10 holes that postseason contenders must fill

June 23rd, 2018

The Indians could use a reliever or two. Another bat for the Mariners wouldn't hurt. The Cardinals? They could use a jolt.

Actually, every contender will attempt to do something as the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches. It's sometimes as much about sending a message as filling a need.

Your favorite team's general manager has watched his guys bust their tails for four months to put themselves in position to make the postseason. Now, he'll do his part.

Whether it's by adding a pinch-hitter -- a relatively minor deal -- or adding a starting pitcher or closer, he's letting his guys -- and fans -- know this season is worth investing in.

On the other hand, some teams have holes that almost certainly must be addressed to have a real shot at making the postseason. At a time when 17 of 30 teams are within five games of a postseason berth, plenty of teams feel an urgency to get something done.

Here are 10 holes that need to be filled:

1. Indians

Plenty of teams are shopping hard for bullpen help. No team has a greater sense of urgency than the Indians, who have a rotation and offense good enough to make a deep October run.

Possible fits: (Mets), and Brad Hand (Padres), (Reds), Zach Britton (Orioles).

2. Nationals

Everything is fixed when starts to hit. OK, almost everything. General manager Mike Rizzo may have acknowledged the challenge of acquiring a starting pitcher when he traded for Royals closer this week. In doing so, he shortened games by an inning. 's recovery from right shoulder inflammation is what the Nationals really need.

Possible fits: and (Mets), Chris Archer (Rays), J.A. Happ (Blue Jays), (Padres), Cole Hamels (Rangers), (Marlins).

3. D-backs

Arizona needs rotation help, and the upgrade may be in-house. If starters and Robbie Ray are healthy down the stretch, the D-backs might be the National League West favorites. But the D-backs love big moves, and none would fit that description better than deGrom.

Possible fits: deGrom.

4. Cardinals

's injury clears things up a bit. The Cardinals definitely need a starter. Until then, it was only clear that the club needed something. No club is more disciplined in its thinking or its blueprint. So rather than suggest a major shakeup by going for, say, star third baseman Manny Machado, the best bet is to go grab the best available starting pitcher.

Possible fits: Happ, deGrom, Syndergaard.

5. Brewers

All this time we spent fretting about adding to the rotation. Turns out, it's a reliever the Brewers need. Britton would be a dramatic addition and might give the Brewers a final push into the postseason. Don't discount it, either. This franchise is in a win-now mode.

Possible fits: Britton, Iglesias.

6. Mariners

GM Jerry Dipoto has positioned his team for its first position appearance in 17 years. Now, how about one more bat, even if it's a bat off the bench? Here's guessing Dipoto will also go for another reliever.

Possible fits: OF (Tigers).

7. Phillies

Yes, the rotation has had its troubles lately. But the thing the Phillies must have is a proven closer. Until the back end of the bullpen is fixed, everything else is a lower priority. With Alex Colome and Herrera off the market, it's time to get busy.

Possible fits: Britton, Iglesias.

8. Cubs

Here's the Machado landing spot. The Cubs can probably win the NL Central without any addition to their team. They may even be good enough to win another World Series championship. But with the bar at winning a championship, the Cubs should try to do something dramatic to help them finish the deal.

Possible fits: Machado.

9. Angels

The Angels will not make the postseason without adding at least one arm to the back of the bullpen. Hand would be a nice fit. So would Iglesias. To get  back as at least a hitter would be a huge boost.

Possible fits: Hand.

10. Braves

Another team that may not make the postseason unless it adds bullpen help. But GM Alex Anthopoulos is likely to try for something more dramatic, say, a third baseman. He has the Minor League depth to get Machado. If Josh Donaldson is healthy, he'd also be a perfect fit. But the real perfect fit is Mike Moustakas.

Possible fits: Moustakas, Donaldson, Machado.