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On The Move presented by Penske

Indians deal for ace reliever Brad Hand

MLB.com

The Indians have acquired All-Star reliever Brad Hand and right-handed reliever Adam Cimber from the Padres, sending prized catching prospect Francisco Mejia to San Diego.

Hand signed a three-year extension in January that pays him $3.5 million for 2018, $6.5 million next year, and $7 million in 2020. The deal also has a $10 million club option (with a $1 million buyout) for 2021.

The Indians have acquired All-Star reliever Brad Hand and right-handed reliever Adam Cimber from the Padres, sending prized catching prospect Francisco Mejia to San Diego.

Hand signed a three-year extension in January that pays him $3.5 million for 2018, $6.5 million next year, and $7 million in 2020. The deal also has a $10 million club option (with a $1 million buyout) for 2021.

This acquisition is therefore somewhat similar to when the Indians got Andrew Miller from the Yankees at the 2016 Trade Deadline while he still had 2 1/2 years remaining on his contract. They traded outfielder Clint Frazier, then their No. 1 prospect, and are trading away their top prospect again for another elite left-handed reliever with multiple years of team control. Miller is eligible for free agency this winter.

Mejia is the No. 15-ranked prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline.

Cleveland Indians, San Diego Padres, Brad Hand

What could happen in NL Central at Deadline

MLB.com

The All-Star Game has come and gone, and the non-waiver Trade Deadline is less than two weeks away. Until July 31, much of the talk in baseball will be focused around buyers and sellers, blockbuster moves and small deals and an endless buzz of trade rumors.

The National League Central might be one of the most intriguing divisions over the next 12 days. The Cubs have climbed back into first place, and they have by far the NL's best run differential. After an aggressive offseason, the Brewers' recent skid has given them more reason to make another big splash. The Cardinals ousted manager Mike Matheny, but will they shake up their roster?

The All-Star Game has come and gone, and the non-waiver Trade Deadline is less than two weeks away. Until July 31, much of the talk in baseball will be focused around buyers and sellers, blockbuster moves and small deals and an endless buzz of trade rumors.

The National League Central might be one of the most intriguing divisions over the next 12 days. The Cubs have climbed back into first place, and they have by far the NL's best run differential. After an aggressive offseason, the Brewers' recent skid has given them more reason to make another big splash. The Cardinals ousted manager Mike Matheny, but will they shake up their roster?

The Pirates are in a different place than they were two weeks ago, now standing within one game of .500 and 5 1/2 games back in the race for the second NL Wild Card spot. The Reds are 40-38 under interim manager Jim Riggleman, so perhaps they'll be more inclined to hang on to players previously presumed to be trade candidates.

This week, MLB.com spoke with scouts and executives to see what they think will happen in the NL Central.

CUBS
What they need to do: The Cubs will look for rotation depth, an NL executive suggested, especially if they don't think Yu Darvish is close to helping them. An NL scout noted the Cubs need more consistency from their rotation, so they should pursue a starter. That lines up with what Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer recently said about the Cubs' search for pitching. With no other glaring needs, an NL executive said, they'll likely be in the market for another back-end bullpen arm.

What they can get: The Cubs don't have a particularly strong system, one NL official pointed out, so they may not be in position to make a big move. An NL scout said their Major League depth theoretically frees them up to move someone like Ian Happ or Mike Montgomery, who might start for another club, if they wanted to pursue a bigger acquisition. They don't have a representative on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list, and they moved their best trade chips to get Aroldis Chapman (2016) and Jose Quintana ('17). That likely took them out of the Machado market, though several officials thought their interest in Machado was cursory at best, given the high-end talent they already have in the infield.

Video: The MLB Tonight crew discuss the Brewers' needs

BREWERS
What they need to do: One NL executive said the Brewers need pitching, both in their rotation and bullpen, along with help in the middle infield. The executive expected Milwaukee to pursue a contractually controllable starting pitcher and at least one infield upgrade. The Brewers have been relying on Tyler Saladino, Jonathan Villar, Brad Miller and Hernan Perez up the middle. An NL scout took it a step further, saying the Brewers "must" get a starter and prioritize that over a shortstop.

What they can get: An NL official said the Brewers had the necessary pieces to acquire All-Star shortstop Manny Machado, who was dealt to the Dodgers on Wednesday, even if they didn't complete the trade. The fact that they pursued Machado, the consensus top player available before the Trade Deadline, puts them in play for just about anyone. One NL scout said the Crew has the prospects and depth in their farm system to get a "high-end starter." They've also been linked to infielders Whit Merrifield, Brian Dozier and Eduardo Escobar, among others, and a number of starters, including rental lefty J.A. Happ.

CARDINALS
What they need to do: Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak recently said the club's next move was "TBD," so their direction is unclear. The Cards have underperformed, leading one NL scout to say they simply need their roster to play better. The scout said their hitters and starters are good enough to win, but they lack depth in the bullpen. Their biggest concern, the scout said, remains in the dugout following Matheny's dismissal.

Video: Cards dismiss manager Matheny, hitting coach Mabry

What they can get: Bullpen help is never in short supply this time of year, so one scout suggested they look to "the usual suspect teams" to shore up their relief corps. The Mets, Orioles, White Sox, Marlins, Blue Jays and Padres, among others, should have veteran relief help available. Lefty relievers like Zach Duke (a former Cardinal), Luis Avilan and Jake Diekman may be of some appeal.

PIRATES
What they need to do: Some in the industry believe the Pirates might be better off taking part in a multi-year rebuild, but the Bucs have said they intend to be competitive this year, and next. In that case, an NL executive said, they can't trade core players like Starling Marte and Jameson Taillon. One NL scout figured that predicament, along with their recent surge, will lead them to wait until closer to July 31 to take any action. If they're still toward the back of the Wild Card race, the scout said, they won't be "big-time buyers." If they've fallen completely out of the mix, they can move veterans, then use the rest of the season to evaluate their young talent -- including prospects like Austin Meadows, Kevin Newman, Kevin Kramer and Clay Holmes -- and determine who they can build around going forward.

What they can get: One NL scout figured closer Felipe Vazquez would bring in a haul of young talent, given the demand for young, controllable relievers, but Vazquez is the kind of core player the Pirates won't move if they want to contend next season. Their most likely trade candidates are left fielder Corey Dickerson, catcher Francisco Cervelli (if healthy), starter Ivan Nova and infielders Josh Harrison, Jordy Mercer and David Freese. One scout figured Dickerson could bring in at least one organizational top-10-caliber prospect, and thought there would be interest in Harrison, Mercer and Freese as utility/role/bench players. Cervelli's concussions complicate his future, and while Nova is a reliable veteran, he isn't the kind of front-line arm most contenders are looking for this time of year.

REDS
What they need to do: The Reds' recent run has inspired some confidence in Cincinnati, and one NL executive pointed out that they have a lineup that could contend, as long as it's led by Joey Votto, Scooter Gennett and Eugenio Suarez. However, one NL scout said the Reds need to capitalize on their short-term assets and sell. The scout said Cincinnati could flip Matt Harvey to a contender and get back as much talent as possible, then market Billy Hamilton as a fourth outfielder who could change games with his speed and defense.

What they can get: One NL scout noted that this deadline will shed light on their overall plan. If they think they can contend as soon as next year, it might make sense to keep Gennett, closer Raisel Iglesias and reliever Jared Hughes. The scout credited Cincinnati as having a strong core of position players and "a chance to have a good 'pen if they stay where they are." One scout thought they could swap Hamilton, at least, to land some young pitching prospects to eventually bolster their unproven rotation.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals

These deals hit a snag before reaching fruition

Almost-trades that would have been among MLB's biggest blockbusters
MLB.com

The problem with almost-trades, those would-be, baseball-altering deals that almost happen, is that you can never be sure how close they really came. Baseball circles are filled with idle trade talk.

Someone in a baseball front office might say in passing, "You know we really should trade for Mike Trout."

The problem with almost-trades, those would-be, baseball-altering deals that almost happen, is that you can never be sure how close they really came. Baseball circles are filled with idle trade talk.

Someone in a baseball front office might say in passing, "You know we really should trade for Mike Trout."

