The MLB trade deadline is just eight days away, and we are about to see a flurry of moves taking place over the next week or so.
Teams are figuring out what they need and who they're after, but there is still one question that haunts every MLB executive and GM.
No team is perfect in July, but it's the job of the higher-ups to bring their team as close to that level as humanly possible. However, they won't be able to do so without answering one gut-wrenching question.
These are those questions for each team.
The Baltimore Orioles desperately need a new designated hitter, and the team will likely have to trade for one to get the help it needs.
The Orioles' designated hitters are batting an MLB-worst .197 with a humiliating .643 OPS. What should be a strong-point in the lineup has become a liability.
Unless Baltimore expects recent Cuban signee Dariel Alvarez to become a contributing MLB player by the end of the year, the team needs to trade for a DH.
Luckily, any player can be a DH, so the market is never a small one. However, the team still needs to figure out who it should trade for.
Ted Berg of USA Today recently wrote an article about trades that should happen, and the Orioles dealing for Chicago White Sox first baseman and DH Adam Dunn was among them.
Dunn is on the block, along with every other White Sox player not named Chris Sale or Paul Konerko, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, and Dunn should be on Baltimore's radar.
The Boston Red Sox have the misfortune of playing in the best division in baseball, but they still lead it.
The Red Sox sit atop the AL East and have the best record in the American League, but they still need some help.
While the team ranks first in MLB in runs scored, it ranks in the bottom half of the league in ERA, due in part to injuries to guys like Clay Buchholz.
The Red Sox are looking for a starter, but with rumors of interest in Cliff Lee potentially being moot and Matt Garza being traded, who's left?
The team is apparently interested in Houston Astros pitcher Bud Norris, but it remains unclear whom the team will be pursuing to aid its pitching staff.
The New York Yankees have had trouble finding consistent, talented players who can man first and third base this season.
The team has relied on Lyle Overbay at first and Luis Cruz at third for much of the season, and they have not met the expectations set for the Bronx Bombers. With Mark Teixeira done for the year and Alex Rodriguez likely to be suspended by MLB, the team needs to decide which position needs to be addressed.
First basemen are usually vital to their team's success, and Overbay just isn't a guy you want to rely on in late-September or October.
Third basemen have the potential to cement a lineup, but it's unclear whether the team will have a third baseman it can rely on for the rest of the year.
Obviously the best scenario for the Yanks is to trade for a guy who can play both first and third like Michael Young. However, those guys are hard to find, and Young might not be dealt if the Phillies are buyers at the deadline.
Brian Cashman has a lot on his plate right now, and deciding if he should pursue a first or third baseman is the biggest issue.
The Tampa Bay Rays are in a bit of a financial pickle right now.
The team has never been a big spender, but right now it needs to make a move, and any move will require a good chunk of cash.
The team sits just one half game behind the Boston Red Sox for the best record in the American League, but at the same time it sits only 3.5 games up on the Texas Rangers, who are out of the playoff picture right now, showing the Rays are far from safe. The Rays rank in the top five in the AL in both pitching and hitting, but the team isn't perfect, and it should be looking to do something.
After being connected to Justin Morneau, Jon Heyman writes that "it's hard to imagine Tampa Bay ... paying the $6 million."
The team is also rumored to have interest in Raul Ibanez and Kendrys Morales, but money could be an issue in those trades as well.
The Rays are not comfortably safe in the AL postseason race, but it could be too expensive to make a move that would secure a spot in the playoffs.
The Toronto Blue Jays are seven games under .500, are in last place in the AL East and sit 13.5 games back in the wild-card race. So why on earth would they be buyers at the deadline?
The team appears unsure as to what it will do by the end of the month, as it has been rumored to be interested in Houston Astros pitcher Bud Norris but has just a 1.6 percent chance of making the playoffs, according to ESPN.
The Jays are in a position that would scream "sell" to most, but they are apparently thinking about buying.
Toronto has no idea whether it should buy or sell right now, and that has to be the first question answered north of the border.
According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Chicago White Sox are so devoted to blowing the team up and starting fresh that everyone is on the trading block except for Chris Sale and Paul Konerko.
The Chicago White Sox are open for business and have made everyone but star left-hander Chris Sale and beloved veteran first baseman Paul Konerko available, rival executives say.
They add that the Sox are already exchanging names on some potential deals.
The White Sox's sale (not Sale) is quite intriguing, say rivals, as it could include center fielder Alex Rios, shortstop Alexei Ramirez and even starting pitcher John Danks, who signed a $65 million, five-year contract just last year. All of those names are on the table.
