The MLB All-Star break has come and gone, and already we've seen a pair of significant trades made since the start of the second half.
The Chicago Cubs swung a deal with the Chicago White Sox for left-hander Jose Quintana, while the Washington Nationals picked up veteran relievers Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson from the Oakland Athletics.
That's likely just the tip of the iceberg in what figures to be another busy trade season leading up to the July 31 non-waiver deadline.
With so many teams around the .500 mark and that extra wild-card spot up for grabs, it will be a seller's market.
As for our weekly rankings, everyone is still chasing the Los Angeles Dodgers, as they've won nine in a row and gone a ridiculous 29-4 overall in their last 33 games.
Remember, these rankings are fluid, and teams rise and fall based on where they were ranked the previous week. If a team keeps winning, it will keep climbing—it's as simple as that.
With that in mind, here's a look at where all 30 teams stand:
Chicago Cubs (Up 5 Spots)
With one eye on the present and another on the near future, the Cubs landed the controllable arm they've been searching for when they shipped a package of four prospects—headlined by Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease—to the crosstown White Sox for Jose Quintana.
The 28-year-old immediately helps a starting rotation that has been plagued by inconsistency this season, while also possessing a team-friendly deal that will pay him roughly $30 million through the 2020 season.
Quintana has had an up-and-down year after a terrific 2016 season, but he was at his best in his Cubs debut Sunday, allowing three hits over seven scoreless innings while striking out a season-high 12 batters.
That helped lead the Cubs to a sweep of the Baltimore Orioles as they started the second half on a much-needed high note.
How much more the Cubs decide to do between now and the trade deadline remains to be seen, as the front office could instead bank on in-house improvements to play a significant role.
"We need to play well coming out of the gates here, and we'll assess what we're trying to do in large part based on how we play and where we are in the standings, and how realistic we think a World Series run is this year," team president Theo Epstein told reporters. "Everything is still on the table for this year."
Getting Kyle Hendricks back healthy should also provide a significant boost. He'll make another rehab start Monday and could be ready to return this coming weekend if all goes well.
Oakland Athletics (Up 5 Spots)
The Athletics could slide toward the bottom of the rankings in the weeks to come. After trading relievers Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to the Nationals over the weekend, vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane told reporters the A's are committed to rebuilding.
That could mean pulling the trigger on trading ace Sonny Gray if the right offer comes along.
Breakout slugger Yonder Alonso is set to hit free agency at season's end, while veterans Jed Lowrie and Santiago Casilla could also be of interest to a contender, so those three figure to see their names pop up on the trade block as well.
A series sweep of the Cleveland Indians coming out of the All-Star break is enough for Oakland to climb five spots in this week's rankings.
As the veteran talent on the roster gets whittled away and more prospects get the call in the weeks to come, they could wind up trending in the opposite direction.
The franchise finally seems to have a long-term plan, though.
Minnesota Twins (Down 4 Spots)
The Minnesota Twins are now 7-11 in their last 18 games after dropping a series to the Houston Astros over the weekend.
Luck appears to be catching up to them, as they sport a minus-65 run differential that is by far the worst of any team with a winning record.
How they play over the next week or so will likely determine how they proceed at the trade deadline.
While buying in any significant capacity is unlikely, they could opt to sell if things don't improve.
Starter Ervin Santana and closer Brandon Kintzler—who both made the trip to Miami for the All-Star Game—would generate plenty of interest if made available.
For now, the Twins sit just 1.5 games back in the AL Central and in the AL wild-card race, so standing pat or making a few small-scale additions might be the most likely outcome.
The New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers await this coming week.
Kansas City Royals (Down 4 Spots)
The Kansas City Royals rattled off an impressive 18-6 stretch of games before getting swept by the Dodgers to close out the first half.
That losing streak extended to five games before they finally won Sunday to avoid being swept by the Texas Rangers, but it appears the wind has been taken out of their sails.
That being said, a .500 record is good enough to leave them two games back in the AL Central and AL wild-card standings. They likely won't be the aggressive sellers many expected them to become when they got off to a slow start.
Regardless, this franchise is headed for a transition period with All-Stars Mike Moustakas and Jason Vargas as well as lineup staples Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain all headed for free agency.
In the long run, they might have been better off playing poorly this year and flipping those guys to add some much-needed prospect talent to one of the thinnest farm systems in the league.
They owe it to the fanbase to make one last push with this current core if they're within striking distance, though.
St. Louis Cardinals (Down 4 Spots)
The Cubs landed Jose Quintana and the Milwaukee Brewers are kicking the tires on a potential pitching addition, so the St. Louis Cardinals might have their work cut out to keep pace in the NL Central.
After dropping two of three to the Pittsburgh Pirates last week, they're now 6.5 games behind the Brewers and 7.5 games back in the wild-card standings.
Kolten Wong and Kevin Siegrist both returned from the disabled list to kick off the second half, and lefty reliever Zach Duke—who underwent Tommy John surgery last October—is close to returning as well.
Whether those in-house additions are enough to provide a spark remains to be seen, but it's unlikely the team will do anything drastic at the trade deadline.
