Cliff Lee would be involved in the ideal trade scenario for several teams, but the Red Sox could make the most sense.
This time of year, teams are busy doing their homework and coming up with a list of potential trade targets for the next five weeks. Several of them already have a pretty good idea that they'll be in playoff contention and will be looking to add major league talent before the July 31 trade deadline. Others are pretty much dead in the water and know it. Their focus will be on scouting the farm systems of potential "buyers" of their major league talent.
For all those on the fence, they must be prepared for either scenario. In any case, teams will be gathering information and gauging what it would take to acquire their ideal trade target. The asking price will normally start high and then could go up or down depending on the player's performance and the status of the major league team.
In an ideal world, their ideal trade target(s) will fall into their laps for a price that doesn't far exceed their initial expectations. Patience combined with a trading partner's desperation could result in a very favorable scenario.
In 2011, the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants had a three-game lead in the NL West on July 28, but the Arizona Diamondbacks were closing in after winning four straight. One of the worst offenses in baseball, the Giants felt they needed to add an impact bat if they were to stay atop the division. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, realizing this could be the case, didn't budge on trading his top trade chip, Carlos Beltran, until he received an elite prospect in return. It worked.
The Giants traded pitching prospect Zack Wheeler, their best prospect—not to mention their only minor leaguer of value to the Mets for Beltran, who was having a huge year for the Mets (.289 BA, 15 HR, 66 RBI, 30 2B, 60 BB). The veteran hit .323 with seven homers, nine doubles and four triples in 44 games, but the Giants still couldn't hold off the red-hot D'backs as several key players, including Beltran, battled injuries down the stretch.
Two years later, Wheeler is a big leaguer with a top-of-the-rotation ceiling for the Mets and the Giants are desperate for starting pitching help. Circumstances of the 2011 season forced their hand and cost them one of the best pitching prospects in the game for a two-month rental in a non-playoff season.
Don't feel too bad for them, though. They did win another World Series championship in 2012. And they did it with the help of midseason acquisitions Marco Scutaro and Hunter Pence, who had become undervalued players on their respective teams—the Rockies and Phillies—both seemingly out of playoff contention at the time. The Giants gave up very little considering the production they received out of the two veterans, who played a huge part in the Giants' second championship season in three years.
Here's a look the ideal trade scenarios that could take place for all 30 teams at the deadline. Teams are listed in order of worst record to best.
Ideally, the Marlins would continue to build around emerging superstar Giancarlo Stanton (pictured), who is already one of the most feared power hitters in the game at age 23. The question is whether it's worth keeping Stanton around if the rebuilding process isn't completed until his last year of team control (2016), which is very likely.
They actually have a pretty good young core of talent with first baseman Logan Morrison, 25, and outfielder Marcell Ozuna, 22, on the big league roster and top outfield prospects Christian Yelich, 21, and Jake Marisnick, 22, not far behind.
The rotation, led by 20-year-old Jose Fernandez, is also promising with Jacob Turner, 22, and 23-year-olds Nate Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez. Lefty prospects Andrew Heaney and Justin Nicolino are also expected to move quickly and could be in Miami sometime next season.
Still, it's doubtful that Stanton's presence would push the Marlins into contention in any of the next two seasons. The impressive haul of prospects a trade would bring them now, however, would likely give them at least two young players with All-Star potential—think Jurickson Profar of Texas, Gregory Polanco and Jameson Taillon of Pittsburgh, or Xander Bogaerts and Allen Webster of Boston—who will still be in their pre-arbitration years once the Marlins are ready to make another run in the NL East.
Any of the aforementioned teams—Boston, Pittsburgh or Texas—are in the best position to acquire Stanton with strong farm systems that include elite "close to major league ready" talent. All three of those teams are playing well right now. But if they begin to fade over the next few weeks, the Marlins will have all the leverage they need to get the trade package worthy of Giancarlo Stanton.