The White Sox appear to think that they have few players worth keeping, but are any of their guys actually worth keeping?
If Sale is available, that leaves only Konerko as untouchable. However, the 37-year-old first baseman is still on the DL and is in the final year of his contract. If anyone inquires about him, it only makes sense to trade the aging star.
The White Sox seem to think that Sale and Konerko are worth keeping around, but they might not be.
Matt Garza was the best starting pitcher available, and the Indians were among the top contenders for him, according to David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com.
However, Garza was traded to the Texas Rangers, and now the Indians need a back-up plan.
The Indians would need to trade Francisco Lindor in order to get a deal for a top-tier pitcher done, but there may not be a top-tier guy left.
The team sits 2.5 games behind the Detroit Tigers for the lead in the AL Central, and it has to make a move. However, if the Indians can't find a starter who excites them, their best bet may be to pursue someone to help in the bullpen, writes Bud Shaw.
The Indians have eight days to figure out who can make up for losing in the Garza sweepstakes.
Jose Valverde just wasn't cutting it for the Detroit Tigers, as and a result he was designated for assignment in June.
The Tigers desperately need a closer if they want to win the NL Central and contend in October, but their best bet remains unclear.
The team is currently using Joaquin Benoit as its closer, and he has been surprisingly effective, posting a 1.60 ERA and recording the save in all nine opportunities he's had.
The Tigers have struggled in close games, and they need to decide if they want to stick with Benoit or try to trade for guys like John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez to bolster the bullpen.
Despite being eight games back in the AL Central, the Kansas City Royals are not acting like sellers.
Ervin Santana is pitching like an ace, posting an ERA of 3.18 and a WHIP of 1.07 this season. He is also in the final year of his contract, and it is unclear whether or not he'll resign at the end of the year.
The Royals have a guy who would easily be the biggest name on the market if they decided to trade him, according to Danny Knobler of CBS Sports. However, Knobler reports that the team is unlikely to trade him.
Trading Santana essentially means he's gone for good. However, if they keep him and he decides to leave during free agency, the team still loses him and won't get any good prospects in return.
The Royals are essentially out of the playoff race, but it remains unclear whether or not they should try to deal Santana.
Justin Morneau has been the face of the Minnesota Twins for the past 11 seasons, but the team is reportedly thinking about trading the former MVP.
The Twins are out of playoff contention, but Morneau is one of the few players that Minnesota fans still come out to see play. By trading him the team loses the heart and soul of its team and is left only with Joe Mauer.
Morneau has said that he wants to remain with the Twins for the long term, but the team hasn't made any moves to keep him.
Morneau is a fan favorite in Minnesota, and trading him would be a slap in the face. However, if he can bring in prospects, it might be worth trading him and trying to sign him in the offseason.
The 28-year-old Bud Norris is well known as the best controllable pitcher on the trading block this year.
Norris won't become a free agent until after the 2015 season, but the Houston Astros are shopping him for a valuable hitting prospect or two.
According to Jerry Crasnick, the trade talks concerning Norris are heating up. Crasnick lists some of Norris' suitors as the Giants, Indians, Nationals, Dodgers, Red Sox, Pirates and Rangers, among others.
Norris is a talented young pitcher on the market, but he is too valuable to trade for a low price. The Astros need to figure out exactly what they want for Norris before they trade him.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are five games under .500 and 11 games out in the AL West, but it doesn't look like the team is selling.
Heck, it doesn't look like they're buying either.
The Angels rank seventh in runs scored but 24th in ERA (4.22). The team's biggest need is in the starting rotation, but GM Jerry Dipoto doesn't think that any major trades are necessary.
Jon Heyman has called the Angels the perfect fit for New York Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes, which isn't exactly a major move. However, Dipoto seems reluctant to make any move, and it remains unclear whether or not the team will make a single trade at the deadline.
The Oakland Athletics watched as the Rangers scooped up Matt Garza, and now they need to figure out how to match this move and keep the lead in the AL West.
Oakland leads the AL West by three games and is in line to make the playoffs. The team doesn't have a single weakness, according to ESPN's Market Central tool, and it might not have needed to make any moves if the Rangers didn't.
Now that the Rangers appear to be the team to beat in the division, Oakland needs to work out a plan to shift the balance of power back in its favor in the next week.
GM Jack Zduriencik is faced with a dilemma when it comes to what to do with the Seattle Mariners.
The Mariners are out of playoff contention and would be sellers in a perfect world. However, Zduriencik knows that his job (along with manager Eric Wedge's job) could be on the line at the end of the year.
