We’re just days away from the July 31 MLB trade deadline, and movement thus far has been quiet. However, that doesn’t mean that talks behind the scenes have been quiet.
Several big trade targets remain on the market, and GMs are patiently waiting for the 11th hour to force another team’s hand and acquire a valuable player or trade asset at a bargain price.
Here’s a team-by-team* look at what each GM should be working on between now and Sunday.
* Teams are listed alphabetically, with the Arizona Diamondbacks first and the Washington Nationals last.
Dmitriy Ioselevich is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter for all your MLB news and updates.
The Diamondbacks have fallen to three games back of the San Francisco Giants in the NL West, but their objectives for this year and beyond remain the same.
The Diamondbacks have a nice core in Ian Kennedy (26), Daniel Hudson (24) and Joshua Collmenter (25), but they’ll need the help of a veteran starter to close the gap in the division.
Don’t expect GM Kevin Towers to sell the farm in a big deal, as he just signed third overall pick Trevor Bauer and has more help coming in the next year or two. The Diamondbacks could stay pat and ride out the season with their current group, aiming to contend in 2012 and beyond.
The Braves continue to look for an impact outfielder, but so far have balked at trading away any of their prized pitching prospects (Mike Minor, Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado, Arodys Vizcaino).
Among the players the Braves have had discussions about are Carlos Beltran, Hunter Pence and B.J. Upton. The cost for any of these players would be enormous, but the Braves are one of the few teams with the flexibility and minor league depth to get a deal done.
If the cost doesn’t come down, expect the Braves to target relief pitching to give their overworked bullpen some much-needed rest.
The baseball community is still scratching their heads over why the Orioles signed J.J. Hardy to an extension when there was a healthy trade market for the shortstop. However, there’s no debate over what Baltimore will be doing at the deadline: selling.
Koji Uehara is generating tons of interest as a right-handed reliever, and Jeremy Guthrie is a popular target for teams in need of starting pitching, especially with the exorbitant prices for players like Ubaldo Jiminez and Wandy Rodriguez.
The Orioles could also move Vladimir Guerrero, Luke Scott, Kevin Gregg, Jim Johnson and maybe even Adam Jones in the right deal. They need to stockpile prospects, and lots of them.
With JD Drew now on the disabled list, the Red Sox are more desperate than ever for a right-handed bat to plug in to the outfield.
Even with Josh Reddick swinging the bat well, the Red Sox can’t feel comfortable with Darnell McDonald as their fourth outfielder and could use another body to get through the season intact.
GM Theo Epstein has the pieces to go after a Carlos Beltran or Hunter Pence, but he’s better off going after one of the smaller fish like Jeff Francoeur or Josh Willingham.
The Cubs might be in the worst position of any team in baseball, and they are headed backwards quickly, but not quickly enough.
In order to start rebuilding, the Cubs need to move players like Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster and Aramis Ramirez and grab prospects, but none of these players are likely to get traded because of no-trade clauses and massive contracts.
The Cubs should be able to find a taker for Kosuke Fukudome and maybe even Carlos Pena, but the return on those two won’t be enough to make a difference in 2012 or any season in the near future.
The White Sox are 4.5 games out of the AL Central with two teams in front of them, and they’ll need to win the division to make the playoffs. It doesn’t look like that’ll happen, so the White Sox are rapidly transitioning into sell mode.
GM Kenny Williams says it might be time to “turn over the roster,” and team chairman Jerry Reinsdorf wants to trim payroll after wasting millions on Adam Dunn.
Edwin Jackson is likely to be moved, and Carlos Quentin has popped up in trade talks as well, if only as an excuse to give top prospect Dayan Viciedo some playing time in the majors. Matt Thornton’s name has also been tossed around, but it’s hard to imagine they’ll find a taker for Dunn or Alex Rios.
The Reds are one of the most active teams in pursuit of Ubaldo Jiminez, but unless the price (Devin Mesoraco, Aroldis Chapman and others) comes down, a deal is unlikely.
The Reds are now five games back in the NL Central with three teams between them and the division lead, so they either need a major jolt or more time to develop major league talent for future seasons.
Considering that most of Cincinnati’s core players are under team control for at least a few more seasons, expect to be relatively quiet at the deadline.
The Indians have been active in discussions for major players, among them Carlos Beltran, B.J. Upton, Ubaldo Jiminez and Hiroki Kuroda.
They’re still within two games of the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central and appear willing to trade some talent and take on payroll if it means improving their chances of making the playoffs.
However, the Indians aren’t willing to go all-in just for one season and will look to target players that they can keep past 2011.
The Rockies continue to entertain offers for ace Ubaldo Jiminez and have as many as seven teams interested.
There’s a good reason that GM Dan O’Dowd is asking for the moon for Jiminez. The 27-year-old righty is due just $18 million through the next three seasons and is among one of the most electric pitchers in the game, despite his 4.20 ERA this season.
