It is becoming harder and harder to differentiate between buyers and sellers at the trade deadline in Major League Baseball. Through early July, everyone assumed the likes of Boston and Tampa Bay would be ditching assets left and right.
However, at the All-Star break, neither sits more than 9.5 games out of first place, making the AL East the tightest division in baseball from top to bottom. The Rays have won 13 of their past 18 ballgames, which is an arbitrary sample size, but it speaks to the mini-run Tampa Bay has been on recently.
The AL East standings may not matter to Atlanta Braves fans, but they should. The fact that the entire division is within striking distance of the top spot means losing teams may be less inclined to deal away anything by the trade deadline. They may instead be looking to add pieces.
Whereas starters like Jon Lester and David Price seemed assured of moving on just a couple weeks ago, moving either guy now seems like a questionable proposition. The same goes for pieces Atlanta has been eyeing, like utility bat Ben Zobrist or lefty reliever Andrew Miller.
The Braves should still be looking to add such players, as it would certainly help their quest to win the NL East. However, a trading partner's reluctance to part with an asset has to factor into how heavily Atlanta should pursue said asset.
With that playing a part in the Braves' trade deadline shopping list, here is a list of who Atlanta's top targets should be. Also factoring into the rankings are salary considerations, flexibility and, of course, need.