July makes us baseball fans feel a lot like Elmer Fudd.
While our favorite teams aren't out hunting "wabbits," every general manager in the game is on the hunt for at least one, if not multiple, trade partners.
The trade season has arrived, and fans around the world want to see what their teams are able to catch.
Between now and July 31, teams around the game will be trying to figure out exactly what they are—buyers or sellers—and will be acting accordingly.
Some teams will be willing to mortgage the future to make a strong run at a World Series title in 2013, while others will be looking toward 2014 and beyond, moving established talent for younger, inexperienced players with high upsides.
Here's a look at what every team in the land should be looking to do as the trade deadline approaches.
Cody Ross and Jason Kubel have been disappointments this season.
Find A Reliable Closer
Neither Heath Bell nor J.J. Putz have been effective in the ninth inning for Arizona, pitching to a combined 4.54 ERA and 1.58 WHIP and blowing eight saves along the way.
With multiple closers and relievers with closing experience expected to be available—including Miami's Steve Cishek and Chicago's Kevin Gregg—Arizona shouldn't have much trouble landing a ninth-inning upgrade despite facing some stiff competition for the best options available.
Bolster the Starting Rotation
After Patrick Corbin, Arizona's starting rotation has been, well, pretty awful this season:
Ian Kennedy continues to regress, Daniel Hudson just underwent a second Tommy John surgery and Brandon McCarthy's recovery from an inflamed right shoulder has been slow.
Tyler Skaggs has been unimpressive in the few starts that he's made, and while top prospect Archie Bradley isn't far off from making an impact in the major leagues, the Diamondbacks clearly don't want to rush him.
Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports that the Diamondbacks are not interested in a rental, like the Chicago Cubs' Matt Garza, and have instead set their sights on younger arms who can be part of the team's long-term future, like Garza's teammate, Jeff Samardzija, and Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo.
Arizona certainly has plenty of prospects with which to facilitate a deal for one or the other, but unless general manager Kevin Towers is willing to part with some of the team's best prospects—including Bradley—it's hard to see the team landing the type of arm its looking for.
Upgrade Corner Spots in the Outfield
Neither Jason Kubel nor Cody Ross has been able to deliver at the plate for Arizona this season, hitting a combined .257 with eight home runs and 46 RBI on the season.
That's not good, and it's why the Diamondbacks have been scouting Chicago's Alex Rios extensively, as reported by ESPN Chicago's Bruce Levine. Rios, hitting .268 with 11 home runs and 36 RBI on the season, has almost exceeded the aforementioned duo's production by himself this season.
With Arizona holding a team option on Kubel for next season, acquiring a player with multiple years left on his contract wouldn't create a logjam in the outfield going forward.
Atlanta needs to keep guys like Walden at the top of their games.
Add A Veteran Reliever
It's no secret that Atlanta has been actively looking to add a veteran reliever to its bullpen mix. Whether it's a right-hander or a southpaw to take some of the pressure off of Luis Avilan and Alex Wood, it doesn't seem to matter.
The Braves have already been linked to a pair of relievers on the north side of Chicago. MLB.com's Mark Bowman expects Atlanta to inquire about closer Kevin Gregg, while David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution mentioned left-hander James Russell as a possibility. As more teams declare themselves to be sellers, you can bet that Atlanta will pop up as a rumored destination for more than a few of them.
Adding a veteran makes sense for the Braves, who don't have a reliever over the age of 30 or with more than four years of experience currently in the fold. Keeping those young arms fresh and effective is a must, and bringing in a reliable, established reliever will go a long way toward accomplishing that goal.
Bolster the Bench
You wouldn't have thought it heading into the season, but the season-ending shoulder surgery that utility infielder Ramiro Pena underwent at the end of June was a major loss.
He was swinging the bat as well as he ever had, hitting .278 with a .773 OPS in 50 games, but his versatility—Pena spent time at second base, third base and shortstop this season—is the hardest to replace.
