flipped at the deadline.
Slugger Carlos Pena, starter Phil Humber and closer Jose Veras could all have value come July, as could starter Bud Norris, who is arbitration-eligible for the first time this season and will immediately become one of the team's highest-paid players.
Kansas City Royals
Jeff Francoeur will have plenty of trade value if he can return to his 2011 form.
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Trade Jeff Francoeur.
In 2011, Jeff Francoeur was one of the best low-cost signings of the offseason as he hit .285 BA, 20 HR, 87 RBI with 22 steals on a $2.5 million contract.
That was enough to earn a two-year, $13.5 million extension, but he fell off significantly last season to .235 BA, 16 HR, 49 RBI and the Royals were unable to find a taker at the deadline last season.
If he can improve those numbers a bit, he's a veteran bat who should be of interest to someone come July.
Trade either Bruce Chen or Luke Hochevar.
This is a move that could be made between now and the start of the season, as the Royals could look to free up some payroll space by moving whoever loses out on their fifth-starter spot.
With an entirely retooled rotation, Bruce Chen and Luke Hochevar will be competing to join James Shields, Ervin Santana, Jeremy Guthrie and Wade Davis on the staff.
Guys like Will Smith, Luis Mendoza, Everett Teaford and Guillermo Moscoso are around as rotational depth, so the team really doesn't need to hold onto whoever loses out as a long reliever and insurance policy.
Los Angeles Angels
Finding a taker for Vernon Wells would be a major win for the Angels.
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Find a taker for Vernon Wells.
This one is more wishful thinking than anything, as Vernon Wells is due $21 million in 2013 and 2014 before finally being done with his disastrous seven-year, $126 million deal.
It would take eating the vast majority of what he is still due, and for Wells to improve on the .230 BA, 11 HR, 29 RBI line he put up last season, but it's not out of the realm of possibility for a team looking to add a veteran bat. It will likely depend on how much the Angels are willing to take on.
Use C.J. Cron as a trade chip to fill whatever needs arise.
The Angels gave up three of their top prospects to land Zack Greinke at the deadline last season, but they still have a solid farm system with a number of top-tier prospects.
Should they find themselves in a position to make a big deal at the deadline again this season, slugging first-base prospect C.J. Cron is one of the team's most valuable prospects and an expendable one blocked by Albert Pujols.
Cron hit .293 BA, 27 HR, 123 RBI at High Single-A last season, and as a 23-year-old, he could move quickly if he adjusts well to the jump to Double-A this coming year.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Former top prospect Dee Gordon may struggle to find at-bats in Los Angeles.
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Shop Dee Gordon.
The Dodgers don't necessarily need to trade Dee Gordon, but it's clear that Hanley Ramirez prefers playing shortstop, so he's blocked for the time being.
The trouble is, Gordon's value is very low right now after he hit just .228 over 303 at-bats last season. For that reason, I think the Dodgers should test the market on Gordon, but only trade the 24-year-old for a good return.
Bolster the bullpen.
There are no shortage of teams looking to add bullpen help at the deadline every year, and the Dodgers have a good chance of being among those teams looking for arms.
Brandon League, Kenley Jansen, Ronald Belisario and J.P. Howell are all solid arms, but the team is lacking in experience beyond those guys, and one has to imagine ownership will do what it takes to shore up the roster come July.
Under no circumstances should the Marlins trade Giancarlo Stanton.
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Resist the urge to trade Giancarlo Stanton.
After shipping a large percentage of their roster to the Blue Jays in a trade earlier this offseason, rumors have swirled about whether the Marlins could move young slugger Giancarlo Stanton next.
He'd net a huge return, but really the Marlins have no reason to move Stanton at this point. The 23-year-old is not arbitration eligible until next offseason, so he'll play this season for about $500K. With 93 home runs already under his belt, Stanton is the type of player you rebuild around, not a trade chip.
Trade Ricky Nolasco.