That's sensible. Everybody should trade for Trout. Someone will overhear it. That someone is talking over dinner with someone else and says, again, in total passing: "I hear we're at least talking about dealing for Trout."

The next somebody mentions it to somebody else who puts it on a message board, "I hear Trout trade talks might be happening,"

Everybody on the board goes crazy, and one of them calls talk radio: "We're getting Trout!"

Then somebody else comes on the show to wonder where Trout will hit in the lineup. Then someone else calls in to ask if Trout will go into the Hall of Fame as an Angel or as a representative of the local team. A fourth person calls in to say Trout is overrated, and has never won.

And at some point it becomes too big to ignore, and analysts begin talking about Trout getting traded, and maybe the Angels deny the rumors, which only adds fuel, and Trout is asked how he would feel about being dealt and, well, it's an exaggeration, but probably not by much.

And that seems like an almost trade, but it isn't. For an almost-trade to qualify, it has to go pretty far. Here are the five biggest almost-trades.

No. 1: Joe DiMaggio to Red Sox for Ted Williams, 1947 or 1948
It is by far the most famous and most intriguing almost-trade, and not just because it would have been the greatest player-for-player deal in baseball history. It would have made sense on so many levels. That's why it almost happened.

Both players were and are local icons, and both players were greatly hampered by their ballpark. DiMaggio was a power-hitting righty playing in the worst power-hitting-righty ballpark of that time, or perhaps any other. DiMaggio hit much better on the road than he did at home throughout his career because of it.

On road: .334/.406/.611, 203 doubles, 213 homers, 2,113 total bases.

At home: .315/.391/.547, 187 doubles, 148 homers, 1,837 total bases.

Even now, it's thrilling to imagine what DiMaggio might have hit had he spent any number of years at Fenway Park with the Green Monster so close. As a guide, in 120 games he hit at Fenway roughly what he hit on the road -- .334/.410/.605.

The same is less true of Williams; he destroyed Fenway Park, hit .361 there for his career. But he did say the park wasn't great for him. He loved to pull the ball, something Fenway discouraged. He undoubtedly would have loved that left field at Yankee Stadium that was so good to Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and others. Nobody knew in 1947 that Williams would go to fly in Korea and lose a couple more years to service. At the time, it would have been a legitimate thought that at Yankee Stadium, Williams might have challenged Ruth's career home-run record.

The almost-trade details are also famous. The story goes like this: The team's owners, New York's Dan Topping and Boston's Tom Yawkey, went out to Toots Shor to drink and talk, and let's face it: How could a drinking session not end up with the two talking about trading DiMaggio for Williams? By the end of the night, as the legend goes, the deal was struck. Both sides were happy about it, delirious even. They were going to shake up the baseball universe. It was Yawkey who chickened out in the morning, though there are rumors that he offered to still make the deal if the Yankees threw in a young, short and slow outfielder and part-time catcher.

Topping, it turned out, was not willing to include Yogi Berra.

No. 2: Cincinnati's Tony Perez for Kansas City's George Brett, 1974-75
Before the 1975 season, Reds manager Sparky Anderson was panicking because he did not know who would be the Reds' third baseman. Future Hall of Famer Tony Perez had played third earlier in the decade, but Anderson had no faith in his third-base defense and moved him to first. The Reds shopped Perez around all offseason. They tried to deal him to Boston for Butch Hobson. They dangled him to Oakland for Sal Bando. Those fell through.

But the deal that seemed to gain the most traction was trading him to Kansas City for the Royals' young third baseman, Brett. At the time, Brett was a talented, but still raw, young player, while Perez was an established superstar.

Video: KC@LAA: Brett collects his 3,000th career hit

This is one of those deals that isn't entirely clear regarding how close the two teams got; but it was close enough that papers in both cities reported it heavily and, in the end, we know it was Kansas City that dropped out late. Things worked out OK for the Reds; they ended up finding their third baseman in May when Anderson asked Pete Rose if he would be willing to do it. Without even answering, Rose ran into the dugout to get something and went out to third base to take some ground balls.

"What did you get there, Peter Edward?" Anderson asked him.

"A cup," Rose said. "I'll help the club, but I'm not going to risk my family's future for you."

The 1975-76 Reds ended up being one of the great teams in baseball history.

But imagine if that was Brett at third base for the Big Red Machine. And imagine how baseball history in Kansas City would have been different.

No. 3: Pittsburgh's Barry Bonds for Atlanta's Alejandro Pena, Keith Mitchell and a player to be named, 1992
You probably know: This deal was done. As far as John Schuerholz is concerned to this day, it was done. The Pirates knew that they would not be able to sign Bonds after the season, and so it was sensible to get as much as they could for him. And the Braves were building what would become one of the game's most consistent dynasties; could you even imagine the 1990s Braves if they'd had Barry Bonds?

The deal was nixed the next morning by Pirates GM Ted Simmons. This was not like an erratic owner, a Tom Yawkey, backing out of Williams-DiMaggio. The accepted etiquette is that once GMs agree to a deal, it is done. There are no takebacks. But, as Schuerholz's remembered, Simmons explained that his manager Jim Leyland had freaked out, gone over his head, and gotten the deal kiboshed. Schuerholz ranted and raved. But he did not get Bonds, who stayed in Pittsburgh for one more year, won the NL MVP Award, then went on to a pretty memorable career in San Francisco.

No. 4: Pedro Martinez to Cleveland for Bartolo Colon, Jaret Wright and prospects, 1997
The promise of Wright prevented the late 1990s Cleveland Indians from having an in-his-prime Martinez. For Cleveland fans, still waiting for the Tribe's first World Series victory since 1948, this is too cruel to be true.

To be fair, Wright and Colon were possibly the two best pitching prospects in baseball at the time. But Pedro ... he was already Pedro. He had just won his first Cy Young Award for Montreal. He was well into the process of becoming, perhaps, the most dominant pitcher ever. With Cleveland's incredible lineup back then, well, you can put together what might have happened.

Cleveland's John Hart blinked. The holdup was Wright. He was young, limitless and had just pitched wonderfully in Game 7 of the World Series. He seemed a certain star.

It's a good lesson for you kids out there: Don't fall in love with your prospects.

No. 5: St. Louis' Albert Pujols to Montreal for Steve Kline and Dustin Hermanson, 2000
On the other hand … consider the Cardinals not trading a prospect. This deal was made, but it was altered by Tony La Russa, who decided to deal Fernando Tatis in Pujols' place. This was kind of extraordinary, really. Tatis was a good player, who one year earlier had bashed 34 homers, scored 104 runs and drove in 107 runs. Pujols had just finished his first year in the Minors, and there's no doubt he showed some promise, but had also been a 13th-round Draft pick and scouts had counted numerous talent deficiencies.

La Russa decided to trade the veteran; he wasn't crazy about Tatis' defense, anyway. And the first time he saw Pujols in Major League camp, the very first time, La Russa knew that he had been right. He began raving about Pujols and, almost immediately, predicted stardom. Sometimes, you do want to fall in love with your prospects.

Honorable mentions

Yankees almost trade Mariano Rivera to Seattle, 1996
As the story goes, it was George Steinbrenner himself who wanted to make a deal with Seattle for shortstop Felix Fermin, when it looked like a kid shortstop named Derek Jeter would not be ready. Rivera was then a kid himself with a terrific arm, but he had bombed as a starter in 1995. The Yankees decided to hold off on Fermin and, shortly after, decided to put Rivera in the bullpen. It worked out for them.

Red Sox almost trade for Alex Rodriguez, 2004
The Red Sox made the deal -- Manny Ramirez and Jon Lester to Texas for Rodriguez. But you might recall that for the deal to work, A-Rod had to take a ginormous pay cut, something he willingly accepted, but the Players Association blatantly rejected. Shortly after, A-Rod went to the Yankees. It's not in the top-five list because it isn't clear that this was a loss for Boston. Keeping Manny and Lester ended up being a winning combination; the Red Sox won two World Series by the end of the decade, the Yankees one.

Royals almost trade Zack Greinke to Washington, 2011
This is one I do think about quite a bit. The Royals would have dealt Greinke to the Nationals, no doubt, except Greinke did not think Washington could win. And he didn't want to get stuck playing for another loser after years of awfulness in Kansas City. He turned down the deal.

