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AL Central: Moving forward post-Trade Deadline

MLB.com @RhettBollinger

With the Indians out to a healthy lead in the American League Central, they were the only buyers in the division, as the other four clubs decided to sell, including the second-place Twins, who were the second-most active sellers in the Majors, trading away five players before Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline.

The Indians helped shore up two of their issues with moves to address the bullpen and center field, while the Royals, Tigers, Twins and White Sox added pieces for the future. Here's a look at what all five clubs accomplished at the Deadline and what it means going forward:

With the Indians out to a healthy lead in the American League Central, they were the only buyers in the division, as the other four clubs decided to sell, including the second-place Twins, who were the second-most active sellers in the Majors, trading away five players before Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline.

The Indians helped shore up two of their issues with moves to address the bullpen and center field, while the Royals, Tigers, Twins and White Sox added pieces for the future. Here's a look at what all five clubs accomplished at the Deadline and what it means going forward:

INDIANS
What they did at the Deadline

Prior to Tuesday's Deadline, the Tribe landed center fielder Leonys Martin and Minor League pitcher Kyle Dowdy from the Tigers in exchange for shortstop prospect Willi Castro. Back on July 19, Cleveland shipped its former No. 1 prospect, catcher Francisco Mejia, to the Padres for All-Star closer Brad Hand and sidearmer Adam Cimber. Also on Tuesday, the Indians acquired outfield prospect Oscar Mercado from the Cardinals for Minor Leaguers Conner Capel and Jhon Torres.

Video: Leonys Martin glad to be with a contender

What it tells us
The Indians' main priorities during the trade season were to strengthen the bullpen and help the injury-riddled outfield. With Hand and Cimber in the fold, and relief ace Andrew Miller due back from the DL soon, the bullpen is in a much better spot. In Martin, the Indians upgraded the outfield defense and added a bat to lengthen out the bottom third of the top-heavy lineup.

What's the goal
For many players in Cleveland's clubhouse, free agency is looming and there is a heightened sense of urgency to win the World Series now. Given that all the players acquired have at least one additional year of control, the front office showed that it is focused on keeping the window open well beyond this year.

Big questions
Can the Indians really proceed with two outfield platoons? Right now, Martin and Rajai Davis are splitting time in center, while Melky Cabrera and Brandon Guyer divvy up the innings in right. That is not an ideal setup, but the Tribe is trying to maximize the offensive and defensive production in the absence of a surefire everyday player at either spot.

ROYALS
What they did at the Deadline

Traded outfielder Jon Jay, closer Kelvin Herrera and third baseman Mike Moustakas, all with expiring contracts. Acquired Brian Goodwin as a potential starting center fielder.

What it tells us
The Royals' No. 1 priority since last fall was finding ways to restock the farm system and accelerate the rebuild. They made a nice haul with their trades, picking up outfielder Brett Phillips, who could be a long-term starter, and another Major League-ready outfielder in Goodwin. They also added prospects to their Top 30 list per MLB Pipeline: right-hander Elvis Luciano (No. 23); third baseman Kelvin Gutierrez (No. 17) and outfielder Blake Perkins (No. 15). Right-hander Jorge Lopez, also acquired for Moustakas, could be a bullpen piece by next season.

Video: KC@NYY: Royals' booth on acquiring Phillips, Lopez

What's the goal
Get a long look at Phillips and Goodwin (presently on the disabled list), and other internal prospects such as first baseman Ryan O'Hearn, among others in the system (Richard Lovelady, Josh Staumont, etc.).

Big question
Wins and losses are mostly irrelevant as the Royals barrel toward a 100-plus-loss season. So, the battle for roster spots in 2019 essentially can begin now. Kansas City will need to clear space off the 40-man roster so they can activate Eric Skoglund and Jesse Hahn off the 60-day disabled list, and call up other prospects from the Minors. But will it start the service-time clock on Lovelady, Staumont and/or Nicky Lopez?