Last season, the Marlins got a terrific return for free-agent-to-be Anibal Sanchez, netting the Tigers' top pitching prospect in Jacob Turner.
Ricky Nolasco does not quite stack up to Sanchez in terms of talent and trade value, but he's a durable innings eater and should rank among the top available arms come July. He's as sure a thing to be moved as anyone in the game.
Mike Gonzalez is a solid addition, but the Brewers bullpen could benefit from more proven veteran arms.
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Find a proven setup man.
This is something the Brewers still have time to do before the season starts, but after posting the worst bullpen ERA in the league last season (4.66), it's a clear necessity.
The team has added Burke Badenhop, Mike Gonzalez and Tom Gorzelanny to the mix this offseason, but they still lack a lights-out bridge to closer John Axford, who was shaky himself last season.
Jim Henderson will get a chance to fill the eighth-inning role, but even if he excels, the team will benefit from adding a proven arm at the deadline.
Trade Corey Hart if the team is not in contention.
After Mat Gamel went down with a season-ending injury early on in 2012, Corey Hart made the move from right field to first base, and he certainly put up first-base caliber power numbers.
With a .270 BA, 30 HR, 83 RBI line, he was a big reason why the Brewers had the highest-scoring offense in the National League last season.
The 30-year-old is headed for a big payday next offseason, and if the Brewers don't intend to re-sign him, they should be able to get a terrific return if they move him in July.
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Shop Josh Willingham for young pitching.
The Twins had one of the worst rotations in baseball last season, and while the additions of Vance Worley, Kevin Correia, Mike Pelfrey and Rich Harden should help in 2013, only Worley projects to be a part of the team's long-term plans.
The farm system is thin on pitching, too, and moving slugger Josh Willingham could be one way to change that. He's a bargain at just $14 million over the next two seasons, and if he can hit like he did in his 35 home run, 110 RBI campaign last season he could be well worth moving.
Trade Justin Morneau.
Entering the final season of a six-year, $80 million deal, Morneau finally managed to stay on the field last season and he hit .267 BA, 19 HR, 77 RBI in 134 games. It's not his MVP numbers, but it was good for a .773 OPS and if he can at least match that production, he could have some trade value.
There is always a need for left-handed power hitters, and if the Twins can unload some of the $14 million that they owe Morneau this season, it would be a win for them.
New York Mets
Could Johan Santana be a key player at the deadline?
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Find a taker for Johan Santana.
After missing all of the 2011 season, Johan Santana returned to the Mets rotation last year and went 6-9 with a 4.85 ERA over 21 starts. Not the Santana of old by any means, but he showed he still has great stuff in following up a four-hit shutout of the Padres with a no-hitter against the Cardinals on June 1.
The 33-year-old makes $25.5 million this coming season and has a $25 million option with a $5.5 million buyout for 2014. That will make him hard to move, but if the Mets eat the majority of that contract so that they just save a couple million and avoid paying his buyout, it would be a win.
Clear the way for Travis d'Arnaud and Zack Wheeler.
The Mets have two of the game's top prospects in catcher Travis d'Arnaud and right-hander Zack Wheeler, and while they will both likely start the season in the minors, they should be ready to make an impact by midseason.
Trading Santana would open up a spot for Wheeler in the rotation, but the team could also consider moving Jon Niese, as he would have decent value on the trade market.
The catching spot will be kept warm by John Buck until d'Arnaud is ready, but once he is, they may be stuck with Buck as he makes $6 million this year in the final year of his contract.
New York Yankees
Is prospect Austin Romine the answer to the catching question in New York?
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Turn the catching job over to Austin Romine or look to acquire someone.
Forgive me for making assumptions here, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say the platoon of Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli at catcher will leave a lot to be desired offensively.
By midseason, the Yankees will need to decide if top prospect Austin Romine is the man for the job in the second half or if they need to explore outside options.