He was wrong, though; the Nationals were just about to start winning, and winning big. The Nationals were close to .500 in 2011, and they rolled and won 98 games and reached the postseason in 2012. How much of a difference does Greinke make for the 2012 Nationals, who had to go into the playoffs without Stephen Strasburg? I suspect, he could have made all the difference.

Joe Posnanski is a columnist for MLB.com.

Complete guide to trade market for pitchers

MLB.com

At this time last year, Justin Verlander, Yu Darvish and Sonny Gray were the biggest names on the starting-pitching market.

The industry expected all three to be dealt. And they were -- even if Verlander didn't become an Astro until seconds before the Sept. 1 deadline to set postseason rosters.

At this time last year, Justin Verlander, Yu Darvish and Sonny Gray were the biggest names on the starting-pitching market.

The industry expected all three to be dealt. And they were -- even if Verlander didn't become an Astro until seconds before the Sept. 1 deadline to set postseason rosters.

In 2018, there's little consensus about which high-end pitchers are truly available -- especially among starters -- let alone where they might be heading. So perhaps the conditions are ripe for a blockbuster, the sort of landscape-changing deal no one sees coming.

Here's an overview of the names and teams to watch in the days ahead.

All-Star-caliber starters

Top names: Jacob deGrom, Blake Snell, J.A. Happ, Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson, Cole Hamels, Michael Fulmer, Chris Archer, Nathan Eovaldi, Tyler Skaggs, Andrew Heaney, Noah Syndergaard

The possibility of a deGrom or Syndergaard trade has been discussed at length in media circles, but it's unclear if the Mets have made actual progress on either front. For now, it is likely that both right-handers will remain in Flushing because of high price tags and a general reluctance to deal with the Yankees, Phillies and Braves for geographic/competitive reasons.

The Rays, Twins and Angels are poised to exert the most influence on the market for high-end pitching, because the circumstances favor sellers. Tampa Bay isn't shopping Snell. Minnesota isn't in a hurry to move Berrios -- or Gibson, for that matter. But the conditions are ripe for a motivated contender (like Milwaukee) to assemble an overwhelming offer.

Gibson, 30, is one of this year's sleeper trade candidates, with a career-best WHIP (1.23) and K/BB (2.48) rate. He can become a free agent following the 2019 season, so there's value in the Twins moving him now.

The less-talked-about possibilities, such as Gibson, have become more appealing with the struggles of Happ and Fulmer late in the first half.

Teams shopping: Yankees, Mariners, Rockies, Braves, Brewers, D-backs

Gray's struggles over the past calendar year have thrust the Yankees right back into the market for a No. 2 starter. The Brewers' need for a top starter became even more acute when Junior Guerra landed on the disabled list just prior to the All-Star break.

Similarly, the Braves need a veteran arm to help fuse together a rotation beset by injures over the past month. The D-backs and Rockies are in a similar position: They have depth among their starting pitchers, so they'd need to land a No. 2 starter (or better) to make a rotation move worth their while at this year's July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Depth starters

Top names: Tyson Ross, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Steven Matz, Clayton Richard, Matthew Boyd, Mike Fiers, Francisco Liriano, Jake Odorizzi, Lance Lynn, Ivan Nova, Danny Duffy, Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, James Shields

As one baseball scout observed recently, the Reds bought Harvey's stock when it cratered, and now they are positioned to sell at a decent profit. Harvey's WHIP since moving to Cincinnati is 1.17; he hasn't done that over a full season since helping the Mets reach the 2015 World Series.

Video: MIL@CIN: Harvey tosses 5 2/3 scoreless innings, K's 6

Wheeler and Fiers are among the Major League leaders in innings pitched over the past 30 days, which is more important than it sounds: Scouts are canvassing ballparks across the Majors this month because contenders need pitchers who are healthy and effective right now.

Teams shopping: Athletics, Phillies, Nationals

The Nationals face a deficit in the National League East and need arms to fill out the back of their rotation, with Erick Fedde on the disabled list and Stephen Strasburg set to return from the DL on Friday. The Phillies, like the Nats, have ace-level pitching but could add a veteran for the stretch run.

The A's are an unpredictable presence in this sector of the market. For Oakland, adding a rental starter (like Happ or Lynn) at a reasonable cost is the safest strategy.

Setup relievers

Top names: Drew Steckenrider, Adam Conley, Brad Ziegler, Amir Garrett, Jared Hughes, David Hernandez, Jose Leclerc, Mychal Givens, Trevor Hildenberger, Alex Wilson, Seunghwan Oh, Xavier Cedeno, Luis Avilan, Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, Edgar Santana, Richard Rodriguez, Kyle Crick, Alex Claudio, Jake Diekman, Ryan Pressly, Matt Andriese, John Axford

Raisel Iglesias is hardly the only Reds reliever in demand, as Garrett, Hernandez and Hughes are in demand across the business. The Pirates' right-handed setup group -- Santana, Rodriguez and Crick -- has been among the best in baseball this year, but it's unclear how available any of them will be.

The Angels, Blue Jays and White Sox project to be among the most active sellers in the middle-relief market. In Avilan and Cedeno, the White Sox have two left-handers to move.

Teams shopping: Indians, Red Sox, Mariners, Phillies, Dodgers, D-backs, Giants, Rockies

With four NL West teams listed above, the division title could be determined by which team does the most to improve its bullpen at the Deadline. With Manny Machado on his way to Los Angeles, the Dodgers' greatest need is probably fortifying the bridge to closer Kenley Jansen.

Meanwhile, the Indians, Red Sox and Mariners -- possible playoff foes of the Yankees -- must fortify their bullpens in order to go pitch for pitch against the top bullpen in the American League.

Closers

Top names: Raisel Iglesias, Felipe Vazquez, Kyle Barraclough, Zach Britton, Blake Parker, Keone Kela, Jeurys Familia, Bud Norris, Fernando Rodney, Joakim Soria, Sergio Romo, Tyler Clippard, Shane Greene, Brad Brach

Brad Hand was the top name on this list, but with him having been traded to the Indians on Thursday, that distinction is shared by Britton, Iglesias and Barraclough.

Video: CIN@CHC: Iglesias retires Heyward to notch 5-out save

Parker's presence on the list is the result of the Angels' recent struggles and his steady performance for a second straight season. Meanwhile, a trade involving Vazquez is unlikely, since he is signed through the 2021 season with club options for '22 and '23.

Romo isn't the most sought-after name among this group, but he's intriguing. As one of the Rays' "openers," he's the lone pitcher in the Majors this year with at least five starts and 10 or more saves.

All-Star closer Blake Treinen would've headlined this list as recently as one month ago, but the A's are playing too well to move him now.

Teams shopping: Astros, Braves, Cardinals

Yes, the Indians got Hand, but don't be shocked if they add another reliever, as their bullpen ERA currently stands at 5.28, which ranks 29th in MLB, ahead of only the Royals. Hand --- who is under contract through 2020 is with a team option for 2021 -- as a perfect fit for Cleveland, as Andrew Miller and Cody Allen are entering free agency after this season.

The Cardinals will be fascinating to follow at the Deadline; depending on how their playoff chances evolve after the dismissal of manager Mike Matheny, St. Louis could trade current closer Norris or add another reliever. The Astros seem destined to add a closer given Ken Giles' recent demotion to Triple-A, but don't be surprised if they wait until July 31 to see if prices drop on guys like Familia or Britton.

Jon Paul Morosi is a columnist for MLB.com.

What could happen in NL East at Deadline

MLB.com

As the Nationals enter the second half attempting to live up to expectations and defend their National League East crown, they are looking up at the Phillies, who want to make a significant acquisition, and the Braves, who have the prospect currency necessary to make a big deal before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

The Phillies own a half-game lead over the Braves and a 5 1/2-game advantage over the Nats. So, what happens over the next two weeks might significantly impact the NL East race. This will also be a potentially impactful stretch for the Mets and Marlins, a pair of teams that have the significant pieces necessary to impact their respective futures with what would be among the year's biggest trades.

