Predicting Each MLB Team's Starting Lineup After Trade Deadline
Attention MLB shoppers: Only 12 days remain until the non-waiver trade deadline hits.
That's not a whole lot of time, and with only a few impact bats available and multiple contenders looking to shore up their lineups, the pressure is on general managers to make the right moves.
Not every team will be able to add a hitter at the deadline, and quite a few will spend the rest of July focused on acquiring pitching instead (look for our predictions on post-deadline rotations early next week). But a handful of teams will land the bat that, hopefully, will put them in better position to clinch a playoff spot than they were before the deadline.
Here's a look at how I see things playing out.
*Players who are currently injured and are not expected back until sometime in August were not included in their teams' respective lineup, though some are mentioned.
*Players with an asterisk (*) next to their names are part of a platoon. New additions are in bold.
*All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and current through the All-Star break.
Despite getting little production out of the likes of Jason Kubel, Cody Ross and Miguel Montero, pitching is what Arizona is on the hunt for leading up to the trade deadline.
While the team may wind up having to include one of its extra outfielders to facilitate a deal—A.J. Pollock is the most likely candidate—whatever moves the Diamondbacks make will have no impact on the team's everyday lineup.
Colorado could use upgrades on the right side of the infield, but as is the case every year, the Rockies will spend the time leading up to the trade deadline looking to add pitching, keeping what is one of the better lineups in baseball intact.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Despite the team's best efforts, it just isn't able to convince Philadelphia to part with Chase Utley, a likely target for the team this winter in free agency. But the Dodgers don't walk away empty-handed, snagging veteran infielder Michael Young.
While many will debate that the Dodgers overpaid to acquire him, shipping LHP Chris Reed and a mid-level prospect to Philadelphia, the team sees that the NL West is ripe for the taking and isn't going to allow the chance to win the division slip through its fingers.
Young's ability to get on base consistently allows manager Don Mattingly to slot him into the two-hole ahead of the team's biggest run producers, immediately bolstering the offense. The team's new starting second baseman, Young's ability to play multiple infield positions is an added bonus.
The eventual return of Matt Kemp (shoulder) sometime in August only bolsters the group and makes the Dodgers a very dangerous team down the stretch.
San Diego Padres
Despite teams calling about the availability of Chase Headley and Carlos Quentin, the Padres don't receive an offer that they like and decide to stand pat, instead shipping out veteran pitchers like Edinson Volquez and Jason Marquis for nominal returns.
Cameron Maybin will return to action from a knee injury eventually, but with the team no longer in contention and Alexi Amarista swinging a solid bat in center field (.273 BA/.753 OPS in 110 AB), there's no need for the Padres to rush him back.
San Francisco Giants
San Francisco can use help in the outfield, but it isn't about to unload pitching to acquire that player.
While teams call about Hunter Pence, a free agent at the end of the season, GM Brian Sabean correctly decides that the two-time All-Star is simply more valuable to the Giants than the players that other teams were offering him in exchange.
GM Frank Wren spends the days leading up to the trade deadline looking for left-handed help, both in the form of southpaw relievers and a backup infielder who can hit more than Paul Janish.
Accomplishing either goal doesn't require the team to touch its starting lineup, though players like Jason Heyward and the Upton brothers will be leaned on to produce far better numbers down the stretch than they have thus far.
Giancarlo Stanton isn't going anywhere, and while the Marlins do make a handful of minor deals (mainly involving relievers), none of those moves have a major impact on the team's starting lineup.
Outfielder Christian Yelich, the team's top position prospect, won't be a factor until rosters expand in September, when he'll replace Pierre as the team's starting left fielder.
New York Mets
The Mets need a run-producing outfielder in the worst possible way, but none of the pieces that GM Sandy Alderson is willing to move at the trade deadline, including veteran outfielder Marlon Byrd, are going to bring that player to Citi Field.
So while the Mets are active at the deadline, moving some veteran relievers for low- and mid-level prospects, nothing changes in regards to the team's starting lineup. The eventual return of Lucas Duda (strained intercostal) helps, but substantial additions to the offense won't come until the offseason.
Philadelphia's most valuable trade chips—2B Chase Utley, SP Cliff Lee and RP Jonathan Papelbon—all remain with the team, but GM Ruben Amaro Jr. simply cannot pass up the chance to acquire LHP Chris Reed—and another prospect—from the Dodgers for 3B Michael Young.
