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#pounditWednesday, September 23, 2020

10 MLB teams that need to make a trade deadline move

Brian Cashman

It is a seller’s market in Major League Baseball this July. The bulk of MLB teams can at least claim to be in contention, sitting within five games of either the division or a wild card spot, and that means a lot of teams are going to be competing for limited resources ahead of the July 31 trade deadline.

Sure, most contenders would probably like to upgrade. But which ones really need to most of all? Here are ten teams that most need to make a move with the deadline looming.

10. Houston Astros

On the surface, the Astros would seem to have everything, sitting comfortably in first place in the AL West. However, they could use another starter behind the devastating 1-2 punch of Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. It won’t be the end of the world if the Astros opt to stand pat, but in a loaded American League, their best shot at matching up with the Yankees may be to load up on pitching and put their aces up against their playoff rivals. Plus, some of their players are eager for reinforcements.

9. Atlanta Braves

The Braves have added Dallas Keuchel as a midseason free agent, but their search for rotation depth is unlikely to stop there. Mike Soroka has been incredible and counts as a legitimate Cy Young candidate at this point, but he is still a rookie, and that makes relying on him in October a risk. The Braves lead the NL East, look like a playoff team, and can hit with the best of them. Adding a top-flight pitcher would elevate them among the National League favorites.

8. Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies are in a bind. A season of high expectations has given way to injuries and underperformance, and general manager Matt Klentak has to decide if it’s worth making a move, and if so, how big of one to make. The Phillies desperately need reliable pitching; much of their rotation has been a disaster. The problem they face is that going all-in for a top-flight starter may still not be enough. If they stand pat, they’re going to face an uphill climb to make the playoffs, but in a season with such expectation, can they afford to stay where they are?

7. Chicago Cubs

The Cubs have already started making moves, and Craig Kimbrel may ultimately prove their biggest midseason addition. The reality is, while a starting pitcher would help, they’re probably going to have to lean on what they already have there. More bullpen help could be the way to go, with the team lacking a truly reliable late-inning lefty, especially after shipping Mike Montgomery to Kansas City. Cubs brass has not been happy with how things have gone lately, but they can only do so much in the trade market.

6. Cleveland Indians

The Indians are in a strange spot. While they’d probably like to add players, the financial realities mean they may actually have to trade key names instead. If they do, they’d be better off trying to get other MLB-ready players who can help immediately. The Indians are tenth in the American League in runs scored, and if they have to sacrifice some pitching, trying to get a hitter in return would be a boost. Standing pat just doesn’t really seem to be an option.

5. Minnesota Twins

The first-place Twins have been one of the big surprises of the season and are clear favorites to win the AL Central. How they do beyond that could ultimately depend on how aggressive they get at the trade deadline. The Twins probably have the prospects to acquire an impact starter or a quality relief arm, both of which they could use — and both of which they’ve been eyeing. This may be their best chance to compete for a championship. It would feel like a wasted opportunity if they fail to seize it.

4. Washington Nationals

The Nationals looked done for at the end of May before winning 25 of their next 35 games, putting themselves firmly back in contention. The rotation is outstanding and the offense scores enough to get by. But as it has always been despite repeated attempts to rectify it, the bullpen has issues. A reliable relief arm to get the ball to Sean Doolittle would be a tremendous addition for the Nationals at this stage of the season. Not making such a move would be a huge risk.

3. Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers continue to hover around the .500 mark, which is surprising and disappointing for a team that boasts an MVP candidate in Christian Yelich. Finding pitching help is imperative if they want to shake off that malaise and challenge for the NL Central once again. Milwaukee seems to recognize this and has already been linked to one of the best relievers on the market to solidify their suddenly shaky bullpen. Making that move, despite its significant cost, would be a major benefit to the Brewers in the stretch run.

2. Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox have issues that can’t be easily addressed. They could add a starter, but it’s not as if they lack the talent in the rotation. They still lead the American League in run-scoring as well. Their most glaring need is probably the bullpen, where Ryan Brasier hasn’t been a reliable option as a closer and there aren’t really any arms down there that have a long track record of success, especially in key spots. They may go the starter route anyway, but their farm system isn’t as deep as it used to be and they’re going to have to be careful with how they use it.

1. New York Yankees

On the surface, it doesn’t really seem like the Yankees would need to make a move. They have the best record in the American League, and they’ve accomplished that despite a glut of injuries that have kept key players from contributing much at all in the first half. If anything, that’s a great argument to go for it — they have the talent to beat anyone this year and may as well plug the last few leaks. That’s probably going to be a starting pitcher. While they have reliable arms, the Yankees lack that one October ace who could be relied upon to make them favorites every time he gets the ball. At the very least, they are clearly looking at that type of arm, even if it will be costly.

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