2014 MLB Trade Deadline

Early 'Buyer or Seller' Predictions for All 30 MLB Teams at the Trade Deadline

Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistMay 6, 2014

Early 'Buyer or Seller' Predictions for All 30 MLB Teams at the Trade Deadline

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    Brad White/Getty Images

    Baseball's rumor mill is just beginning to spin as we enter the second month of the 2014 season, and with the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline only a blip on the horizon at the moment, more rumors will sprout up with each passing day.

    Over the next 12 weeks, injuries to key contributors, prospects bursting onto the scene and teams near the bottom of the standings all but throwing in the towel will dictate which squads truly are buyers and sellers—but it's never too early to take a look at which role each team projects to occupy.

    We'll take a look at what the rumor mill has told us thus far, some obvious (and not so obvious) team needs and how potential free agents could figure into the mix as we get closer to the most exciting time of the year for a baseball fan—the heart of trade season.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Buyers

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    Associated Press

    2014 Record: 11-24 (11.5 GB in NL West)

    Key Free Agents: SP Brandon McCarthy, RP J.J. Putz

    What They Should Be: Sellers

     

    What happens in Arizona as the trade deadline nears depends on who is calling the shots. If it's current general manager Kevin Towers (pictured, right), the Diamondbacks will stand relatively pat, perhaps unloading a few pieces in exchange for some youngsters with upside. 

    If Towers is dismissed, however, the new GM could come in and clean house, listening to offers on anyone not named Archie Bradley, Paul Goldschmidt or Braden Shipley.

    It's a question that nobody, including Towers, can answer.

    "When you spend $110 million and you're 9-22 at the end of April, I wouldn't be happy, either," he explained to MLB.com's Barry M. Bloom. "I'm also disappointed, but I still believe in the core group. I think they will get better. Will I be around to see it? I don't know."

    Regardless of who is in charge, the Diamondbacks need to address an underachieving rotation that has baseball's highest ERA (5.06) and the second-fewest quality starts on the season (10), one ahead of Baltimore.

    One of the team's two young shortstops, either Didi Gregorius or Chris Owings, could be used in a package to acquire that pitching help—or the team could look to use one at shortstop and the other at second base, which would make veteran second baseman Aaron Hill an attractive option for contenders in need of an upgrade at the position.

Atlanta Braves: Buyers

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    2014 Record: 17-14 (0.5 GB in NL East)

    Key Free Agents: SP Aaron Harang, C Gerald Laird, SP Ervin Santana

    What They Should Be: Buyers 

     

    Atlanta would love to be getting more production out of its offense, which has been among baseball's most anemic through the first five weeks of the regular season. With both Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton continuing to struggle, neither one is movable thanks to the money left on their deals.

    That limits Atlanta's search for an upgrade at one of the positions to a pending free agent. Making a move to acquire a versatile veteran like Chicago's Emilio Bonifacio, who can play both second base and center field, would be a perfect fit, though the Braves will likely have competition for his services.

    Adding another left-handed reliever to the bullpen should also be on GM Frank Wren's radar. Luis Avilan, the lone southpaw in the bullpen, has been awful this season, while Jordan Walden, typically tough against left-handed batters, has had a rough time against them so far in 2014.

Baltimore Orioles: Sellers

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    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    2014 Record: 15-14 (Tied for first in AL East)

    Key Free Agents: OF/DH Nelson Cruz, SS J.J. Hardy, OF Nick Markakis (Team Option)

    What They Should Be: Sellers

     

    That Baltimore is tied for first place in the AL East has less to do with the Orioles' on-field play as it does the parity that exists in the division—but the team simply doesn't have the pitching that it needs to remain a contender throughout the season.

    After Chris Tillman and Bud Norris, the rotation is full of question marks, as the group ranks 22nd in ERA (4.28) and 29th in WHIP (1.47). Ubaldo Jimenez, expected to serve as the team's No. 2 starter behind Tillman, has delivered only one quality start over his first six appearances in an Orioles uniform.

    Sure, prospect Kevin Gausman and former two-time AL Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana are biding their time in the minor leagues, but expecting either one to be a game-changer when they arrive is setting oneself up for disappointment.

