As the summer heats up, the MLB trade season ramps up, too. Which teams will be buyers? Which teams will be sellers?
Some teams are obvious sellers.
The Pirates are perennial cost-cutters. The Astros are a rebuilding team. The Cubs are a struggling club saddled with a high payroll. The Orioles are hanging in there. However, they figure to be in a similar spot as the Cubs before July 31. And then there's the poor Mets.
Some clubs may be surprise sellers, though. They could substantially shake things up over the next couple of months by moving players—not even marquee ones—who would help give buying teams the edge they need as the season heats up in its later months.
Here are five such clubs that could shake up the trade deadline if they elect to become sellers.
The Tampa Bay Rays are only three games out of first and right in the thick of things with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.
There is little reason to believe Tampa will fall woefully out of contention. However, they may still be sellers.
Rays' GM Andrew Friedman is always pushing the envelope of frugality, and, even with a flurry of cost-cutting transactions this past winter, there is always room for another savvy move with this thrifty St. Petersburg front office.
The Rays won't move Evan Longoria or David Price, but pretty much no one else is safe.
Next up the trade block? Perhaps B.J. Upton or even James Shields.
The Minnesota Twins are, at 21-37, the worst team in baseball, 12.5 games behind the first-place Cleveland Indians.
This is not exactly where many saw the Twins—or the Indians for that matter—more than two months into the season.
The Twins have been undone by injuries, bad luck and uninspired play. They could easily bounce back next year with a clean slate and a fresh attitude to win their division.
So, while 2011 is a lost cause, the team's overall future doesn't seem to be. While the Twins will be sellers, they'll be cautious and likely moderate sellers.
In that vein, Delmon Young, who is entering his final year of arbitration, might be on the trading block, as well as Jason Kubel, who is in a contract year. ESPN's Doug Mittler explored both of these possibilities.
It's no secret the Los Angeles Dodgers are in financial trouble right now.
But the Dodgers are also struggling to score runs this year. The Buster Posey-less San Francisco Giants are having their offensive woes as well, but at least they have the pitching to counter that situation.
The Dodgers do not have that luxury.
The latest buzz out of Chavez Ravine is that Dodgers' GM Ned Colletti would like to lock up both Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp to long-term deals, according to SI's Jon Heyman.
Colletti would need new ownership to get such a deal done—there's no way this kind of stuff happens while Frank McCourt is still around.
If the Dodgers' ownership situation is still unresolved around the trade deadline, teams will certainly ask about Ethier and Kemp, the former in particular.
It would be surprising to see MLB let L.A., a marquee franchise, totally slide off the deep end, but stranger things have happened.
For the right price, Colletti may very well pull the trigger on a midsummer deal, despite his desires otherwise.
The Colorado Rockies are not a prototypical selling team. They are a decent team in a relatively open NL West.
However, the rash of injuries that have hit the Rockies' starting rotation this year might be too much for the team to overcome, even with one of their classic strong finishes of recent seasons.
What's tough for Colorado is that there isn't a whole lot for them to cut, which is why they are only potential sellers.
The Rockies have their stars in Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez and Ubaldo Jimenez. After those guys, though, they lack players with significant trade value.
The most likely moves for Colorado would be a deal involving an outfielder or two, as it is a position at which they have relative depth. ESPN's Jason A. Churchill argued Dexter Fowler, Ryan Spilborghs or Seth Smith could each be a likely candidate to be moved.
Like their fellow NL West brethren, the San Diego Padres ride a fine line between buying and selling.
Yes, the departure of Adrian Gonzalez left a massive void in San Diego, however—at this juncture at least—the Padres are relevant, only 6.5 games behind first-place San Francisco.
Jason Bartlett may draw some attention, as Zach Links of MLBTradeRumors noted.
However, the biggest chip the Padres hold is unquestionably stud closer Heath Bell, who will be a free agent after this season. ESPN's Doug Mittler cited reports that both the Cardinals and Rangers have a strong interest in Bell.
Even if the Padres aren't woefully out of contention, they would be smart to deal Bell anyway. They have terrific depth in their bullpen. Setup man Mike Adams would figure to inherit Bell's role in the event of his departure.
There are many strong arms in the Padres' bullpen that trading Bell wouldn't ruin San Diego's future plans. What's more, if the Padres are patient with Bell, a buying team figures to give San Diego a sweet deal.