As is the case with the Marlins, the Astros' rebuilding process looks promising early on. Most of their best young talent is still in the minors, however, so it's unrealistic to think they can become a playoff contender in 2014. Even 2015 might be a stretch. So keeping around their top starter, Bud Norris (pictured), when his trade value could be peaking now might not be in the best interest of the next Astros contender.
The ideal trade scenarios are already taking shape with the 28-year-old Norris pitching well and several playoff hopefuls in desperate need of starting pitching. With another three seasons of team control remaining after the season, Norris could very likely net the Astros two more very good minor leaguers to add to a farm system that currently has five of the top 50 prospects in the game, according to Baseball Prospectus' recently released midseason rankings (subscription required).
Baltimore, San Francisco and Washington could be in the mix for Norris, who has a 3.60 ERA and a 75 percent quality start rate (6 IP or more and 3 ER or less) in his last 12 starts.
The Mets have a couple of veteran relievers, LaTroy Hawkins and Brandon Lyon, who will attract interest from contending teams looking to shore up their bullpen, as will 35-year-old outfielder Marlon Byrd, who has an .810 OPS and 11 homers. None of the three would bring back much in a trade, however.
The free agent-to-be who can bring back something of value is starting pitcher Shaun Marcum (pictured), but only if he can get back on track after a couple of rough outings. He appeared to be returning to his previous form when he gave the Mets five consecutive solid starts (34.1 IP, 13 ER, 27 H, 4 BB, 33 K) from May 15 through June 8. But the 31-year-old has allowed 11 earned runs and 13 hits in his last 10.1 innings, though.
Ideally, Marcum could string together a few more quality starts in a row, which will certainly pique the interest of contending teams looking to solidify the back of their rotation. He won't net the Mets a prospect as good as Brett Lawrie, who the Blue Jays acquired for him prior to the 2011 season, but a mid-level prospect with some upside would be a reasonable price if he can get on a roll again.
Matt Garza is healthy and pitching well, meaning the Cubs should get a very nice return for one of the best starting pitchers, if not the best, on the trade market. They also employ another one of the top pitchers available in sinkerballer Scott Feldman (pictured), although his price tag could drop considerably with every poor outing he has between now and the trade deadline.
After an impressive six-start run where he allowed just six earned runs in 40.1 innings to drop his ERA to 2.19, the 30-year-old has allowed five earned runs in three of his last six starts. Without a consistent track record of top-of-the-rotation-like success, Feldman's value will dip if he continues to remind interested teams of why he had a career ERA near 5.00 coming into the season.
If he is capable of stringing together four or five more consecutive quality starts, now would be the time to do it. Doing so would likely convince a contending team to part with a top-10 prospect in order to acquire Feldman for the stretch run.
A disastrous season in Milwaukee has the Brewers contemplating a trade of their 27-year-old rotation ace, Yovani Gallardo (pictured), who still has another year on his current contract and a club option for 2015.
Without much help on the way from their farm system, the thought of a Brewers team without Gallardo heading into the offseason has to be scary if you're a Brewers fan. But the fact that the farm system is so thin might be an even better reason to utilize their top trade chip and start rebuilding now so they are in better position to compete in the future.
Gallardo is doing what he needs to do to maximize his value by not allowing an earned run over his last three starts (21 IP, 0 ER, 12 H, 5 BB, 15 K). Now it's a matter of finding a team with the rotation need and the prospects to make a deal happen.
With Jon Lester struggling in Boston and Clay Buchholz on the disabled list with neck pain, the Red Sox could be a strong suitor with several high-end pitching prospects—Matt Barnes, Anthony Ranaudo, Allen Webster—that could be in the Brewers rotation in 2014.
While Jesse Crain is already giving the Sox a very valuable and unexpected trade chip with the dominant season he's having, a setup man can only bring back so much in a deal. They'll probably have to give up their best hitter, Alex Rios (pictured), in order to make a real splash.
The 32-year-old is under contract for 2014 at $12.5 million with a $13.5 club option for 2015, a bargain if he continues at his current pace (.816 OPS, 11 HR, 18 2B, 34 RBI, 13 SB) and doesn't revert back to his unbelievably bad performance in the 2009 (.530 OPS) and 2011 (.630 OPS) seasons.
