We’re just over a week away from the moment we get to judge teams for the deals they did and didn’t make before Major League Baseball’s July 31 trade deadline.
There have already been a few moves completed in recent weeks, and as the clock continues to wind down, there are bound to be many more. Sure, there might be a bunch of random players on the move in the coming week, but an All-Star or two could definitely have a new home come August as well.
The goal for each team has to be doing everything possible to improve for the short- and long-term. That’s not an easy task, but those who can accomplish it will likely end up receiving an “A” grade for their decisions.
So, what does an organization have to do in order to get a good grade on its July 31 report card?
All statistics in this article were obtained via FanGraphs unless otherwise noted. All injury information was obtained via Baseball Prospectus and all contract information was obtained via Cot’s Contracts.
Baltimore Orioles: Find a Way to Land a DH
The Orioles are hoping that prospect Henry Urrutia can help aid the team’s biggest weakness on offense, designated hitter. Wilson Betemit was supposed to be the guy playing that role each day, but he’s been out for the entire season. Nolan Reimold hit .195/.250/.336 through 40 games and is on the disabled list now too.
It would be easier if Baltimore could just go out and acquire a bat instead of relying on Urrutia, but Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports the team might not have any more money left after acquiring Scott Feldman from the Chicago Cubs. If Urrutia doesn’t make a smooth transition, Baltimore better start looking for additional cash to spend.
Boston Red Sox: Trade for Clay Buchholz’s Replacement
Boston can’t afford to go much longer without a definitive No. 1 pitcher in the starting rotation. Buchholz is the team’s best pitcher, but he hasn’t taken the mound for the Red Sox since June 8. He went to go see Dr. James Andrews recently, and Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe said that he’s been cleared to pitch.
But as Abraham notes, there’s still no timetable for Buchholz to throw in a minor league game. One would presume that it’s going to be at least a month before the righty takes the mound for the Red Sox. That being said, the team needs to go out and acquire a starting pitcher to replace Buchholz atop the rotation.
New York Yankees: Fix Left Side of Infield
With Derek Jeter playing in just one game for the Yankees this season and Alex Rodriguez still waiting to make his 2013 debut, the left side of the infield for the Bronx Bombers has been embarrassing. Jayson Nix has played in 73 games this year—44 at short—but is hitting just .236/.303/.304 with two homers and 20 RBI.
David Adams has been the primary guy at third base this season, but he’s hitting below the Mendoza Line. The Yankees need to start thinking about the future at those two positions. New York needs to do whatever it takes to upgrade the left side of the infield in case A-Rod doesn’t play at all and Jeter keeps getting injured.
Tampa Bay Rays: Improve Behind the Plate
The Rays are close to taking over the top spot in the AL East, but in order to make sure they hang on to the lead, they need a new catcher. Jose Molina may be good at working with the pitching staff, but the guy is only hitting .238/.291/.314 with two home runs and 12 RBI through 63 games this season.
Tampa Bay can’t go with Jose Lobaton because he hasn’t been much better. The backup catcher is hitting .259/.321/.376 with four home runs and 20 RBI in 60 games. The team has to improve behind the plate to guarantee a playoff berth, even if it means giving up a top prospect.
Toronto Blue Jays: Trade One of the Stars
It’s about time for the Blue Jays to pack it in. Toronto did a lot of work over the winter to try to compile a set of players who would take it to the playoffs. Things just didn’t work out, as some players got hurt and others didn’t perform well. Now, it’s time start selling some of the higher paid players.
The best move that Toronto could make would be to deal Josh Johnson, but Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reports that that doesn’t appear likely. Johnson is having a poor year, as he’s 1-6 with a 5.66 ERA in 13 starts, but could be valuable to a team down the stretch. The Blue Jays could get at least one good prospect in exchange for him.
Chicago White Sox: Sell Veterans for Prospects
It only seems like a matter of time before the White Sox start trading a bunch of their veteran talent to contending teams in exchange for prospects. Chicago has a lot of attractive players, including Jake Peavy, Jesse Crain, Alex Rios and Alexei Ramirez, among others on the active roster.
Chicago isn’t going to be a contending team in 2013 or in the next few years. The White Sox should be focused on rebuilding for the future. They should be able to land some big-name prospects if they find the right suitor for the aforementioned stars. Boosting the minor league system should be the main priority right now.
Cleveland Indians: Trade Ubaldo Jimenez, Promote Young Pitchers
The Indians could end up being a playoff team this season, but Ubaldo Jimenez is only hurting the team’s chances. He’s 7-5 on the season with a 4.49 ERA. While he doesn’t have as much value as he once did, it seems clear that the right-hander needs a change of scenery. He hasn’t been good since coming to Cleveland.