    It's for that reason that the Orioles would be foolish not to explore unloading a pending free agent like Nelson Cruz, who ranks second in the American League in RBI (29) and third in home runs (nine), slugging percentage (.596) and OPS (.965), as the deadline draws near—especially if the team doesn't believe that it will be able to re-sign him after the season. 

Boston Red Sox: Buyers

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    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    2014 Record: 15-17 (1.5 GB in AL East)

    Key Free Agents: OF Jonny Gomes, SP Jake Peavy, C A.J. Pierzynski, RP Koji Uehara

    What They Should Be: Buyers

     

    With one of the deepest and most talented farm systems in the game, Boston can either promote from within to plug holes or use those players as trade chips to go out and acquire the reinforcements that it needs.

    So far, the two biggest areas of concern are in center field, where Jackie Bradley Jr. and Grady Sizemore have been mediocre at the plate and in the field (minus-3 DRS and minus-28.2 UZR/150) and at the back-end of the rotation, where Clay Buchholz (pictured) and Felix Doubront have a combined 5.67 ERA.

    Upgrades for the back of the rotation will ultimately prove to be easier—and less costly—for the defending world champions to acquire.

Chicago Cubs: Sellers

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    2014 Record: 11-19 (9.5 GB in NL Central)

    Key Free Agents: IF/OF Emilio Bonifacio, SP Jason Hammel, OF Nate Schierholtz, SP Carlos Villanueva

    What They Should Be: Sellers 

     

    While all of Chicago's pending free agents figure to be in play as the trade deadline nears, GM Jed Hoyer sits with one of baseball's most valuable trade chips in starter Jeff Samardzija (pictured).

    The team's attempts to work out an extension with the 29-year-old have been well-chronicled, and after hearing Samardzija's recent comments to CSN Chicago's Patrick Mooney, well, the team should be starting to line up possible deals for him now:

    I’ve said it before: Personally, numbers and money don’t really drive me. What does drive me is protecting and setting up the players behind me, the future generations, so that I’m not signing any of these crummy early deals for seven or eight years.

    When you’re hitting your prime and you’re hitting free agency — like it’s supposed to be done — then that’s the way it sets up for guys behind you. I definitely have a responsibility to the players that are younger than me and approaching arbitration or approaching free agency to keep the numbers where they should be.

    And rising as they should be, in accordance to the economy and the state of the game. That’s more important than anything else — what you owe the players that did it for you and then the players behind you.

    In other words, don't expect him to sign an extension like the six-year, $105 million deal that Homer Bailey got from Cincinnati earlier this year. Samardzija believes he's worth more on the open market—and he's probably right.

    Chicago has a number of high-profile prospects within shouting distance of the major leagues, but by moving Samardzija, the team should be able to add some of the young pitching that it needs to build a future rotation around.

Chicago White Sox: Buyers

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    2014 Record: 16-17 (5 GB in AL Central)

    Key Free Agents: 1B/DH Adam Dunn, RP Matt Lindstrom

    What They Should Be: Sellers 

     

    Chicago GM Rick Hahn did a remarkable job of upgrading his club over the winter, adding cornerstone pieces like first baseman Jose Abreu and center fielder Adam Eaton to the mix, which along with his late-season acquisitions of infielder Leury Garcia and outfielder Avisail Garcia in 2013, kicked his team's rebuilding process into overdrive.

    That process continues in 2014, with veteran slugger Adam Dunn, overachieving SS Alexei Ramirez and underwhelming-but-talented second baseman Gordon Beckham all potential trade chips as the trade deadline nears, something with which Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal agrees.

     

Cincinnati Reds: Buyers

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    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    2014 Record: 15-16 (6 GB in NL Central)

    Key Free Agents: None

    What They Should Be: Buyers

     

    Cincinnati's biggest acquisitions this season will come from the disabled list, which is where, among others, the team finds its starting right fielder (Jay Bruce, pictured), starting catcher (Devin Mesoraco), two-fifths of its starting rotation (Tony Cingrani and Mat Latos) and closer Aroldis Chapman.

    It's never been owner Bob Castellini's style to trade away prospects for high-priced veterans and there's no reason to expect that to change in 2014, especially with so much talent expected to rejoin the team before the trade deadline rolls around.

