MLB Trade Rumors: Updating All 30 Teams' Biggest Needs Post All-Star Break
At the beginning of June we explored how every team's trade needs have changed.
Fast-forward one month and we now have a clearer picture of how most teams will be approaching the trade deadline in terms of buying or selling, and what their priorities are regarding what they will seek in return for swapping their players.
As we get the second-half of the season underway, the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres, Washington Nationals, Florida Marlins, Houston Astros, Chicago Cubs, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins, Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners appear to be definite sellers in the next few weeks.
The Toronto Blue Jays, Tampa Bay Rays and New York Mets (with David Wright and Ike Davis hopefully returning soon) are likely headed in that same direction at some point in the next two weeks, however Wild Card hopes may have both teams still weighing their options.
The remainder of the league is still within striking distance of the division and Wild Card leaders, and will likely be searching for help to push them over the hump and into the postseason.
Without further ado, let's take a look at how each team's needs have changed post-All-Star break.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Relief Pitching
Arizona, currently just 3.5 games behind the division leading San Francisco Giants, are currently in the market for affordable relievers before this trade deadline.
More specifically, they want relievers who have yet to go to arbitration for the first time, or are signed to club-friendly deals long term.
A few names that have been connected to the Diamondbacks recently are Jason Isringhausen, Brad Ziegler and Kerry Wood (who is affordable, but is only signed for this season).
Atlanta Braves: Outfield Power Hitter
The Atlanta Braves are currently sitting just 3.5 games out of first place behind the Philadelphia Phillies and leading the Wild Card race.
Their biggest need before the trade deadline is an outfield bat.
Previously the Braves were rumored to be looking for a center fielder capable of batting lead off.
The Braves now also appear to be in on players such as Carlos Beltran, Hunter Pence, Michael Cuddyer and the Athletics trio of outfielders: Coco Crisp, David DeJesus and Josh Willingham.
Baltimore Orioles: Sell High Priced Aging Players, Clear Payroll for Offseason
The Baltimore Orioles are currently 18.5 games out of first place in the AL East.
The Orioles biggest need moving towards the deadline is to shed high cost veterans and acquire as much payroll flexibility heading into the offseason as possible.
Acquiring some young MLB-ready, or close to ready, prospects in the process will help rebuild them into a team ready to contend when MLB expands the playoffs to five teams in each league.
As previously suggested, the Orioles should use any payroll flexibility to make a competitive offer to free agent slugger, Prince Fielder.
Boston Red Sox: Righthanded Hitting Corner Outfielder
The Boston Red Sox, currently leading the AL East by a game over the New York Yankees, appear to be in the market for an outfield hitter.
The Red Sox would appear to also need rotation help, however they deny that they are in the market for a starting pitcher.
The Red Sox are one of the teams currently rumored to be interested in Carlos Beltran.
Chicago Cubs: Clear Salary and Acquire MLB-Ready Prospects
The Chicago Cubs won't be making any huge acquisitions before this year's trade deadline.
At 38-57 and 12 games out of first place in the NL Central, their biggest goal is to trade some of their high priced veterans in exchange for as much young talent as they can acquire.
The savings in payroll will be key to their offseason to push to try to sign either Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder to anchor their lineup and shakeup the balance of power in the NL Central.
Chicago White Sox: Trade for Relievers
The Chicago White Sox are currently one of the rare examples in which a team with a below .500 record is still somehow in contention.
The White Sox have an overall record of 46-49, but are just 4.5 games out of first place in the AL Central.
In the original assessment of each team's needs, I stated that the White Sox were in need of a reliever.
Since then, they have been listed in trade rumors as being in the market for a right handed reliever.
The White Sox are the beneficiaries of playing in a poor division. The Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians have both failed to run away with the division.
The White Sox are still in that gray area between buying and selling, and unless one of the the AL Central teams makes a move in the next two weeks, they may remain there and be forced to either stand pat or make a tough decision regarding their season.
The White Sox are probably best off making in-house moves rather than turning to the trade market at this point.
Cincinnati Reds: Starting Pitching,Bullpen, Outfield Bat
The Reds are just three games out of first place, despite being a game under .500 at 47-48.