A best-case scenario for the White Sox would have the Marlins holding on to Giancarlo Stanton, which would likely make Rios the top outfielder on the market if the Sox made him available. The Rangers could make the most sense, while the Pirates and Royals have the need but might lack the payroll flexibility. The Giants might not have the prospects to make it happen, although they certainly have a need with the news that Angel Pagan could miss the rest of the season after hamstring surgery.
One of the biggest disappointments in baseball at 33-43, the Angels don't have the prospects to go out and make another deal to improve or the financial flexibility with so much money tied up in Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols. Giving up a talented player on their 25-man roster might be the best way to start getting ready to compete again in the next season or two.
Center fielder Peter Bourjos (pictured), an elite defender who is also having a solid season at the plate (.842 OPS), would draw plenty of interest on the trade market. With three years left of team control after the 2013 season, the interest won't only come from contending teams.
The Mets and Mariners would likely have strong interest in the 26-year-old, while the Royals also have a need in the outfield and could move Lorenzo Cain to right field to accommodate him.
Despite being nine games under .500, the Dodgers are far from out it in the NL West. Only eight games out and with the potential of fielding a very talented team if they can get healthy, the Dodgers could be shopping for help at third base and the back of the rotation.
A Dodgers team at full health, however, will have a fourth outfielder, Andre Ethier (pictured), with a $13.5 million salary. After a terrible start, the 31-year-old is starting to show signs of life with 15 hits in his last 41 at-bats with a homer and three doubles. If he can continue to show progress, he'll build up enough trade value to draw interest in a market that could be thin on corner outfielders.
Ideally, Ethier regains his pre-2013 form and nets the team the starting pitcher it's seeking and a team willing to pick most of the remaining $70 million left on his contract.
An Ethier for Shaun Marcum deal with the Mets could turn out to be lopsided if Ethier does return to form and gives the Mets a solid middle-of-the-order bat over the next few seasons. But finding a take for Ethier's contract would be a win for the Dodgers, considering he's not a starter on a team with Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig.
Barring a run back into playoff contention, Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik will be busy fielding calls at the trade deadline for his many free agents-to-be, including Kendrys Morales (pictured), Raul Ibanez, Michael Morse and Joe Saunders.
While Morales won't likely return to his pre-ankle injury form of 2009 (.306 BA, 34 HR, 108 RBI, 43 2B) and isn't a great defender, he's shown flashes of becoming a pretty good hitter once again. The 30-year-old switch-hitter, who hit a walk-off homer in Monday's game, had a .983 OPS in May and is on pace for 19 homers, 86 runs batted in and 38 doubles.
The Orioles, who currently have a rotation of Chris Dickerson, Travis Ishikawa and Danny Valencia at the designated hitter spot, could be a perfect fit for Morales.
The Phillies might not want to start trading away their veterans, and they're very unlikely to do so as long as they continue to barely hang around in the playoff race. They might be better off falling out of the pennant race, however, which could make the decision easier to start looking to the future and rebuilding a team with an aging 25-man roster.
Looking to the future and accepting that the team might not return to being a top NL contender for another season or two, it could make the most sense to shop 32-year-old closer Jonathan Papelbon (pictured), who is much more valuable to a contending team. And there are several of those looking for a closer, including the Cardinals, Tigers and Papelbon's former team, the Boston Red Sox.
The Sox could afford to take on the remainder of Papelbon's contract (two years, $26 million in 2013-2014, plus a $13 million vesting option in 2015) and send the Phillies a couple of very good minor leaguers, or maybe even just one of their better prospects, in return.
With Josh Willingham's value down slightly in the midst of a down season for him (.751 OPS), the Twins might not be very active during the trade deadline. Former MVP and longtime Twins first baseman Justin Morneau (pictured), who will be a free agent after the season, could be a player to watch, though.
The 32-year-old hasn't hit for power (3 HR) this season, but he has a .286 batting average and is on pace for 41 doubles and 95 runs batted in. If he can hit four or five homers in the next 30 games or so while maintaining a solid batting average, there could be a team out there willing to take on most of his remaining $14 million and send a mid-level prospect back to the Twins.