Larry Stone of The Seattle Times writes that whether or not Zduriencik is fired could be based on the record of the Mariners at the end of the season.
While the Mariners could trade guys like Raul Ibanez, Kendrys Morales and Joe Saunders, the team's record will be much better if they don't. The future will be worse, but Zduriencik might keep his job if he hangs on to his guys.
As Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported, the Rangers traded a package of prospects including top prospect 3B Mike Olt to the Chicago Cubs for Matt Garza.
Now that the team has acquired the best starting pitcher available, the team needs to figure out if it's done or if it needs to add another key piece to hop the Oakland Athletics for the AL West lead.
The team sits three games behind the Athletics, and its offense has been the weakness all season long. It may need another bat to make a postseason run, and that's what management needs to figure out.
The Atlanta Braves sit seven games up on the Philadelphia Phillies for the NL East lead. Just by seeing the standings you'd think that Atlanta has been the better team all year and should make the playoffs.
The Braves have actually lost a half game on the Phillies since April 18, and the division race has been tight ever since the Braves started the year 13-2.
The Braves need to figure out exactly what it's going to take to win the NL East at the deadline. Reports seem to indicate that the team is looking for some bullpen help, specifically a left-handed reliever.
Is one reliever enough for the Braves to win the division? That's the question the team is pondering right now.
Steve Cishek is the best young closer on the market this year, as the 27-year-old closer boasts a 3.24 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP.
What makes him so valuable is that he is under team control through the 2017 season, so the Miami Marlins will ask for a king's ransom if he is to be traded.
According to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, the Marlins are unlikely to trade Cishek unless they receive a package that includes the other team's No. 1 prospect.
The Marlins are going to ask for a lot in return for a closer of the future, but even if they receive such a ridiculous deal they have to decide if it's worth giving up a sure-fire closer for a risky prospect.
The New York Mets are out of the playoff race and should be looking to sell.
But no one's buying.
Despite potentially being willing to trade guys like outfielder Marlon Byrd and closer Bobby Parnell, the team has not received any action yet, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post.
Byrd has been hitting well as of late and could impact a playoff race, whereas Parnell could be the best closer on the market.
Parnell is 28 years old and is under team control through 2016. He has an ERA of 2.25 and a WHIP of 0.93 this season and has allowed only one home run over the last calendar year (against Chase Utley on Saturday).
There are very few closers on the market who are pitching better than Parnell this season, and you'd think that he'd draw some interest from teams who need bullpen help.
No team is in a more difficult place than the Philadelphia Phillies, as Ruben Amaro Jr. still has to decide whether to buy or sell at the deadline.
The Phillies are seven games out of both first place in the NL East and out of a wild-card spot, but they have a better record than the Braves since April 18.
The team has plenty of veterans in the last year of their contract, but they have the tools needed to contend for a postseason berth.
The Phillies don't have a lot of time left to contend and will have to be blown up eventually. The question facing Amaro is whether that time is now or later.
The Phils have become the most intriguing team at the deadline, but that is a direct result of the most gut-wrenching question in baseball.
The Washington Nationals have one of the brightest futures in MLB behind Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg.
The Nats currently sit eight games behind the Atlanta Braves for the NL East lead, but the team might be planning more for the future than they are for this season.
According to Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com, the team currently isn't looking for a one-year rental who could help the team win this year. Instead, it is looking for long-term guys.
It's obvious that the Nationals are going to be good for a long time, but that doesn't mean they can't compete right now as well.
The team was so bad for so long that fans want to see it win now, but the team hasn't decided if it wants to make a run at the struggling Braves this season or wait until next year.
Since Matt Garza has already been dealt, the question facing the Chicago Cubs is whether they should pay half of Alfonso Soriano's salary in order to trade him.
Soriano is having a fantastic season and could help a contender out. He has the potential to completely alter a playoff race, and teams would give up some good prospects for him.
The problem with trading Soriano is that no one wants to pay the $18 million he's owed in both 2013 and 2014.
If the Cubs are willing to eat $9 million of that salary in both years, then Soriano would become a viable trade chip, and it might be worth doing so to acquire a few prospects.
The Cincinnati Reds need a reliever before the trade deadline passes, and right now they're trying to figure out where they can get one.
The team inquired about Minnesota Twins reliever Glen Perkins but was turned away, reports Jim Bowden of ESPN (subscription required).
Bowden then goes on to say that the team is monitoring the health of Jesse Crain, who is arguably the best middle reliever available.
The Reds haven't made any serious moves yet, which is why they need to figure out where they can buy a bullpen arm.