As the Nationals enter the second half attempting to live up to expectations and defend their National League East crown, they are looking up at the Phillies, who want to make a significant acquisition, and the Braves, who have the prospect currency necessary to make a big deal before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

The Phillies own a half-game lead over the Braves and a 5 1/2-game advantage over the Nats. So, what happens over the next two weeks might significantly impact the NL East race. This will also be a potentially impactful stretch for the Mets and Marlins, a pair of teams that have the significant pieces necessary to impact their respective futures with what would be among the year's biggest trades.

Here is a look at what each NL East club needs and wants approaching the Trade Deadline.

PHILLIES
What they need: Now that Manny Machado has gone to the Dodgers, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak must look elsewhere to satisfy his wish to improve offensively. Scouts have identified acquiring a bat as the team's biggest need. But the addition of a front-line starter could also enhance the team's bid to gain a postseason berth and progress through October.

"Machado would have been a huge get, but they will still be active players because it does not seem like money is an issue," an American League scout said. "The rotation lacks a true No. 1, but they have pitched better lately. So expect them to continue kicking the tires on some starting pitchers."

What they can get: As soon as it appeared Machado might head to the Dodgers, Mike Moustakas was mentioned as a candidate to land in Philadelphia. If Klentak does not land a middle-of-the-lineup bat, he may at least attempt to upgrade the team's offensive capability off the bench. Potential starter targets include J.A. Happ, Cole Hamels and Michael Fulmer, who is drawing interest from multiple NL East contenders.

"They will be willing to give up premium prospects, but they will not completely wreck what they have been doing," an AL scout said. "My expectation is they will target veteran-type starting pitchers. Without Machado, I just don't see a significant bat available that would be an upgrade."

BRAVES
What they need: There is a need to add veteran presence and depth in the bullpen. Some of the concerns about their 'pen could be lessened by adding a starter to the front of their rotation. Such an acquisition could lead to using one of their young pitchers to enhance their bullpen depth. The addition of a bat could also improve what is an offensively-thin bench.

"Fulmer makes a lot of sense here," an AL scout said. "Everybody is looking for a reliever. Getting a top starter would allow the Braves to take advantage of their depth by moving one of their young pitchers to the bullpen. Fulmer is 25 years old and has four years of control remaining. Those guys don't come cheap, but they aren't supposed to be cheap."

What they can get: Shortly after becoming the Braves' general manager this past winter, Alex Anthopoulos inquired about Fulmer. So it certainly makes sense for him to keep tabs on the former AL Rookie of the Year. Getting Jeurys Familia from the division-rival Mets seems like a long shot, but the Braves have the prospect pool necessary to pursue veteran relievers like Zach Britton or Joakim Soria. The club will also keep tabs on Brad Hand, Kyle Barraclough and Craig Stammen, who all have the ability to add depth to a young 'pen.

"The Braves are loaded with prospects and have the pieces necessary to get any deal done," an NL scout said. "They just have to determine which pitchers are a part of their future. They can't wait too long though, because once they start to struggle, they don't have value. But they all have value right now."

NATIONALS
What they need:
There's no doubt the Nationals want to acquire a catcher. They have inquired about a reunion with currently injured Wilson Ramos, but their top target is J.T. Realmuto. To get the All-Star catcher from the Marlins, Washington would almost certainly have to part with top prospect Victor Robles, who may at least be more expendable now that Juan Soto has been successful at the Major League level. There may also be a desire to add a starter.

"Much of the prospect talent is at the lower levels right now," an AL scout said. "That's not a knock against the club. It's just how it goes with the process. So unless they are willing to move Robles, I can't see them making a significant trade."

What they can get: An AL scout who recently inquired about the possibility of Matt Harvey landing with the Nationals was told it would likely not happen. Still, Harvey, Happ and Nathan Eovaldi are among the starters who may draw interest from the reigning division champs. But it's no secret that the top target from both an immediate and long-range point of view is Realmuto.

"I talked to a scout whose team asked about Realmuto, and I can't believe how much teams are asking in return for some of these top players," an NL scout said. "I get it from the Marlins' perspective. But it makes it harder to believe a deal will get done."

Video: deGrom on his future with the Mets, trade rumors

METS
What they need: While rumors surrounding Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard will continue to create a buzz, the most likely significant piece the Mets could end up dealing is Familia, who is arguably the best in what should be an active bullpen market. deGrom would net a significant return that would upgrade a thin farm system. But it seems unlikely teams will be willing to acquiesce a justifiably significant ask. So, Zack Wheeler may be used to at least get a decent piece for the pipeline.

"The whole deGrom buzz is overblown, because it's going to have to be a significant overpay for it to make sense to move him," an NL scout said. "It's a hard read with the new front-office guys. It's going to come down to what kind of returns they can get."

What they can get: The direction of the Mets might be determined this winter, when they may have a better opportunity to get a feel for the potential trade values of deGrom, Syndergaard and Yoenis Cespedes. But with Familia and Wheeler, the club at least has a chance to start enhancing its prospect pool.

"They would love to get a premium offensive prospect," an AL scout said. "Though Wheeler has pitched better lately, he's not going to get you that kind of player. But they could get a mid-level Double-A guy, or a young kid who is still in the early stages of his development."

MARLINS
What they need:
As the Marlins progress through the early stages of their rebuild, they will focus on potential returns for Realmuto, Barraclough and reliever Brad Ziegler.

What they can get: Realmuto is the one big piece the Marlins still have to use to significantly strenghten their farm system. But it remains to be seen whether they will eventually get what they want in return for the All-Star, who arguably stands as the game's best catcher.

"Moving Realmuto before the end of this month seems like a long shot to me, unless somebody really steps up," an NL scout said. "They want a huge return, and that's exactly what they should be seeking. But I think it's more likely we'll see him moved this winter."

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins, Philadelphia Phillies, Washington Nationals, New York Mets

Latest: Dozier, Ramos, Moose, Escobar, Hand

The latest news and rumors leading up to July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline
MLB.com

As the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches, we'll keep you up to date with the latest news, buzz, rumors and more.

Latest: Could Brewers land Dozier?
July 18: After falling short in the Manny Machado sweepstakes, the Brewers could turn their pre-Deadline attention to Twins second baseman Brian Dozier, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal.

As the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches, we'll keep you up to date with the latest news, buzz, rumors and more.

Latest: Could Brewers land Dozier?
July 18: After falling short in the Manny Machado sweepstakes, the Brewers could turn their pre-Deadline attention to Twins second baseman Brian Dozier, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal.

Tweet from @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.

With Machado no longer available after the Orioles traded him to the Dodgers on Wednesday night, Dozier would be a quality consolation prize for the contending Crew. The 31-year-old Dozier has struggled in 2018 -- batting just .230 -- but he's still notched 16 homers, 60 runs and five steals in 93 games. Dozier ranked among the baseball's top keystone men over the previous two seasons, batting .269/.349/.522 with 76 homers, 210 runs and 34 steals in 307 contests.

If acquired, Dozier would be a significant upgrade over Hernan Perez, who has reached base at just a .282 clip in 2018, and Jonathan Villar, who has struggled when healthy (.315 OBP) and is currently on the DL with a sprained right thumb. Dozier would likely only serve as a half-season rental for Milwaukee, though, as he is set to be a free agent after this year.

The Brewers could also look to bolster their pitching staff, which currently ranks fourth in the National League with a combined 3.65 ERA. Despite the strong numbers, Milwaukee could use an ace to shore up a rotation that currently consists of Chase Anderson, Jhoulys Chacin, Wade Miley and Brent Suter.

Ramos may not return by Trade Deadline
July 18: A strained left hamstring already cost Wilson Ramos a chance to start the All-Star Game. Now it could impact the Rays' chances to trade the backstop.

Ramos, who was voted in at catcher but missed the Midsummer Classic due to the injury, is having a strong season with a .297/.346/.488 line to go with 14 home runs. The 30-year-old, however, was placed on the 10-day DL Wednesday and appears likely to be out beyond the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Tweet from @TBTimes_Rays: #Rays officially put Ramos on DL with left hamstring strain, as expected. He is likely to miss extended time, past July 31 trade deadline. Also reinstated LHP Jose Alvarado from family medical emergency list.

While Ramos' trade value already had taken a hit, it's now even lower, which is a tough outcome for the Rays. Not only could Ramos have brought back a nice return in a depleted catching market, but he also is a free agent at season's end, thus limiting the Rays' opportunity to get anything of real value for him. Perhaps they'll revisit shopping him in August, before the waiver Trade Deadline at the end of next month.

