The official second half of the 2013 MLB season begins Thursday, July 18, and as the calender pushes towards late July and into August, contenders emerge and pretenders begin to fade.
For the Oakland A's, nothing suggests that their surprising ascension among the game's elite teams will not continue after a 56-39 first half.
However, contending for a division title is one thing. To make noise in October and be in position to make the franchise's first World Series appearance since 1990, Oakland may be in the market for a key acquisition before the non-waiver trade deadline on July 31.
Of course, the A's have also acquired key cogs long after that annual deadline in past years. While it might be wishful thinking, this is an A's team that could go beyond plucky small-market underdog to the top of the heap with one or two moves.
The American League remains wide open and the A's have as good a chance as any ballclub.
That said, to get a great deadline player, it usually costs high-end prospects. For the A's, there are a few options, but three truly stand out when considering what it might take to land a playoff ace or a key bat.
Here are those three trading chips in the A's search for a difference-maker, and no, the A's aren't getting Cliff Lee. He's just the best starting pitcher on the trade market.