    That's not to say that GM Walt Jocketty won't be busy as the deadline approaches, and minor tweaks to the team's bench or bullpen are possible, but those expecting a big-time move in Cincinnati are going to be disappointed.

Cleveland Indians: Sellers

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    2014 Record: 13-19 (7.5 GB in AL Central)

    Key Free Agents: SS Asdrubal Cabrera, SP Justin Masterson

    What They Should Be: Sellers 

     

    After a spirited run to the playoffs a season ago, things have come crashing back down to earth in Cleveland this season.

    Not only have questions about the team's ability to effectively replace Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir in the rotation come to fruition, but the ace of the staff, Justin Masterson, has seen a precipitous drop in his velocity. This is a major concern for Cleveland, as Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan notes:

    Last April, no pitcher threw more fastballs than Masterson's 448. His 240 four-seamers averaged 93.76 mph. His 208 sinkers burrowed in at 91.63 mph. Considering how unique he is – Masterson throws only fastballs and sliders, and two-pitch starters are rarities – he relies on velocity for effectiveness.

    This season, no pitcher has thrown more fastballs than Masterson's 379. Here's the problem: His four-seamer is down 3.6 mph and his sinker is missing 2.59. Of the 105 starters who pitched last April and this April, Masterson's average fastball velocity this year of 89.42 mph ranks 87th – behind soft tossers Kevin Slowey, Dillon Gee, Kyle Kendrick and Joe Saunders, and 3.35 mph behind where it was last season.

    Masterson swears he's not hurt. Pitching coach Mickey Callaway pointed to mechanical issues after Masterson's second start. Either way, he's throwing nearly twice as many sinkers as he does four-seam fastballs, a demonstrable change from last April, when an uptick in velocity gave him the confidence to blow four-seamers past left-handers especially.

    If it's only a mechanical issue, chances are that another team believes it can fix what ails the 2013 All-Star. It's on GM Chris Antonetti to find that team—and get what he can for Masterson, who seems destined to test free agency at the end of the season.

    Also on his way out of town is former All-Star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, with top prospect Francisco Lindor ready to take over as the team's everyday shortstop. The return for Cabrera will be minimal at best, but getting something for him at the deadline is preferable to watching him leave for nothing as a free agent.

Colorado Rockies: Buyers

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    2014 Record: 20-14 (2 GB in NL West)

    Key Free Agents: RF Michael Cuddyer, SP Jorge De La Rosa

    What They Should Be: Sellers

     

    Colorado's offense has more than made up for a mediocre pitching staff over the early part of the season, and as long as the team's key pieces can stay healthy, there's no reason to expect that to change.

    Therein lies the rub, as none of Colorado's biggest bats (Michael Cuddyer, Carlos Gonzalez, Justin Morneau or Troy Tulowitzki) have track records of success when it comes to staying on the field, with Cuddyer (pictured) currently sidelined by a strained hamstring and Gonzalez playing with a sore knee.

    Cuddyer, 35, who led the National League with a .331 batting average in 2013, isn't getting any younger—and, as The Denver Post's Patrick Saunders noted recently, he isn't interested in talking about a new deal until after the season.

    The Rockies will look to add pieces to the rotation and/or bullpen as the trade deadline nears—but they should be looking to unload Cuddyer instead, taking the best package of talent that they can get for someone whose best years are behind him.

Detroit Tigers: Buyers

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    Duane Burleson/Getty Images

    2014 Record: 18-9 (First place in AL Central)

    Key Free Agents: OF Torii Hunter, C/DH Victor Martinez, SP Max Scherzer

    What They Should Be: Buyers 

     

    Detroit is built to win now, and while it would be fascinating to see what kind of a return the team could get for one of its pending free agents at the trade deadline—especially Max Scherzer (pictured), the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner—the Tigers will be looking to add to the roster at the deadline, not take away from it.

    Finding an upgrade at shortstop and continuing to strengthen the team's bullpen figure to be the two primary goals for GM Dave Dombrowski, who may be able to achieve the first part well before the trade deadline arrives by signing free agent Stephen Drew shortly after the June draft.

