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Last week's non-waiver trade deadline opened doors for some prospects.

The St. Louis Cardinals' decision to trade Allen Craig to the Boston Red Sox cleared room for highly touted prospect Oscar Taveras, who previously was splitting time with the slumping Allen Craig in right field.

Similarly, the trade that sent Kendrys Morales to Seattle helped make room for switch-hitting first baseman/designated hitter Kennys Vargas in Minnesota. The switch-hitter went 5-for-16 with four RBI in the Twins' three-game weekend series against the White Sox.

Meanwhile, Boston’s trades of Jon Lester and John Lackey will allow the team to audition some of its younger arms during the final two months of the regular season, which it started to do over the weekend with right-hander Anthony Ranaudo, who impressed in his MLB debut against the Yankees Friday night.

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Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane is tired of his team being “one-and-done” in the playoffs.

The A’s have been to the postseason seven times during Beane’s 17-year tenure, but they reached the American League Championship Series just once. More recently, the A’s have won the American League West in each of the last two seasons only to lose to the Detroit Tigers in the American League Division Series.

This year, however, Oakland officially is “all-in.” And based on Beane's aggressive trades over the last month, he surely will be disappointed if the As season concludes with anything less than a World Series title.

Beane bookended the month of July with blockbuster trades for a pair of front-line starting pitchers, acquiring Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Chicago Cubs on July 5 and then Jon Lester (and Jonny Gomes) from the Boston Red Sox hours before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

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As we put a final bow on the 2014 non-waiver trade deadline, it is a great time to look at the state of the farm systems.

The passing of the deadline, which occurred at 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, allows us to do an examination of the job MLB clubs have done developing the talent already in the pipeline. It also gives us a look at how some the trades—even though most of Thursday's deals involved big leaguers—impact the farm system rankings

Our rankings are based on two criteria: impact potential and depth. Since a team may have more of one than the other, it's therefore necessary to have more than a couple players who project as quality big leaguers in order to have a good farm system. 

Also, even though there are young players in the major leagues who still have prospect eligibility (fewer than 50 innings pitched or 130 at-bats), they were not considered on their team's ranking. 

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The 2014 MLB non-waiver trade deadline has concluded, and it didn't come and go quietly.

On Wednesday, only one major trade transpired, as the St. Louis Cardinals upgraded their starting rotation by acquiring right-hander Justin Masterson from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for outfield prospect James Ramsey. We broke down that trade here

However, things heated up Thursday, including the Cardinals landing another marquee piece for their starting rotation and the likes of Jon Lester and David Price moving in an arms race between the Detroit Tigers and Oakland A's.

Whether it was a small, under-the-radar deal or a headline-grabbing blockbuster, we've broken down Thursday's action here.

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

 

Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted that the Cardinals are sending outfield prospect James Ramsey to the Indians in exchange for Masterson.

On Thursday, the Cardinals acquired veteran right-hander John Lackey and $1.75 million from the Boston Red Sox, per Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, as well as minor leaguer pitcher Corey Littrell, per WEEI's Alex Speier. Peter Gammons of MLB Network added (via Twitter) that Boston will receive right-hander Joe Kelly and OF/1B Allen Craig in the deal.

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 acquisitions of Masterson and Lackey, a deal for either left-handed ace now appears less likely.

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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).