The Reds are rumored to be in the market for a starting pitcher and are rumored to be eying Ubaldo Jimenez in a potential trade with the Colorado Rockies.
They also could use some help in the bullpen as well as an additional outfield bat.
With the Padres looking to move Ryan Ludwick, Heath Bell and Chad Qualls. They also have starting pitching they could part with in the right deal, making them an ideal trade partner for the Reds if the two teams can match-up on a potential swap.
Cleveland Indians: Starting Pitching and a Bat to Replace Shin-Soo Choo
The Cleveland Indians have continued to impress this season and hang onto their place at the top of the AL Central standings.
At 49-43 they have just a half game lead over the Detroit Tigers though in the division standings.
The Indians would love to add a bat to replace the loss of production caused by Shin-Soo Choo's injury.
They would also benefit greatly, however, from adding another starting pitcher to help lead their young, but talented, staff into the postseason.
Colorado Rockies: Trade Ubaldo Jimenez and Ty Wiggington for Prospects
At five games under .500 and 9.5 games behind the division leading San Francisco Giants, the Rockies are looking more like sellers than contenders as the trade deadline approaches.
The Rockies would be best served by trading some of their higher-priced veterans such as Ty Wiggington, whom the Yankees have some level of interest in.
The Rockies are also rumored to have made Ubaldo Jimenez available. Although trading their ace may be an unpopular move, the ransom-package of prospects they can expect in return will make the Rockies a contender in the NL West again much sooner than standing pat and waiting for their own prospects to develop.
Detroit Tigers: Starting Pitching and Thirdbase
The Tigers are in a tie with the Cleveland Indians atop the standings in the AL Central.
Their biggest need moving forward is another starting pitcher to help solidify their rotation heading into the second half of the season.
The Tigers have been rumored to have interest in Derek Lowe. They have also been linked to Ubaldo Jimenez, however they may be reluctant to give up the prospects it would require to land Colorado's ace pitcher.
The Tigers could also use an upgrade at third base. Brandon Inge is batting just .180 for the season, and although Danny Worth has performed better through 18 games, batting .300, he is unproven.
Detroit has also been linked to Carlos Beltran if they choose to add another impact bat.
Florida Marlins: Retool for 2012
The Marlins, 46-49 and 13.5 games out of first place in the NL East, need to be patient and retool for a run in 2012.
Their biggest need appears to be a veteran third baseman and starting pitching.
Ironically enough, their greatest trade chips to acquire additional young pitching may be by trading some of their own pitching.
Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez have been rumored to be on the trading block and could bring the Marlins a respectable return if traded.
They would receive the biggest return if they were to trade Hanley Ramirez, however it remains unlikely they would part with their marquee player right before moving to their park.
The Marlins open their new stadium next season and they would love to be in contention throughout the stadium's inaugural season.
Houston Astros: Trade for as Much Young MLB-Ready Talent as Possible!
The Houston Astros are the worst team in Major League Baseball.
The biggest need for the Astros before the trade deadline is to identify which players they want to build around, and trade the remaining pieces for as much high-ceiling talent as possible.
The toughest decision for Houston will be whether or not to trade Hunter Pence.
Pence is young enough and talented enough to be the centerpiece they build around for the future. He is also their most valuable trade piece, and would bring a huge return of top-prospects if made available.
At the rate they're currently going, they could lock up the top pick in the 2012 draft though, along with an infusion of young top-talent, the Astros could build a team capable of contending for several seasons.
Kansas City Royals: Trade Jeff Francour and Melky Cabrera for Prospects
The team with the second-worst record in all baseball has a similar task to that of the Houston Astros.
The difference, however, is that the Royals farm system is currently stacked and they should emerge as a contender as early as next season.
The biggest need for the Royals is to trade Jeff Francouer and Melky Cabrera to contending teams in exchange for some complimentary players that will fill voids in 2012 and beyond.
The Royals may also choose to shop Alex Gordon around to contenders in exchange for a higher-level prospect to add further depth to their already strong farm system.
Gordon is still young enough to be a part of their core moving forward, though, and the Royals may choose to keep him around.
Los Angeles Dodgers: New Owner and Financial Stability
Not much has changed since we first looked at the needs of the Los Angeles Dodgers before the trade deadline.