Cleveland should look to its younger pitchers in the minors to fill the void in the rotation. It would be wise of the Indians to throw Trevor Bauer and Danny Salazar into the mix. They both have a lot of potential and would most likely be more valuable down the stretch than having Jimenez pitch every fifth day.
Detroit Tigers: Acquire Bullpen Help
The Tigers have a strong enough team to make the postseason without doing much at the deadline, but it would be a great idea to add some relievers to their bullpen. Danny Knobler of CBS Sports notes that Detroit has been calling a variety of teams with hopes of adding a reliever toward the trade deadline.
Joaquin Benoit has done a great job since being named the closer, but the Tigers must find a guy or two who can help out in the earlier innings. They have Drew Smyly and Bruce Rodon as reliable guys, but that’s not going to be enough. They are going to need three or four good options before Benoit down the stretch.
Kansas City Royals: Trade Ervin Santana, Address Infield
Kansas City has to know that it’s a long shot to make the postseason this year. If the team were to put Ervin Santana on the trade market, it could potentially get another team’s top prospect in return. The right-hander is 6-6 on the season with a 3.18 ERA through 19 starts. His services would be best used elsewhere.
The Royals also need to figure out what the future infield is going to look like. Right now, it shouldn’t include Mike Moustakas. The third baseman is hitting .221/.279/.339 in 84 games this season. The same goes for Chris Getz at second, who’s hitting .208/.274/.278 in 49 games. Kansas City needs better infielders.
Minnesota Twins: Move Justin Morneau and Glen Perkins
The Twins have nothing to play for this season, so it makes plenty of sense to sell some of the stars on the active roster. Justin Morneau would be one of the biggest names on the market if Minnesota were looking to deal him. The left-handed hitter is batting .270/.329/.400 with seven homers and 52 RBI in 90 games this season.
Glen Perkins is having a great year with the Twins, but doesn’t really serve any long-term purpose. His value is at its peak right now, and it would be wise of the club to sell high on him. The left-handed closer has 24 saves this season in 38 appearances. He’s allowed just seven runs in 38 innings of work.
Houston Astros: Trade Bud Norris for Prospects
Bud Norris is sure to be one of the names on the trade market this summer, especially now that Matt Garza has been dealt. The right-hander is 6-9 with a 3.91 ERA for the Astros this season through 20 starts. He could definitely be a solid option in the middle of the rotation for a contending team.
Brian McTaggert of MLB.com writes that trade talks for Norris will likely heat up now that he’s arguably the top available starter. By trading the righty, Houston would be improving its up-and-coming farm system. The Astros don't need Norris for the rest of the season, so there’s really no point in keeping him on the team.
Los Angeles Angels: Acquire Starting Pitching
It appears a bit far-fetched that the Angels would be able to play well enough in the coming months in order to make the playoffs. Los Angeles has been very disappointing this year, and the starting pitching has been one of the biggest problems. The rotation ranks 23rd in baseball, according to FanGraphs.
Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson are the only two starters the Angels need to hang on to past this season. Jason Vargas (6-4, 3.65 ERA) has solid trade value, but the other guys who have started for Los Angeles in 2013 have been far from impressive. The Angels must revamp their starting rotation.
Oakland Athletics: Address Second Base Situation
Oakland’s biggest weakness this season has been its production at second base. The A’s currently have the 24th-best group of second basemen this season, according to FanGraphs. Eric Sogard has been the primary guy in 2013, but he’s only hitting .264/.333/.370 on the year with two home runs and 15 RBI.
The A’s have brought up Grant Green, one of the team’s top prospects, who should see significant time at second base. But if he isn’t ready for the big leagues just yet, the A’s could be in trouble. It would make sense to trade for a reliable second baseman just in case things don’t go the way Oakland hopes they will.
Seattle Mariners: Trade for Outfielders
Raul Ibanez is the only outfielder playing well for the Mariners this season. Michael Morse has been hurt, and the rest of the players roaming Safeco Field have been far from impressive. Dustin Ackley, who lost his job at second base earlier in the year, has been forced to play center field. That’s how bad things have gotten.
The Mariners are currently 11 games back in the division, but they could the tide if they can get their hands on a good outfielder. At the moment, though, Seattle has the third-worst outfield in baseball. It needs some new outfielders to make a late push for the playoffs.