If prospect Christian Bethancourt moves quickly in Atlanta, perhaps Brian McCann could be shopped at the deadline, as he'll be a free agent at season's end.
Plan A: Convince Alex Rodriguez to retire. Plan B: Figure out how to best use him.
Wouldn't that just be perfect for the Yankees if A-Rod just decided to hang it up and give up the $114 million-plus he is due over the next five seasons?
Unfortunately, it's not going to be that easy and when he returns from hip surgery around midseason, the team will need to figure out where he fits.
Kevin Youkilis was signed to fill the void at third base in the first half, and if he is playing well, one has to wonder if Rodriguez could play out 2013 as a full-time DH.
Coco Crisp simply isn't worth $7 million this coming season.
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Trade Coco Crisp.
The A's acquired center fielder Chris Young early this offseason in a three-team trade with the Diamondbacks and Marlins, and he'll get his at-bats shuffling between all three outfield positions and the DH spot.
That is, unless the team can find a taker for Coco Crisp, who makes $7 million this coming season and has a $7.5 million option with a $1 million buyout for 2014.
He's the only legitimate lead-off hitter on the A's roster, but by midseason someone like shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima or even Young could prove capable of filling that role.
Either way, Crisp is not exactly an on-base machine (.325 OBP in 2012), and if the team can save a few million and avoid having to buy him out next season it would be a solid move.
Have second base figured out.
The A's roster is essentially set entering the 2013 season, with the only major question being second base.
Scott Sizemore will have the first crack at the job, as he hit 11 home runs in 305 at-bats after coming over from the Tigers in 2011 but missed all of last season with a torn ACL.
Don't count out Jemile Weeks, though, as he was as promising a player as anyone on the A's roster entering last season. Prospect Grant Green could be in the mix as well, as he continues to look for a position to call home.
One way or another, the A's should have this situation figured out by midseason, and they could look to deal whoever doesn't land the job, as second basemen are always in demand.
If the Phillies fall out of contention, Cliff Lee could be on the move.
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Sell big if the team is not in contention.
With an aging roster of superstars, the Phillies' window of contention is closing fast, and the 2013 season may be their last chance to contend for a World Series title before starting to rebuild.
If they fall out of contention early, the Phillies should sell big at the deadline, starting with moving Cliff Lee and his massive contract. They could also look to move Roy Halladay, who has a $20 million vesting option for 2014 that kicks in if he reaches 225 innings.
It would be a major shift for the franchise, but those two could bring the Phillies a huge return and along with the departures of Carlos Ruiz and Michael Young in free agency at the end of the season, it would free up a ton of payroll moving forward.
Trade for Alfonso Soriano.
On the other hand, if the team is in the thick of things, there is no reason not to look to improve the lineup at the deadline for a serious postseason push.
Corner outfield is one potential area of need, as Domonic Brown, Darin Ruf and John Mayberry will be vying for playing time alongside center fielder Ben Revere in the outfield.
If the Cubs remain willing to eat a good portion of Alfonso Soriano's contract, he could be a solid addition to a left-handed-heavy middle of the order.
Gerrit Cole could make a big-league impact by midseason.
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Be aggressive in promoting top pitching prospects.
The Pirates rotation will get a boost from having Wandy Rodriguez for a full season, but aside from that, they will be running out essentially the same staff that played a large part in the team's second-half collapse last season.
Once guys like Gerrit Cole, Jeff Locke and perhaps even Jameson Taillon prove ready for the big leagues, the Pirates should give them a shot at making an impact down the stretch because the incumbent group didn't get the job done last season.
Trade Jose Tabata to fill potential needs.
After a solid rookie season in 2010, the Pirates were aggressive in extending outfielder Jose Tabata. He signed a six-year, $15 million extension in August 2011 and looked to be a significant part of the team's future.
However, he hit just .243 last season and appears to have lost his job in left field to top prospect Starling Marte for the coming season.