A big weekend series with the rival Cubs at Wrigley Field this coming week will give them an opportunity to build momentum. However, it could also prove to be another nail in the coffin of what has been a disappointing season thus far.
MVPs of the Week
AL MVP: David Price, BOS
Stats: 1 GS, W, 8.0 IP, 7 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K
The recently concluded four-game series between the Boston Red Sox and Yankees featured plenty of impressive individual pitching performances, including terrific outings from both Chris Sale (ND, 7.2 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 13 K) and CC Sabathia (W, 6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER).
However, it was David Price who turned in the shiniest gem Sunday night.
With eight scoreless innings in the series finale, Price has now gone 3-1 with a 1.91 ERA and 1.06 WHIP while rattling off five straight quality starts.
Manager John Farrell had nothing but good things to say following another strong outing:
"It starts with David Price. That was just a great game from him. He was outstanding—powerful from start to finish, a lot of strikes, very good command. It was impressive to see how he maintained his stuff throughout. Fastball to both sides of the plate. I thought he had a really good cutter. On a night when we needed a bounce-back win, it was a big performance by David."
If Price and Sale can continue to pitch like the co-aces everyone expected, the Red Sox could really make some noise in the second half.
NL MVP: Anthony Rendon, WAS
Stats: 7-for-11, 1 2B, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 4 R
Fresh off an All-Star Game snub, Anthony Rendon came out swinging to start the second half.
Nolan Arenado, Jake Lamb and Justin Turner got the nod as third basemen on the NL side, and it's tough to dispute their respective candidacies.
However, Rendon was hitting .304/.407/.552 with 16 home runs and 54 RBI at the break, so it's hard to argue he didn't belong in the Midsummer Classic.
At any rate, those numbers got a little better thanks to a huge three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds as he helped lead the Nationals to a sweep.
Stats of the Week
Let's dive into some of the better nuggets from around the league.
We'll start with Cleveland Indians outfielder Abraham Almonte, who hit a home run that brought about some controversy Sunday:
No doubt a well-struck ball, but did it really go as far as Statcast says?
Abraham Almonte (7) off RHP Simon Castro (1) - 109.3 mph, 26 degrees (505 ft Home Run) 83.2 mph Slider #Indians @ #Athletics (T9) https://t.co/pBDUkI7dze2017-7-16 23:12:08
For what it's worth, ESPN's Home Run Tracker pegged it at 467 feet. Still the longest of the week, but not quite the record-setter we've been led to believe. I'll let you decide who to believe.
Even though it was an abridged week, Los Angeles Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger found time to etch his name in the record books once again.
He's the first Dodgers rookie ever to hit for the cycle, the first Dodgers player of any kind to do it since Orlando Hudson in 2009 and the first rookie league-wide to do it since Brandon Barnes (HOU) in 2013.
A quick note on Jose Quintana's sparkling debut with the Cubs:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
via @EliasSports Quintana is the 2nd pitcher since 1900 to strike out 10+ in consecutive games for different teams (Randy Johnson in 1998) https://t.co/2H52zJOo0r2017-7-16 20:08:10
Being mentioned in the same sentence as "Randy Johnson" and "strikeouts" is rarely a bad thing.
Jackie Bradley Jr. made one of the best catches of the season Sunday night when he robbed Aaron Judge of a home run.
That led to this statistical leaderboard you don't see very often:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
Players with Multiple HR Robberies This Season Jackie Bradley Jr. Marcell Ozuna Mookie Betts Adam Jones Melky Cabrera Guillermo Heredia https://t.co/80rG74e2lO2017-7-17 03:19:16
The Yankees-Red Sox rivalry appears to be alive and well once again, and that's always good for the sport as a whole.
Must-See Upcoming Matchup
Jameson Taillon vs. Jimmy Nelson (Thursday)
It's a relatively slow week for head-to-head matchups between contenders, so we're going to go outside the box a bit this week with our "must-see matchup" to shine some light on two terrific young pitchers.
For the Pirates, Jameson Taillon has been an inspirational story as he was diagnosed with testicular cancer during spring training but was back on a big league mound just six weeks after undergoing surgery.
His return has been more than a feel-good story, though.
After a strong rookie season, the 25-year-old has been the Pirates' best starter since returning, going 5-3 with a 3.06 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 67.2 innings.
Opposing him for the Brewers will be right-hander Jimmy Nelson.
Nelson led the NL in losses (16), walks (86) and hit batters (17) last season, and he wasn't guaranteed a spot in the Milwaukee rotation heading into spring training.
However, he's been the ace of a surprisingly strong Brewers staff and is having perhaps the most under-the-radar breakout season of anyone in baseball.
The 28-year-old is 8-4 with a 3.27 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 127 strikeouts in 115.2 innings of work.
Neither pitcher is a household name, and they don't get a ton of attention on the national stage, but it's a matchup worth tuning in for if you want to see two pitchers on the rise.
Looking for someone to yell at about where your favorite team was slotted in the latest rankings? I'll meet you in the comments section.