The biggest need for the Dodgers is a resolution to their financial problems.
Dodgers owner Frank McCourt recently filed bankruptcy, allowing him to retain control of the team while a bankruptcy court restructures his debt.
If the court, or MLB, approves his TV contract with FOX, the Dodgers would have enough financial backing to dig out of the hole that their owner dug them into.
MLB commissioner Bud Selig strongly feels that such a deal will just delay the inevitable and even cause further financial problems down the road for the Dodgers, however.
Their needs to be a resolution, or a change of ownership, to allow this once proud franchise to return to prominence.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Offense
The LA Angels, 51-45, are just four games out of first place in the AL West.
The Rangers have failed to run away with the division, and the Angels have the pitching to take the fight down to the final week of the season.
The one aspect of their game that has been inconsistent and could use some strengthening is their offense.
Torii Hunter and Vernon Wells have been disappointments with the bat this season, and the Angels have been without Kendrys Morales all season.
They are rumored to have some level of interest in the Royals' Melky Cabrera, and are also a potential suitor for the Mets' Carlos Beltran.
Beltran probably represents the better option if the Angels will surrender the prospects the Mets are asking for.
The Mets are said to be willing to pick up the majority of Beltran's remaining contract to receive a better return. This is important since the Angels are not in a position to add significant payroll at the deadline.
Milwaukee Brewers: Shortstop and Third Base
The Milwaukee Brewers, 51-45, are currently the division leaders in one of the tightest divisions in baseball this season, the NL Central.
The Brewers currently have a half game lead over the Pirates and Cardinals, and a 3.5 game lead over the Cincinnati Reds.
The Brewers have a solid pitching staff, which they made stronger with their recent acquisition of Francisco Rodriguez from the Mets.
They are rumored to be in talks with the Kansas City Royals for Wilson Betemit to strengthen their production at third base. Casey McGehee is batting just .225 this season.
Yuniesky Betancourt is batting just .238 at shortstop for the Brewers, another position they could benefit from strengthening through a trade.
Upgrades to the left-side of the infield could give the Brewers an edge in the division race and help them build a lead over the Pirates and Cardinals.
Minnesota Twins: Fire Sale and Rebuild
Surprisingly, the Minnesota Twins have declared that they are going to go for it and make a run this season.
At 44-49, five games below .500, I personally don't agree with their decision. Although I am not completely sold that the Indians will keep their hold on first place, I do believe that the Tigers have the best overall team in the division and will begin to pull-away with the division lead.
The Twins are just five games out of first place though and definitely still have a chance to climb back into the race if they go on a run.
The Twins would be best served by trading some of their aging, higher priced veterans to contenders for younger players still under team control for many seasons that will help them in 2012 and beyond.
New York Mets: Trade Carlos Beltran and Make a Decision on Jose Reyes
The New York Mets, 47-47, are currently 12 games out of first place in the NL East.
They have fallen out of contention for both the division title and the Wild Card.
It is pretty much a given that Carlos Beltran will be traded at some point before the trade deadline. Since the Mets are willing to pick up the majority of his salary in exchange for better prospects, there is no rush to trade him.
They can afford to wait for the best possible deal as contenders become more desperate in the next two weeks.
The Mets must trade Beltran though since he has a clause in his contract prohibiting the team from offering him arbitration at the end of the season. If he stays for the remainder of the season and then leaves via free agency, the Mets will not receive any compensation for losing his services.
New York also needs to make a decision regarding Jose Reyes.
Reyes does not want to discuss a new contract during the season. The Mets could receive a much better return for Reyes by trading him for a package of prospects rather than letting him leave via free agency in exchange for a compensation pick in the draft.
Trading him won't be a popular move in New York, but it could be the smarter decision long term for the Mets franchise.
New York Yankees: Starting PItching and Bullpen Help
The New York Yankees, 55-37, are just a game out of first place and have a five game lead in the Wild Card race.
The team is stacked offensively, and will become stronger when Alex Rodriguez recovers and returns from knee surgery.
The Yankees continue to seek depth in the starting rotation however, and would also like to add bullpen help before the trade deadline.
The Yankees have been in contact with the San Diego Padres regarding some of their top relievers.