Houston Astros: Sellers

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    2014 Record: 10-22 (9 GB in AL West)

    Key Free Agents: RP Jesse Crain, RP/SP Jerome Williams

    What They Should Be: Sellers 

     

    It figures to be relatively quiet in Houston as the trade deadline nears, with the Astros continuing the rebuilding process and GM Jeff Luhnow having already traded the bulk of his valuable veteran pieces over the past few seasons.

    If he can prove that he's healthy, reliever Jesse Crain (pictured), who has yet to pitch in 2014, could be dealt, and you can't discount a possible deal involving DH Chris Carter, especially given the dearth of right-handed power that typically becomes available.

    Neither of those players is going to command much in a trade, but at this point in the rebuild, the Astros need to continue stockpiling talent with which they can piece together what they hope will be a contending roster in a few years.

Kansas City Royals: Buyers

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    Ed Zurga/Getty Images

    2014 Record: 14-17 (6 GB in AL Central)

    Key Free Agents: OF Norichika Aoki, RP Luke Hochevar, SP James Shields

    What They Should Be: Sellers

     

    Picked my many (myself included) to win the AL Central in 2014, the Kansas City Royals have been a disappointment early in 2014 thanks to an inconsistent offense and a surprisingly mediocre bullpen, both of which have undermined some strong performances by the team's starting rotation.

    GM Dayton Moore will look to make improvements where he can as the trade deadline nears (especially at third base, if it's possible), but what Moore should be doing is looking to sell high on James Shields, a free agent at the end of the season who, much like Ervin Santana, is going to be too expensive for the team to re-sign after the season.

    There's no way that the Royals will be able to recoup the kind of talent that they traded to Tampa Bay in exchange for Shields, a package that included 2013 AL Rookie of the Year Wil Myers, but the Royals should still be able to land a solid package of talent in exchange for the veteran right-hander.

Los Angeles Angels: Buyers

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    2014 Record: 16-15 (2.5 GB in AL West)

    Key Free Agents: OF/DH Raul Ibanez

    What They Should Be: Buyers 

     

    The pressure is on for the Los Angeles Angels to finally reach the playoffs for the first time in the Mike Trout era, and GM Jerry DiPoto has some work to do if that's going to become a reality.

    Specifically, DiPoto needs to find a reliable, shut-down option in the ninth inning, where neither Ernesto Frieri (pictured) or Joe Smith are the team's long-term answers. That's easier said than done, considering the bleak state of the team's farm system, but relievers are typically one of the easier things to find as the trade deadline draws near. 

Los Angeles Dodgers: Buyers

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    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    2014 Record: 18-15 (3.5 GB in NL West)

    Key Free Agents: SP Josh Beckett, RP Chris Perez, SS/3B Hanley Ramirez

    What They Should Be: Buyers

     

    During a recent appearance on MLB Network's High Heat with Christopher Russo, MLB Network Insider Peter Gammons reported that the cream of the Los Angeles Dodgers' farm system—outfielder Joc Pederson, shortstop Corey Seager and left-handed pitcher Julio Urias—are off-limits in any trade.

    While the Dodgers have plenty of intriguing minor league prospects after that trio, their reluctance to move top-end talent will make acquiring major upgrades near the deadline more difficult than it would be otherwise.

    The good news, however, is that the Dodgers don't need to make major upgrades—leaving GM Ned Colletti (pictured) to make only minor tweaks to the roster, perhaps in the bullpen, which typically costs far less than additions to the everyday lineup or starting rotation do.

Miami Marlins: Sellers

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    2014 Record: 17-15 (1 GB in NL East)

    Key Free Agents: 2B Rafael Furcal, RP Carlos Marmol, 3B Casey McGehee, RP Kevin Slowey

    What They Should Be: Sellers

     

    Things have gone about as well as anyone could have hoped for in Miami this season, with the Marlins playing winning baseball and showing that, just maybe, the team isn't as far away from returning to the land of contenders as many believed to be the case heading into the season.

    That the Marlins are within a game of first place in the NL East speaks more to the parity of the division than the level of talent on Miami's major league roster, and regardless of where the team sits in the standings as the trade deadline nears, the team should look to unload some veteran pieces.

