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The St. Louis Cardinals have acquired right-handed starter Justin Masterson from the Cleveland Indians, reports Peter Gammons (via Twitter).

Joel Sherman of the New York Post (via Twitter) added that the Cardinals are sending outfield prospect James Ramsey to the Indians in exchange for Masterson.

With Jaime Garcia and Michael Wacha both on the disabled list and Shelby Miller struggling to find himself in the rotation, the Cardinals were rumored to be in the market for starting pitching before the deadline, with Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch suggesting that the team would make a run at either David Price, Jon Lester or Cole Hamels. However, with the acquisition of Masterson, a deal for either left-handed ace now appears less likely.

But is Justin Masterson the missing piece that the Cardinals need to reach the postseason, or is this just the first of several moves they’ll make before tomorrow’s non-waiver trade deadline?

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With the non-waiver trade deadline set to expire Thursday at 4:00 p.m. ET, the hours ahead have the potential to make or break the season for teams with playoff aspirations.

This year, there’s a chance at least one ace will be dealt before the deadline, as left-handers David Price, Jon Lester and Cole Hamels reportedly have been made available by their respective teams.

As for hitters, trade rumors surrounding Troy Tulowitzki and Ben Zobrist just won’t go away. Both players, like the aforementioned pitchers, have the potential to make an immediate impact for a contender, possibly even a team going through a rebuilding process.

And let’s not forget that every trade deadline has its surprises, as a lot can change between now and Thursday—injuries, previously off-limits players being made available and reactionary trades—to influence whether a team is a buyer or seller.

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The first-place Milwaukee Brewers have been an unexpected surprise this season, and the same goes for the team’s second baseman, Scooter Gennett.

Scooter, whose real name is Ryan Joseph Gennett, is in the midst of an under-the-radar breakout season, as he currently leads all National League second basemen with at least 320 plate appearances in batting average (.301), slugging percentage (.475) and OPS (.813).

Gennett’s combined success between the last two seasons has him pegged as the Brewers’ long-term second baseman, especially with Rickie Weeks set to leave as a free agent after the season. He’s still relatively young, at 24, and has room to improve, but the early return on Gennett’s brief career suggests he’s for real.

Overall, the left-handed-hitting Gennett has now played 160 games since arriving in the major leagues last year, which is essentially a complete season.

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When it rains, it pours. At least that seems to be the case right now for the San Francisco Giants.

After getting swept over the weekend by the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Giants’ struggles worsened Monday when Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Vance Worley allowed just four hits en route to the first complete-game shutout of his career. The Pirates won the contest, 5-0.

Giants ace Madison Bumgarner was unable to lift the team from its current funk, as he stumbled from the onset of the game, throwing 41 pitches in a four-run first inning. The left-hander lasted only four innings, allowing five runs on six hits to go along with a pair of strikeouts and walks.

Bumgarner discussed his rough outing following the game, per Antonio Gonzalez of The Associated Press, via SFGate.com.

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With the 2014 trade deadline set to expire Thursday at 4 p.m. ET, teams are busily exploring the market with the hope of adding the final piece needed for a run at the postseason.

While several teams have been active on the trade front so far, there will likely be a flurry of deals that transpire over the coming week. However, only a few organizations have the prospects and overall organizational depth needed to make an impact trade.

That said, with so many teams still in the mix for a playoff berth this season, it’s a safe bet that more prospect-based trades will take place in the coming days.

So, in anticipation of the July 31 trade deadline, here’s a look a baseball’s top 10 prospect trade chips for the week ahead.

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The 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame class will be inducted Sunday, with the ceremony beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET and airing live from Cooperstown on MLB Network and MLB.com. 

After zero players were elected in 2013, this year’s Hall of Fame class features three first-ballot selections in Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas as well as legendary managers Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa.

Meanwhile, the 2015 class is expected to produce at least two more first-ballot Hall of Famers in Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez, and there’s a good chance we begin to see holdovers from previous years such as Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell finally receive the recognition they deserve.

Beyond that, almost every class through 2019 has at least one first-ballot lock, whether it be Ken Griffey Jr. (2016), Chipper Jones (2018) or Mariano Rivera (2019).

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Parity has been the story of the 2014 season.

With a little more than two months remaining in the regular season, the Detroit Tigers are the only team with a division lead of more than three games, as they currently hold a seven-game advantage over the Kansas City Royals in the American League Central.

Elsewhere in the AL, the Orioles have a three-game lead over the Yankees and Blue Jays in the East, while the A’s sit three games ahead of the Angels in the West. In the National League, the Dodgers and Nationals lead the East and West by 1.5 games, respectively, and the Brewers are three games up on the Pirates and Cardinals in the Central.

Overall, 15 teams have at least a 21 percent chance of reaching the playoffs, according to Baseball Prospectus’ postseason probabilities, via MLB.com.

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The Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Angels met in the first of a four-game series Thursday night, a series we may very well see again in October.

The game itself had a playoff atmosphere, with defending Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer starting for the Tigers and All-Star snub Garrett Richards for the Angels, and superstars Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout playing on the same field.

However, based on the outcome, the Angels can’t be too excited about the prospects of facing Scherzer and the Tigers again in the postseason.

Though he wasn’t at his best, Scherzer still stole the show Thursday night as the right-hander struck out 11 batters over seven innings and powered the Tigers to a 6-4 win.

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The 2014 season has seen a number of notable prospects receive call-ups to the major leagues. Undoubtedly, there are more to comeand soon.

Highly regarded youngsters like George Springer (currently on the disabled list), Marcus Stroman, Jonathan Singleton, Gregory Polanco and Ken Giles have been seeing regular run for their respective clubs for quite some time now. Others like Oscar Taveras, Taijuan Walker and Kevin Gausman (no longer prospect-eligible) have been shuttling up and down between the minors and majors.

With a week to go until the July 31 trade deadline, there should be plenty of promotions of prime prospects as the wheeling and dealing opens up 25-man roster spots on teams that are selling and building for the future.

Meanwhile, contenders are finding ways to fit youngsters into the mix to help down the stretch. That's the story in Toronto, where the Blue Jays have called up Aaron Sanchez, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. Normally a starter, the 21-year-old right-hander will try to provide a boost out of the bullpen and looked great in his first appearance Wednesday, throwing two perfect innings of relief.

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With the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline just around the corner, the next week has the potential to either make or break the season for some teams.

Two major deals have transpired since Friday, with the Los Angeles Angels acquiring Huston Street from the San Diego Padres over the weekend and the Detroit Tigers trading for the Rangers' Joakim Soria on Wednesday night, per USA Today's Scott Boeck

In return for the proven closers, both the Padres and Rangers received a loaded prospect package featuring some of the best young talent from the Angels' and Tigers' systems, respectively. 

More importantly, both of the aforementioned trades can be viewed as a "win" for all teams involved, as they fit each organization's short- or long-term timelines.