They are also rumored as a possible destination for Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez if they are willing to part with the hefty price of prospects the Rockies are seeking in return.
Oakland Athletics: Trade Veterans for MLB-Ready Prospects
The Oakland Athletics, 42-54, are currently 13 games behind the Texas Rangers in the AL West.
Despite their belief that they can climb back into the division race, the A's seem destined to become sellers before the trade deadline.
The A's need to acquire MLB-ready prospects with the ability to hit for power and average, something they have sorely lacked in their lineup this season.
The Pirates, Phillies and Braves are rumored to be interested in Josh Willingham.
The Pirates are also rumored to be interested in Conor Jackson.
Coco Crisp, David DeJesus and Grant Balfour all should attract some level of interest from contending clubs as well.
Philadelphia Phillies: Power Hitting Corner Outfielder
The NL East division leading Phillies, currently 59-35, have a 3.5 game lead over the Atlanta Braves.
Philadelphia could use a little extra power out of their corner outfield positions and are rumored to be interested in a number of potentially available bats: Carlos Beltran, Josh Willingham, Hunter Pence and Ryan Ludwick.
The Phillies starting pitching is stacked, however they would benefit from additional bullpen depth.
The Phillies are rumored to have contacted the San Diego Padres regarding their available relievers. A package deal to include a reliever and Ludwick would be a possibility.
They could also target Josh Willingham and one of Oakland's available relievers as well to fill both needs.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Outfield Bat
I was completely wrong with my assessment of the Pirates on June 10 when I wrote my first piece.
I stated the team was not currently capable of competing this season, and here they sit right at the top of the division.
This current group of Pirates is really just a power bat in the outfield and perhaps a starting pitcher away from taking this impressive run deep into the season and hopefully into October for the first time since 1992.
The Pirates recently went on the record that they are willing to trade prospects to acquire pitching to help them in the second half.
Pittsburgh could be in touch with the Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers, Colorado Rockies or Seattle Mariners for rotation help. Each of these teams has pitching that should be available and could use the return of prospects to help compete down the road.
They have also reportedly checked in with the Athletics regarding Josh Willingham and Conor Jackson.
Carlos Beltran could also be a fit for the Pirates.
San Diego Padres: Trade Pitching for Position Player Prospects
The last place San Diego Padres, 41-55 and 14 games out of first place, have been the most active team on the rumor mill so far this trade season.
The Padres are looking to trade their high-profile relievers for a return of prospects.
Heath Bell, Mike Adams and Chad Qualls are all rumored to be available, with multiple teams having already checked in and exchanged names with San Diego.
Ryan Ludwick has also been a hot name on the trade market with multiple potential suitors.
PETCO Park should always be an attractive destination for free agent pitchers looking to play in a pitcher friendly environment; the Padres know they benefit most by dealing their free agent arms for position player prospects to help make a quicker impact than dealing strictly from within.
San Francisco Giants: Power Hitting Left Fielder or Offensive-Minded Catcher
The Giants pitching keeps them in games and their hitting has been timely enough to keep scratching out one-run victories.
They currently have a hold on first-place in the NL West, and with an extra bat or two to protect Pablo Sandoval in the lineup, they could run away with the division title in the second half of the season.
The Giants are in a position to trade a starting pitcher and perhaps even a bullpen arm in exchange for some offense.
They also have Brandon Belt who could be an attractive trade chip to a team looking for high-upside prospects rather than proven Major League talent. Belt may have become expendable with a potential move of Buster Posey to first base (while still premature to discuss, it remains a possibility) and depth in the minor leagues in the outfield.
The Giants are rumored to be in the running for Carlos Beltran, a trade that would fill their offensive void.
Seattle Mariners: Acquire MLB-Ready Talent to Compete in 2012
The Mariners hung around the AL West race much longer than most people expected them to.
At 43-52 and 11.5 games out of first place, it appears they are out of the race and should look to sell in hopes of acquiring some near-MLB-ready talent to help them compete in the near future.
Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda will not be going anywhere despite having the most value to the Mariners.
It also remains unlikely that they will part ways with Ichiro Suzuki, the face of the franchise for the past decade.
The Mariners need to acquire hitters to plug into their lineup in 2012 and beyond though. They struggled offensively this season and need the boost if they are going to compete with the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels in the near future.