    That includes third baseman Casey McGehee (pictured), who has enjoyed a career resurgence in South Florida and is tied for 11th in the National League with 21 RBI and first baseman Garrett Jones, who has rebounded from a slow start to become a solid contributor for the club as well. 

Milwaukee Brewers: Buyers

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    Joe Sargent/Getty Images

    2014 Record: 22-11 (First place in NL Central)

    Key Free Agents: RP Tom Gorzelanny, 1B Mark Reynolds, RP Francisco Rodriguez

    What They Should Be: Buyers

     

    No team in baseball has been a bigger surprise this season than the Milwaukee Brewers, who have jumped out to a commanding five-game lead over St. Louis in the NL Central.

    The biggest issue for the Brewers is a lack of organizational depth, which puts the team in poor position to replace a key player should one go down for an extended period of time with injury, whether the replacement comes from in-house or outside the organization.

    But building organizational depth takes time and isn't something that teams can typically accomplish at the trade deadline without trading a valuable piece—and the Brewers simply can't afford to do that.

    If there's one area the team could look to upgrade at the deadline, it's at first base, where Martin Maldonado, Lyle Overbay and Mark Reynolds have combined to hit only .215/.291/.421. Whether any obvious upgrades at the position become available, however, is another story altogether.

Minnesota Twins: Sellers

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    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    2014 Record: 15-15 (4.5 GB in AL Central)

    Key Free Agents: SP Kevin Correia, OF Jason Kubel, C Kurt Suzuki, OF Josh Willingham

    What They Should Be: Sellers 

     

    While the Minnesota Twins' record and place in the standings give the impression that they are a potential playoff team in 2014, the reality is that the Twins are anything but a contender.

    Despite adding Phil Hughes and Ricky Nolasco (pictured) to the team's rotation over the winter, Minnesota's starters have, once again, been among the worst in baseball this season:

    StatisticTwins MarkAL RankMLB Rank
    W9T-11thT-20th
    ERA5.3215th29th
    WHIP1.5415th30th
    IP171.012th27th
    K9415th30th

    The Twins aren't about to trade away their most promising prospects to acquire the pitching they need, but by moving some of their pending free agents, they may be able to acquire a back-end starter that represents an improvement over what they currently have.

New York Mets: Buyers

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    Andrew Burton/Getty Images

    2014 Record: 16-15 (1.5 GB in NL East)

    Key Free Agents: RP Kyle Farnsworth, RP Daisuke Matsuzaka, RP Jose Valverde, OF Chris Young

    What They Should Be: Buyers

     

    Despite getting minimal production from Curtis Granderson, the team's biggest winter addition, the New York Mets remain within striking distance of the top spot in the NL East.

    Mets general manager Sandy Alderson (pictured) recently told Tyler Kepner of the The New York Times that he's not only optimistic about his team's chances the rest of the way, but that he's in a position to make an impact acquisition—even if that means taking on a hefty contract.

    "The fact that we have the record we have, and the month we've had, without the offensive contributions, gives me optimism as opposed to pessimism," Alderson said. "We have the authority to go higher (in payroll) if it’s necessary at the trade deadline. I’m not worried about that at all."

    That the Mets are able and willing to add payroll makes them one of the more intriguing teams to watch as the trade deadline approaches.

    A highly paid player that nobody is even considering as a possible trade candidate now could become available the closer we get to the end of July—and the Mets may be one of the few teams in a position to acquire him, whoever he is. In a perfect world, that player will either be an outfielder, a first baseman or a shortstop, all three areas of need for the Metropolitans.

New York Yankees: Buyers

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    Andy Marlin/Getty Images

    2014 Record: 16-15 (Tied for first place in AL East)

    Key Free Agents: SP Hiroki Kuroda, SS Derek Jeter, IF/OF Kelly Johnson, 2B Brian Roberts, RP David Robertson, OF/DH Alfonso Soriano, OF Ichiro Suzuki

    What They Should Be: Sellers

     

    No team in baseball faces the kind of scrutiny or pressure that the New York Yankees do when it comes to contending for a World Series title, which is a yearly requirement by the Steinbrenner family in the Bronx.

