In the next few weeks, Major League Baseball will embark in trade frenzy. Every team must quickly decide whether they are a buyer or seller.
Do they have a chance to compete this year? Is it better to hold the pieces for a run next year? Should they sell any valuable assets to rebuild for years to come?
It is not easy for a general manager to make these decisions. As much as the team is concerned with on-field performance, it must also consider revenue and profit, and may have to dump larger contracts to be in the green.
The next fourteen slides will take a look at all thirty teams (by division) and evaluate whether they are buyers, holders, or sellers, along with some potential targets.
With the best record in the American League, you wouldn't expect the Rays to be a buyer come the trade deadline, but just like every other team, the Rays have a few gaping holes.
Sean Rodriguez and Carlos Pena are struggling at second and first base respectively, and the team could use some more offensive firepower. The Rays rank 19th in the MLB with a .258 average and only have hit 53 Home Runs.
Expect the team to target Paul Konerko from the Chicago White Sox at first base and David DeJesus from the Kansas City Royals for their outfield. Zobrist would move to second base, thus opening up a spot for DeJesus.
The Royals have plenty of young pitching, such as Andy Sonnanstine, to exchange in return.
Although the Yankees are tied with the Tampa Bay Rays, there is less urgency for the Bronx Bombers to make any big moves.
Unlike Tampa, the Yankees lead baseball with a .283 batting average. In addition, the team has a whopping 309 RBI. Hitting is not an issue for the team, and neither is pitching.
The team's rotation—CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, Phil Hughes, Javier Vasquez, and Andy Pettite—is perhaps the best in baseball. If the Yankees do make a move, it may be for a long reliever, to help ease the gap between the starting staff, Joba, and Rivera.
Although the Red Sox struggled in April and early May, the team has recently come back to postseason form.
Lead by the resurgence of David Ortiz and stellar hitting, the Red Sox have 311 RBI, the most in baseball. Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis have had All-Star seasons.
The only weakness the Red Sox have shown so far has been its pitching staff. Although the team has some of the best arms in baseball (Beckett, Lester, Lackey), the Red Sox have a team 4.20 ERA, 20th in the MLB.These pitchers have proved they can come through clutch in pressure situation, and the Boston faithful shouldn't panic over their staff.
Don't expect Boston to make any big moves, unless of course Adrian Gonzalez comes out on the market.
Who would have ever guessed that the Toronto Blue Jays would be hanging with the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays for the second year in a row?
The Blue Jays might only be 3.5 games out of the division but they must overcome three of the best teams in baseball to do so.
It may be tempting for the Blue Jays to sell some of their better assets, such as Jose Bautista, the surprise HR leader, but this young team will only improve in years to come. Likewise, the team has too difficult of a challenge to compete this year, so acquiring a pricey veteran is not the best move.
Expect the Blue Jays stick with the Rays, Yankees, or Red Sox until August then falter down the stretch.
In two to three years, it should be a different story.
This year, there was much optimism in Baltimore. The team appeared to have a good mix of younger players and veterans as well as two great young rookies in Brian Matsuz and Matt Weiters. As soon as the season started, Baltimore fans knew this would be a tough year.
Less than sixty games into the season, the Orioles are twenty games out of the AL East. Even if the team gets on a hot streak, this gap is nearly impossible to close.
The team is 28th in the league in RBI and has a 4.90 ERA.
Expect the Orioles to start rebuilding and acquire some young talented rookies. With Riemold, Markakis, Weiters, and Matsuz, the team may be competitive earlier than people think. That's why the team will look to shop Kevin Milwood, Ty Wigginton, and Garret Atkins.
The Orioles will have many potential trade partners for these players. Look for the Athletics, Braves, and the Mets to make offers.
The Twins are back—and better than ever.
Riding on the momentum of a new stadium, and strong records the past two seasons, the Twins are leading the AL Central by 5.5 games. Both the hitting and pitching staff are outperforming most of the American League.
Although the Twins lost Joe Nathan for the season, the bullpen has stepped in nicely to close the gap. John Rauch, the replacement closer, has done a great job and has made Nathan's loss minimal.
With a great lineup and solid pitching, the Twins won't be active in the trade market.
Q: What do you call a team with superb hitting but lackluster pitching?
A: A September bust.
Right now, the Detroit Tigers look like they are in good shape, but don't be fooled by the team's facade. The team recently cut its starting shortstop, Adam Everett, and has a pitching staff that ranks 26th in baseball in strike-out's.