If Mark Teixeira is out for an extended period of time, which appears likely because of a wrist injury, the Yankees could be a good fit for Morneau.
One of the streakiest teams in baseball, the Royals currently sit at 35-38, 6.5 games out in the AL Central. They could use some help in the outfield and at second base, although their farm system was thinned out after the offseason deal to acquire James Shields and Wade Davis from the Rays.
They do have a couple of very good prospects remaining, including starting pitchers Yordano Ventura and Kyle Zimmer and 17-year-old shortstop Adalberto Mondesi, but they might be better off utilizing their starting pitching depth to acquire some help on offense.
With Danny Duffy back in Triple-A after a rehab assignment and likely a few weeks from returning and Felipe Paulino likely to make it back sometime in the second half, the Royals can probably afford to trade away Wade Davis (pictured), who has allowed just six earned runs in 24.2 innings over his last four starts.
The Cubs, who will have a rather thin group of starting pitchers if they trade Scott Feldman and Matt Garza, could have interest in Davis, who is signed through the 2014 season with club options the following three seasons. And they could have the ideal corner outfielder to send back in Nate Schierholtz, who has a .905 OPS and 10 homers and is under team control through next season.
Although Dan Haren insists his shoulder injury isn't a big deal and expects to return from the disabled list once he's eligible, his performance this season tells a different story. The 32-year-old has a 6.15 ERA in 15 starts, including 32 earned runs and 50 hits over his last 36.2 innings, and the Nationals are reportedly set to call up another pitcher, Taylor Jordan, with limited experience above High-A to take his spot, per Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post.
Even if a cortisone shot helps Haren and he returns in good health, disabled list stints for Stephen Strasburg and Ross Detwiler had already exposed the lack of rotation depth. They'll need another reliable veteran if they want to get back in the race.
There are plenty of candidates, including Scott Feldman, Shaun Marcum and Ricky Nolasco, but Matt Garza (pictured) would be the top prize. The Nats would likely have to part with Double-A center fielder Brian Goodwin, who would become the Cubs' center fielder of the future, but it would be worth it if the Nats make the playoffs with Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Garza as their top four starters.
For the first time in years, the Giants are seeking rotation help with Ryan Vogelsong (fractured hand) and Chad Gaudin (shoulder contusion) on the disabled list. They are the reported favorites for Ricky Nolasco, although a better option could be Astros starter Bud Norris (pictured), who is under team control through the 2016 season.
With Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito headed for free agency after the season, the addition of the 28-year-old Norris, who has a 3.60 ERA in 16 starts, would fill one of the two spots and allow the Giants to focus on other needs during the offseason.
It would likely take one of their good young low-level pitching prospects, which would include Kyle Crick, Clayton Blackburn and Chris Stratton, and at least one other top-10 prospect, but it could be well worth it with the way Norris is pitching (nine quality starts in last 12 outings).
A streaking Padres team that is 34-23 since April 23 is looking more and more like a potential "buyer" next month, and adding a starting pitcher appears to be the team's top priority.
The surprising trio of Andrew Cashner, Jason Marquis and Eric Stults has been one of the most consistent in baseball. Edinson Volquez, on the other hand, continues to be one of the most inconsistent, while Clayton Richard could be out for a while with a strained shoulder. Cashner could also be shut down early since the team likely plans to limit him to around 150 innings.
Adding one more veteran, such as Shaun Marcum or Ricky Nolasco, would help. Acquiring Matt Garza (pictured), a rumor tweeted Monday by Peter Gammons, could make them the favorites in the NL West.
Like the Padres, the Rockies find themselves right in the mix for the NL West title and will be looking to add at the trade deadline. Roy Oswalt's 11-strikeout performance in his Rockies debut has likely put plans to add starting pitching on hold, although it's still the most likely scenario a month from now.