Texas Rangers: Address Outfield Situation
The Rangers have a strong team, but have big holes in left and center field. David Murphy and Leonys Martin are basically platoon players, and the pair could hurt the team’s chances at making the postseason. Texas has the 13th-best outfield in terms of WAR, but most of that is because of Nelson Cruz.
It doesn’t seem feasible that the Rangers would acquire two outfielders, but adding one would probably get the job done. Texas already used some prospects to acquire Matt Garza, but it still has enough talent to make another deal. The offense would definitely improve by making a trade to replace one of the two incumbents.
Atlanta Braves: Acquire Left-Handed Reliever
The Braves definitely need a left-handed reliever at the deadline. Mark Bowman of MLB.com writes that the team has its eyes on Mike Gonzalez, James Russell and Wesley Wright. I recently wrote that Russell is a great fit for Atlanta.
Luis Avilan is the only lefty in Atlanta’s bullpen at the moment. The Braves usually have Eric O’Flaherty and Jonny Venters, but both are out for the season. Adding another lefty would take some of the pressure off Avilan and give manager Fredi Gonzalez more options after the starter exits the game.
Miami Marlins: Trade Giancarlo Stanton for Prospects
Just do it already, Jeffrey Loria. Giancarlo Stanton deserves to be playing for a team that's at least going to contend for a playoff spot. Instead, he’s stuck playing for the Marlins, who aren’t going to be playing meaningful baseball for about another two years or so.
Stanton was injured for a portion of this season and is hitting .239/.353/.439 with 10 home runs and 28 RBI through 55 games. If Loria is worried about not getting enough in return, he shouldn’t be. The Marlins could get a handful of major league-ready top prospects in exchange for Stanton. It’s a deal worth doing.
New York Mets: Sell High on Marlon Byrd
Marlon Byrd has had an outstanding year for the Mets, and it’s time for the team to sell high on him. Through 83 games this season, the outfielder is hitting .276/.321/.522 with 17 home runs and 56 RBI. This is coming from a guy who barely hit over the Mendoza Line last season—albeit he played 47 games.
Jorge Castillo of The Star-Ledger reports that the Mets are going to need to be “overwhelmed” in order to trade Byrd. Byrd has had a great year, but I’m not exactly sure what they are expecting to get in return for him. He could bring back a good prospect or two, but nothing crazy.
Philadelphia Phillies: Hold a Fire Sale
It’s time for the Phillies to give up on the 2013 season and start to rebuild for the future. Philadelphia can start building around the likes of Domonic Brown and Cole Hamels, but the veterans on the team should be traded. There’s no point in keeping them with hopes of contending for this season and 2014.
The Phillies would get a ton in return for Cliff Lee. Lee is one of the top pitchers in baseball, and there’s no doubt that Philadelphia would receive several top prospects.
The same goes for Michael Young. While he won’t bring back the same amount of talent, teams will be willing to pay for his versatility and leadership.
Washington Nationals: Acquire Starting Pitching Help
The Nationals are fading in the NL East and need to act quickly to prevent a further slide. Washington has really gotten a lot of poor outings from its starters this season, most notably Dan Haren. Haren is 4-11 on the season and currently has a 5.79 ERA through 18 starts.
It’s not too late to make a strong push toward the postseason, but the Nationals won’t go anywhere with Haren in the back of the rotation. With Ross Detwiler out with a strained lower back, the need for another starter is even more apparent. Washington has the prospects to land one of the bigger names on the market.
Chicago Cubs: Keep Dealing for Prospects
The Cubs started making moves a few weeks ago when they shipped Scott Feldman off to the Orioles. Then, on Monday, they traded away Matt Garza for a bunch of good prospects. However, they shouldn't stop now.
Chicago’s minor league system is improving rapidly, and while the team’s World Series drought is bound to continue for a few more years, it shouldn’t be much longer until it is a contender. The Cubs should keep trading their veterans to further enhance the collection of prospects they have in the minors.
Cincinnati Reds: Trade for Bullpen Help
The Cincinnati bullpen is currently the 21st-best in baseball this season in terms of WAR. While guys like Aroldis Chapman and Sam LeCure have been good for most of the year, the team still needs some help. The Reds truly need a lefty, since Manny Parra is the lone option aside from Chapman.
Parra has been good but not great in 2013. In 24 innings across 28 appearances, the 30-year-old has allowed 10 runs and struck out 32 batters. There should be a bunch of lefty relievers on the market in the next week, and the Reds need to jump at the opportunity to land one. Doing so would greatly help their playoff hopes.