Phillies turn attention elsewhere after missing out on Machado
July 18: After heavy pursuit, the Phillies missed out on Manny Machado -- who is heading to the Dodgers -- but that doesn't mean they're going to sit still. As they exit the All-Star break with a half-game lead over the Braves in the National League East, the Phils are aiming to add ahead of the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Among their top targets now? Mike Moustakas of the Royals and Eduardo Escobar of the Twins, MLB.com's Todd Zolecki writes. The Phillies are looking for an upgrade on the left side of their infield, where youngsters Maikel Franco, Scott Kingery and J.P. Crawford have struggled with injuries and inconsistency. Although both Moustakas and Escobar primarily play third base, Escobar has experience at shortstop.

Both Moustakas, who has 19 homers and a .772 OPS, and Escobar, who owns an .834 OPS and an MLB-high 35 doubles, can be free agents at season's end. As rental players, they could help the Phillies' quest to make it back to the postseason for the first time since 2011 -- and may not require a huge return that would dent their promising future. More >

Philadelphia is also interested in Padres reliever Brad Hand, according to The Athletic. Hand is one of the best relievers on the trade market, and the price tag would be steep. Nevertheless, the Phillies' bullpen, with a 4.08 ERA, could use an upgrade as the club enters the second half in contention for an NL East title. Hand owns a 3.05 ERA in 41 appearances (44 1/3 innings) for San Diego this season. In 195 appearances since 2016, he's posted a 2.66 ERA while striking out one out of every three batters he's faced.

Video: Slugger Moustakas delivering at the plate, in field

Cardinals among clubs on buy-or-sell bubble
July 18: The second half is about to start and the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline is less than two weeks away, but there still are a handful of teams who can't clearly be labeled as buyers or sellers … yet.

The Cardinals -- sitting four games out of a National League Wild Card spot at 48-46 and coming off the dismissal of longtime skipper Mike Matheny just before the break -- are one such club. St. Louis has a few intriguing trade chips, as MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi points to versatile infielder Jedd Gyorko (signed through next season with a club option for 2020) and 2017 breakout outfielder Tommy Pham (under club control through 2021).

The 29-year-old Gyorko's power is down this season -- he's slugging .411 after posting .495 and .472 marks in 2016 and '17, respectively -- but his ability to play all four infield positions could prove useful to a contender.

Pham is an especially interesting name to float, given that he came from nowhere to slash .306/.411/.520 while compiling 23 homers and 25 steals last year. He is, however, already 30 years old and has slumped to a .243/.326/.396 line so far in a streaky 2018 campaign. Morosi notes that the Cardinals' outfield depth, including rookie Harrison Bader's emergence, could make Pham worth dangling for a sizable return. More >

Dodgers complete deal for Machado
July 18: While the expectation since late Tuesday night has been that the Dodgers will be the winners of the Manny Machado sweepstakes, nothing had been finalized as of Wednesday afternoon. However, the blockbuster deal is now complete.

In exchange for Machado, Baltimore will receive outfielder Yusniel Diaz, third baseman Rylan Bannon, right-hander Dean Kremer, righty Zach Pop and second baseman Breyvic Valera. Ranked as Los Angeles' No. 4 prospect and the No. 84 prospect in the game by MLB Pipeline, Diaz is the most talented player in the group, with Bannon (No. 27) and Kremer (No. 28) also ranked among the club's Top 30.

The 21-year-old Diaz is slashing .314/.428/.477 at Double-A this season, and he showed off his power by homering twice in Sunday's SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, joining Alfonso Soriano (in 1999) as the only players to pull off that feat in the showcase's 20-year history.

Video: WLD@USA: Diaz clobbers 2-run jack, game-tying HR

Though there was a reported snag involving an issue with the physical of one (or more) of the prospects headed to Baltimore, according to MLB Network Radio host and former Mets GM Steve Phillips, the Orioles and Dodgers have worked past any medical issues.

Britton's market picking up
July 18: Manny Machado was their biggest chip -- and the biggest one on the trade market -- but the Orioles have another key piece in Zach Britton, who is likely to be moved soon after Machado. Interest in the lefty reliever has increased, according to MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli.

Britton has made 15 appearances this season after returning from offseason surgery to repair a ruptured right Achilles. Though he got off to a rough start, the 30-year-old has not given up a run over his past seven outings (seven innings) while showing a dramatic increase in velocity.

As many as eight teams have been connected to Britton, an industry source recently told Bruce Levine of Chicago radio station 670 The Score, including the Cubs, Phillies and Red Sox.

Will teams wheel and deal well before Trade Deadline?
July 18: Conventional wisdom says front offices tend to wait until the last week -- or even the last day -- before making massive moves at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. But that no longer appears to be the case, as activity has picked up sooner over the past several years, including during the All-Star break on occasion.

With Manny Machado on his way to the Dodgers, this could be the latest in a recent run of blockbuster-caliber trades to happen well ahead of the Deadline. In fact, we could see a big-name player change teams before the second half resumes for the third straight season, after Jose Quintana (to the Cubs) and Drew Pomeranz (to the Red Sox) did so in 2017 and '16, respectively. More >

Hand retires all three batters faced in All-Star Game
July 18: Brad Hand showed why he's one of the most coveted relievers on the trade market with a strong performance in Tuesday night's Midsummer Classic.

After Josh Hader surrendered Jean Segura's tiebreaking three-run homer and allowed a Mitch Moreland single, Hand entered with one out in the top of the eighth inning. He struck out Yan Gomes and got Michael Brantley to ground out to end any potential further scoring threat.

Making his second straight All-Star appearance, the Padres lefty stayed in to open the top of the ninth and proceeded to get Jed Lowrie to pop out before giving way to Ross Stripling. All told, it was a perfect performance from the 28-year-old, who has garnered interest from a number of teams for his stellar track record and team-friendly contract.

Tweet from @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.

Happ picks up save in Midsummer Classic
July 18: J.A. Happ had never made an appearance in the All-Star Game or a notched a save in his 12-year MLB career, but both of those changed Tuesday night.

The Blue Jays lefty, who hadn't pitched in relief since one outing in 2015 with the Mariners, came into the game in the bottom of the 10th with the American League ahead of the National League, 8-5. After giving up a home run to Joey Votto on his first pitch, the first-time All-Star settled down to register his first career save by striking out Christian Yelich, then getting Charlie Blackmon to ground out and Lorenzo Cain to fly out.

Although Happ has hit a bit of a rough patch with a 9.75 ERA in his past three starts, the 35-year-old free-agent-to-be remains one of the bigger trade targets for teams seeking mid-rotation help, including the Phillies, who have "definite interest" in Happ, according to Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Phillies have also been connected to the Rangers' Cole Hamels, another lefty who began his career with Philadelphia, but Salisbury notes "there has been no evidence to date that the Phils are pursuing Hamels." The 34-year-old has a $20 million team option with a $6 million buyout for 2019.

Choo drawing little trade interest; Hamels, Beltre also lacking suitors
July 17: While the Rangers are expected to be Trade Deadline sellers, they may have trouble finding attractive deals for many of their key trade chips. Even Shin-Soo Choo, who entered the All-Star break on a 51-game on-base streak, is drawing little interest, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.

Choo is owed $42 million over 2019-20 as well as the remainder of the $20 million on his deal for this season, and he also offers little defensive value, which may be why teams aren't lining up to deal for the 36-year-old.

Per Grant, the market is also tepid for starter Cole Hamels and third baseman Adrian Beltre.

Hamels has struggled some this season, allowing 21 homers in 109 1/3 innings (1.7 HR/9), and he won't come cheap. The left-hander is owed the remainder of the $23.5 million on his contract for 2018 ($2.5 million of which is being paid by the Phillies), and he has a $20 million team option with a $6 million buyout for '19.

Meanwhile, Beltre has been spending more time as the designated hitter due to injuries, and his OPS is just .739. There's also the question of whether he will consider waiving his full no-trade clause, which comes from him having 10-and-5 rights (10-plus years in the Majors, at least five with current team). The impending free agent reportedly would like to play with the Rangers in 2019 and may approve a trade only if it's the perfect situation.