Atlanta could look to add another utility infielder capable of playing multiple positions, or the Braves could look to bolster the bench by finding a better option at third base than Chris Johnson. While Johnson has been great at the plate, hitting .323, he's a defensive liability.
Of the 25 players to log at least 350 innings at third base this year, Johnson ranks last with a minus- 23 UZR/150, one point lower than Miguel Cabrera.
While upgrading at third base would be terrific, landing a veteran utility player is likely to be the easier—and far less costly—way to go.
Ricky Nolasco is only one of the arms that Baltimore has its eyes on.
Add At Least One Quality Arm to the Rotation
Strengthening the rotation was Baltimore's biggest need coming out of the 2012 season and, three months into the 2013 campaign, that is still the case.
While acquiring a front-line starter would be ideal, the Orioles aren't going to sell the farm to get one, nor should they.
Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez have been good, going a combined 16-5 in 31 starts (21 quality starts) with a 3.72 ERA and 1.25 WHIP. When Wei-Yin Chen returns from a strained oblique that has kept him out of action since the middle of May, Baltimore will have three solid arms in its rotation.
But the fact remains that 10 different pitchers have started games for the Orioles this season, and only the three aforementioned starters are guaranteed to keep their jobs for the rest of the season. A three-man rotation isn't going to get the job done.
According to The Baltimore Sun's Dan Connolly, Baltimore has already been scouting multiple arms, including Miami's Ricky Nolasco, San Diego’s Edinson Volquez and Andrew Cashner, the Chicago Cubs’ Matt Garza and Scott Feldman, the Chicago White Sox’s Jake Peavy and Houston’s Bud Norris.
While the Orioles have already acquired Feldman from the Cubs (along with catcher Steve Clevenger, as reported by ESPN.com) in exchange for starter Jake Arrieta and reliever Pedro Strop, that doesn't necessarily mean that the Orioles are done adding pieces for the stretch run.
Could Jonathan Papelbon return to where it all began?
Find A Closer
Joel Hanrahan was ineffective before being lost for the season to Tommy John surgery and Andrew Bailey has just been ineffective, forcing Koji Uehara into the closer's role. While Uehara can handle the gig, he's most valuable to Boston when he's helping to bridge the gap from the rotation to the closer.
The Chicago Tribune's Paul Sullivan reports that the Red Sox have had scouts following the Cubs, likely looking at multiple players in the team's rotation and in the bullpen.
But as Sullivan points out, it's hard to see a deal being worked out between the two clubs considering that both Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein have an intimate working knowledge of Boston's farm system and will only target the team's best prospects.
A reunion with former closer Jonathan Papelbon isn't as far-fetched of an idea as some might think, and ESPN's Jayson Stark cites an unnamed executive saying that the Red Sox and Phillies (among others) have discussed a potential Papelbon trade.
Boston knows what it would be getting in Papelbon, who was a four-time All-Star during his seven-year career in a Red Sox uniform.
Carlos Marmol was the first domino to fall in Chicago...who's next?
Continue to Accumulate Talent
The Cubs have already begun selling, as ESPNChicago.com reported the trade of former closer Carlos Marmol and some international signing money to the Los Angeles Dodgers for reliever Matt Guerrier.
Marmol is only one of the many trade chips that general manager Jed Hoyer has at his disposal.
Right-handed starters Scott Feldman and Matt Garza are sure to have multiple suitors as well, while outfielders David DeJesus (if healthy), Nate Schierholtz and Alfonso Soriano could be attractive to contenders looking for a fourth outfielder or, in Soriano's case, a bat with some pop.
Ideally, part of whatever package of players Hoyer gets for the veterans that he deals away will include some youth, athleticism and pop for the outfield, which the unit desperately needs.
While I think it's highly unlikely that this happens, Hoyer could look to make a huge move and put Jeff Samardzija on the market. Trading the 28-year-old right-hander would bring back a substantial package of players that would fill multiple holes for the Cubs and help to speed up the rebuilding process.