Career journeyman Kevin Frandsen takes over at the hot corner in Philadelphia, and while the move may negatively impact the team's chances of making the playoffs in 2013, it sets the Phillies up to be stronger in 2014 and beyond.
Those expecting the Nationals to make noise at the trade deadline will be sorely disappointed, as Washington does little, outside of adding another Scott Hairston-type veteran bat to the bench.
The future of 2B Danny Espinosa, currently in Triple-A and displaced from his starting spot by Anthony Rendon, won't be decided on until after the season.
There are two big changes in Chicago's lineup, most notably the addition of 3B Mike Olt, who is acquired as part of a package from Texas in exchange for SP Matt Garza.
Olt gives the Cubs another run producer in the lineup and is an upgrade defensively over Luis Valbuena, who is best served coming off the bench. His presence in the lineup allows the team to take its time developing 3B Kris Bryant, whom the team took with the second overall pick in this year's draft.
Also missing from the Cubs' pre-trade deadline lineup is OF Nate Schierholtz, traded to Pittsburgh in exchange for another young pitching prospect that the Cubs hope to plug into a future rotation.
Brian Bogusevic, who had been starting in center field in place of the injured David DeJesus, slides over to fill the vacant spot in right field.
When you have one of the best lineups in baseball, there isn't much work left for a general manager to do as the trade deadline approaches. That's the situation that Reds GM Walt Jocketty finds himself in.
Cincinnati's lineup is in line to get a boost sometime in August with the expected return of OF Ryan Ludwick, who has been out since early April with a shoulder injury that required surgery to repair. No move the Reds could make to bolster the lineup has the potential to have a bigger impact than his return.
Teams call Milwaukee about leadoff hitter Norichika Aoki, but with the 31-year-old under team control next season at a bargain-bin price of $1.5 million, GM Doug Melvin doesn't get an offer anywhere close to what he considers to be fair and hangs onto the spark plug.
While Milwaukee's offense hasn't produced anywhere up to expectations in 2013 after leading the National League with 776 runs scored in 2012, the Brewers have a talented lineup that needs to play up its capabilities. Selling pieces off for less than market value simply makes no sense.
After kicking the tires on Alex Rios only to decide he's not worth Chicago's asking price (Jameson Taillon), the Pirates turn to the other club in Chicago to bolster their outfield, trading for Nate Schierholtz from the Cubs.
Schierholtz doesn't come cheaply, costing the team a solid pitching prospect, but it's a trade that the Pirates don't think twice about pulling the trigger on.
While he doesn't have that one tool that makes you say "wow," Schierholtz really doesn't do anything poorly, either. He gives the Pirates a more reliable option than Jose Tabata, who has been maddening with his flashes of brilliance and extended bouts of inconsistent play.
St. Louis Cardinals
With no glaring holes and a pair of major league-ready prospects (OF Oscar Taveras and 2B Kolten Wong) ready to step in should the injury bug hit one of the team's starters, the lineup in St. Louis remains unchanged.
Baltimore isn't willing to part with its best prospects, which definitely hinders the team's chances of landing an established veteran bat to slot into the DH spot, the team's one real weak spot in an otherwise strong lineup.
But it's the right decision to make, especially with Cuban outfielder Henry Urrutia ripping up minor league pitching and looking like a far better option at the spot than Chris Dickerson, Nolan Reimold and everyone else that the team has used to fill the position so far this season.
Urrutia's arrival pushes Chris Dickerson out of the starting lineup (and likely out of Baltimore), as the team holds onto the likes of IF Jonathan Schoop and SP Eduardo Rodriguez rather than ship them out for a two-month rental.
Boston Red Sox
None of the moves that Boston makes leading up to the trade deadline to shore up its pitching staff will have any effect on the starting lineup, which has scored more runs than any other team in baseball this season.
Stephen Drew's return from a hamstring injury will allow the Red Sox to use Jose Iglesias at third base, but with multiple options in the minor leagues on the left side of the infield, the veteran will be given a short leash to get himself on track and is replaceable.
New York Yankees
Brian Cashman and Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik work together on their fourth trade since January of 2012, agreeing on a deal that brings 1B/OF Mike Morse to the Bronx in exchange for SP Phil Hughes.
Morse takes over at first base for Lyle Overbay against left-handed starters, giving manager Joe Girardi another option off the bench on days that a right-hander is on the mound for the opposition.
Curtis Granderson will return a some point in August and push Almonte out of the lineup, but the Yankees can't count on the pending free agent to be the big-time slugger that he has been over the past two seasons considering his lack of playing time this year.