Milwaukee Brewers: Trade Yovani Gallardo, Prepare for 2014
Milwaukee is well out of the race in the NL Central and really just needs to start preparing for next season. In 2014, it’ll have a healthy and free Ryan Braun, and many of its banged-up stars will be back as well.
It also makes sense to get rid of Yovani Gallardo while the Brewers still can. He isn’t having the best season, as he’s 8-8 with a 4.58 ERA in 21 starts, but the team could still get a lot for him. The ideal trade would have Milwaukee receiving two upper-level prospects who are on the brink of playing in the major leagues.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Acquire First Baseman and Shortstop
The combination of Garrett Jones and Gaby Sanchez is not going to help the Pirates make it into the postseason. The two first basemen have failed to produce at the plate, and Pittsburgh needs to find someone who can. Jones is hitting .259/.309/.445 through 89 games, while Sanchez is hitting .226/.349/.401 through 85 games.
The Pirates could also use an upgrade at shortstop, where Clint Barmes has played for most of the season. Through 67 games in 2013, he is hitting .222/.263/.293 with two home runs and 10 RBI. With two obvious weaknesses in the team’s offense, there’s no way general manager Neal Huntington can stand pat come July 31.
St. Louis Cardinals: Find a New Shortstop
The Cardinals are really missing Rafael Furcal, who’s been out for the entire season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Pete Kozma has tried to be a good replacement, but he just isn’t getting the job done. While he’s very good defensively, Kozma has struggled a ton at the plate this year.
Through 88 games, Kozma is hitting .237/.281/.295 with one home run and 30 RBI. Is his defense worth keeping him in the lineup? There may not be a lot of shortstops on the market in the next week or so, but if there’s a good one, St. Louis has to go out and trade for him. It can’t play Kozma the rest of 2013 and into the postseason.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Trade for Non-Rental Starter
The Diamondbacks need to address their starting rotation at the deadline, and it appears that they’re either going to have to call up a top prospect or trade a few young players to acquire a proven starter. But Arizona cannot afford to pick up someone whose contract is set to expire at the end of the season.
The Diamondbacks need to be looking for a starter who can aid their chances of getting into the playoffs this year and in the future. Before Matt Garza was traded, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reported that he could’ve gone to Arizona. While his contract is up after 2013, that speaks to the kind of pitcher the club wants.
Colorado Rockies: Trade Michael Cuddyer for Future Bats
It doesn’t seem like the Rockies would give up Michael Cuddyer, who’s having a breakout season with the team. But that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t. The NL’s starting designated hitter this season is hitting .331/.393/.565 with 16 home runs and 56 RBI through 78 games.
There’s no question that by trading Cuddyer, Colorado would get a handful of interesting prospects in return. The Rockies have some good players in their minor league system, but could use a top prospect on the right side of the infield. That could be a weakness in the near future.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Acquire Bullpen Help
Los Angeles only has the 20th-best bullpen in baseball this season as ranked by WAR.The Dodgers are still very much in the playoff hunt, but will need to add a reliever or two in order to secure their spot in the postseason. It will be difficult to make it in if the team doesn’t make a move before July 31.
Francisco Rodriguez of the Brewers is one of the relievers the Dodgers are looking at, according to Danny Knobler of CBS Sports. K-Rod is no stranger to pitching in Los Angeles, as he was fantastic during his years with the Angels. The right-hander has allowed just three earned runs in 24.2 innings this season.
San Diego Padres: Deal Chase Headley for Prospects
The Padres need to give up on 2013 and look ahead to the future. Chase Headley is under contract through the rest of the season, but the organization would be better off getting rid of him now. Sure, his trade stock isn’t that great since he’s hitting .235/.333/.364 with seven home runs and 32 through 85 games, but San Diego could still get a lot.
Knobler said last week that the Padres would listen on offers for Headley. The Yankees gave them a call, but were turned away, per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. If a team is willing to give San Diego a bunch of good prospects, the front office needs to pull the trigger on a deal.
San Francisco Giants: Find Suitor for Tim Lincecum, Acquire Outfielder
Tim Lincecum didn’t pitch very well in his most recent start after throwing a no-hitter. The righty gave up eight earned runs in 3.2 innings of work on Monday against the Reds. While his trade value isn’t as high as it was around a week ago, the Giants should still find a way to get his contract off the payroll.
They could also use a rental outfielder to help aid weaknesses in left and center field. San Francisco has been playing a bunch of players there while Angel Pagan has been injured. Guys like Kensuke Tanaka probably aren’t going to help the team make a big run in the second half of the season.