The July 31 Major League Baseball non-waiver trade deadline is rapidly approaching, and teams are positioning themselves to acquire some power bats and relief pitchers who may be on the trading block.
The biggest hitter (former Baltimore Orioles shortstop Manny Machado) is now a Los Angeles Dodger, but teams are still scurrying to reload before the stretch run.
Here's a look at where things stand regarding three notable names.
After making the playoffs as an American League wild-card team last year, the Minnesota Twins have regressed in 2018, going 44-50 through the first half of the season.
They are not completely out of the AL Central race, as the first-place Cleveland Indians sit 7.5 games ahead, but Fangraphs lists Minnesota's playoff odds at just 2.4 percent.
Barring a big win streak out of the All-Star break, it looks like the Twins may be sellers at the deadline.
One player who could be on the move is second baseman Brian Dozier, as noted by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports and The Athletic:
Dozier has had a down year, as he is hitting just .230 alongside a .738 OPS. Last year, the 31-year-old hit .271 with an .856 OPS.
However, Dozier may be running into some bad luck. Per Fangraphs, his BABIP dropped from .300 in 2017 to .251 this year, although he's actually hitting the ball harder in 2018 (36.6 percent hard-hit contact rate vs. 34.1 percent in 2017). Also, his strikeout rate of 19.6 percent is around his career average of 19.5 percent.
If the Milwaukee Brewers trade for him, they could be getting a slugger who is about to experience positive regression toward the mean. That could be a huge boon to the Brew Crew, who are fighting the Chicago Cubs for the NL Central crown and could use some more consistent play at second base.
With Machado now a Dodger, the Orioles can turn their attention toward the rest of their fire sale.
One player who should be on the move is O's reliever Zach Britton. Per Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com, the O's are ramping up trade talks regarding the southpaw:
Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports also provided some comments from Orioles general manager Dan Duquette on Britton:
Britton was one of the best (if not the best) relievers in the game from 2014-2016, but injuries to his forearm and Achilles slowed him down in 2017 and 2018. However, Britton is back healthy and has looked good for the most part.
Although his 3.68 ERA this season is a far cry from 2014-2016, when he had a 1.38 ERA and 120 saves, that 2018 figure is a bit inflated by a third of an inning in which he gave up four earned runs to the Atlanta Braves.
That appearance was also Britton's fifth since coming off the 60-day disabled list with a ruptured Achilles tendon, so he may have been battling some rust. His last seven appearances are a better barometer of his current skill set, as he's allowed just three hits and three walks (no runs) during that span.
Ultimately, Britton should be headed elsewhere sooner rather than later, and he should be a tremendous asset for a contending team down the stretch.
Britton isn't the only left-handed reliever on the market, as San Diego Padres closer Brad Hand could be on the move. The Padres have the third-worst record in baseball at 40-59, so they are clear sellers heading into the deadline.
Jerry Crasnick of ESPN has more on where Hand could end up:
Jerry Crasnick @jcrasnick
Add the #Indians to list of teams with interest in #Padres closer Brad Hand. He's signed for $6.5M and $7M the next two years, with a $10M club option for 2021. So he could be a nice hedge against Andrew Miller and Cody Allen leaving through free agency. Price very high, though.
Hand has struck out 65 batters in 44.1 innings to go along with a 3.05 ERA in 41 appearances. It's clear why the Cleveland Indians would be interested in Hand, as the Tribe's once-invincible bullpen has faltered to the tune of a 5.28 ERA, which is the second-worst mark in baseball.
Cleveland has a tremendous starting lineup and rotation, but the bullpen is the missing link toward another World Series run. Hand could certainly help right the reliever ship.
However, there are two problems.
First, the Indians (as expected) aren't the only team interested in Hand. Of note, the New York Yankees are in the mix, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Bruce Levine of 670 The Score reported that the Chicago Cubs could be involved as well.
Second, per Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports, one executive noted that teams would "absolutely have to kill it" in an offer for Hand. So unless any of those contenders are willing to trade away a decent haul, Hand could stay in San Diego.