The Tigers may try to make a big push for Roy Oswalt. Although Oswalt is 3-8 this season, he has not had much run support. His ERA is a respectable 3.22 and would provide experience to the Tigers staff.
The Windy City is known for three things—Obama, Oprah, and Baseball, but Chicago baseball may soon be forgotten the way the White Sox have been playing.
Even after acquiring Jake Peavy last season, the Chicago White Sox have struggled badly in 2010. The team is 28th in baseball with a .241 batting average, and has a 4.85 ERA, close to two points higher than the San Diego Padres. In other words, the team needs a quick shake-up, and it may as well start with Peavy and Konerko.
The White Sox will have many suitors for these two players and should be able to get some high-potential rookies. Look for the Angels or Reds to try to acquire Peavy, and for the Padres and Rays to look at Konerko.
Every year, it seems like the Kansas City Royals will have a breakout season, but it never seems to be the case.
This season is not any different. The Royals are 10.5 games out of the AL Central and don't have a lot of power. The team has some glimmers of hope (Billy Butler and Zach Greinke), but the rest of the roster is filled with busts and players who have not met expectations.
It must be frustrating for Kansas City fans to see the Royals once again be a seller but the team has no other choice. Its most valuable possessions come July will be David DeJesus and Jokim Soria.
DeJesus has had a surprisingly good season for the Royals and could really benefit a team that needs a consistent scrappy hitter. Some potential suitors include the Rays, Tigers, Mets, and Padres
Jokim Soria can help a team that needs help in the bullpen. It will take a lot for the Royals to trade him but they should do so, for the right offer. The Rockies and Braves will be interested.
Nothing has seemed to go the Indian's way so far this season. The team is ranked 26th in the majors in hitting, have the fewest saves in baseball, and lost its best player, Grady Sizemore, to a season ending injury.
There is no doubt Cleveland will look to be a seller during the trade deadline. One potential player on the market will be Travis Hafner. Hafner has struggled this season but is only three years removed from hitting 42 HRs and scoring over 115 RBI.
Maybe Hafner will have more luck in a new situation. Expect the Rays, Giants, and Padres to look closely at Hafner.
Who would have ever guessed the Texas Rangers would be leading the American League West coming into the middle of June?
This year, the team has relied on consistent hitting (its .273 batting average is the highest in baseball) and solid pitching (it ranks in the middle in most pitching categories) to get to the top of the division.
To ensure their success continues in August and September, expect the Rangers to acquire another pitcher for their rotation.
Some players that may be available for them include Kevin Milwood, Edwin Jackson, and possibly Cliff Lee.
Two weeks ago, I would have not put the LA Angels as buyers. The team has benefited from one of the most consistent pitching staffs in baseball and has plenty of power hitters. Kendry Morales' injury changes everything.
When Kendy Morales was put on the DL, the team lost one of its best power hitters. Morales was batting .290 with 11 HRs and 39 RBI. To keep the power, the Angels will look at trading for Paul Konerko.
Expect the AL West to be a wild race for the next four months.
The Oakland Athletics have been one of the surprise stories of the season. The team has struggled at the plate, but its pitching staff has kept the team only one game out of the AL West (as of June 9th).
Considering the AL West is wide open (besides Seattle of course), the Oakland A's will be tempted to make a big splash in the trade market. Their best option would be to trade for a Garret Atkins type player.
Atkins can provide the young team with an experienced veteran player and replace the inexperienced Cliff Pennington. Another viable option would be Hunter Pence from Houston to add some power and defense to the outfield.
Perhaps the biggest bust of the season has been the Seattle Mariners. Optimism was high in Seattle to start the season, and for good reason.
The team had Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez, the best 1-2 punch in baseball, and a line-up that includes Ichiro and Chone Figgins, two of the most exciting players in the game.
In the wide open AL West, Seattle has already begun to fall out of contention and is already eight games back in the division. In addition, the Mariners have a .250 average, 26th in the league.
The team may be the most active seller in baseball during the deadline, trying to get rid of some of its higher contracts.
Cliff Lee is definitely on the trading block, and since he is a free agent at the end of the season, it is unlikely he will return to Seattle.
Some possible players for Cliff Lee include the Mets, Red Sox, and Padres. The Mets and Red Sox may look to lock him off long-term whereas the Padres may take him for a few month loan.
As you can imagine, Roy Oswalt will be the centerpiece of tomorrow's slideshow.
Feel free to comment on this slideshow if you have any ideas of players I should include tomorrow.