The Milwaukee Brewers have two of the best relievers on the market this year in Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford.
The two studs are available, and many teams have been inquiring about them. Considering how few teams are selling and how many need help, the Brew Crew can ask for quite a bit of talent in return for the services of K-Rod and Axford.
The biggest problem for the Brewers is that they don't want to sell themselves short and get less talent than they could.
The team needs to sit its executives down and figure out exactly how much they want for each guy, and they should be able to get it without a problem.
The Pittsburgh Pirates' biggest need is another bat, according to Jim Bowden of ESPN. However, Bowden says that the team is pursuing bench options and pitching at this time.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports also reported that the team is looking at Alex Rios and Alexei Ramirez, showing that the team could be after a bat as well.
The Bucs are looking into essentially every need right now, but no decision appears to have been made regarding which need is the greatest.
The team is far from perfect but owns the second-best record in the NL. Unfortunately, it is also second in the NL Central, and would have to play in the wild-card game if the season ended today.
The Pirates need to make some moves, but the question remains, which moves to make?
The St. Louis Cardinals own the best record in MLB, but the team is still looking to improve its pitching. However, it needs to pick between a starting pitcher and a reliever.
David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com listed the Cards among the leaders for Matt Garza, so they could pursue a starting pitcher.
Jim Bowden of ESPN (subscription required) reported that the team inquired about Glen Perkins and Jesse Crain in the bullpen.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports even noted that the team had a scout present when Jake Peavy pitched.
The Cardinals are all over the place when it comes to which pitchers to look at, and the team needs to figure out its main need.
The Arizona Diamondbacks need a closer. Badly.
The team has had a few different guys closing games this season, including J.J. Putz as of late. However, Putz saved only five games in 10 opportunities, so he is probably done as a closer.
Jon Paul Morosi reported that the team could be involved in a potential mega-deal with the Brewers that would send both starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo and closer Francisco Rodriguez to Arizona.
K-Rod is one of the best closers on the market, but the D-backs would have to give up quite a few good prospects in order to acquire him.
The team could try to solve its closer issues internally or by trade, but the team needs to pick someone and stay with him.
The Colorado Rockies sit just four games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL West crown, but the team isn't thinking about adding a guy for a year or two to win the division.
The Rockies apparently believe that they are going to be among the top teams in the NL West for a long time and have no desire to waste prospects on guys who won't stick around.
If the team is looking for a controllable pitcher, then it greatly reduces the pool of pitchers it can go after. However, one of the top options is Bud Norris of the Houston Astros, who is under team control through the 2016 season.
The team doesn't have many options, but it still needs to figure out which pitcher it wants to pursue at the deadline.
The Los Angeles Dodgers started the year slowly but have made an improbable push to take the NL West lead by a half game over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
After trading for Ricky Nolasco, the team strengthened its starting rotation to help an offense that's red-hot.
The team has been playing well but might need a new closer to make it to the postseason.
Kenley Jansen is currently closing games for the team, posting an ERA of 2.23 and a WHIP of 0.93 while converting 11 saves.
Jansen has had a bit of experience closing games, but the team might not want a 25-year-old on the mound in late-September with its season on the line.
Danny Knobler of CBS Sports reported that the team is exploring other options at closer, including trading for the Milwaukee Brewers' Francisco Rodriguez, who has been on fire this year.
The San Diego Padres have a great trade chip in Chase Headley, but it remains unclear whether or not they are looking to trade their star third baseman.
If Headley were to become available, he would be the best corner infielder on the market.
After batting .286 with 31 home runs and 115 RBI last season, Headley won both the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger. He has the potential to be a star, but it's being wasted in San Diego.
The New York Yankees inquired about Headley and were turned away, according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman.
The Yanks are desperate for a third baseman like Headley and likely made a ridiculous offer for him. However, if the Padres aren't interested in what the Bronx Bombers have to offer, there might not be a team with enough pieces to acquire Headley.
Hunter Pence has become one of the most talked-about names at the MLB trade deadline over the last few seasons, moving from Houston to Philadelphia to San Francisco.
Pence could be up for grabs once again this year, as the Giants find themselves in the basement of the NL West and essentially out of playoff contention.
Pence will be a free agent after this season, but before he hits the free agency pool, the Giants could trade him for a solid prospect or two since the market for bats is so weak.
According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, teams have interest in Pence, but he is not available right now. However, if San Francisco decides it's out of the playoff hunt and wants to sell, Pence is good enough that a deal could be made in less than a day to the right buyer.
The Giants aren't interested in trading Pence right now, but that could be the right move for the team.