With less than three weeks until the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, things are heating up. And in the American League West, which is turning into the Wild West with four teams above .500 and still retaining playoff aspirations, the deadline poses interesting questions.While the defending World Series champion Astros
With less than three weeks until the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, things are heating up. And in the American League West, which is turning into the Wild West with four teams above .500 and still retaining playoff aspirations, the deadline poses interesting questions.
While the defending World Series champion Astros are once again loaded, do they still need to bust some moves? Can -- and should -- the Mariners give up more of their farm in an attempt to lock down their first postseason berth since 2001?
Are the suddenly surging A's in position to make significant deals and turn up the heat on the first-half frontrunners? How about the Angels? Injuries have put a crimp in their hopes, so are they buyers or sellers now? And how much will the Rangers sell as they look to rebuild now while headed toward what appears to be a second straight losing season?
In search of answers, we turned to some outside perspective from several Major League scouts who agreed to offer their anonymous thoughts.
What they need: The biggest order of business was determining whether they still have a legitimate shot. One of our sources didn't expect the Angels to do much at all. Another said they'd wait until the closing days to make a determination. But that was before word came on Thursday that Garrett Richards, perhaps the Angels' best pitcher and clearly their best trade chip, will have Tommy John surgery.
The oft-injured right-hander was pulled from Tuesday's start against Seattle, underwent an MRI on Wednesday and announced on Thursday that he would have the operation, ending his season. That leaves catcher Martin Maldonado and second baseman Ian Kinsler as the only healthy pending free agents, and neither would likely bring much in return.
Richards opts for Tommy John surgery
What they need: This is something like the "What do you get the [fill in the blank] who already has everything?" question, as Houston already fields a team with an outstanding rotation and the lowest team ERA in the Majors, as well as an offense ranked among the top three. But indeed, no team is perfect and the Astros aren't yet running away with the division and are well aware that the Yankees and Red Sox are loaded in the East, as well.
"I think they would try to help that bullpen. I don't want Hector Rondon closing in the playoffs. Ken Giles either. I don't think they would trust either one of them." -- MLB scout.
• Astros demote Giles to Triple-A
What they might get: Standout closer Zach Britton of the Orioles is available and appearing healthy again as he returns from December surgery on a ruptured Achilles tendon, while Brad Hand of the Padres is another intriguing lefty who has saved 45 games over the past two years.
What they need: A young Oakland squad has gone on an impressive run over the past three weeks to put themselves in the buyer's conversation.
"The A's biggest and lone true need now that they look like they will be more likely to buy is the rotation. They are pretty sound otherwise. I believe they will look at the usual suspects to improve, but as always may be cost conscious.
"They have the prospect depth to do something, but I doubt they sell the farm this year. They'll make an addition, but it won't be elite or cost them their top players. They're playing with house money this year and know they're set up well for the future." -- MLB scout
What they might get: "A guy like Cole Hamels, if they can get Texas to pay down a little, makes sense since they can control him next year if they want, and Billy Beane loves guys he can control and then keep or trade as needed. Hamels also provides a needed veteran presence and won't be too prospect expensive." -- MLB scout
What they need: General manager Jerry Dipoto already made a deal with the Rays two months ago to bolster his bullpen with Alex Colome and outfield with Denard Span, using some of the $12 million of payroll freed up from Robinson Cano's suspension to fill holes. The game's busiest trader doesn't figure to stop there.
"The lineup is pretty good, they are scoring runs without Cano. They need a starter and reliever, one of each. King Felix [Hernandez] isn't the same guy." -- MLB scout
What they might get: "There are middle-of-the-rotation guys available, not the Justin Verlander type. Probably the hottest guy is Nathan Eovaldi of Tampa Bay, Matt Harvey is pitching a lot better. J.A. Happ has slipped, but I'd take him. Jaime Garcia, Francisco Liriano, guys like that." -- MLB scout
What they need: The Rangers mostly need to let the market drive the price up for their available pitchers, led by Hamels and veteran Bartolo Colon, in order to bring back the best prospects possible as they restock for the future.
Texas is paying Hamels $21 million this season, and he has a $20 million club option for 2019 with a $6 million buyout. Colon is making just $1.75 million on a one-year deal, but he's 10 years older than Hamels at 45.
What they might get: "You're not going to get much for Hamels, maybe a big-market club that can take on the contract. You could probably get a couple of prospects, not top prospects. Bartolo, you would probably just get a body. I love Bartolo. He takes the ball, good influence on the guys in the clubhouse. He is a fifth starter, he'll give you six innings and then you get him out of there. He is a lot better than a lot of fifth starters." -- MLB scout
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.