Someone is going to overpay to get Jesse Crain out of Chicago.
Acquire as Much Talent as Possible
There's only one thing that the White Sox need to do: clean house.
According to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, that's exactly what general manager Rick Hahn intends to do, with Heyman reporting that everyone on the roster besides Chris Sale and Paul Konerko are available.
It's all about maximizing value and stockpiling talent, as a number of players on the roster—including Jesse Crain, Jake Peavy, Alex Rios and Dayan Viciedo—could bring back multiple pieces in a trade
Ryan Ludwick's uncertain return leaves Cincinnati with a hole to fill.
Potentially Upgrade Left Field
Without Ryan Ludwick in the everyday lineup, Cincinnati has gotten almost no production from left field, as those who have tried to replace Ludwick have mustered only a .238 batting average, .662 OPS, six home runs and 30 RBI over the first three months of the season.
Ludwick is expected to return to action at some point, though there is no firm timetable as to when that may occur—and there are no guarantees as to what he will be able to contribute when he does get back on the field.
That opens the door for the Reds to at least look into what it would cost to acquire a veteran corner outfielder, and chances are, they'll have multiple options to choose from.
Bolster the Bullpen
Sean Marshall and Jonathan Broxton are on the shelf with no timetable for a return, leaving Cincinnati's bullpen incredibly thin.
Only Aroldis Chapman, Sam LeClure and Alfredo Simon have pitched to an ERA below 4.00, and while prospect Tony Cingrani has had his moments, the 23-year-old southpaw has done more harm than good coming out of the pen.
With nearly every contender in the league looking to bolster its bullpen, Cincinnati will have competition for nearly every arm that it inquires about.
Trevor Bauer hasn't provided the boost Cleveland hoped he would.
Add At Least One Veteran Arm to the Rotation
After Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez, Cleveland's starting rotation is filled with more questions than answers.
Zach McAllister and Brett Myers are on the disabled list, Carlos Carrasco continues to stumble, Scott Kazmir's health is a constant concern and Trevor Bauer simply isn't ready for prime time.
Yet the Indians are in the thick of the playoff race, and if the team has any intention of making its first postseason appearance since 2007, general manager Chris Antonetti has to bring in reinforcements for the rotation.
Whether it's a bigger name like Yovani Gallardo or a lesser name like Scott Feldman, acquiring starting pitching needs to be the top priority in Cleveland.
Roy Oswalt isn't part of the solution in Colorado.
Strengthen the Starting Rotation
While Colorado's starting rotation is far better than it was a year ago, the group is still one of the least effective in baseball.
Tyler Chatwood, Jorge de la Rosa and Jhoulys Chacin have been very good, going a combined 19-8 with a 3.09 ERA and 1.25 WHIP, but there's a big drop off after them, with Juan Nicasio's 5.31 ERA and 1.46 WHIP being the best numbers of what's left.
The Denver Post's Patrick Saunders says that the Rockies have been aggressively scouting Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo and Chicago's Matt Garza while noting the team's past interest in Miami's Ricky Nolasco.
Whether its one of the aforementioned starters or someone who the team hasn't been linked to yet, adding at least one veteran arm to the rotation is a must if the Rockies are going to capitalize on what is a wide-open race for the National League West.
Find an Upgrade at First Base
Todd Helton is one of the all-time great Rockies, someone who will have his number retired and forever be a legend at Coors Field—but his days as a useful ballplayer are well in the past.
Part of a platoon with the equally underwhelming Jordan Pacheco, Colorado's first basemen have been among the least productive in baseball this season.
While it's a long shot, given the $15 million that he's owed in 2014, working out a deal for Chicago's Adam Dunn would make a lot of sense. Dunn isn't going to hit for average, but his ability to produce runs would add another dimension to an already dangerous Colorado lineup.
Jonathan Papelbon makes an awful lot of sense for Detroit.
Trade For an Established Closer
Bruce Rondon couldn't handle the job, Jose Valverde reminded the team why it didn't re-sign him after the 2012 season and Detroit heads into the second half of the season with Joaquin Benoit as the primary option in the ninth inning.
