We focus on the contending teams, which is appropriate. After all, that's what matters now. However, it's only part of the story because all 30 teams -- all of 'em, those at the top of the standings, those at the bottom -- have things they'd like to do.Whether this day
We focus on the contending teams, which is appropriate. After all, that's what matters now. However, it's only part of the story because all 30 teams -- all of 'em, those at the top of the standings, those at the bottom -- have things they'd like to do.
Whether this day is about improving a team's chances of making the playoffs in 2018 or 2020, the sense of urgency as today's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches is the same.
Here are five teams to keep an eye on as closing time nears.
The Nationals were off on Monday, but it was an important day as decision-makers attempted to come up with a blueprint. Despite everything that has gone wrong, the Nationals are six games out in the National League East and trailing two young teams full of players who have not been through the grind of August and September in a division race.
Whether or not they decide to trade Bryce Harper, there surely were discussions about making others available, including Daniel Murphy, Ryan Madson and Kelvin Herrera, all free agents after the season.
More likely, the Nationals will attempt to make an impact addition, for instance Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto, though the Marlins will want top prospect Victor Robles in return. The Nationals have consistently refused to make that swap, but it's sure to come up again in the final hours before the Deadline.
The Mets appear to be committed to taking the safe route, which means seriously considering offers for Zack Wheeler but not Jacob deGrom. Although deGrom might bring enough high-end prospects to make a trade make sense from a baseball standpoint, the public relations part of it is daunting.
Teams are likely to continue testing the Mets' resolve right up until the Deadline. The Athletics, Mariners, Braves and Nationals would see deGrom as a season-changing acquisition. As for the Yankees, well, we can all figure that one out.
Matt Harvey seems certain to be traded, but the really interesting decisions will come in regard to closer Raisel Iglesias and center fielder Billy Hamilton. To deal all three would net the Reds a bundle of prospects and speed up a rebuild that's already going well.
And that's the rub: The Reds are 45-43 since Jim Riggleman took over as interim manager, and 23-13 since mid-June. Suddenly, instead of dealing Iglesias and Hamilton, the Reds could decide to hold on and add them to a tidal wave of young talent in their Minor League system. Cincinnati's ultimate decision could go a long way in shaping how today plays out.
At some point today, there's going to be a slap-your-forehead moment over some trade. A's vice president Billy Beane and general manager David Frost are the consensus favorites to be the ones pulling off that deal.
Their team isn't in contention at this point every summer. When it is, they believe they owe it to their franchise and their fans to move heaven and earth to get in position for a postseason run.
No team has played better over the last month and a half -- 27-10 since June 16 -- and the trade for Mets closer Jeurys Familia created what could be an elite bullpen. But unless the A's get at least one more starting pitcher, a deep postseason run seems unlikely.
The A's will check off every box, from deGrom and Wheeler to Tampa Bay's Chris Archer and Detroit's Mike Fiers and others. If the A's don't add to their rotation, it will be because there was no deal to be made.
GM Alex Anthopoulos has played the long game in getting two low-cost bullpen arms -- Jonny Venters from the Rays and Brad Brach from the O's. Those deals improved the Braves without touching the core of Minor League assets that appear to have put the franchise in position to contend for multiple years -- as did a trade Monday night for Reds outfielder Adam Duvall, who was acquired for right-handed pitchers Lucas Sims and Matt Wisler and outfielder Preston Tucker.
The NL East is winnable this year. Would Anthopoulos be willing to dig deeper into his system to acquire, say, Archer or Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre?
For now he has shown no inclination to trade any of his top prospects. His conversations with other clubs will continue until the Deadline. If he has a change of heart, the Braves could seriously disrupt things.
Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.