These 5 teams could alter Deadline landscape

July 31st, 2018

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.

1. Nationals
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 , and , 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 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.
2. Mets
The Mets appear to be committed to taking the safe route, which means seriously considering offers for Zack Wheeler but not . 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.

3. Reds
Matt Harvey seems certain to be traded, but the really interesting decisions will come in regard to closer and center fielder . 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.

4. Athletics
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 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.

5. Braves
GM Alex Anthopoulos has played the long game in getting two low-cost bullpen arms -- Jonny Venters from the Rays and 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 , who was acquired for right-handed pitchers and and outfielder .

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 ?
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.