Not to take anything away from Benoit, who is having a terrific season and has been successful in all five of his save opportunities, but the team is best served with him bridging the gap between the starting rotation and the closer's spot, not serving as the last part of that equation.
The Tigers have discussed closer Jonathan Papelbon with Philadelphia, according to ESPN's Jayson Stark, noting that the team is more open to moving prospects like Avisail Garcia and Nick Castellanos than it was in the past.
Including one of the two in a deal for Papelbon could give Detroit the edge over other contenders, like Boston, who are expected to be in on the veteran closer as well.
Bud Norris will be in demand as the trade deadline draws near.
Continue To Stockpile Talent
As has been the case in each of the past two years, Houston is going to be selling off veterans in order to add more talent to the system as the rebuilding process continues.
Of all the team's trade chips, starter Bud Norris is by far the most valuable.
Norris (3.35 ERA, 1.37 WHIP) has already attracted interest from the Giants, Orioles and Pirates, according to Nick Cafardo of the The Boston Globe, who quotes an unnamed NL executive who predicts as many as 12 teams will be in on Norris as the trade deadline nears.
Under team control through the 2016 season and making only $3 million in 2013, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow is sure to have a high asking price for the 28-year-old right-hander.
While Norris' salary, age and contract situation are all big selling points, Luhnow needs to be careful and not ask for too much. Otherwise, he'll force potential partners into the arms of other sellers who are offering more established options with shorter contracts and higher salaries.
First baseman Carlos Pena, outfielder/first baseman Chris Carter, veteran starter Erik Bedard and reliever Jose Veras also figure to attract some level of interest from teams looking for inexpensive, veteran depth.
Kansas City needs to see if it can do better than Johnny Giavotella at second base.
Investigate Upgrading Second Base
Johnny Giavotella was great in his 2013 debut, and he's certainly a better option at second base than Chris Getz or Eliot Johnson. But with the Royals trying to remain in contention for a playoff spot, the team at least needs to investigate what potential upgrades are available.
Apparently, general manager Dayton Moore has already begun feeling out teams, with Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reporting that Moore has spoken with Philadelphia about veteran Chase Utley, though it's unknown whether the Phillies would actually deal him and what the asking price may be.
Same Goes For Right Field
The Royals made the right decision to part ways with Jeff Francoeur, moving Lorenzo Cain into the vacant right field spot while shifting Jarrod Dyson to center field. While both Cain and Dyson have plenty of talent, neither one offers much in the power department, and both have had issues staying healthy in the past.
Only Milwaukee, with four home runs, has gotten less pop out of its right fielders than Kansas City, which has seen the three players that have manned right field this season (Cain, Francoeur and David Lough) hit a total of five home runs.
At the very least, the Royals should be checking in on the few legitimate power-hitting right fielders that may become available and see what it would take to bring their bats to Kansas City.
Big free agent signings, like Josh Hamilton, have left GM Jerry DiPoto's hands essentially tied at the trade deadline.
Try and Keep Pace With the Competition
Anyone who is expecting the Angels to go out and make significant additions—or subtractions—to the team's roster is setting themselves up to be disappointed, as general manager Jerry DiPoto explained to MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez:
We are not a buyer, we are not a seller. We’re the Angels, who are sitting here trying to win a game today. Our sense of urgency has to be today, tomorrow and every day.
I don’t see drastic paths. We have a roster of veteran players, most of whom are under club control, a very talented offensive club, pitching staff is evolving, some pending free agents, many others under club control. We’ll assess as we go.
While that sounds great and the Angels are the hottest team in the American League at the moment, winning six consecutive games and seven of its last 10, Los Angeles is a flawed team.
The pitching staff specifically could use upgrades in both the rotation and bullpen, but the team lacks the high-end prospects typically needed to facilitate a deal that would bring one or the other back to Los Angeles.