O's also listening on Gausman, Bundy, Schoop?
July 17: While Manny Machado has been the biggest story in Baltimore of late, the Orioles have plenty of other assets that could be moved ahead of the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Lefty reliever Zach Britton and outfielder Adam Jones -- both free agents at the end of the 2018 season -- are chief among those names, but the club isn't limiting itself as it faces a rebuilding process. In fact, the O's reportedly are listening to offers on right-handed starters Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy, along with second baseman Jonathan Schoop, MLB Network insider Joel Sherman notes in a New York Post story.

"I think their goal is to trade their walk-year guys, Machado, Britton, [Brad] Brach and Adam Jones, but they are not hanging up the phone if you ask on Gausman, Bundy or Schoop," a baseball executive told Sherman.

Given the O's desire to address their pitching, it would be surprising to see them deal either Gausman, who is 27 and under club control through 2020, or Bundy, a 25-year-old who won't reach free agency until after the 2021 season. Schoop, on the other hand, is due to hit the open market following the 2019 campaign, although his disappointing season so far (.229/.263/.389) means the club would be selling low on a 26-year-old who was an All-Star a year ago.

Padres getting calls on Ross, Yates, Hand
July 16: Brad Hand isn't the only Padres pitcher to be highly coveted by contending clubs. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports San Diego has been "getting a lot of hits" on starter Tyson Ross and several relievers, including Hand and Kirby Yates. Sherman notes the Yankees are among the teams that have checked in with the Padres.

Ross, who can become a free agent at the end of this season, has posted a 4.32 ERA in 2018, though he had a much more impressive 3.32 mark through the end of June before allowing 15 runs over his first two starts of July.

Hand, 28, is among the best relievers in baseball, as he has posted a 2.66 ERA with a 1.04 WHIP and an 11.8 K/9 rate since the outset of 2016. In exchange for the two-time All-Star, who is signed through 2020 with a $10 million team option for 2021, the Padres are believed to be asking for a package similar to those the Yankees got for Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller in two separate deals during 2016.

The Cubs also reportedly have Hand on their wish list, according to Bruce Levine of Chicago radio station 670 The Score.

Yates, meanwhile, has quietly recorded a 1.47 ERA with a 0.90 WHIP and an 11.5 K/9 rate this season. The 31-year-old is controllable through 2020.

Rosenthal: 'Almost no doubt' Dodgers will add reliever
July 16: The Dodgers are expected to be a major player in the relief pitching market before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, as MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal noted in a Twitter Q&A session for FOX Sports.

The Dodgers are seeking a bullpen arm who can pitch the eighth inning and also spell closer Kenley Jansen from time to time, according to Rosenthal, who said "there's almost no doubt" the club will trade for a reliever.

Tweet from @MLBONFOX: .@kryptonic05 #AskKen pic.twitter.com/y7foYiKfyU

Los Angeles leaned heavily on Brandon Morrow during the 2017 postseason as a setup man for Jansen, but Morrow signed with the Cubs in the offseason.

Though Josh Fields, Tony Cingrani and Pedro Baez have had solid campaigns, all three are on the disabled list with arm injuries, and none is on the level of someone such as Zach Britton, Raisel Iglesias, Jeurys Familia or Kyle Barraclough.

Will Archer be traded?
July 16: The Rays face an interesting decision with Chris Archer, whose name has been floated among trade rumors for years. On one hand, they have a young core that has them above .500 and looks promising going forward, especially if Archer is a part of it. On the other, Tampa Bay could take advantage of a weak market for starters and put Archer in play.

"Given the state of the starting pitching market, the incentive for [the Rays] to move him might never be higher," MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal suggested in a Twitter question-and-answer session on @MLBONFOX.

Tweet from @MLBONFOX: .@jboy819 #AskKen pic.twitter.com/Gm4QrCgP7Y

That said, Archer just came off the DL a week ago for a left abdominal strain that cost him more than a month of action and his performance so far this season has been somewhat inconsistent (4.29 ERA, 1.38 WHIP). In other words, making Archer available now might be undercutting his full value.

As a 29-year-old making $6.25 million this year and under contract for $7.5 million next year with club options for 2020 ($9M) and 2021 ($11M), Archer would be appealing to just about any club looking for rotation help -- not just 2018 contenders. His team-friendly contract also allows the cost-conscious Rays to be patient with their prized right-hander.

Amid trade rumors, deGrom addresses his future
July 16: As Jacob deGrom continues to be at the center of trade speculation, the All-Star right-hander made it clear he's open to staying with the Mets long term.

deGrom's agent Brodie Van Wagenen of CAA Sports initially suggested Monday that the Mets might consider trading their ace sooner than later if they don't plan to offer him a contract extension, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal.

Tweet from @Ken_Rosenthal: More from Van Wagenen: ���If the Mets don���t share same interest, we believe their best course of action is to seriously consider trade opportunities now.The inertia of current situation could complicate Jacob���s relationship with the club and creates an atmosphere of indecision.���

The 30-year-old deGrom, who leads MLB with a 1.68 ERA and is under club control through 2020, responded to questions at All-Star media day in Washington, D.C., by stating: "We've said multiple times that we're open to talking [about an] extension. It's kind of up to [the Mets] what they want to do." More >

Video: deGrom on his future with the Mets, trade rumors

Astros might stand pat at Trade Deadline
July 16: The Astros have reportedly discussed dealing for a catcher and a reliever, but there's a chance they won't make any major moves before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal in a Twitter Q&A session for FOX Sports.

Tweet from @MLBONFOX: .@nnickk22 #AskKen pic.twitter.com/4gWhpCLIMM

With backstop Brian McCann (right knee surgery) expected to return by September and Max Stassi providing solid production (.792 OPS), Rosenthal notes the Astros are more likely to get a reliever than a catcher.

Per Rosenthal, Houston is seeking someone who can be a "true difference-maker" in the bullpen, such as Zach Britton, Brad Hand or Raisel Iglesias.

But with the ability to shift either Lance McCullers Jr. or Charlie Morton to the 'pen during the postseason, as they did last year when they won the World Series, the Astros may not feel a sense of urgency to add a big-name reliever.

Braves not expected to pursue big-name rentals
July 16: The Braves have been one of the biggest surprises of the 2018 season, unexpectedly putting the team in the "buyer" category as executive vice president and general manager Alex Anthopoulos prepares for his first Trade Deadline at the helm. But judging by Anthopoulos' comments in a two-part Q&A with Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Braves aren't planning to mortgage their bright future for a short-term boost.

"We would prefer not to go after rentals unless the acquisition cost just makes so much sense for us," Anthopoulos said. "There's a lot of pain that has gone into putting together this young talent. We're not ready to throw that all away just because of one season."

MLB Pipeline: Braves Top 30 prospects

Earlier this month, the Braves were mentioned among the contenders for Manny Machado, but that ship has sailed, as the Dodgers acquired the All-Star shortstop Wednesday night. Atlanta has also been connected to Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas. Like Machado, Moustakas can become a free agent after this season.

One area Anthopoulos could look to address is the bullpen, especially with closer Arodys Vizcaino going back on the DL on Saturday with right shoulder inflammation. The Braves entered the All-Star break with the 19th-best bullpen ERA in the Majors (4.24), and many of their key relievers are inexperienced. However, Atlanta could have limited options if free-agents-to-be such as the Orioles' Zach Britton and the Mets' Jeurys Familia are off the table. More >

Angels unlikely to deal Skaggs or Heaney
July 16: With a 49-48 record at the end of the first half, the Angels remain on the fringe of postseason contention, but they are nine games out of an AL Wild Card spot. That has sparked speculation that the club might consider selling by the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, with southpaw starters Tyler Skaggs and Andrew Heaney mentioned as potential pieces.

That no longer appears to be the case, however, as MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reports via Twitter.

Tweet from @Ken_Rosenthal: #Angels have no interest in trading Heaney or Skaggs, per source - team needs them to compete in ���19. As I said Saturday, LAA drawing interest in controllable relievers - Parker, Alvarez, Bedrosian, Anderson. Open on any of them, but will want good returns to give up control.

With superstar Mike Trout smack in the middle of his prime and under contract through 2020, the Angels want to win in this window while they can. Both Skaggs (through '20) and Heaney (through '21) are under club control beyond this season, meaning they can be a part of that direction.