St. Louis Cardinals: Starting Pitching and Bullpen Help
The St. Louis Cardinals, 50-45 and a half game out of first place in the NL Central, have been in need of starting pitching help all season.
The Cardinals were dealt a major setback when Adam Wainwright was lost for the season.
They have been rumored to have been one of the most aggressive teams in scouting potentially available starters as the trade deadline approaches.
The Cardinals have reportedly checked in with the Toronto Blue Jays regarding their relievers. They also appear to match-up well with the Oakland A's, Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres for potential deals for both starting and relief pitchers.
The Cardinals trade approach is complicated though by Albert Pujols' contract negotiations this coming offseason. The team must be mindful of taking on extra payroll beyond this season to maintain financial flexibility to make a competitive offer to retain Pujols.
They also have the pressure to make a strong run this season in case it is their last season with Pujols, as well as Chris Carpenter and manager Tony LaRussa.
Tampa Bay Rays: Realignment with the Elimination of Divisions
The Tampa Bay Rays are in a tough position.
Their record is 50-42, which represents the fifth best record in the American League. They currently find themselves behind the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees in both the AL East and the Wild Card, however.
The Rays could look to make a trade or two to add an impact player under team control for several more seasons.
After their massive haul of first round talent in this past draft, they have the depth in the farm system to part with some talent to acquire the right player.
They could look to trade B.J. Upton since they have Desmond Jennings, and reap the benefits of the package he would bring back to Tampa in a trade.
The Rays biggest need though is a way out of the AL East, which unfortunately won't be happening.
I bet they would vote in favor of a realignment plan that does away with the divisions and rewards the top five teams with playoff berths!
Texas Rangers: Pitching Depth
The Texas Rangers, 55-41, have built a four game lead over the Los Angeles Angels in the AL West.
The defending American League Champions appear set to repeat as Division Champions barring any significant injuries down the stretch.
They hit their roughest stretch earlier in the season when the bullpen depth was exposed as a weakness after Neftali Feliz was injured and placed on the 15-day disabled list.
The Rangers are looking at relievers as the deadline approaches.
They have checked in with the Athletics regarding closer Andrew Bailey, and are also rumored to have interest in the Nationals' Tyler Clippard. Both relievers carry a heavy price tag in a trade.
Other potential targets include the Padre's Heath Bell and Mike Adams.
Perhaps the A's could trade one of their other relievers straight-up for Chris Davis; perhaps Grant Balfour.
Toronto Blue Jays: Patience and a Closer
Nothing has really changed regarding the Blue Jay's needs since my original post in early June.
The team is currently 47-49 and 11 games out of first place in the AL East.
The Toronto Blue Jays are a team that I really like as a contender as early as next season though.
If Bud Selig implements a second Wild-Card team in both the American and National Leagues, then the Jays have an even better chance at the postseason in 2012.
That said, they won't contend this season despite their impressive lineup, the best hitter in all of baseball and a respectable starting pitching staff.
The best thing for the Blue Jays is to sit tight, perhaps trade a player such as Edwin Encarnacion for a low- to mid-level prospects that could help out a few years from now and look to next season.
The Jays' biggest need moving past this season is a closer.
It's highly unlikely they will jump into the bidding for Heath Bell since he represents only a rental player, and the Jays are too far out of the race.
They could bid for his services in free agency after the season, though.
The A's may be willing to part with Brian Fuentes, who is signed through next season. Joe Nathan is another potentially available closer that could just need a change of scenery.
Washington Nationals: Time Machine
The Washington Nationals, 47-48 and 12.5 games out of first place, most pressing need is a time machine.
They need to jump back into the past and prevent themselves from signing Jayson Werth.
Werth's 10 homers this season don't make up for his .213 batting average, and definitely don't justify the massive contract that they rewarded him with for leaving the Philadelphia Phillies this past offseason.
His contract makes it virtually impossible to trade him and has the potential to handcuff the team for the next several seasons in free agent negotiations because he takes up such a large percentage of their budget.
While the Nationals are operating their time machine, they can fast-forward into the future when they have Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg both contributing on the big-league level.
Their top-prospects should make them a fun team to watch soon though!