The Reds are considered the closest and definitely have the pieces to get a deal done, but so far are unwilling to part with so many of their top prospects.
The Tigers are realizing that Justin Verlander can’t win a playoff series by himself and are actively shopping for another starter.
Ubaldo Jiminez is a long shot, but pitchers like Doug Fister, Jason Vargas and Aaron Harang should be available for a fair price. Three other names to keep an eye on are Hiroki Kuroda, Jeremy Guthrie and Jason Marquis, who collectively represent the best of the affordable starting pitching.
The Marlins briefly considered the idea of trading pitchers Leo Nunez or Ricky Nolasco, but it looks like they’re content with their current group of players and will stay pat at the deadline (unless someone agrees to take Javier Vazquez for a bag of peanuts).
What the Marlins really need, though, is a clubhouse leader. Jeff Conine publicly called out star shortstop Hanley Ramirez for not leading by example and suggesting that the Marlins should trade him.
That won’t happen anytime soon, but the Marlins need to get their act together as they move in to a new stadium for 2012. Mike Stanton (21) and Logan Morrison (23) both seem willing to carry the torch.
The Astros are still listening on Hunter Pence and Wandy Rodriguez, and to a lesser extent Michael Bourn, but GM Ed Wade refuses to back off his demands for premium prospects or major league ready talent.
The Braves are the only team that seemingly has a chance at Pence, and interest in the overpaid Rodriguez is thinning out, leaving the Astros with few options as the deadline approaches.
Wade already dealt infielder Jeff Keppinger and should be able to find a taker for starter Brett Myers, but beyond that, it doesn’t look like the Astros will be able to get much done this season.
As expected, the Royals traded Wilson Betemit last week to make room for Mike Moustakas. They also grabbed 27-year-old righty Felipe Paulino from the Rockies and successfully inserted him into the rotation (3.86 ERA in nine starts).
The Royals could still move starters Bruce Chen and Kyle Davis, but it looks like they’re leaning towards keeping their prized duo of outfielders: Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur.
That means this should be a relatively quiet deadline for GM Dayton Moore, who can just sit back and watch as Eric Hosmer, Moustakas and others adjust to the major leagues.
The Angels are still in the race in the AL West and are actively shopping for a third baseman that could help them leapfrog the Texas Rangers in the standings.
They would love Aramis Ramirez or Michael Cuddyer, but Ramirez likely won’t be traded until August (if at all), and the Twins seem committed to resigning Cuddyer.
The Angels' best option might be to stay pat and wait for Ramirez, although they are scouting Heath Bell and Mike Adams of the Padres just in case nothing else materializes.
The Dodgers are still in full sell mode, and it’s looking increasingly likely that they’ll be able to find a taker for Hiroki Kuroda and the remaining $4 million on his contract.
Infielder Jamey Carroll is also likely to be traded, and the Dodgers hope they can find a team willing to take on the $4 million left on Rafael Furcal’s deal.
The Dodgers have Dee Gordon, 23, ready to take over at shortstop, and GM Ned Colletti is eager to see what he has before he considers dealing star outfielders Andre Ethier or Matt Kemp.
The Brewers already made their big splash in the trade market by acquiring Francisco Rodriguez from the Mets to be their closer/set-up man.
Now GM Doug Melvin has his attention focused on adding a bat. Carlos Beltran and B.J. Upton have been discussed, but the Brewers are more likely to find someone on the cheaper side.
The current names being floated around for Milwaukee are Clint Barnes, Coco Crisp and Jerry Hairston, Jr., each of whom should be available for a mid-level prospect and/or cash.
The Twins sit seven games back of the Tigers in the AL Central and yet refuse to put up the “For Sale” sign.
They’re at least willing to listen on centerfielder Denard Span, but Michael Cuddyer isn’t going anywhere, and neither is Jim Thome or Jason Kubel.
The Twins will likely deal starter Kevin Slowey and possibly reliever Jose Mijares, but the best they can hope for is a couple of forgettable prospects. The Twins better hope they resign Cuddyer because otherwise, their actions at the deadline will look like a massive failure.
The Mets continue to hold out for a top prospect in return for Carlos Beltran, but they may never get one.
There are plenty of serviceable right fielders (Willingham, Ludwick, Francoeur) who are available at a fraction of the price for Beltran, putting the Mets a distinct disadvantage in negotiations.
GM Sandy Alderson is running out of time to make a deal, and he may have to swallow his ego and accept a less-than-favorable deal if he wants any sort of return for Beltran.
The Yankees were, as expected, repeatedly linked to Ubaldo Jiminez, but for once, GM Brian Cashman seems more interested in keeping his prospects instead of trying to buy a World Series.