It had previously been reported by MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi that the Yankees have recently been scouting Angels games with eyes on Skaggs and Heaney, in particular.

Nationals could 'revisit' Realmuto trade discussions
July 15: The Nationals were believed to have moved on from Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto due to Miami's lofty asking price, but league sources say that Washington could "revisit" its pursuit of the backstop, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman in an article for Fancred Sports.

Some think the Nats might consider including top prospect Victor Robles (No. 5 overall, per MLB Pipeline) in a package for Realmuto, who will start at catcher for the National League in Tuesday's All-Star Game presented by Mastercard.

Per Heyman, the Marlins have long sought Robles and/or infielder Carter Kieboom (Washington's No. 2 prospect, No. 62 overall) from the Nationals, who discussed Realmuto with Miami in the offseason and reached out again several weeks ago but have been unwilling to include the aforementioned prospects to this point.

The Nationals have also been connected to Rays catcher Wilson Ramos, who played in Washington from 2010-16, but Ramos suffered a left hamstring injury Saturday and will miss the All-Star Game.

Listen: Mark Feinsand joins the Morning Lineup Podcast to discuss latest rumors

Are Pirates still on track to sell at Trade Deadline?
July 16: The Pirates were seemingly en route to be Trade Deadline sellers just over a week ago, but the club has ripped off an 8-1 stretch -- including a five-game sweep over the Brewers -- to potentially change its plans.

As Tim Benz of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review notes, general manager Neal Huntington said before this past week that a 4-4 record in the next eight games wouldn't be enough to convince him to keep the team together beyond the Trade Deadline. But Pittsburgh's red-hot run has put pressure on Huntington to hold off on a major teardown.

True, the Bucs are still only 48-49, putting them in fourth place in the National League Central, and their financial resources remain limited, so it's unlikely they'll significantly add to the roster between now and July 31.

But if Pittsburgh continues to play well coming out of the All-Star break, the onus will be on Huntington to keep veterans such as Jordy Mercer, Corey Dickerson, Ivan Nova, David Freese and Josh Harrison past July 31. The Pirates are also without one of their most valuable trade chips, as catcher Francisco Cervelli returned to the 7-day disabled list Saturday with recurring concussion symptoms.

Cardinals could sell if struggles continue after All-Star break
July 15: The Cardinals picked up a win in their final game before the All-Star break after dismissing manager Mike Matheny on Saturday, but if their recent struggles continue to begin the second half, the expectation is that St. Louis will "seriously consider selling," according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

And if that happens, the Cardinals could shake up the starting pitcher market in a big way by making right-hander Carlos Martinez available.

As Sherman notes, St. Louis' strength is young arms, so the club could use Martinez to address other problems on the roster. Per Sherman, outside executives believe the Cardinals can get peak value for Martinez in a market lacking an ace. The 26-year-old is in the second year of a five-year, $51 million contract with team options for 2022 ($17 million) and 2023 ($18 million).

The Cardinals will enter the All-Star break with a 48-46 record, 7 1/2 games behind the first-place Cubs in the National League Central (five games behind the second-placed Brewers) and four games out in the NL Wild Card race. They'll open the second half with eight games on the road, including five at Wrigley Field.

Machado will be in lineup to open second half

Dodgers' acquisition expected to play primarily at shortstop
MLB.com

LOS ANGELES -- The next time you see Manny Machado and Matt Kemp on the field, they won't be mugging for selfies as All-Star opponents. They'll be playing for real, as Dodgers teammates.

General manager Farhan Zaidi said Machado will be in the lineup Friday night in Milwaukee when the Dodgers resume play. He's likely to be at shortstop, but with Justin Turner having missed the last four games with a tight adductor, Machado just as easily could be starting at third base.

LOS ANGELES -- The next time you see Manny Machado and Matt Kemp on the field, they won't be mugging for selfies as All-Star opponents. They'll be playing for real, as Dodgers teammates.

General manager Farhan Zaidi said Machado will be in the lineup Friday night in Milwaukee when the Dodgers resume play. He's likely to be at shortstop, but with Justin Turner having missed the last four games with a tight adductor, Machado just as easily could be starting at third base.

Although Machado has stated he considers himself a shortstop, he's played both positions, and that's a good thing when you're a Dodger.

Video: Farhan Zaidi on acquiring Machado from the Orioles

"He's going to move around, like a lot of our guys do," said Zaidi. "[Manager] Dave Roberts has already spoken to him about how much we value flexibility. We pointed out that every position player on our roster has played multiple positions. Manny being willing to move between shortstop and third, we believe he can be an asset at both positions. It's less about evaluating Manny at those positions and more about giving [Roberts] options. He understands the way we manage the roster. He's told us he wants to do whatever he can to help this team succeed and win. So, he's on board"

Tweet from @court_with_a_K: Just when you thought you could get away from baseball for the ASB.. @redturn2 @Awood45 pic.twitter.com/Bi3VBY3Oho

If everybody is ever healthy, Machado figures to start mostly at shortstop, nudging Chris Taylor mostly to second base, sending Max Muncy mostly to first base and Cody Bellinger mostly to center field.

Or, Taylor can return to center field, with Muncy or Enrique Hernandez at second and Bellinger at first. Because Taylor, Bellinger and Hernandez are equally adept at the outfield and the infield, the combinations are seemingly endless.

Taylor opened the season as the starting center fielder. He became the starting shortstop when Corey Seager was lost for the season to Tommy John surgery. Indirectly, that led to the trade for Machado, which means another move for Taylor.

"Our plan is for [Taylor] to regularly get in the lineup, probably a mix of some shortstop and some second base, center field, maybe the corner outfield," said Zaidi. "He's shown over the last year and a half how important he is to our lineup."

Machado has batted primarily third for the Orioles this year, with a few games at second and he figures to be in one or the other spot for the Dodgers so he'll bat in the first inning. Seager generally batted second.

"Even though our offense has been pretty good, any time you have a chance to put an impact bat in the middle of the lineup, it can't help but look even better," Zaidi said. "He hasn't struck out much. Some of the fluctuations we've had offensively, having a consistent offensive force like Manny Machado in the middle, hopefully, can smooth those things over."

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Manny Machado

6 most likely to be traded and where they'll go

Machado deal may be a catalyst to a busy couple of weeks
MLB.com

Manny Machado's trade from the Orioles to the Dodgers means that we can return to our regularly scheduled programming. He wasn't holding up every other potential trade, but let's just say a lot of general managers signed off a lot of telephone calls with: "We should touch base after this Machado thing is resolved."

Now it's settled, and with 13 days until the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, other dominoes could fall quickly as teams position themselves for a sprint to the finish line.

Manny Machado's trade from the Orioles to the Dodgers means that we can return to our regularly scheduled programming. He wasn't holding up every other potential trade, but let's just say a lot of general managers signed off a lot of telephone calls with: "We should touch base after this Machado thing is resolved."

Now it's settled, and with 13 days until the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, other dominoes could fall quickly as teams position themselves for a sprint to the finish line.

Seventeen of 30 teams are within 5 1/2 games of a postseason spot as baseball comes out of the All-Star break on Thursday night with a Cardinals-Cubs game at Wrigley Field.

Here are six players who could suddenly become hot commodities in the post-Machado trade discussions. (The list originally had seven, before the Indians acquired reliever Brad Hand from the Padres on Thursday morning.)

1. Orioles closer Zach Britton
The O's should have gotten the hang of things by now after listening to offers for Machado and Britton for the past 12 months. Even the teams bidding for Machado could turn their attention to Britton, because he could upgrade every contender. He has looked more and more comfortable since returning from the disabled list on June 12. The impending free agent begins the second half having made seven straight scoreless appearances.

2018 salary: $12 million
Contract status: Free agent after this season
Front-runner: Astros
Keep an eye on: Red Sox, Mariners, Indians, Brewers, Braves

Video: TEX@BAL: Britton K's Gallo to record the save

2. Royals super utility man Whit Merrifield
OK, Kansas City does not want to trade Merrifield. Because he won't reach the open market until after the 2022 season, the Royals will only do it if an offer overwhelms them, which is probably what's going to happen. That's the value of someone with an .812 OPS and the ability to play anywhere on the diamond.

