MLB Trade Rumors: Teams Actively Searching for Upgrades at 2018 Deadline

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJuly 21, 2018

Philadelphia Phillies' Carlos Santana, right, celebrates with teammates after a baseball game against the San Diego Padres, Friday, July 20, 2018, in Philadelphia. The Phillies won 11-5. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
Chris Szagola/Associated Press

The mad dash for MLB contenders to improve their respective rosters is on. 

Manny Machado's trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Brad Hand's move to the Cleveland Indians set the wheels in motion on the trade market, and now the teams that missed out on the two players will look elsewhere to improve ahead of the July 31 deadline. 

Most of the franchises at, or near, the top of each division are in the hunt for roster improvements, with relief pitchers and infielders the most coveted targets. 

Below is a look at a trio of teams searching for upgrades in order to be in contention for a playoff position in September.


Philadelphia Phillies

The Philadelphia Phillies are in quite the conundrum after failing to secure the services of Machado. 

Machado was the ideal fit for the Phillies because he would've erased their top weakness at shortstop. 

Although there are a handful of quality infielders available, some of them don't fit into the Phillies lineup as perfectly as Machado would have. 

A potential deal for Kansas City third baseman Mike Moustakas doesn't make sense because the Phillies have Maikel Franco at the hot corner, and going after a second baseman isn't ideal either with Cesar Hernandez locked into that spot on the diamond. 

If you eliminate second and third basemen from the Phillies' potential trade prospects, that leaves a thin shortstop crop to choose from. Minnesota's Eduardo Escobar could be an option, as Fancred's Jon Heyman noted: 

Jon Heyman @JonHeyman

Assuming phillies don’t land manny now, they’ll still be targeting a SS, preferably one who’s a threat with bat. Eduardo Escobar could make sense. Most SS potentially on market r glove guys: Iglesias, alcides, Rojas, old friend galvis, hechavarria

The Phillies have more hope in the relief market. There are a handful of quality arms left, and the Baltimore Orioles' Zach Britton is of interest, per Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan: 

Jeff Passan @JeffPassan

The relief market is picking up, and while nothing is imminent, the A’s and Phillies are among the teams shopping, sources tell Yahoo Sports. Oakland is one of at least five teams in on Jeurys Familia, per sources. And the Phillies are taking a long look at closer Zach Britton.

Britton would likely come at a steeper price than other relievers because he's the best available player at his position, but the 30-year-old would boost a young bullpen. 

The Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals are right on the Phillies' heels in the National League East, but they will likely be reluctant to give up a ton of minor league value at the deadline. 


Milwaukee Brewers

Currently three games back of the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central and in the mix for the NL wild card, the Milwaukee Brewers figure to be in the playoff race at the season's end. 

Milwaukee must improve in order to push Chicago in the division and stave off a collection of teams in the wild-card race, including Arizona, San Francisco, Colorado, St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Washington. 

Just like the Phillies, the Brewers need to upgrade the middle of their infield, but they possess a little more positional flexibility and seem to be looking at second base and shortstop as areas to upgrade. 

One of the potential targets for the Brewers could be New York Mets second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera, per MLB.com's Mark Feinsand: 

Mark Feinsand @Feinsand

Familia not the only Mets player drawing interest; source says multiple teams have inquired about Asdrubal Cabrera, though no deal is imminent. Brewers and D-backs believed to be among potential suitors.

The Brewers have been linked with Minnesota second baseman Brian Dozier as well, per The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal: 

Ken Rosenthal @Ken_Rosenthal

Among the players the #Brewers are expected to target now that they have lost Machado: #Twins 2B Brian Dozier. Team also will explore pitching upgrades as well.

Although Cabrera and Dozier don't possess Machado's firepower at the plate, they might turn out to be better options in the long run. 

Cabrera and Dozier come at cheaper costs, and they would still be able to provide a similar impact in a lineup headlined by Jesus Aguilar and Christian Yelich. 

Cabrera is having the better season of two. He is hitting .282 with 17 home runs and 53 RBI, while Dozier has a .227 average to go with 16 home runs and 49 RBI. 

While Cabrera might be harder to pry away because of the Mets' high demands for their trade targets, he would be the ideal option given his better season at the plate and postseason experience from his time with the Indians, Nationals and Mets. 


New York Yankees 

The New York Yankees have the bats to contend in the American League East and wild-card race, as seven players on their roster eclipsed the double-digit home run mark by the All-Star Game. 

However, the Yankees are in need of pitching help in order to compete with the Boston Red Sox for the division title and stay in front of the wild-card competition. 

The Yankees' starting rotation is led by AL Cy Young candidate Luis Severino, but they need to bolster the back part of the group. 

Bullpen reinforcements are also necessary, and if it wasn't for the high prices set by selling teams, the Yankees might have brought in a reliever already. 

SNY's Andy Martino reported that talks between the Yankees and Padres over Hand stalled after San Diego asked for third baseman Miguel Andujar in return. 

The same issues could hurt the Yankees in the chase for rotation arms as well, as potential deals for J.A. Happ or Cole Hamels could cost them a top prospect, as Martino noted.

The Yankees are also in the hunt for Britton, along with many other contenders, per Heyman: 

Jon Heyman @JonHeyman

there are many teams looking at Zach Britton. wouldn't surprise anyone if went right up until the deadline. cubs, Phillies, yankees, Red Sox, possibly Astros, dodgers, giants, others.

The second-place team in the AL East has to improve its pitching staff, but at least for now, it sounds like it won't mortgage stars of the future to get a deal done. 

While the price tag for the best available players might be high at the moment, the demands from teams could go down as the deadline approaches as they look to offload assets before they decrease in value.


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from Baseball Reference


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