MLB Trade Deadline 2013: Teams That Must Make Deals to Bolster Playoff Hopes

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJuly 31, 2013

Jul 29, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez (left) is greeted at home plate by second baseman Neil Walker (18) after Alvarez hit a three run home run against the St. Louis Cardinals during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

With the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline mere hours away, Wednesday is essentially the last chance for teams to improve for the remainder of the season.

Because of that, there figures to be plenty of movement as teams posture for a run at the playoffs.

There may not be a ton of marquee names available at this point, but there are several impact players who are potentially available and could add to a winning cause. There are deals to be made for nearly every team in the postseason hunt.

Here are three teams in particular that must make some noise by the trade deadline in order to make the playoffs and succeed once they get there.


Pittsburgh Pirates

Unless something catastrophic happens down the stretch, it looks as though the Pittsburgh Pirates are a near-lock to reach the playoffs for the first time since 1992.

The Bucs hold a large lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL wild-card race and they continue to play great team baseball. However, it's hard to imagine the Pirates making much noise in October unless they make an addition or two prior to the deadline.

As great as Pittsburgh has been this season, it has really defied the odds in a lot of ways. Although the likes of A.J. Burnett, Jeff Locke, Francisco Liriano and Gerrit Cole have put up fine numbers to this point, the Pirates' rotation is suspect, to say the least.

Both Burnett and Liriano are volatile pitchers who can go downhill at any time, which isn't a recipe for success come playoff time. Locke and Cole, on the other hand, are inexperienced pitchers who could run into trouble due to their lack of strikeout ability.

The Pirates could certainly use another bat in the lineup as well to protect Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez. The obvious position of need is shortstop where Clint Barmes and Jody Mercer have split time.

First base is also a possibility since Garrett Jones is an inconsistent producer who might be better off platooning with Jose Tabata in right field.

Whatever the case, the Pirates likely need at least one bat, as well as a starting pitcher in order to emerge out of the wide-open National League.


New York Yankees

The New York Yankees have endured a miserable, injury-riddled season, but they are still just a couple games out in the American League wild card race.

With key players such as Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson and even Kevin Youkilis missing the bulk of the season due to injury, it's truly remarkable that the Yanks have been able to keep their collective heads above water. With Jeter back and Granderson on the verge of returning, things are suddenly looking up in the Bronx.

Even so, the Yankees need to make at least one more move in order to compete with the likes of the Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers in the wild-card race. New York already made one significant addition in the form of left fielder Alfonso Soriano, and he paid big dividends in a win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday.

New York's offense has been so anemic, though, that another bat is paramount at this point.

The target position is likely third base where A-Rod's status is very much in the air.

According to Andrew Marchand of, a fine and suspension from MLB could soon be handed down to Rodriguez for his involvement with a Biogenesis lab as he continues to rehab a quad injury.

Since the Yankees don't seem to be in much of a hurry to get him back in the lineup, he may not even play this year. If that is the case, then New York needs a suitable replacement at the hot corner.


Cleveland Indians

The Cleveland Indians were one of this season's biggest surprises early on. Although they eventually fell off, the Tribe is back in business.

The Indians are in the thick of the AL wild-card race and they still stand a chance to win the AL Central. The Indians made a lot of moves this past offseason and they seem to be paying off, but one or two more are still needed in order to make a playoff run.

Cleveland's starting rotation has been very good, but there is reason to be concerned.

Justin Masterson is the staff ace, and while he has had an excellent year, he has never been in this position. Ubaldo Jimenez, Corey Kluber and Scott Kazmir all have excellent stuff; however, they are prone to walking batters, which is a big detriment come playoff time. The Indians would be wise to bring in another arm, preferably one with postseason experience.

The Indians also have a lot of offensive depth, but they don't really have a go-to bat in the middle of their order.

Cleveland gets it done with a by-committee approach, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it always helps to have a consistent source of offense. Right field is one position that could use an upgrade as Drew Stubbs has had an up-and-down year. The Indians could also bring in a new DH with Jason Giambi hitting below .200.

The Indians are very close to achieving something special, particularly with manager Terry Francona leading the way, but some outside help is necessary.


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