TIGERS
What they did at the Deadline

Traded Martin and Dowdy to Cleveland for Castro.

What it tells us
While the Tigers continue to stockpile prospects for their rebuilding project, the more telling statement was the lack of deals with other veterans Detroit had on the block. While general manager Al Avila admittedly tempered his expectations on returns, he opted to hold onto Mike Fiers and Francisco Liriano rather than give them away for throwaway prospects.

What's the goal
The Tigers head into the stretch run looking to keep developing their young players, a group that now includes outfielder Mike Gerber in Martin's old roster spot. They'll likely add more youngsters once rosters expand in September.

Video: CIN@DET: Gerber rips RBI double to notch 1st MLB hit

Big question
If the Tigers do not trade Nicholas Castellanos by the end of August, will they revisit the idea of a contract extension, something they threw out last offseason but quickly dismissed for lack of common ground?

TWINS
What they did at the Deadline

Traded infielder Eduardo Escobar to the D-backs for two prospects; traded right-hander Ryan Pressly to Astros for two prospects; traded lefty Zach Duke to the Mariners for two prospects; traded right-hander Lance Lynn to the Yankees for two prospects and traded second baseman Brian Dozier to the Dodgers for infielder Logan Forsythe and two prospects.

What it tells us
After making it to the AL Wild Card Game last year, the Twins planned to compete this season and signed several players to one-year deals in the offseason, but after struggling to find any consistency, the front office decided to sell. Escobar, Duke, Lynn and Dozier were impending free agents, while Pressly is under control through next season, so the Twins were trying to get value from players who were otherwise going to leave in free agency. It was a tough week for Twins fans, as Dozier and Escobar were the heart and soul of the club, but the organization feels it's now better set up to compete in the near and long-term future.

What's the goal
Despite receiving some lower-level prospects among the 11 Minor Leaguers they acquired, the Twins are still preparing to be competitive next season. They opted to hold onto right-hander Kyle Gibson, who is under team control next year, and closer Fernando Rodney, who has a $4.5 million club option for 2019. They still see the last two months of the season as important to the development of young core players such as Jose Berrios, Eddie Rosario, Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler. Right-hander Ervin Santana, who has made just two starts this year after undergoing finger surgery in February, could also be traded in August, as he's an impending free agent.

Video: MIN@TOR: Santana fans Gurriel Jr. for first K of 2018

Big question
Byron Buxton and Sano were expected to break out this season and help Minnesota build on its unexpected success last year, but it hasn't been the case. Buxton has struggled offensively and has had trouble staying healthy, as he's currently nursing a left wrist sprain at Triple-A Rochester. Sano is back with the Twins, but spent roughly six weeks in the Minor Leagues, including a stint at Class A Advanced Fort Myers to work on his conditioning and get back on track offensively. They're both still a huge part of the future, and finishing strong would be big going into next season.

WHITE SOX
What they did at the Deadline

Traded closer Joakim Soria to the Brewers for left-hander Kodi Medeiros and right-hander Wilber Perez; traded international signing bonus pool money to the Yankees for left-hander Caleb Frare and to the Rays for left-hander Hunter Schryver.

What it tells us
General manager Rick Hahn has talked about this season being more about development than talent acquisition, unlike this time last year, and the lack of frequent action at the Trade Deadline backed up that idea. The White Sox brought in needed left-handed pitching depth to their rebuild.

What's the goal
The main target for the White Sox remains setting themselves up for multiple championships. That involves developing players at the Minor League level, not rushing them to the big leagues even if there's a need, and putting together a critical mass of talent.

Big question
When will outfielder Eloy Jimenez and right-handed pitcher Michael Kopech, the organization's top two prospects, arrive with the White Sox? Will they arrive with the White Sox in 2018?

Video: Top Prospects: Eloy Jimenez, OF, White Sox

Hahn recently mentioned a checklist the pair needs to fulfill, even with both of them performing at a high level for Triple-A Charlotte. Again, the organization's focus is future excellence and not speeding things up now for present gratification.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.