That leaves the Yankees searching the bargain bin for a decent back-of-the-rotation starter. Hiroki Kuroda makes a lot of sense, and Edwin Jackson could be a fall-back option if Kuroda is serious about his refusal to play on the East Coast.
The Yankees might be able to get someone like Wandy Rodriguez for cheap, but they may also be better off sticking with Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia in the rotation. The return of Phil Hughes should also help matters.
The A’s are still expected to trade Josh Willingham, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he’s joined on the plane out of Oakland by fellow outfielders David DeJesus and Coco Crisp.
The A’s could also move relievers Craig Breslow, Brian Fuentes and Grant Balfour, and the one thing they should be looking for is offense.
Oakland has one of the most pitiful infields ever seen (highest OPS of .655 belongs to shortstop Cliff Pennington) and desperately need an upgrade at almost every offensive position.
The Phillies continue to pursue Carlos Beltran and Hunter Pence and have joined several other teams in looking at Carlos Quentin, but the front office remains unwilling to part with any top prospects, among them Domonic Brown and Jarred Cosart.
If nothing changes, the Phillies could look at a Willingham or Ludwick as a short-term solution, but they may also abandon their plans for a bat and go after a reliever instead.
The Pirates have been surprisingly active in deadline talks, and with the playoffs in sight, they may be gearing up to do something big.
GM Neil Huntington is seriously looking at B.J. Upton and has done his due diligence on Beltran and Pence.
The Pirates aren’t under any major pressure to make a deal, so Huntington could instead look at a minor player like Ty Wigginton and ride out Pittsburgh’s first winning season in nearly two decades.
The Padres have arguably the two hottest names among available relievers in Heath Bell and Mike Adams, but offers thus far have been less than inspiring.
GM Jed Hoyer knows he can get two draft picks for Bell if he keeps him and Adams is under control for another season, so it’s possible the Padres don’t deal either one of them.
As the Padres wait for better offers to come in they’ll work on dealing Ryan Ludwick and possibly infielders Orlando Hudson and Jason Bartlett.
Given the Mariners' recent string of 18 consecutive losses (and counting), it’s pretty safe to say that this won’t be Seattle’s year.
Felix Hernandez still isn’t going anywhere, but the Mariners will listen on starters Erik Bedard, Doug Fister and Jason Vargas, with Bedard and Fister both expected to cost a lot.
The Mariners should be looking for more bats to build around Justin Smoak and Dustin Ackley, but it might be a good idea to get a win first, if only to boost team morale.
The market for catchers appears to have cooled, so the Giants are instead focused on adding a big bat, with Carlos Beltran at the top of their list.
The Giants won’t give up Zack Wheeler or Gary Brown for Beltran, but they may do so for Colby Rasmus or B.J. Upton if the Beltran talks fall through.
The Cardinals would happily add either a starter or a reliever, but with the price for starters so high, GM John Mozeliak seems intent on making a cost-effective deal for another reliever.
The Cardinals are still hoping to get Heath Bell and are now using outfielder Colby Rasmus as trade bait. Rasmus won’t come cheap, but Mozeliak hopes that he can get a big enough package in return to fill multiple holes without compromising the current roster.
The odds of a B.J. Upton trade actually happening are increasing by the day, and the Rays may be at a point where they’re just sorting through offers to pick the best one.
The Rays have fallen out of the race and realize that it’s time to deal the pricy Upton and promote prospects Desmond Jennings and Brandon Guyer.
Tampa Bay has one of the best farm systems in baseball and should be back in full force next season.
The Rangers are among the favorites to land Padres closer Heath Bell, and they are also looking at relievers Koji Uehara and Tyler Clippard.
It’s somewhat of a surprise that the Rangers are in such serious talks to acquire Carlos Beltran considering they have the second highest scoring offense in the AL, but Josh Hamilton is always an injury concern, and the Rangers are operating in a limited competitive window.
The Rangers should be one of the most active teams at the deadline.
The Blue Jays don’t want to trade any of their relievers even though most of them will be free agents at the end of the season. They’ve also been looking at Ubaldo Jiminez, Heath Bell and Wandy Rodriguez even though, as of today, they are 13 games out of first place.
The Blue Jays have a solid team that, in any other division, would be competing for the playoffs. However, in the AL East, they are nothing more than a fourth place team blocked by the juggernauts ahead of them. Not even Jiminez can change that.
The Nationals have big plans for the future, and GM Mike Rizzo isn’t wasting any time reshaping the franchise into a contender.
The Nationals are considered the favorites to land B.J. Upton, although they’ve also looked at Rasmus, Pence, Span and Bourn. Rizzo hopes to package a deal around shortstop Ian Desmond and possibly reliever Tyler Clippard in adding another impact bat to a lineup that could soon be one of the most dangerous in baseball.
In the meantime, the Nationals will listen on Jason Marquis and Livan Hernandez and build for 2012 and beyond.