He'll make just $1 million this coming season, but he becomes a bit more expensive moving forward and as a young, controllable outfielder, he should have plenty of trade value.
San Diego Padres
The Padres should not even entertain the idea of trading budding superstar Chase Headley.
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Resist the urge to trade Chase Headley.
Third baseman Chase Headley entered last season as a decent hitter with plus on-base skills whose biggest asset was the fact that he played a premium position.
It was much of the same in the first half, but he exploded for a .308 BA, 23 HR, 73 RBI second half, as he led the NL in RBI with 115.
He's under team control through 2014, at which point he'll get a huge contract if he can keep up this level of production. For the time being, the Padres should try to extend the budding superstar rather than looking to shop him.
Trade Nick Hundley.
Despite the acquisition of Yasmani Grandal, the Padres gave catcher Nick Hundley a three-year, $9 million extension last offseason.
That looks like a wise move now, as Grandal will miss the first 50 games of the season after a positive PED test, and Hundley will have a chance to state his case for being an everyday catcher in his absence.
If he plays well, the Padres could have a terrific and expendable trade chip on their hands once Grandal returns.
San Francisco Giants
Without a big offseason signing, Buster Posey will be relied on to carry the offense once again this season.
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Add an impact bat at first base or in left field.
Many expected the Giants to make a splash signing this offseason to improve their offense, but instead the team's winter activity consisted of re-signing a trio of key pieces from last year's team and little else.
As a result, the team will lean hard on their pitching staff once again this season to carry the load. Their middle of the order of Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey and Hunter Pence is solid, but their offense is not going to scare anyone.
Trading for a left fielder or shifting Brandon Belt to the outfield and trading for a first baseman would be the most likely scenario if the team were to bring aboard another bat, and it could be enough to put them over the top.
Acquire a veteran pinch-hitter type.
The Giants have some solid bench pieces, as Joaquin Arias can play all over the field, Andres Torres will likely platoon with Gregor Blanco in left field and backup catcher Hector Sanchez has plus offensive tools.
However, as far as having someone to turn to for a big pinch-hit at-bat, the teams lacks that savvy veteran capable of coming through with a clutch hit. Trading for a low-cost veteran bat at the deadline could help their postseason push.
The Mariners could very well look to flip newly-acquired slugger Michael Morse at the deadline.
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Embrace the youth movement.
The Mariners have the best collection of big-league ready prospects in all of baseball, and by midseason, they could have a roster chock full of rookies.
Starting pitchers Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen and James Paxton, shortstop Nick Franklin, catcher Mike Zunino and relievers Carter Capps and Stephen Pryor should all see the big leagues at some point, and that should leave the Mariners with plenty of mid-level trade chips come July.
Trade Kendrys Morales and Michael Morse.
Looking to improve their terrible offense, the Mariners have added a pair of sluggers this offseason via trade in Kendrys Morales and Michael Morse.
Both players are set to hit free agency at the end of the season, and while there is a chance the Mariners could look to re-sign one or both of them, they could also look flip them at the deadline, as they would be two of the better bats on the market.
St. Louis Cardinals
Outfielder Oscar Taveras is among the top prospects in the game.
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Trade John Jay if Oscar Taveras is ready.
The Cardinals have one of the best offensive prospects in the game in Oscar Taveras. The 20-year-old hit .321 BA, 23 HR, 94 RBI with a .953 OPS in a full season at Double-A last year and a strong start to the 2013 season could see him in the majors by midseason.
If he proves ready, the Cardinals could shop center fielder John Jay to free up a spot for him to play every day. The 27-year-old Jay is under team control through 2016 and would have solid trade value to help fill other potential needs.
Use Matt Adams as a trade chip.
A 24-year-old former 23rd-round pick, Matt Adams has done nothing but hit at the minor league level with a .930 OPS through four pro seasons.
