Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

news

MLB News

How the AL Central is looking as Deadline nears

Breaking it down for the Indians, Royals, Tigers, Twins, White Sox
MLB.com @MLBastian

The Indians have yet to play their best baseball this season, but they still boast a comfortable lead atop the American League Central. That puts Cleveland in an interesting situation as the club's decision-makers weigh how to approach the trade market in the next few weeks.

While the other four teams in the AL Central are in various states of rebuilding or development -- the Twins' hopes of contending keep growing dimmer -- the Indians will need to ponder their roster with October in mind. The Tribe knows first-hand how critical relief help is for the playoffs (see: Andrew Miller in 2016), but the club is also looking to bolster its lineup.

The Indians have yet to play their best baseball this season, but they still boast a comfortable lead atop the American League Central. That puts Cleveland in an interesting situation as the club's decision-makers weigh how to approach the trade market in the next few weeks.

While the other four teams in the AL Central are in various states of rebuilding or development -- the Twins' hopes of contending keep growing dimmer -- the Indians will need to ponder their roster with October in mind. The Tribe knows first-hand how critical relief help is for the playoffs (see: Andrew Miller in 2016), but the club is also looking to bolster its lineup.

"There's a lot of talk about [Manny] Machado," said one American League scout. "And it makes sense in terms of their batting-order depth. I'm not sure it makes much sense position-wise, unless they move [Jason] Kipnis again to the outfield."

Yes, the Indians have been linked to Machado, the Orioles' superstar shortstop. Machado, however, can be a free agent at the end of this season, and Cleveland's modus operandi does not typically involve trading top prospects for a rental. Machado also prefers to play short, and the Tribe has arguably the best all-around shortstop in the game in Francisco Lindor.

Video: Machado shines as gold standard in the infield

Machado only fits in Cleveland if Jose Ramirez moves from third base to second and Kipnis either moves to the outfield from second or is traded. That is all speculation for now, while the clock continues to tick toward the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Here is a glance at how the AL Central's landscape looks as trade talks keep gathering steam:

INDIANS
Deadline approach: The Indians are buyers and the biggest need is bullpen help. That said, Cleveland could benefit from lengthening its lineup and/or bolstering the outfield.

AL scout's take: "They have to think about how they match up with Houston and the Yankees and the Red Sox in the playoffs. Everyone else in the division has thrown up the white flag, so they need to focus on their playoff strategy. Do they need a better third starter? Do you they need another seventh-inning guy? I think they'll be aggressive before the Deadline."

ROYALS
Deadline approach: Kansas City already made a move on a trade that sent closer Kelvin Herrera to Washington. The Royals are in sell mode and have some pieces that could be shed.

AL scout's take: "They've got guys to move. I think someone will bite on Lucas Duda as a bat off the bench. Someone might bite on Jason Hammel as a reliever -- he might amp up his game as a reliever. The Royals would have to eat a lot of his salary but if they do, they could bring back a lottery ticket maybe. I don't think they'll get enough for [Danny] Duffy or [Whit] Merrifield to make a deal. They'll definitely move [Mike] Moustakas and he will help someone. They just won't get the big return. That doesn't happen anymore."

Video: Slugger Moustakas delivering at the plate, in field

TIGERS
Deadline approach: The Tigers are not sniffing contention, so they might also be looking for takers for some of their roster. Jordan Zimmermann is the most notable options, given his solid bounce-back campaign.

AL scout's take: "I don't know what they could sell. You can't move all that money with the big contracts. Not going to happen. There's talk about Zimmermann. You might get something for him. A contender is going to be interested. Again, in today's world, you're not going to get that much."

TWINS
Deadline approach: The Twins hoped to be contending for a Wild Card spot at the very least, but it's becoming more unrealistic with each passing week. Brian Dozier's name has started to pop up in rumors.

Scout's take: "I think management there is ready to be aggressive and shake things up. They misread the situation there and thought they were a contender when the season started, but that was based on kind of a fluky year. Dozier is a good player that could help someone. I don't know if he's a fit with a contender in the American League. Maybe they can move [Fernando] Rodney, but he's been everywhere and I'm not sure he's reliable enough to take a chance."

Video: MIN@CWS: Dozier opens the scoring with a solo homer

WHITE SOX
Deadline approach: The White Sox have a promising farm system and have a handful of players that could be dealt to further help the rebuild process.

AL scout's take: "They're in an interesting spot. How much do they believe their rebuild is going in the right direction? I think they should go ahead and move [Jose] Abreu. He's an elite player who will get something back. Any contender would make a spot for him. Or, a non-contender could sell it as a stepping stone to their future. There's been a lot of talk about [Joakim] Soria. I know he's pitching well lately, but don't know if you can trust him on a contender. Maybe as a sixth- or seventh-inning guy."

Video: Jose Abreu on pace for fifth career 100-RBI season

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.