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AL Central: Who's buying, who's selling?

MLB.com @FlannyMLB

The second quarter of the 2018 season is in the books, and by now, each team has a much clearer picture of whether it is a pretender or contender, and a seller or buyer come the non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Expect a lot of activity in the selling department from almost every team in the American League Central.

The second quarter of the 2018 season is in the books, and by now, each team has a much clearer picture of whether it is a pretender or contender, and a seller or buyer come the non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Expect a lot of activity in the selling department from almost every team in the American League Central.

INDIANS
What we've learned
Following a lineup-wide cold spell in April, the Indians' offense has been one of the top groups in the AL, led by the potent duo of Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez. The bullpen disarray that arrived in May has since been calmed via some unexpected sources (Neil Ramirez and Oliver Perez at the top of the list). The rotation has remained the roster's backbone, though now with rookie Shane Bieber at the back end.

Video: CLE@KC: Lindor clubs salami in 2-homer, 7-RBI game

The landscape of the AL Central has helped the Tribe overcome a heap of obstacles through the first three-plus months, but there are still areas of concern. The relief corps could still use some reinforcements (getting Andrew Miller back healthy for the second half will be key). The offense, while productive, is very top-heavy and has a few spots that could be strengthened (second base and the outfield).

Hope to accomplish
Adding an impact reliever is expected to be the priority for the July 31 Trade Deadline. Cleveland could also boost its lineup via help for center field or right field. With Ramirez able to move between second and third, the Indians also could target those positions for an upgrade.

Stock watch
The Tribe is buyers with prospects to offer. If the Indians want to take on a large contract, the team may need to shed some of the payroll already in place.

ROYALS
What we've learned

The Royals struggled just as much offensively in the second quarter as they did in the first quarter. In fact, they went through a stretch in June during which they scored four or fewer runs in 19 consecutive games. They also set a club record with 23 straight games without a double-digit hit output. That added up to a franchise-worst 5-21 record in June. What we learned was that Kansas City, while knowing it would struggle as it launched the club's rebuild, is worse than even it imagined.

Hoping to accomplish
Fans can take some solace that the Royals' front office has the big picture in mind, having already dealt outfielder Jon Jay to the Diamondbacks for two prospects, one of which, right-hander Elvis Luciano, is already Kansas City's No. 27 prospect per MLB Pipeline. Closer Kelvin Herrera was dealt to the Nationals for three prospects, including outfielder Blake Perkins (Royals' No. 14 prospect) and third baseman Kelvin Gutierrez (No. 7). Deals such as those were the offseason goal for general manager Dayton Moore, whose mission was to restock the farm system. Add in the five college pitchers Kansas City got among the top 58 picks in the Draft, and the system is definitely on its way to being reloaded.

Stock watch
Let the fire sale begin. The Royals will be looking to move anyone finishing out a one-year deal -- third baseman Mike Moustakas, first baseman Lucas Duda, right-hander Jason Hammel, utility man Alcides Escobar, new closer Wily Peralta, backup catcher Drew Butera and so on. Obviously, the return will be marginal for most because they are rentals or are in the midst of subpar seasons, but there's no point in not trying as the team is on pace for a record-loss season anyway. Kansas City might also entertain offers on left-hander Danny Duffy and super utility man Whit Merrifield.

Video: KC@SEA: Moustakas crushes a 3-run homer to right

TIGERS
What we've learned
While the Tigers overachieved early in the season, they're still a rebuilding club with growing pains. An 11-game losing streak over the second half of June was a reminder of that. Young hitters like JaCoby Jones and Jeimer Candelario, the latter of who was bordering on All-Star consideration for a stretch, still have growing pains. The bullpen remains a work in progress beyond Shane Greene and Joe Jimenez, and Greene is now injured. Miguel Cabrera's season-ending biceps injury gave Detroroit a glimpse of how its lineup will have to transition as Cabrera ages and becomes less of a focal point in the middle of the order. The short-term result was a lineup that has become more aggressive manufacturing runs but could still use another young impact hitter or two.

Hoping to accomplish
The Tigers will continue trying to stockpile prospects, especially on the hitting side. They don't have be Major League ready so much as they have to carry potential.

Stock watch
Detroit will be a seller. Veterans like Francisco Liriano and Mike Fiers will be obvious trade candidates, as would Greene if healthy. The real question will be whether the Tigers get the kind of offer that would convince them to trade Michael Fulmer with four years of control before free agency. They'll certainly listen.

Video: MIN@DET: Fulmer tosses 7 innings of 1-run ball

TWINS
What we've learned

Just like in the first quarter of the season, the Twins remained inconsistent and haven't been able to put together a run to get back into contention. They're coming off a rough six-day trip in Chicago, losing five out of six against the White Sox and Cubs. Minnesota has missed players such as Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Ervin Santana, with Buxton out with fractured left big toe, Sano optioned to Class A Advanced Fort Myers to work on his conditioning and Santana still out after surgery to repair his right middle finger.

Hoping to accomplish
The Twins would love to find a way to get back into contention, much like August last season, when they went on a run even after being sellers at the Trade Deadline. But they've showed no signs of any kind of turnaround, so they're likely to be sellers at the Trade Deadline.

Stock watch
Barring a dramatic turnaround, Minnesota is poised to be a seller. The Twins have several players in the last year of their deal such as Brian Dozier, Eduardo Escobar, Fernando Rodney, Zach Duke and Lance Lynn. Logan Morrison hasn't played well enough to get traded, Joe Mauer has a full no-trade clause and Santana isn't expected to be back soon enough to be dealt. The most interesting decisions will be what they decide to do with Escobar and Dozier, who are both clubhouse leaders.

Video: MIN@CLE: Escobar doubles three times vs. Indians

WHITE SOX
What we've learned
General manager Rick Hahn apparently was on the mark in saying Year 2 of the rebuild, the talent-development phase, could be the toughest. Top prospects such as second baseman Yoan Moncada and right-hander Lucas Giolito have struggled during their first full season in the Majors, while right-hander Carson Fulmer was sent to Triple-A Charlotte after his struggles in the rotation. Outfielders Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert, the organization's No. 1 and No. 3 prospects, respectively, per MLB Pipeline, are also dealing with injuries.

The biggest need the team has is patience, something the White Sox have practiced since the rebuild began. Development isn't always linear, as Hahn has stated numerous times, and learning to fail at times becomes part of that development.

Hoping to accomplish
The Trade Deadline has a different feel in 2018 compared to '17 for Chicago, in that there's not as big of a focus upon talent acquisition. But the White Sox have players who could draw interest, such as rejuvenated starter James Shields and closer Joakim Soria, who did not allow a run over 12 June appearances. Chicago certainly will listen to offers on anyone, including Jose Abreu, but it seems unlikely any team will match the high value in which the White Sox hold their first baseman.

Video: Soria has proven to be a solid option at closer

Stock watch
The White Sox most likely will be sellers. They also could be buyers if a young player becomes available who fits their big-picture rebuild plan. But Chicago certainly won't cut into anything it has painstakingly built up over the past two years.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.