Tyler Chatwood has been very good, as has been Jhoulys Chacin and Jorge De La Rosa. Juan Nicasio has been inconsistent and is the most likely to be replaced, although Triple-A lefty Drew Pomeranz could be next in line for a shot.
To be on the safe side—this is Colorado, after all—the Rockies should look to add one more starter with sinkerballer Scott Feldman (pictured), possibly the best fit as someone who could step right into the rotation and possibly play an integral role out of the bullpen if the team makes the playoffs.
The Jays have gone from the most disappointing team in baseball to the team nobody wants to face. Eleven consecutive wins pushed them over the .500 mark for the first time this season and back into playoff contention. On top of that, Jose Reyes is set to return from the disabled list Wednesday after missing more than two months with an ankle injury.
Despite all the positivity in Toronto, the starting rotation still has issues. R.A. Dickey (5.15 ERA) hasn't been the pitcher the Jays were hoping to acquire, and Josh Johnson has been inconsistent in his eight starts, which were separated by a disabled list stint for a triceps injury. Brandon Morrow is out with a forearm injury and has no timetable for return, and Ricky Romero still can't quite figure things out down in the minors.
If not for Mark Buehrle turning things around the past month and the addition of Esmil Rogers and Chien-Ming Wang to the rotation, things could've gotten very ugly. As it stands, they're just 5.5 games out in the division, but the rotation, in its current state, probably won't hold up.
The two offseason trades for Dickey and Reyes/Buehrle/Johnson/etc. have thinned out the farm system, so it's unlikely they'll be going after Gallardo, Garza or any other front-line starter. A potential fit could be Mariners lefty Joe Saunders (pictured), who has allowed just seven earned runs in 34.2 innings over his last five starts.
While he's not quite as bad as the pre-2012 version of himself, Fernando Rodney is certainly not the dominant closer from last season. The 36-year-old is just 16-of-21 in save opportunities and has 23 walks in 31.2 innings pitched. That's not gonna get it done.
The Rays won't be in the market for high-paid Jonathan Papelbon, so expect them to look elsewhere for some late-inning help and possible replacement for Rodney. One intriguing possibility would be Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez (pictured), who recently earned his 300th career save for Milwaukee.
Now that he's reached that milestone, the Brewers will likely go back to Jim Henderson saving games full-time and focus on shopping the 31-year-old Rodriguez to a contender. In 16 games, he's allowed just one earned run and eight hits with three walks and 16 strikeouts. He also has six saves in six chances.
He's not the dominant pitcher he used to be, but he's proving that he's far from done and could help a team like the Rays stay in the pennant race. It also shouldn't cost a lot, so the Rays, who don't like to give up their minor leaguers, might have a shot.
The 2013 Indians are a good team. Maybe even good enough to make the playoffs. They're just not ready to be great unless they could add another front-line starter or a middle-of-the-order bat. The farm system has some talent but not enough to acquire an impact player in a trade unless they were willing to deal top shortstop prospect Francisco Lindor. Don't expect that to happen.
In order to stay in the playoff race, they'll need to add another starter to a rotation that includes an inconsistent Scott Kazmir and is currently without one of its most consistent starters, Zach McAllister, who is on the disabled list with a finger injury. Top prospect Trevor Bauer still has a tough time stringing more than two or three good starts together down in Triple-A, so I'd scratch him off the list of pitchers who can help stabilize this rotation.
One candidate who is very capable of being the reliable back-of-the-rotation innings eater the Indians need is Angels lefty Jason Vargas (pictured), who is currently on the disabled list after a blood clot was found in his armpit. He's expected to return by mid-July, so he'll likely be on the market barring a spectacular run back into contention by the Halos.
Losers of four games in a row, the Orioles must rely on their best starting pitcher, 25-year-old Chris Tillman, to stop their losing streak. The one-time prospect, considered a bust heading into the 2012 season, has finally come into his own. And it's a good thing because the O's would've likely fallen out of the playoff race already if it wasn't for him.
Tillman can't do it all by himself, though. Eleven pitchers have started games for the O's this season, and only Wei-Yen Chen, currently on the disabled list with an oblique strain, and Miguel Gonzalez have had consistent success.