    While New York went out and spent nearly half-a-billion dollars this winter to improve the roster, the team's starting rotation is a major concern. Ivan Nova is out for the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery, Michael Pineda is injured once again and neither Hiroki Kuroda or CC Sabathia has been very good.

    Whether the Yankees have the pitching needed to go on a deep playoff run is a serious concern, and with the exception of catching prospects J.R. Murphy and Gary Sanchez, the team doesn't have much in the way of young talent to trade in order to acquire the pitching reinforcements that it needs.

    That's why I believe the Yankees should sell at the deadline—starting with any player not named Jeter that is set to hit free agency when the season comes to an endand continue to listen to offers on both Murphy and Sanchez, both blocked (at least short-term) by Brian McCann.

    But they won't, because it's not the Yankee way.

Oakland Athletics: Buyers

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    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    2014 Record: 19-13 (First place in AL West)

    Key Free Agents: RP Luke Gregerson, SS Jed Lowrie, RP Jim Johnson

    What They Should Be: Buyers

     

    Oakland could use a major boost at first base, where Daric Barton, Alberto Callaspo and Brandon Moss (pictured) have combined to hit only .183/.273/.217, but the A's remain in first place despite that lack of production and will face competition for the best first basemen available from teams like Milwaukee.

    Adding additional pieces to the bullpen could also be in order for the A's, though since being removed from his job as the team's primary closer, Jim Johnson has bounced back. He's thrown 10.1 straight scoreless innings, whiffing nine batters and surrendering just seven hits and one walk.

    Sean Doolittle continues to struggle, allowing seven earned runs over his last nine innings of work, while Luke Gregerson has been up-and-down over his last nine innings, allowing four earned runs. 

Philadelphia Phillies: Buyers

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    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    2014 Record: 15-15 (2 GB in NL East)

    Key Free Agents: SP Kyle Kendrick

    What They Should Be: Sellers

     

    Fans and pundits alike have been calling for Philadelphia GM Ruben Amaro Jr. (pictured) to break up his aging, veteran roster for years—and those calls have fallen on deaf ears.

    There's absolutely no reason to think that things will go differently as the trade deadline approaches this season, especially if the Phillies are still playing .500 baseball (or close to it).

    After third base prospect Maikel Franco, Philadelphia's farm system is severely lacking in prospects that project to make a significant impact once they reach the major leagues—and only offers more proof that any meaningful injection of youth into the major league club is going to come from outside the organization.

    Finally putting ace Cliff Lee on the block—and then pulling the trigger on a deal—would go a long way towards securing a brighter future in Philadelphia. Unfortunately for Phillies fans, that's not going to happen.

    Moving A.J. Burnett would be another logical option, but, as noted by The Philadelphia Inquirer's Matt Gelb shortly after he signed with the Phillies this winter, Burnett has a limited no-trade clause, one that really isn't all that limited.

    "The limited no-trade clause is important because should the Phillies fall from contention this summer, they will look to move Burnett," Gelb wrote. "The Phillies typically negotiate no-trade clauses that allow their players to select up to 21 teams to which they would not accept a trade."

    If that's accurate, and Burnett can block trades to all but eight teams, it's going to be nearly impossible for the Phillies to move him—not that I expect Amaro to be willing to do so in the first place.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Sellers

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    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    2014 Record: 12-19 (9.5 GB in NL Central)

    Key Free Agents: RP Jason Grilli, SP Francisco Liriano, C Russell Martin, SP Wandy Rodriguez, SP Edinson Volquez

    What They Should Be: Sellers

     

    Pittsburgh has seemingly blown its chance to build upon a remarkable 2013 campaign that saw the Pirates become the darlings of the baseball world, with fans of nearly every team rooting them on as they made their first playoff appearance in two decades.

    With many key pieces of the roster set to hit free agency—and no indication that the Pirates are going to move on from their typically frugal ways and spend the money it would take to keep the likes of Francisco Liriano (pictured), Jason Grilli or Russell Martin in the fold—unloading them all at the trade deadline makes sense.

    Pittsburgh has needs in the rotation, at shortstop, behind the plate and perhaps at first base, where the jury is still out on whether Ike Davis is part of the club's long-term future.

