It’s going to be tough to make it into the postseason this year, but making some moves at the trade deadline could aid a team’s chances.
Which contender needs the most help at the deadline?
The Atlanta Braves and Oakland Athletics are the only two division leaders with leads of five games or more. Nearly every division in the league is going to be highly contested until the last couple of days of the regular season. Some contenders still have a lot of work to do.
A few contenders need act before the deadline—July 31 at 4 p.m. ET—or they could be watching at home instead of taking the field in October. Teams should be looking to fill voids and add depth before it’s too late.
Here’s a look at two franchises that are within reach of first place in their respective divisions and should address their needs before Wednesday afternoon.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Starting Pitching
Arizona's starting rotation hasn’t been very sharp this season. Entering Wednesday, the team’s starters are 32-38 with a 3.99 ERA. The rotation ranks 17th in baseball in terms of WAR on the season, per FanGraphs. The team has suffered some injuries to its starters, but there have also been some weak links.
Ian Kennedy, for example, has been a disaster in 2013. While he won 21 games in 2011 and 15 games a year ago, he might not reach double digits before the conclusion of the regular season. Through 21 starts, he’s 3-8 with a 5.23 ERA—which would be his worst ERA since getting dealt to the Snakes in December 2009.
Trevor Cahill and Brandon McCarthy are both on the disabled list at the moment but had ERAs of 4.66 and 4.99, respectively, before getting sidelined—and each has started at least 11 games. If the Diamondbacks are going to catch the Dodgers in the NL West or clinch one of the two wild-card spots, they need to add someone before the deadline.
Arizona is reportedly shopping Kennedy, according to Peter Gammons of MLB Network. Getting a struggling pitcher off the team might help, but it would just create another void. The team has been interested in acquiring Jeff Samardzija, but Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports the price tag is very high.
Baltimore Orioles: Designated Hitter
The designated hitter spot in the Orioles lineup has failed to be very productive this season. Baltimore DHs are hitting .221/.268/.376 with 16 home runs and 45 RBI this year, and they have the third-worst WAR in the AL, according to FanGraphs. The Orioles need an upgrade to make up ground in the AL East.
Nolan Reimold is hitting .195/.250/.336 with five homers and 12 RBI through 40 games this year and was recently placed on the disabled list, per the team’s official Twitter account. Chris Dickerson hit .245/.274/.412 with four homers and 13 RBI through 46 games before getting designated for assignment, per the team.
The Orioles have been using Henry Urrutia for the last week or so, and he’s done a solid job at holding down the fort. Through eight games, he’s hitting .321/.321/.393 with one extra-base hit, a run and a pair of RBI. It’s still up for debate, however, if he’s going to be able help Baltimore make the playoffs.
Michael Young seems like an obvious trade target for Baltimore, and Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun thinks he makes the most sense—but he also notes the team isn’t sure he’s really available and has yet to make a push to land him. He’d be a good DH and backup infielder down the stretch for the O’s.
All statistics in this article were obtained via FanGraphs unless otherwise noted and are current through July 29. All injury information was obtained via Baseball Prospectus, and all contract information was obtained via Cot’s Contracts.