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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

10 MLB teams that need to make a trade

Brian Cashman

At the end of July, Major League Baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline will be upon us, and contenders will be making aggressive moves to improve their chances of making a deep postseason run. You’d be hard-pressed to name a contender that can’t use an upgrade somewhere, even if it’s a small one. A few teams really need to go for it and address some very obvious needs before the deadline passes.

Here are ten teams who could really stand to make a deal before July 31 — some even more than others.

10) Atlanta Braves

The Braves are still early enough in a rebuild cycle that is already bearing fruit, so making a deal isn’t a total necessity. But if the right fit comes along that doesn’t involve them compromising their future too much, they should do it. While the top of the Atlanta rotation has been good, they lack that veteran ace they can rely on in a pennant race; it should be Julio Teheran, but his numbers this year aren’t quite up to his standards. Another arm there would really fortify the Braves to make a real run at the postseason.

9) Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers are finally coming around after a really slow start to the season, but they’re rarely quiet at the trade deadline, and it’s a reasonable expectation that they won’t be again this year. They could go for a starter, but their issues there have more to do with health than talent. It may be more realistic to eye offensive upgrades, given Matt Kemp is somehow their only .300-hitting regular. The temptation will be there to enter the Manny Machado sweepstakes given that Corey Seager won’t be back this season.

8) Houston Astros

The Astros may already be AL favorites, but if they land a high-quality relief pitcher, they’ll cement their status as baseball’s best shot at a repeat champion in years. Zach Britton will be a tempting option despite his struggles. Ken Giles simply hasn’t looked the same since last season’s playoffs. And while there are quality pieces in the Houston bullpen — Collin McHugh, Hector Rondon and Chris Devenski have been great — one more piece would make them seem close to bulletproof.

7) Philadelphia Phillies

How much should the Phillies go for it? They’re very much in the race, and they could very much use a bat. They’re 12th among NL teams with a .235 team average, and only Odubel Herrera is hitting anywhere close to .300. That’s not all, though. The Philadelphia bullpen has been a big problem, with injuries and poor performance combining to ensure that Edubray Ramos is the only name back there performing well. The Phillies could go in either direction and probably improve their club.

6) St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals are lurking around the playoff race and have a lot of different directions they can go. A closer could be an option, as late free agent addition Greg Holland was very much not the answer to their bullpen questions, and Bud Norris isn’t quite as elite as they would like. There are also spots in their lineup that they could improve, with Kolten Wong and Dexter Fowler both nursing sub-.200 averages. They’re in a tough division, though, so it’s unclear how aggressive they will or should be.

5) Boston Red Sox

Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski is not shy about making aggressive moves at the trade deadline, and don’t be surprised if he does it again with his team locked in a division race with the New York Yankees. They’ve already made a move by adding Steve Pearce, who is a good platoon player. They could try to address Jackie Bradley Jr. in center. But adding depth to the bullpen should be a priority. Craig Kimbrel is great, and Joe Kelly and Matt Barnes have done their jobs, but one more setup man to fill in for some injuries could be very good for them.

4) Seattle Mariners

The Mariners have been one of baseball’s best stories, and they need to harness it while they have the chance. Adding another arm to the rotation is a must. James Paxton is an ace, but his injury history makes him somewhat unreliable, while Felix Hernandez simply isn’t what he once was. They’re well aware of it, too, as they’re already being linked to starting pitching. Adding one would help to keep the momentum going.

3) New York Yankees

As good as the Yankees are, they really need to find another starting pitcher. Masahiro Tanaka is hurt, while Sonny Gray has not been what the club must have envisioned when they acquired him last year. That leaves a youngster in Luis Severino and a wily veteran in CC Sabathia to be relied upon, and not enough else. Can Jonathan Loaisiga keep up his fast start? That’s a lot to ask. With the base of young talent the Yankees have, they could very easily have the ammunition to land a big-time starter — think Madison Bumgarner if the Giants were to make him available. If they were to do that, the rest of the American League would be on notice.

2) Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers are another team very much in need of starting pitching, with just two members of the starting rotation able to boast ERAs under four. That means Milwaukee should be aggressive in the pitching market. They have the bullpen and enough contributors on offense to make a real go at the playoffs, and they’re currently enjoying first place in the NL Central. Another reliable arm in the rotation would be a statement of intent in a division filled with contenders.

1) Cleveland Indians

It would have been very far-fetched at this time a year ago to suggest that the Indians would have a dire and imminent need for back-end relief pitching at any point in the near future. They had Cody Allen, Andrew Miller, and Bryan Shaw. They were good, right?

Wrong. Shaw is now with the Colorado Rockies. Allen’s ERA is approaching four. Miller has been a frequent inhabitant of the disabled list and has struggled when off it. And once you get past that, well, nobody in Cleveland’s bullpen is capable of recording outs in a reliable manner. The Tribe simply must trade for a relief pitcher, and maybe more than one. They should be running away with the AL Central, but they’re not, and that’s largely because of their unreliable relief pitching.

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