DiPoto will have to work twice as hard to make additions to the club that allow the Angels to keep pace with Texas and Oakland, both of whom could be active as the trade deadline nears.
Finding an upgrade over Juan Uribe would do wonders for Los Angeles' offense.
Upgrade Second and Third Base
Mark Ellis (.259, 4 HR, 20 RBI) and Juan Uribe (.265, 3 HR, 16 RBI) are solid veterans who have performed relatively well for the Dodgers in 2013, but neither one is a big-time offensive force. At this point in their respective careers, playing on a daily basis might not be the best thing.
CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports that the Dodgers have interest in both Philadelphia second baseman Chase Utley and third baseman Michael Young, two veterans who would certainly be upgrades over what the Dodgers currently have.
Don't Take Back Another Team's Mistake
It's exactly what the Dodgers did last season in the blockbuster trade they pulled off with Boston, taking back the terrible contracts handed out to Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford, a pair of players who have spent more time on the disabled list than on the field during their brief careers in Los Angeles.
If reports are to be believed, the Dodgers are on the precipice of taking on another reclamation project, this time in the form of Chicago's Carlos Marmol, recently designated for assignment by the Cubs.
Even if Chicago picks up the money remaining on his deal—as MLB.com's Ken Gurnick says is the case—adding Marmol to an already crowded bullpen is a bit of a head-scratching move by the Dodgers.
Ricky Nolasco is likely to be the first of Miami's trade chips to be dealt away.
Continue to Stockpile Talent
Miami is in full rebuilding mode, and while trading Giancarlo Stanton doesn't appear to be in the cards, as team president Larry Beinfest intimated to ESPN's Jim Bowden and Jeff Joyce on MLB Network Radio, that doesn't mean the Marlins won't be active as the deadline nears.
Ricky Nolasco has been linked to multiple teams, though as Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports report, Miami is seeking a "good prospect" in exchange for the 30-year-old right-hander and also for the acquiring team to pick up all of the $6 million that remains on his deal.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are known to have interest and are considered to be the front-runners at this point, with ESPN's Buster Olney speculating that there's a 70 percent chance a deal between the two clubs gets done.
Relievers Steve Cishek, Mike Dunn, Chad Qualls and Ryan Webb are sure to generate interest from contenders as well, but outside of Stanton, none of Miami's trade chips have the potential to bring back as great a return as Nolasco does.
Now is not the time for Milwaukee to move its ace.
Trade Yovani Gallardo
He's only 27 years old, has a track record of success in the big leagues and is under team control through the 2015 season.
That makes Yovani Gallardo one of the most valuable trade chips that a general manager has to play this month, and Doug Melvin would be wise to strike while the iron is hot.
Multiple teams, including Arizona, have been linked to Gallardo in recent weeks, and the Diamondbacks have plenty of prospects with which to build a package around, including Tyler Skaggs, who some believe the Diamondbacks have soured on just a bit.
Milwaukee is going nowhere fast, and the package of players that Gallardo would command in a trade could fill multiple holes for the Brewers, including in the rotation, as young pitching would most certainly be part of any package that the team got in exchange.
Unload Veteran Relievers
Milwaukee has a trio of veteran relievers in John Axford, Mike Gonzalez and Francisco Rodriguez who have already generated interest around baseball, as general manager Doug Melvin confirmed to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Tom Haudricourt.
At this point, outside of Jim Henderson, anyone and everyone in the team's bullpen should be viewed as available.
See What Aramis Ramirez Could Bring Back In a Trade
Quality third basemen don't grow on trees, and Aramis Ramirez remains one of the better options at the position despite being 35 years old.
Signed through the 2014 season (with a $14 million mutual option for 2015), Ramirez could potentially bring back multiple pieces from a contender should the Brewers decide to put him on the block.
Teams like the Red Sox, Dodgers, Yankees and Braves could all be potential landing spots for the 16-year veteran.
Justin Morneau and Josh Willingham are more valuable to the Twins as trade chips than as everyday players.