The O's have proven that they don't need a true "ace" on their staff to go deep in the playoffs. But without one more reliable starter, they won't get to the playoffs in 2013. Acquiring Ricky Nolasco (pictured) from the Marlins for Jake Arrieta and a mid-level prospect would be a small price to pay to add another pitcher capable of a quality start on most occasions.
With Mark Teixeira's wrist injury possibly requiring season-ending surgery and Kevin Youkilis out at least two months after back surgery, the Yankees find themselves in need of a right-handed power bat who can play first base. Look no further than Seattle, where Michael Morse (pictured) could hit the trade market once he returns from the disabled list in a few weeks.
The 31-year-old, who has a strained quad, struggled at the plate as he tried to play through the injury over the past few weeks. He had a .789 OPS, however, with 11 homers through the end of May. Overall, he has a .958 OPS versus left-handers, which would be an incredible boost for a Yankees team without one right-handed hitting threat in its current lineup.
The NL West leaders have the Padres, Rockies and Giants on their heels and don't appear capable of running away with the division. The biggest weakness has been the inability to hold leads in the late innings.
J.J. Putz, who blew four saves early in the season, will return from a stint on the disabled list in the near future. If he returns to his 2012 form is anybody's guess. His replacement, Heath Bell, had done a solid job up until a couple weeks ago. The 35-year-old has allowed a home run in five straight games. Setup man David Hernandez hasn't been as reliable as he has been the past two seasons.
General manager Kevin Towers has always been good at assembling a strong bullpen, and he'll likely try to solidify his 2013 group with another acquisition or two. One veteran who could be available is Angels reliever Scott Downs (pictured), who could help in the late innings as well as provide another lefty with Matt Reynolds possibly headed for Tommy John surgery.
The A's have gotten production throughout the lineup, but second base hasn't been one of those spots. Eric Sogard (.692 OPS) has gotten the bulk of playing time there, but his time could be running out.
One potential option would be Grant Green, who is playing the position exclusively this season after bouncing around the past few years. He has an .854 OPS, too. If the A's think he can handle the position defensively, he should get a shot soon.
If not, there could be a much more intriguing option on the trade market. If the Phillies become sellers, free-agent-to-be Chase Utley (pictured) could be shopped. The 34-year-old, who has an .800 OPS in 48 games, could give the team a consistent threat in the No. 2 spot in the lineup ahead of Jed Lowrie and Yoenis Cespedes.
The Tigers have one major need on their 25-man roster, and that's for a closer. The defending AL champs will be tough to unseat if they can fill that hole with a dominant pitcher like Jonathan Papelbon (pictured) in that spot.
The 32-year-old has blown four of his last five save chances after a perfect 13-of-13 start. If anything, this could drop the price tag to where he becomes affordable for a team like the Tigers. They don't have much to offer in their farm system. Top prospect Nick Castellanos is close to the majors and unlikely to be traded for a reliever.
If the Phillies would settle for the Tigers' second-best prospect, outfielder Avisail Garcia, who would be penciled in as the starting right fielder on Opening Day 2014, and hard-throwing Bruce Rondon, who would become the Phillies' closer of the future, there could be a fit.
Like so many of the better teams in baseball, the Braves have a solid nucleus and aren't in desperate need of an impact bat or arm. What they could use is some help getting the ball to closer Craig Kimbrel in the ninth inning.
Although they've gotten solid work out of Luis Avilan, Jordan Walden and Alex Wood with their two best setup men (Eric O'Flaherty and Jonny Venters) out for the season, they could use another late-inning arm.
One potential trade target is former Brewers closer John Axford (pictured), who has quietly gotten back on track since losing his closer's job last month. The 30-year-old hasn't allowed a run in 18.1 innings while walking only seven and striking out 18.
It won't be cheap, but the Brewers will likely be willing to part with him considering they're pretty much out of it now and have to start rebuilding a very weak farm system.
No other team in baseball has as many high-caliber prospects in the upper minors as the Red Sox. Good thing, because it would probably take at least two of them to land Cliff Lee (pictured) if the Phillies made him available.
