MLB Trade Deadline: Trades Current Division Leaders Need to Make to Catch Philly
The Philadelphia Phillies saw how easily and quickly valuable trade pieces can be swept up off the market, when the Giants nabbed Carlos Beltran earlier this week, and followed suit by acquiring the next best outfield option in Hunter Pence.
Its hard to disagree with the idea that Pence may have come with an advance ticket to the World Series as the Phillies now have frightening depth at every facet of their lineup, and are looking to continue pursuit of relief pitching on the trade market to even further strengthen their stacked lineup.
Philly will certainly take on the label of World Series favourites after this move, and for the remaining division leaders, haste will have to be made in the next 24 hours to bolster their lineups in an effort to compete with Philly in the offseason.
Here are deals that each division leader will have to make to stand a chance against the herculean roster of Philadelphia in October.
AL East: Boston Red Sox
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The Red Sox have not had any troubles with their batting in 2011, and to this point in the season they sit in first in the American League in batting average, and runs, and third in home runs.
However, they sit at a very pedestrian eighth place in team ERA with 3.91.
The immediate need to address is starting pitching, as they've experienced some injury problems.
Ubaldo Jimenez is the most talented option on the market, however he is also the most expensive and although he would likely provide the necessary stability to the Red Sox rotation, the Sox would have to mortgage a solid chunk of their future in prospects to get him.
SI's Jon Heyman reports that Boston is still one of the front runners for Jimenez, and it seems to be a waiting game at this point to see if Colorado could lower their price.
With regards to another valuable starting pitcher left on the trade market in Hiroki Kuroda, ESPN's Jim Bowden notes that the Yankees have taken the lead in contention for the righty.
That's not to say Boston couldn't sneak in a persuasive offer to the Dodgers under the Yankees' nose, much like they did with Curt Schilling in 2003, and if they want to add the kind of pitching they need to compete with Philly in the playoffs, they will have to start aggressively pursuing their targets as time is dwindling.
AL Central: Detroit Tigers
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The Tigers have already addressed their need for a stronger rotation in a deal made in the last 24 hours in which they acquired starting pitcher Doug Fister from the Seattle Mariners.
Fister is a great addition to the Detroit rotation, and is only the first of what they hope to be at least two new starters to the lineup.
With Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, and now Doug Fister leading the rotation, the Tigers will look to add another hurler to give them a solid rotation through all five spots.
Detroit has been strongly pursuing Ubaldo Jimenez in the last two days, and according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, they would be willing to include top prospect Jacob Turner in a deal that would get the Jimenez.
Jimenez would act as a number two starter with Scherzer and Fister sitting in the third and fourth spots. With a three man rotation being fairly typical in the playoffs, this deal would give them a comparable rotation to that of Philly's, so look for the Tigers to continue strong pursuit for the Rockies' righty.
AL West: Texas Rangers
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The Texas Rangers have surprised with their rotation this season, seeing great years from Alexi Ogando, and Matt Harrison.
Their relief, however, has been abysmal, and they are in desperate need of a reliable closer to save the quality starts made by the pitchers in the rotation.
Luckily for them, Heath Bell is on the market and as one of the premier closers in the game, the Rangers are certainly in pursuit.
According to Yahoo's Jeff Passan, the Rangers are "deep into negotiations with the Padres about Bell, and both sides are optimistic they can strike a deal".
With a deal seemingly in place, Bell would be the perfect addition to a strong Texas team, and his expertise would surely be of great help in the post season.
NL Central: Milwaukee Brewers
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The Brewers have had a great season and seen formidable production from their bats and their arms.
They hadn't made too much of a bang in the trade market this year, aside from the valuable acquisition of lockdown closer Francisco Rodriguez, but now that their all star second baseman Rickie Weeks is out indefinitely with a bad ankle sprain, they will look to fill the void in the middle infield left by Weeks.
Details of a deal being in place have not surfaced yet, but Bob Nightengale of USA Today notes that the Brewers are more interested than ever in the Dodgers' second baseman; a player who would make for a more than adequate fill-in at second.
There is interest in Carroll being expressed by other teams, namely the Indians, and Pirates, but the Brewers are in most need of the middle infielder and will likely contend an offer within the next 24 hours.
The Central is a tough division, and the top three teams are only separated by 2.5 games so look for the Brewers to make a move for Carroll, as they will need to address their loss of Weeks diligently if they hope to maintain their spot atop the division.
NL West: San Francisco Giants
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The Giants are in as good a position as ever to repeat as World Champions, as they currently sit four games up on the second place Diamondbacks.
San Francisco enjoyed the benefits of productivity in making an early trade for the coveted outfielder Carlos Beltran.
He will certainly be a catalyst in the successes of their 2011 playoff run and with a top National League pitching staff and arguably the best game saver in the majors, the Giants look to be a prime candidate for the Phillies' opponent in the NLCS this year—a series that could be one for the ages.
The Giants have now gone fairly quiet in the trade market and if they do not make another deal before Sunday, their chances at competing with Philly for the National League title and spot in the World Series will not likely be jeopardized.