Deal Away Veteran Assets
Minnesota finds itself in a position where it could conceivably bring back multiple pieces, both on and off of the mound, at the trade deadline.
To do that, the team must be ready, willing and able to trade away veteran pieces, specifically Kevin Correia, Josh Willingham and Justin Morneau.
General manager Terry Ryan is expecting phone calls on the trio, as he told ESPN's Jim Bowden. According to the tweet, "Terry Ryan Twins GM confirmed that veterans Josh Willingham, Justin Morneau and Kevin Correia will be the players most asked about."
Correia has been Minnesota's most reliable starting pitcher, going 6-5 with a 4.08 ERA and 1.33 WHIP over 16 starts, nine of them being quality outings.
Willingham's batting average is down (.224), but the rest of his numbers are solid (.356 on-base percentage, 10 HR, 37 RBI). Like last season, multiple contenders would be interested in adding him for the stretch run.
Morneau, a free agent at the end of the season, is no longer the slugger he once was—with only four home runs on the season—but he's hitting (.288 batting average) and driving in runs, leading the Twins with 48 RBI.
The ultimate goal in moving one or all of these players is to acquire young, controllable starting pitching, which the team desperately needs.
Marlon Byrd has been the team's best outfielder...and that's why he needs to be dealt.
Find a Long-Term Answer in the Outfield
This will be a challenge, with the players that other teams actually covet—David Wright, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero and Travis d'Arnaud—all being essentially untouchable.
That being said, if the opportunity presents itself for the Mets to deal away other highly ranked prospects in order to land a current or future outfield stud, it's a move the team has to make, as few teams in baseball have gotten less out of its outfield this season than the Mets have.
Trade Marlon Byrd
Marlon Byrd has resurrected his career in Flushing this season, and it's for that reason that the Mets should be looking to deal the 35-year-old as soon as possible.
Byrd isn't going to bring back anything other than a major league role player or minor league depth, but he's not part of the long-term picture for the Mets. That is why the team is better off getting something for him now rather than watching him sign elsewhere this coming winter as a free agent and get nothing in return.
Contenders would line up to try and land a veteran arm like Kuroda's.
Shock the World: Sell at the Deadline
Nobody expects the Yankees to ever be sellers, but the team finds itself in the unusual position of having lowered expectations this season thanks to the influx of injuries that have ravaged its starting lineup.
While the Yankees have remained above .500 and in contention for a playoff spot, nobody's fooling themselves into believing that this is a World Series-caliber team, even when injured stars like Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson return from the disabled list.
If we're being honest, that statement is 100 percent accurate.
The Yankees farm system is better than it gets credit for, but the team's best prospects are still years away from making an impact at the major league level.
With an eye toward getting under the $189 million luxury tax threshold in 2014 and a number of players set to become free agents at the end of the season, the opportunity exists for the team to pick up a handful of young, inexpensive talent by moving a number of players.
Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, Curtis Granderson and Hiroki Kuroda would all be in high demand should the Yankees put them on the market, and with all of them having uncertain futures in the Bronx, getting something other than compensatory draft picks (potentially) is in the best interest of the team, both in the short-term and long-term.
A veteran like Chase Utley would be perfect in Oakland.
Upgrade Second Base
If there's one position where Oakland can use an upgrade, it's second base, where Eric Sogard and Adam Rosales have platooned and delivered mediocre results.
FanGraphs' Dave Cameron makes an excellent case for why Philadelphia's Chase Utley should be the team's primary target leading up to the trade deadline, and it's hard to argue with his logic—primarily because Utley would be a massive upgrade over what the A's currently have.
Oakland certainly has plenty of prospects that could be intriguing to Philadelphia, a team that needs to begin adding youth and athleticism to a quickly aging roster.
As usual, Cliff Lee would bring back a huge package of talent in a trade.
Begin the Rebuilding Process
As I wrote earlier this week, the time has come for Philadelphia to begin selling off its high-profile veterans and acquire the players that will comprise its core for the next decade.
