Deadline looms: 9 vital questions for 9 teams
This might be remembered as one of the craziest non-waiver Trade Deadlines of them all, with at least a dozen teams seeing themselves as good enough to win a World Series and working furiously to put themselves in position to do so.
The flurry of action we've already had doesn't mean the Trade Deadline itself -- 4 p.m. ET Tuesday -- will be anticlimactic. Possibly just the opposite, as a handful of teams rush to acquire one more upgrade, and another handful of teams decide whether to buy or sell. Looking at you, Cardinals, Nationals and Giants.
Here are nine questions for nine teams:
1. Haven't the Yankees already won the Trade Deadline?
Probably. No need to give away the ending, or all those "winners and losers" stories will lose some edge. When the Yankees acquired Zach Britton, they created a super bullpen that might end up being the dominant storyline of the postseason. General manager Brian Cashman took an area of his team that was already very good and made it possibly historically good. Postseason baseball is often a bullpen game, and no team is better positioned for it than the Yankees. Cashman then put the icing on the cake by adding lefty starter J.A. Happ.
2. Don't the Red Sox win the American League East even without landing another bullpen arm?
Not necessarily. The Red Sox and Yankees play seven more times, including three at Fenway on the final weekend of the season. Yes, the Red Sox are the favorites. Yes, they're playing better than any other team, and if they stay healthy, it's a stretch to think they won't hold on. On the other hand, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has important unfinished business in attempting to add another arm to a bullpen that has a pedestrian 4.60 ERA this month entering play on Saturday.
3. No way A's executive Billy Beane is done trading, right?
No way. This season has become an opportunity for the Athletics. They do not have these opportunities every season, but when they do, no baseball executive will be more aggressive at trying to ride the wave. So while the addition of reliever Jeurys Familia was significant, what Beane would really like to do is add a starting pitcher. He thinks big, too. Zack Wheeler? Sure, he'd go for that. All we know for sure is that Beane will do something.
4. Shouldn't the Braves be thinking big in their search for a starter?
Yeah, sure. There's nothing we in the media enjoy more than telling an owner how to spend his money, or a general manager to get busy and make a bombshell deal. Here's the rub for Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos: His team has taken a huge step forward this season and has such a strong farm system that it's positioned to contend for at least a few years. So how deep should Anthopoulos dig into that system to acquire a starting pitcher? The Rays have made it clear that the price for Chris Archer is going to be high. The Mets have not even hinted that Jacob deGrom is available. That leaves Wheeler as the most obvious choice, and the bidding could get silly. Anthopoulos badly wants to add a pitcher, but at any price? Probably not.
5. Have the Brewers done enough?
You mean have they done enough to get us talking? Yes, they checked that box when GM David Stearns acquired third baseman Mike Moustakas and asked his incumbent third sacker, Travis Shaw, to move to second, where he has not played before. If it helps get Milwaukee to the finish line, Stearns will reenforce his reputation as one of the smartest and most fearless (obviously) executives in the sport. He also traded for veteran reliever Joakim Soria this week to shore up the bullpen. Milwaukee could still use another starting pitcher, but we've been saying that (and Stearns has been disagreeing) since Opening Day. Go get 'em, fellas.
6. What's all the fuss about the Dodgers needing another reliever?
You'd think acquiring the best player on the market, Manny Machado, would be enough, wouldn't you? You'd also think that getting hard-throwing lefty Julio Urias back for the stretch run would shore up whatever bullpen weakness actually exists. How much help could the Dodgers actually need? They've been the NL's best team by a wide margin for the last two-and-a-half months. Only the Phillies and Yankees have had better bullpens in July. Sure, the Dodgers would like to strengthen the bridge to closer Kenley Jansen. If they don't, no biggie.
7. What do the Astros do about that glaring hole in left field?
This isn't about the regular season. Besides, only the Red Sox and Indians have scored more runs than the Astros. Problem is, every weakness is exposed in the postseason, and Houston's left fielders are hitting .239 with 11 home runs and a .695 OPS (sixth-lowest among the 30 MLB teams). Manager A.J. Hinch has given at least 10 starts to four players, including veteran Marwin Gonzalez and hotshot prospects Derek Fisher and Kyle Tucker. It was only a problem after shortstop Carlos Correa (back), catcher Brian McCann (knee) and second baseman Jose Altuve (knee) missed time. Correa is expected back within days. And the trade market is not flush with outfielders.
8. Are the Phillies done dealing?
Nope. Orioles outfielder Adam Jones is a possibility and perhaps Curtis Granderson or Andrew McCutchen as well. But the Phillies believe they took a significant step forward on Friday by acquiring Asdrubal Cabrera from the Mets. Manager Gabe Kapler will move him around the infield. Kapler is also excited about the callup of 25-year-old outfielder Roman Quinn, who has Billy Hamilton speed and will be a wild card off the bench.
9. What's next for the Mariners?
GM Jerry Dipoto is casting a wide net: starting pitching, offense, lefty reliever. He acquired righty reliever Sam Tuivailala from the Cardinals on Friday to go with the earlier trade for outfielder Denard Span and reliever Alex Colome. Robinson Cano's return from suspension on Aug. 14 will also help, even though he's not available for the postseason.