Tampa Bay Rays
Minnesota is desperate for young, controllable starting pitching, and few teams in baseball have the plethora of pitchers who fit that description that Tampa Bay does.
While he's only a two-month rental, the Rays ship one of their high-ceiling minor league starters and a lower-level prospect to the Twins in exchange for veteran first baseman Justin Morneau, with the Twins picking up some of the money remaining on his deal.
No longer a slugger, Morneau is still a capable run-producer whose ability to get on base consistently who adds another dimension to the team's lineup, taking some of the pressure off of Evan Longoria.
Toronto Blue Jays
The overwhelming belief in Toronto's clubhouse is that the team doesn't need to add any pieces at the trade deadline for the Blue Jays to get back into the playoff picture, as Jose Bautista and others told Sportsnet's Shi Davidi during the All-Star break.
After dealing away multiple prospects during the offseason, GM Alex Anthopoulos won't go out and mortgage more of the team's future at the trade deadline, believing in the talent that he's assembled and looking to skipper John Gibbons and his coaching staff to ensure the team gets things going.
Chicago White Sox
|Alejandro De Aza||CF||L|
Despite GM Rick Hahn's willingness to trade any of his bats besides Paul Konerko, the only position player who gets shipped out of town is right fielder Alex Rios.
After fielding multiple offers for the veteran, Rios is eventually traded to the Texas Rangers for a package that includes SP Neil Ramirez, with Texas agreeing to pick up all of the money left on the outfielder's deal—something other teams weren't willing to do.
That thrusts part-timer Casper Wells into a full-time role for the rest of the season and gives the team some financial flexibility heading into the offseason.
While Cleveland could use an upgrade at third base and in right field, the team's lineup is set. GM Chris Antonetti decides against using some of Cleveland's prospects to acquire another bat, instead focusing his time and energy on trying to bolster the team's rotation.
Few teams can compete with the first five batters in Detroit's lineup, and the team can call on top prospect Nick Castellanos to replace Andy Dirks in left field if the Tigers believe a change needs to be made.
Kansas City Royals
While Kansas City's offense has been disappointing this season and the team could use both a power-hitting right fielder and an upgrade at second base, GM Dayton Moore stands pat at the deadline.
Both Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler showed signs of life after the team brought George Brett into the fold to work with the hitters, and the Royals hope that improved play over the past month continues into the second half of the season.
|Pedro Florimon Jr.||SS||S|
A free agent at the end of the season, Justin Morneau was likely headed elsewhere to continue his career in 2014. Rather than get nothing for him, the Twins trade the 11-year veteran to Tampa Bay for a pair of young pitchers.
Chris Parmelee, recently demoted to Triple-A by the team, returns to the club to take over at first base.
While GM Jeff Luhnow fields offers for left fielder Chris Carter, none motivate him to pull the trigger on a deal. The rebuilding process in Houston continues with the same lineup that the team has fielded for much of the season.
Los Angeles Angels
After spending lavishly to sign the biggest names on the free-agent market, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, in each of the past two seasons, the Angels lineup is set in stone.
The pressure is on the pair of former MVPs to play up to their abilities, as the team lacks the finances to take on another big salary and the prospects to acquire a difference-maker. This is a case of players under-performing, not a situation where there are holes to fill.
Like the Dodgers, the A's try—and fail—to pry Chase Utley away from the Phillies, who reject an offer that includes outfield prospect Michael Choice, leaving the team with a hole in the middle of the infield.
Jemile Weeks, the team's former starting second baseman who has spent the season in Triple-A, gets serious consideration for another chance, as Eric Sogard and Grant Green fail to impress.
Seattle has a handful of veteran bats that attract interest from contenders in Raul Ibanez, Kendrys Morales and Mike Morse. But only one, Morse, winds up being traded at the deadline, shipped to New York in exchange for SP Phil Hughes.
As for Ibanez and Morales, GM Jack Zduriencik decides that the pair is more valuable to the team than what he was offered in exchange for them.
No team is as active at the deadline as Texas, making deals with the two teams in Chicago that bolster both the starting rotation and the lineup.
Matt Garza is acquired from the Cubs for a package that includes 3B Mike Olt, and the team is also able to land OF Alex Rios from the White Sox for SP Neil Ramirez and two mid-level prospects after agreeing to pick up all of the salary remaining on the veteran's contract.
Rios adds another dimension to an already-potent Texas lineup, one that gets another boost later in August when Lance Berkman returns from his hip injury.