However, he can't play anywhere other than first base, and Allen Craig figures to hold that position down for the foreseeable future. With plus power and terrific plate discipline, Adams has the tools to be an impact bat for someone and he should be a valuable trade chip come July.
Tampa Bay Rays
Uber-prospect Wil Myers should be making an impact in Tampa by midseason.
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Explore any opportunity to add more offense.
The Rays have taken steps to improve their lineup this offseason, signing James Loney and trading for Yunel Escobar before pulling off the big blockbuster deal to land top prospect Wil Myers.
However, there is still plenty of room to improve the offense, and the team should entertain any and all possible moves that would give them a chance to bolster their lineup at the deadline.
Give Wil Myers everyday at-bats down the stretch.
A combination of not wanting to rush him and also not wanting to start his arbitration clock will likely lead to newly-acquired Wil Myers opening the season in the minors.
However, he has to be in the lineup full-time by midseason, as he has more offensive potential than anyone on the roster not named Evan Longoria.
He should make an immediate impact in the lineup and one way or another, he needs to be getting everyday at-bats by the end of July.
Are the Rangers and Cubs a good fit as trade partners again this July?
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Trade for Matt Garza.
After missing out on James Shields and Zack Greinke, the Rangers will likely enter the season with unproven prospect Martin Perez as the No. 5 starter and little in the way of rotational depth.
The Cubs and Rangers worked out a pair of trades at the deadline last year and they could be a fit once again. Garza would give the Rangers a top-flight arm for the stretch run and the Cubs could look to sweeten the trade and make a play for Mike Olt to shore up their third-base situation.
Find a way to get Jurickson Profar into the everyday lineup.
Starting top prospects Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt in the minors to get them everyday at-bats makes sense for the Rangers, but sooner or later, they will need to find a way to get Profar into the lineup.
Moving Ian Kinsler remains the most likely scenario, and whether it is a shift to first base or to a corner outfield spot, it's something the Rangers will likely need to work out by midseason, especially if they're looking for a way to boost their offense as Profar could provide a major spark.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays are counting on Casey Janssen to match his 2012 success in the closer's role.
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Add a bench bat with pop for the stretch run.
The Blue Jays have put themselves in a great position to contend for a title with a completely retooled roster, but they could still stand to improve their offensive depth.
Their current projected bench of Henry Blanco, Josh Thole, Maicer Izturis and Rajai Davis provides little in the way of offensive firepower, and that is one area they could look to improve at the deadline.
Bolster the bullpen.
The Blue Jays have a lot of solid arms in their bullpen entering the season, but outside of Darren Oliver, none has much in the way of a track record of success.
Getting Sergio Santos back will certainly help, and Casey Janssen was terrific after taking over closing duties last season, but adding a few veteran arms to the mix of talented but inexperienced youngsters would be a good move for the final months.
The Nationals will likely need to do better than Zach Duke as the next in line to start games.
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Add starting pitching depth.
The Nationals had the luxury of John Lannan down in Triple-A when they decided to shut down Stephen Strasburg last season, but with Lannan gone, the team is sorely lacking in depth for their terrific starting rotation.
As of right now, the team doesn't have a clear-cut next in line if they suffered an injury to their rotation, with guys like Zach Duke, Craig Stammen and Yunesky Maya the most likely choices.
For a team with legitimate title aspirations, none of the above guys have any business starting a game, so the team will need to add some sort of depth at starting pitcher.
Find a way to utilize Anthony Rendon at the big-league level.
The sixth-overall pick in the 2011 draft, Anthony Rendon moved through four levels to finish his first pro season in Double-A last year.
He hit just .233 in 133 at-bats, but his .851 OPS paints a better picture of the type of impact prospect he is. A third baseman by trade, his big-league future may be at second base with Ryan Zimmerman firmly entrenched at the hot corner.
He could force his way into playing time at the big-league level with a strong start to his second pro season, and the Nationals will need to find a way to utilize him.