2018 salary: $570,000
Contract status: Under team control for four more seasons
Front-runner: Phillies
Keep an eye on: Brewers, Giants, Indians, Braves

Video: Merrifield's 5-hit game highlights his strong week

3. Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas
Moustakas played in 31 postseason games for Kansas City in 2014-15, and he may flourish if a trade puts him back on a contender. With the Royals having two highly regarded trade chips, look for general manager Dayton Moore to play the market for max value.

2018 Salary: $6.5 million
Contract status: Free agent after this season
Front-runner: Braves
Keep an eye on: Yankees, Red Sox, Nationals

Video: KC@MIN: Moustakas belts a solo homer to right field

4. Blue Jays starting pitcher J.A. Happ
Happ is an experienced veteran left-hander in the final year of his contract and is possibly the best available starting pitcher. He also has had a tough couple of weeks, which will not help his value. But the demand for starting pitching should make Happ easy to move.

2018 salary: $13 million
Contract status: Free agent after this season
Front-runner: Mariners
Keep an eye on: Yankees, Nationals, Brewers

Video: 2018 ASG: Happ retires Cain to secure the AL's win

5. Rays starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi
In nine starts since returning from Tommy John surgery, Eovaldi's performances have ranged from excellent to tough. He allowed eight runs in 2 2/3 innings in his last start before the All-Star break, but in three outings before that, he'd allowed two earned runs in 19 innings. Given the market, Eovaldi should be an easy match with a contender. 

2018 salary: $2 million
Contract status: Free agent after this season
Front-runner: Giants
Keep an eye on: Yankees

Video: TB@NYM: Eovaldi adds 7th K to close 4 perfect innings

6. Padres reliever Craig Stammen
Including Hand, GM A.J. Preller held a couple of nice chips in a pitching-starved market. Stammen has value, not as a closer, but as a multi-inning reliever who can deepen any bullpen. He's not having his best month, but plenty of teams like him. 

2018 salary: $2.25 million
Contract status: Signed through 2019 season
Front-runner: Braves
Keep an eye on: Yankees, Mariners

Video: CHC@SD: Stammen K's Schwarber, the side in 7th inning

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.

Zach Britton, Nathan Eovaldi, Brad Hand, J.A. Happ, Whit Merrifield, Mike Moustakas, Craig Stammen

O's get Futures Game star in haul for Machado

Diaz highlights package of 5 prospects coming from Dodgers
MLB.com

BALTIMORE -- The rumors, speculation and wondering has come to an end. The barrage of questions over. Manny Machado exited Nationals Park after the 2018 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard on Tuesday night as a member of the Orioles for the final time, with a deal between Baltimore and the Los Angeles Dodgers consummated on Wednesday night.

The trade nets the Orioles five prospects -- outfielder Yusniel Diaz, third baseman Rylan Bannon, right-hander Dean Kremer, righty Zach Pop and second baseman Breyvic Valera. And regardless of whether some, none or all of those prospects ultimately pan out, there will be no filling the shoes of the 26-year-old superstar Machado.

BALTIMORE -- The rumors, speculation and wondering has come to an end. The barrage of questions over. Manny Machado exited Nationals Park after the 2018 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard on Tuesday night as a member of the Orioles for the final time, with a deal between Baltimore and the Los Angeles Dodgers consummated on Wednesday night.

The trade nets the Orioles five prospects -- outfielder Yusniel Diaz, third baseman Rylan Bannon, right-hander Dean Kremer, righty Zach Pop and second baseman Breyvic Valera. And regardless of whether some, none or all of those prospects ultimately pan out, there will be no filling the shoes of the 26-year-old superstar Machado.

"This is a bittersweet day for the Orioles and our club. We watched Manny grow up in our franchise over the past eight years, we all know what an exceptional talent he is," executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said. "From the great plays he made to his elite hitting, he's always going to be an important part of this club's history."

Since first hitting the big leagues at 19 during the Orioles' 2012 run to the postseason, Machado has been one of the faces of the franchise and a key cog in three playoff appearances over the past five years. A fan favorite, Gold Glove winner, All-Star and a guy who matured enough to come into his own on and off the field, deftly answering trade questions and handling the spotlight everywhere he went this season.

Remembering Machado's top Orioles moments

Machado, drafted third overall by the O's in 2010, spent the past seven seasons in the big leagues and is a free agent at the end of the season, expected to warrant a record deal. With the last-place Orioles headed into a rebuild, he was their biggest -- but far from only -- viable candidate to be dealt in advance of the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Showalter fondly recalls Machado's O's tenure

Tweet from @Orioles: #ThanksManny pic.twitter.com/CGOdRpvDZD

"Today is the start of the rebuilding process," Duquette said. "Trading Manny is our first step in a multi-dimensional strategy to build a competitive club in the future."

That strategy involves much more than trades, as Duquette mentioned that ownership is committed to investing in the international market, beefing up scouting and analytics and strengthening several other components of baseball operations.

"The clubs that have been through it recently have given us an intrinsic road map of what to do. ... I think we have a good idea of what it takes to be consistently good," said Duquette, whose contract is up at the end of the year.

"Everybody understands some of the changes that we need to make. Orioles fans should know how deeply committed we are to making the important adjustments. Like I've said before, my heart is in Baltimore and I'd like to make the Orioles into a top contending organization again. Today is a new direction for the organization. I'm glad to be helping the club go in that new direction."

Without Machado, the Orioles are expected to move Tim Beckham to his original position at shortstop. The long-term answer may be more difficult to find and is part of several questions facing the club, which will also look to trade closer Zach Britton, center fielder Adam Jones and reliever Brad Brach to help accelerate the rebuilding process.

Duquette confirmed that the trade interest in Britton is heating up, saying several clubs have "renewed" their interest in the lefty this past week and it looks like he will be the next likely player to be moved.

O's will be central figure in Trade Deadline talk

Of the Machado haul, Diaz is considered the centerpiece. Ranked as Los Angeles' No. 4 prospect and the No. 84 prospect in the game by MLB Pipeline, Diaz is fresh off an impressive performance at Sunday's SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, becoming the second player to homer twice in the showcase's 20-year history. He's currently playing at Double-A Tulsa.

"We like the depth of the Dodgers' package, we like the quality of the Dodgers package, and we like Yusniel Diaz," Duquette said.

Video: WLD@USA: Diaz clobbers 2-run jack, game-tying HR

Bannon was ranked as the Dodgers' No. 27 prospect and Kremer was No. 28. The 22-year-old Bannon is batting .296/.402/.559 with 17 doubles, six triples, 20 home runs and 61 RBIs in 89 games with Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga. Kremer had recently been promoted to Double-A. The 22-year-old had a 3.30 ERA and 114 strikeouts in 79 innings at Rancho Cucamonga this season. Pop, 21, is a combined 1-2 with a 1.04 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in 30 relief appearances between Class A Great Lakes and Rancho Cucamonga.

Valera is the oldest of the group at 26 and has appeared in 26 games for Los Angeles this season, going 5-for-29. He's hit .284/.350/.433 in 56 games with Triple-A Oklahoma City. The O's tried to acquire Valera this spring with no luck. He was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk on Wednesday, with the other four players headed to Double-A Bowie.

Tweet from @Orioles: Retweet to welcome @YusnielDiaz17, @RBannon4, @BreyvicV, @DJ_KREY6, and @pop_zach to #Birdland! pic.twitter.com/oEkeWwF1AF

While news leaked Tuesday night of an agreement, the official word was delayed as the O's looked over medicals. Duquette said it was a rigorous process, given that six players were involved, and that it wasn't concerning despite reports that the deal had hit a snag.

"The expectation that everyone had was this deal was done when we were still in the process created a timeline that we couldn't meet," he said. "We thought it was important for Manny to represent the Orioles in the All-Star Game."

That was also important to Machado, who walked off the field Tuesday knowing that it was likely for the final time in black and orange.

"Clubs have to make the hard decisions," Duquette said, "and when you do that, you can be rewarded in the future."

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

Baltimore Orioles, Rylan Bannon, Yusniel Diaz, Dean Kremer, Manny Machado, Zach Pop, Breyvic Valera