The 34-year-old is still one of the best starting pitchers in the game, so his age probably won't be a major concern for any interested team. The guaranteed $62.5 million owed to him over the next two seasons ($50 million in 2014-2015, plus a $12.5 million buyout for a $27.5 million vesting option in 2016) will be, although the Phillies could agree to pick up a portion of it in order to ensure the best quality prospects come back in the deal.
If the Sox were to give the Phillies 20-year-old shortstop prospect Xander Bogaerts, who is already in Triple-A, they might not have to give up much more. It's more likely, though, that they put together a package of three or four prospects, including one with top-of-the-rotation potential (Matt Barnes) and another being an outfielder with a high ceiling (Jackie Bradley Jr.) who could be on the roster in 2014.
The Rangers have enough talent in their lineup to get back into the playoffs. Their rotation has held up quite well despite several injuries, and their bullpen has been much better than expected with unexpected contributions from guys like Tanner Scheppers and Neal Cotts.
Fortifying the rotation with another back-of-the-rotation arm would help. But for a team that's lost in the World Series two of the last three seasons, why not be aggressive and ensure you have the best possible roster set up for playoff success?
The playoff rotation will be fine with Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Alexi Ogando and possibly Colby Lewis or Matt Harrison. But a lineup with Giancarlo Stanton (pictured) in right field could make this Rangers team downright scary.
They'd have to give up Jurickson Profar in that deal with Miami, but it could be well worth it for three-plus years of Stanton hitting homers in the ballpark.
The Reds are one of the most talented teams in the majors yet are only third in their division. They don't need to make any major moves considering the talent in their lineup and rotation. With Jonathan Broxton and Sean Marshall on the disabled list, however, they are vulnerable in the late innings.
If they can land the best reliever on the trade market, Jesse Crain (pictured) of the White Sox, they could position themselves to stay on pace with the Cardinals and Pirates. Without a reliable bridge to closer Aroldis Chapman, the Reds could fall out of contention quickly.
Acquiring Crain, who has an 0.52 ERA and 18 holds, wouldn't require one of the Reds' top prospects, Billy Hamilton or Robert Stephenson, but they might have to part with Donald Lutz or Yorman Rodriguez, both Double-A outfielders with power potential.
The Pirates have overcome a rash of injuries to their starting rotation and entered Tuesday with the second-best record in baseball at 46-30. The good news is that they're getting healthy and will once again have plenty of options for the rotation during the second half of the season. Where they could use an upgrade is in the corner outfield spot.
If the can convince the Cubs to trade within the division, they could land Nate Schierholtz (pictured) in the midst of his best big league season (.905 OPS, 10 HR) and won't have to give up any of their elite prospects to do so.
The Cubs will get much more than they could've ever expected in a Schierholtz deal, but they'll have to choose from a second tier of prospects outside of Jameson Taillon, Gregory Polanco and Alen Hanson.
Offering 21-year-old right-hander Nick Kingham, who had a 3.09 ERA with 75 strikeouts in 70 High-A innings before a recent promotion to Double-A, might be enough to get the 29-year-old Schierholtz, who is under team control through 2014.
The best team in baseball, according to the standings (47-29), the Cardinals are doing it without Chris Carpenter and Jaime Garcia in their rotation and without closer Jason Motte, who underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery.
Edward Mujica has done an excellent job in Motte's place and shouldn't be in a position to lose his job. However, with so little closing experience (four career saves coming into the season) and a very young bullpen getting the ball to him in the ninth innings, it makes sense to have a backup plan in place.
While he hasn't pitched in a big league game since the end of the 2011 season (recovery from Tommy John surgery), Ryan Madson (pictured) is expected back at some point in 2013. If he can make it back within a month, he could be the experienced backup plan the team is looking for.
The 32-year-old, who had a 2.37 ERA and 32 saves for the Phillies in 2011, is currently with the Angels, who are very close to throwing in the towel on a miserable season. If they can't make a run by the time Madson returns, they will likely be very motivated to trade him.