San Diego Padres: Sellers

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    Denis Poroy/Getty Images

    2014 Record: 15-18 (6.5 GB in NL West)

    Key Free Agents: OF Chris Denorfia, 3B Chase Headley, SP Josh Johnson, OF Seth Smith

    What They Should Be: Sellers

     

    That San Diego is only three games under .500 despite having the most anemic offense in baseball (the Padres are the only team yet to score 100 runs on the season) is a testament to how fantastic the team's pitching has been—and how much work the Padres have left to do when it comes to the lineup.

    It's no secret at this point that the Padres blew their chance to cash in big on third baseman Chase Headley, who should have been traded immediately following his breakout 2012 season, when he led the National League with 115 RBI and was suddenly considered one of the game's premier players at the hot corner.

    Headley has struggled mightily since then, both in terms of staying healthy and producing at the plate, hitting .242/.336/390 with 15 home runs and 57 RBI over the 161 games that he's played since.

    Moving Headley, along with other expendable soon-to-be free agents like Chris Denorfia and Seth Smith isn't going to bring San Diego a wealth of talent—but it will at least send the message to the rest of the roster that there are consequences for failing to produce.

San Francisco Giants: Buyers

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    2014 Record: 21-11 (First place in NL West)

    Key Free Agents: OF Michael Morse, RP Sergio Romo, 3B Pablo Sandoval, SP Ryan Vogelsong

    What They Should Be: Both

     

    Pablo Sandoval is seeking a five-year deal in excess of $100 million, according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman and other reports, a request that the San Francisco Giants aren't going to meet and a revelation that you'd think would make him a candidate to be traded at the deadline.

    But given his exorbitant asking price, lack of production this season (.173/.252/.284, 2 HR, 6 RBI) and a lack of other options for the club at the position, it's unlikely that Sandoval will be going anywhere at the end of July.

    That said, it certainly won't hurt for GM Brian Sabean to see if there's any interest in him on the market and what teams are willing to give up in exchange for a two-month window to determine whether Sandoval could be a fit on their clubs going forward.

    With the Giants built to win now, Sabean figures to be one of the more active GMs in baseball as the deadline approaches, looking for ways to make sure that his club stays ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado Rockies in a hotly contested NL West race.

    Adding another starting pitcher to the mix has to be a consideration, given the struggles of Tim Lincecum and Ryan Vogelsong at the back-end of the rotation, though whether the Giants will be willing to part with their better prospects to acquire that arm is far from a sure thing.

    One name to keep an eye on is David Price, who MLB Network Insider Peter Gammons believes could be the team's primary focus as the deadline draws near—though Sabean would essentially have to gut the farm system in order to acquire him from Tampa Bay.

Seattle Mariners: Buyers

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    2014 Record: 15-15 (3 GB in AL West)

    Key Free Agents: DH/1B Corey Hart, SP Chris Young

    What They Should Be: Buyers

     

    If Seattle misses out on the playoffs, GM Jack Zduriencik will probably be seeking new employment for the 2015 season and rightly so. After spending more than a quarter-of-a-billion dollars to sign second baseman Robinson Cano, first baseman/designated hitter Corey Hart and relief pitcher Fernando Rodney, expectations are high in the Emerald City.

    With the recent return of Hisashi Iwakuma and the eventual returns of James Paxton and Taijuan Walker, the Mariners rotation will once again be one of baseball's most formidable—leaving Zduriencik to focus his attention on the lineup, which remains a mess.

    Finding upgrades in center field and at shortstop, where Abraham Almonte and Brad Miller (pictured) both have batting averages below .200 and an OPS below .600, should be first on Zduriencik's agenda.

St. Louis Cardinals: Buyers

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    Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

    2014 Record: 17-16 (5 GB in NL Central)

    Key Free Agents: 2B Mark Ellis

    What They Should Be: Sellers

     

    Crazy as it sounds, the St. Louis Cardinals should look to unload some of their talent at the deadline, whether it be from the major league roster or the farm system, which remains one of the deepest and most talented in baseball.