Cliff Lee, Jonathan Papelbon and Chase Utley, I'm looking in your general direction.
That trio of veterans would be among the most sought-after players on the market were the Phillies to make them available, and all three would bring back multiple pieces in a trade, pieces that could help Philadelphia plug multiple holes in its roster, giving the team an infusion of youth that it desperately needs.
We've already touched on a handful of teams who have been linked or potentially could be linked to both Papelbon and Utley, while nearly every contender in the game would line up for a chance to acquire Lee, who is under contract through the 2015 season with a $27.5 million vesting option for 2016.
Garrett Jones has been solid, but Pittsburgh should see if it can do better.
Upgrade Right Field
Other than Houston, no team in baseball has gotten less out of its right fielders this season than Pittsburgh, where the seven players who have spent time there have combined to hit .227 with a .658 OPS.
Garrett Jones, Travis Snider and Jose Tabata are simply not capable of raising the level of their game to produce like an everyday right fielder should.
Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal suggests that Chicago's Alex Rios would be a perfect fit in Pittsburgh, but whether the Pirates are willing or able to take on the $12.5 million that he's owed in 2014 is a legitimate question to ask.
If not Rios, the team needs to kick the tires on any veteran right fielder who is athletic enough to play the position while offering more with the bat than what the Pirates have gotten thus far.
Upgrade First Base
All you need to know about the first base situation in Pittsburgh is this: Gaby Sanchez is the team's everyday starter.
While upgrading right field would allow the team to platoon Garrett Jones with someone else at first base, ideally, the team would be able to bring in a veteran to occupy each spot, allowing Jones to come off of the bench.
Jake Arrieta has become a primary target for San Diego.
Continue to Stockpile Talent—Specifically Young Pitching
While San Diego has surprised everyone by hovering around .500 and sitting the thick of the race for the National League West, the Padres are still multiple pieces away from being a legitimate contender on the senior circuit.
Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that multiple sources have told him that San Diego is infatuated with Baltimore right-hander Jake Arrieta, believing that the 27-year-old is only a change of scenery away from finally living up to his potential as a front-of-the-rotation arm.
San Diego has multiple trade chips to play—including veteran starters Edinson Volquez and Clayton Richard, closer Huston Street, reliever Luke Gregerson and outfielder Carlos Quentin—that it can use to acquire the young pitching that it needs to take the next step in the rebuilding process.
Ricky Nolasco would be a welcome addition to an underachieving San Francisco rotation.
Shore Up the Starting Rotation
According to CBS Sports' Danny Knobler, the Giants have already targeted starting pitching as their primary focus at the trade deadline. Knobler's colleague, Jon Heyman, reports that Miami's Ricky Nolasco is near the top of San Francisco's shopping list.
It makes sense, as the perceived strength of the defending World Series champions has been anything but that in 2013.
Combined, the team's starters have a 4.57 ERA and 1.32 WHIP, numbers that rank 19th and 17th among all MLB teams. Of the team's Opening Day rotation, only Madison Bumgarner (3.08) has an ERA below 4.20.
The team's biggest obstacle in acquiring another starting pitcher will be its poor farm system. After top prospect Kyle Crick, there's a fairly steep drop-off in talent.
It is assumed that Crick would be exempt from any trade talks, but then again, it was only a few years ago that the Giants moved Zack Wheeler for Carlos Beltran, so you can never say never when it comes to San Francisco and trades.
Kendrys Morales would be a fit with multiple contenders.
Sell Off The Veteran Bats They Acquired This Past Winter
That's Raul Ibanez, Kendrys Morales and Michael Morse for those who have forgotten what Seattle did during the offseason.
All three are set to hit free agency following the season, making them even more desirable to contending teams who are looking to bolster their chances of success in 2013 without having to add to their future payrolls.
Find an Impact Bat
If I'm Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik, I'm calling Miami and offering the Marlins the same package he offered Arizona for Justin Upton in an attempt to pry Giancarlo Stanton out of South Beach.
