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AL West: Who's buying, who's selling?

MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

ARLINGTON -- The American League West had four teams above .500 for most of the first three months of the season, but is evolving into a two-team race between the Astros and Mariners.

With the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaching, clubs now have to decide where they stand, what their needs are and what they hope to accomplish leading up to that crucial date.

ARLINGTON -- The American League West had four teams above .500 for most of the first three months of the season, but is evolving into a two-team race between the Astros and Mariners.

With the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaching, clubs now have to decide where they stand, what their needs are and what they hope to accomplish leading up to that crucial date.

ANGELS
What we've learned 

Mike Trout is the best player in baseball, but that doesn't do a team much good when the offense is inconsistent and the pitching staff is riddled with injuries. Shohei Ohtani came back as an offensive player on Tuesday, but his loss as a starting pitcher has been hard to overcome. Starters Garrett Richards, Nick Tropeano, Andrew Heaney, Matt Shoemaker and JC Ramirez have all spent time on the disabled list.

Video: LAA@SEA: Ohtani singles for 1st hit off DL-stint

What they are hoping to accomplish in the trade market
The Angels' pursuit of right-hander Kelvin Herrera before the Royals traded him to the Nationals showed that the Halos were interested in upgrading the back end of their bullpen. They need pitching, but they are also rebuilding their farm system with athletic, high-upside players.

Stock watch
The Angels have appeared to be in a buying mode to this point, but that may no longer be practical if they continue to lose ground in both the division and the AL Wild Card race. The Halos could be sellers, but there doesn't appear to be much to sell unless somebody like Ian Kinsler or Richards gets hot in the next few weeks. General manager Billy Eppler will look to be as creative as possible to improve the Major League product.

ASTROS
What we've learned

Everything is going great for a team on pace for 103 wins, the most in club history. The Astros lead the league in pitching and their offense is among the league leaders in runs scored. Everything would be no sweat, except they can't quite shake the Mariners.

What they'll be hoping to accomplish in the trade market
Houston saw last year how much of an impact acquiring starter Justin Verlander had on the team. It's quite possible it may attempt the same impact trade for a closer. Ken Giles doesn't have a blown save, but Hector Rondon is starting to take over as closer.

Video: HOU@TEX: Rondon induces forceout, records the save

Stock watch
The Astros are definitely buyers. They are in the middle of a run with a special group of players, so they are going to do everything they can to maximize their chances.

ATHLETICS
What we've learned

The Athletics, led by a strong bullpen, surged in the final two weeks of June and passed the Angels into third place in the AL West. Blake Treinen has been particularly outstanding as a closer and infielder Jed Lowrie has played like an All-Star.

Video: CLE@OAK: Lowrie launches a solo homer, call confirmed

What they are hoping to accomplish in the trade market
Oakland's history under Billy Beane -- their vice president for baseball operations -- is that it is a postseason team if and only if it has strong starting pitching. This team is still rebuilding its rotation and that will likely be foremost in the A's minds at the Trade Deadline.

Stock watch
Beane and general manager David Forst are always looking for creative ways to keep the Athletics competitive, but it's difficult to see them making enough moves to keep up with the Astros and the Mariners. The A's are still a team looking more toward the future than the present, even though they have exceeded expectations to this point.

MARINERS
What we've learned

The Mariners played the entire second quarter without suspended second baseman Robinson Cano, and they continue to find ways to win, especially in one-run games. They were 33-14 in their first 47 games without Cano. Their starting pitchers were 22-7 with a 3.18 ERA in that stretch, but Seattle continue to be linked to starting pitchers available on the trade market based on its current rotation being relatively inexperienced or a recent history of health issues.

Video: LAA@SEA: Seager and Healy crush back-to-back jacks

What they are hoping to accomplish in the trade market
Cole Hamels of the Rangers and J.A. Happ of the Blue Jays are the two most prominent starting pitchers being mentioned now, but others could surface before July 31.

Stock watch
The Mariners won't be sellers, and rarely does general manager Jerry Dipoto do things in between. He is one of the most aggressive general managers in the game, and he should be fun to watch as Seattle fights for its first postseason berth since 2001.

RANGERS
What we've learned

The last two weeks of June were revealing as Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus returned to the lineup. The Rangers won 11 of 13 games because their starters -- led by Mike Minor -- were 8-1 with a 3.18 ERA. Texas' young position players continue to progress and their bullpen is strong. Starting pitching is still the riddle the Rangers must resolve before they return to the status of a contender.

Video: TEX@KC: Hamels strikes out 7, allows 0 earned over 7

What they'll be hoping to accomplish in the trade market
Texas wants as many young, controllable players as possible for the future. The emphasis has to be on pitching, especially if there are any young starters available.

Stock watch
Hamels makes the Rangers sellers. There are clubs that could use him, but they may not be willing to meet the asking price or take on the contract. The chances of Texas trading third baseman Beltre seem to be diminishing.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.