    Simply put, the Cardinals have too many players and not enough spots in which to play them, specifically in the outfield, where top prospect Oscar Taveras is coming close to forcing his way onto the major league roster.

    In an ideal world, the team would sell high on Matt Holliday, who isn't getting any younger and eats up a large chunk of the team's payroll, but the veteran has a full no-trade clause and isn't going anywhere.

    As I speculated on Sunday, perhaps a deal involving the struggling Allen Craig (pictured), who can play a corner outfield spot or first base—and has a team-friendly contract—would make the most sense for the Cardinals, who, aside from underachievers at the plate, are a team without a gaping hole to fill.

Tampa Bay Rays: Sellers

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    2014 Record: 15-17 (1.5 GB in AL East)

    Key Free Agents: SP Erik Bedard

    What They Should Be: Sellers

     

    Tampa Bay's rotation has been decimated by injuries, and while the Rays have hung in with the rest of the AL East, they could just as easily win the division as they could finish in last place due to their starters.

    That's why two of the premier baseball minds around—ESPN's Buster Olney (subscription required) and the legendary Peter Gammons—believe the Rays should try to maximize David Price's value at the July 31 trade deadline so that they can restock their farm system on the fly.

    Olney, in a recent insiders-only column, opined that the Los Angeles Dodgers could make a play for Price, while Gammons pointed to another team in the NL West—the San Francisco Giants—while a guest with Christopher Russo on MLB Network's High Heat.

    Like it or not, 2014 was more than likely the last season that Price was going to spend in Tampa Bay, with the 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner heading into his final year of arbitration and too expensive for the financially strapped franchise to keep.

    Moving him at the trade deadline, when GM Andrew Friedman can command a higher asking price as teams would have Price for two pennant races instead of one, makes a lot of sense.

Texas Rangers: Buyers

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    Rick Yeatts/Getty Images

    2014 Record: 17-15 (2 GB in AL West)

    Key Free Agents: SP Colby Lewis, C Geovany Soto

    What They Should Be: Buyers 

     

    Texas needs pitching, both in the starting rotation and the bullpen. Yu Darvish (pictured), Martin Perez and Robbie Ross have been solid as starters, while Jason Frasor, Joakim Soria and Aaron Poreda have held their own in the bullpen.

    If the Rangers want to aim high, they could try and make a run at Tampa Bay's David Price, with enough in the farm system to make a deal happen, or they could look for a back-of-the-rotation type, someone who would cost less and perhaps allow them to use some additional resources to bolster the bullpen.

    Either way, GM Jon Daniels' gaze will be firmly affixed to the pitcher's mound at Globe Life Park as the trade deadline draws near.

Toronto Blue Jays: Sellers

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    Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    2014 Record: 15-17 (1.5 GB in AL East)

    Key Free Agents: OF Melky Cabrera, RP Casey Janssen, OF Colby Rasmus

    What They Should Be: Sellers

     

    Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos (pictured, right) squandered much of the team's farm system before the 2013 season began, trading for big names like R.A. Dickey (pictured, left), Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson.

    Things haven't gone according to plan for the Blue Jays, who fell apart last year and did absolutely nothing to improve their roster over the winter. While the Jays are in the thick of the race for the AL East at the moment, the erratic performances that they have gotten from their starting pitchers and relievers leaves you wondering just how long that's going to last.

    Ownership doesn't seem likely to allow Anthopoulos to add salary to the payroll given what happened the last time they did just that, and that may force him to take a step back—and sell off some of his more expensive pieces—so that the Jays can reload this offseason.

Washington Nationals: Buyers

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    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    2014 Record: 18-14 (First place in NL East)

    Key Free Agents: OF Scott Hairston

    What They Should Be: Buyers 

     

    There isn't much that Washington needs, which should lead to a rather uneventful trade deadline for GM Mike Rizzo.

    Finding a better option than the disappointing Nate McLouth (pictured) in left field, who is filling in for the injured Bryce Harper, is something the GM should be focused on now, not later, but otherwise, look for Rizzo to keep an eye on the market and make strategic acqusitions when they present themselves.

     

    Unless otherwise noted, all statistics courtesy of FanGraphs and are current through May 5. All contract information courtesy of Cot's Contracts.

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