When that fails, I'm continuing to negotiate until a deal is reached or I'm insulted by the asking price.
With the exception of Kyle Seager, Seattle's young position players have all regressed in 2013. The team's offense has been carried by veteran bats who will all hit free agency at the end of the season, potentially leaving Seattle with a 2014 lineup that's even worse than this year's version.
Whether it's Stanton or another slugger who surprisingly becomes available, the Mariners cannot head into the 2014 season without having added someone who is guaranteed to produce with a bat in his hands.
The Cardinals need help getting the ball to Mujica in the ninth inning.
Bolster the Bullpen
St. Louis has the best minor league system in baseball, one of the game's most complete lineups and a starting rotation that has been nothing short of phenomenal despite losing Jaime Garcia for the season.
But even with all that talent, the Cardinals need more quality relievers. The team's bullpen ranks 15th in baseball with a 3.64 ERA, and after Trevor Rosenthal and Edward Mujica, the group lacks a shutdown reliever who can help bridge the gap from the starters to Mujica in the ninth inning.
There won't be a shortage of relievers available around the trade deadline—Chicago's Jesse Crain would be perfect, though the asking price may be too high for the Cardinals' liking—but as more teams determine that they are not contenders, more options will become available.
Luke Scott's chops are more impressive than his numbers as Tampa Bay's primary designated hitter.
Add an Impact Bat to Use as the Primary Designated Hitter
No team in the American League has gotten less production from its designated hitters than Tampa Bay, where the group of players who have occupied that role have combined to hit .205 with 10 home runs, 43 RBI and a .664 OPS.
That's not very good.
The beauty of needing to shore up the DH spot is that it doesn't matter what position the player plays—you're only interested in his bat.
Tampa Bay will have plenty of options to choose from as the trade market develops, though salary will play a major role in any potential acquisition that it may look to make.
Ricky Nolasco could be the next National League starter to become a member of the Texas Rangers.
Bolster the Starting Rotation
While the Rangers have a number of pitchers on the disabled list who project to return either before the All-Star break (Alexi Ogando) or at some point afterward (Neftali Feliz and Colby Lewis), the trio can't be counted on to log innings and be big contributors during the team's playoff push.
As was the case during the winter, Mike Olt figures to be the prospect the Rangers dangle in front of teams in an attempt to land a starting pitcher who can join Yu Darvish and Derek Holland atop the team's rotation.
CBS Sports' Jon Heyman says that the Rangers are one of many teams with legitimate interest in Miami's Ricky Nolasco, and we can be sure that as more pitchers become available, Texas will be linked to them as well.
Matt Garza is on Toronto's radar.
Add Another Veteran Arm to the Rotation
After a brutal start to the season, things have started to look up in Tornoto, with the Blue Jays having a .500 record and sitting within six games of one of the two wild-card spots in the American League.
While the trio of big-name starters that the team acquired this past winter improved in June after horrific starts to the season, they are still not throwing the ball like Toronto expected that they would.
Adding another starter to the mix is necessary if the team is truly going to make a run at a playoff spot.
Toronto has been scouting Chicago's Matt Garza, according to MLB.com's Carrie Muskat, and the veteran makes a lot of sense for the Blue Jays. He has spent multiple years in the AL East and has experience in both a race for the division and a pennant.
What Washington does at the deadline depends on how Dan Haren performs.
Add A Starting Pitcher
Dan Haren was terrible before being placed on the disabled list with inflammation in his right shoulder, and the 32-year-old has certainly given the impression that he has little left to offer a contending team.
Yet according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, the Nationals aren't going to make any moves that are related to the rotation until Haren returns from the disabled list and they can see how he performs.
That's not to say that the Nationals aren't actively scouting potential additions—like Chicago's Matt Garza, as reported by MLB.com's Carrie Muskat—but if Haren looks like the pitcher Washington thought it had signed, you can forget about them making any big splashes at the trade deadline.