While some teams have filled some needs by adding talent like Jose Quintana, J.D. Martinez and Lucas Duda, trade season is hardly over. For some clubs, it's only beginning, and the upcoming weekend -- right up until the Monday 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline, really -- ought to be
While some teams have filled some needs by adding talent like Jose Quintana, J.D. Martinez and Lucas Duda, trade season is hardly over. For some clubs, it's only beginning, and the upcoming weekend -- right up until the Monday 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline, really -- ought to be full of interesting moves.
Not every team has to do something, of course. The Dodgers and Astros could probably stick with exactly what they have and be just fine. But for some teams, there are glaring needs that feel like they still have to be addressed, and they're pretty easy to find. Let's check into the rest-of-season projections for clubs who are likely to be buyers, and count down the biggest trouble spots. A few of these are going to be extremely obvious, but you just might be surprised by a few.
So, which are the most glaring spots ready for improvement?
Yankees: Starting pitcher and first base
New York has continually been connected to Sonny Gray, and it's not hard to see why. With Michael Pineda out for the year and Masahiro Tanaka continuing to have home run issues, the rotation isn't exactly deep; Caleb Smith and Bryan Mitchell have each made spot starts recently. Other than Luis Severino, is there anyone the Yankees could feel extremely comfortable with making a postseason start? It's why you'll hear Gray (and Yu Darvish) connected here until the deadline.
For what it's worth, first base remains a trouble spot too, as neither Christopher Austin nor Greg Bird could stay healthy and Chris Carter couldn't hit. Sure, Chase Headley has been hot for a few weeks, and Todd Frazier is in town to play third. But it's tough to rely on Headley, and it's not at all difficult to see Yonder Alonso coming over in a potential Gray deal, is it?
Red Sox: Starting pitcher and first base
Speaking of AL East contenders with rotation issues, the latest rumors insist that Boston doesn't feel the need to add a starter in the wake of David Price's elbow injury. We're not sure we buy it. Sure, Chris Sale is a Most Valuable Player candidate -- yes, MVP, not only Cy Young -- but Rick Porcello isn't repeating his own Cy Young season, Doug Fister has a 7.46 ERA and Eduardo Rodriguez and Thomas Pomeranz, while talented, are always health risks. Just a half-game up on the Yankees entering Friday, this is exactly the kind of scenario where Dave Dombrowski would choose to make a big splash. How about old friend Justin Verlander?
In addition, the Red Sox have the fewest homers in the AL, and fans are clamoring for a bat. But where? They're unlikely to add another third baseman now that Rafael Devers and Eduardo Nunez are around, so first base seems the obvious place. Mitch Moreland is hitting only .154/.227/.239 since June 15, trying to play through a broken toe, and Hanley Ramirez's shoulder has finally allowed him to play the field. Whether it's first or DH, this is where the Sox add a bat -- and Alonso could fit here too.
Nationals: Catcher and relief pitcher
Though the Washington offense has been hot lately, their catchers have contributed merely a .229/.281/.368 line, the second-weakest in the National League, as free-agent signee Matt Wieters has posted only a .248/.297/.381 line, with below-average framing numbers. Though Wieters is a switch-hitter, he's long been stronger from the right side -- perhaps making for a perfect pairing with Detroit's lefty-swinging Alex Avila, smashing to the tune of .276/.398/.481.
Of course, the primary Washington need remains on the pitching side. No, Stephen Strasburg's DL trip doesn't force the Nationals to get a starter; they have the division easily wrapped up already. But what it ought to do is give them motivation to further add to a bullpen that's already been reinforced by Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson. After all, postseason baseball requires good pitchers more than it does starters.
Rockies: Catcher and outfielder
Having acquired Pat Neshek to what looks like a reasonably strong bullpen, the Rockies could still stand to add some offensive support. No team in the NL has gotten less from their catchers, so Avila (and perhaps Jonathan Lucroy) could be a reasonably-priced fit here too.
It might seem like the Rockies already have too many outfielders, but Carlos Gonzalez hasn't hit all year, Ian Desmond has struggled both to produce and stay healthy, and David Dahl still hasn't appeared in the Majors this year due to injury. While Charlie Blackmon has become a star, another bat -- either a short-term fix like Jay Bruce or a big splash like Marcell Ozuna -- would make a big difference.
Royals: A bat, preferably in the outfield
The red-hot Royals, clearly in a win-now mode, have already made a big move to import three pitchers from San Diego as reinforcements. Why stop now? Alex Gordon is something like the AL's version of Gonzalez, in that he's a big name who just hasn't produced, and designated hitter (.215/.284/.412) has been a trouble spot all year. Bruce would be a nice fit here -- and so would Cincinnati shortstop Zack Cozart, though we know the Royals are unlikely to upgrade upon Alcides Escobar.
Astros: Lefty relief pitcher
We said the Astros would be just fine without making a move, but it doesn't mean they couldn't stand to add anything. Like the Nationals, rotation injuries don't really demand that they add a starter, but if they reinforce an already-deep bullpen, they might just be unstoppable. They have more righty arms than they know what to do with -- Ken Giles, Will Harris, Chris Devenski, Francis Martes, Luke Gregerson, Brad Peacock, etc. -- but lefty Tony Sipp (4.99 ERA) hasn't stepped up. Fortunately for Houston, the lefty relief market is deep; if they don't want to pay inflated prices for Zach Britton or Brad Hand, Justin Wilson would look great here.
Mike Petriello is an analyst for MLB.com and the host of the Statcast podcast.