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NL East: Who's buying, who's selling?

MLB.com @matthewhleach

If teams spent the first quarter of the season figuring out what they have, they spent the second quarter getting a handle on what they need. The non-waiver Trade Deadline is now 3 1/2 weeks away, and those buyer-seller, contender-rebuilder dividing lines are getting clearer.

• Catch up on the latest Trade Talk

If teams spent the first quarter of the season figuring out what they have, they spent the second quarter getting a handle on what they need. The non-waiver Trade Deadline is now 3 1/2 weeks away, and those buyer-seller, contender-rebuilder dividing lines are getting clearer.

• Catch up on the latest Trade Talk

They're not all sorted out just yet, though. Most front offices are probably pretty pleased that they don't yet have to put all their chips in or out quite yet. With those questions as our backdrop, here's a look at what we learned about the five teams in the National League East in the second quarter, and what we're hoping to find out soon.

Video: ATL@TOR: Anthopoulos talks about the Braves' success

BRAVES
What we learned in the second quarter
This team is not a novelty. And if the Braves ahead of schedule, that doesn't change the fact that they're a serious contender.

Atlanta has some issues, especially in the bullpen, but it would be very hard to justify standing pat given the opportunity that this roster has created. The Braves are contending, not building.

What they'll be hoping to accomplish in the trade market
Primarily, Atlanta will be looking for stability in the bullpen. There are some intriguing arms present, but the depth is in question, and the rotation hasn't exactly eaten innings.

The Braves have been mentioned as a long-shot candidate for Manny Machado, and they could create space for the right infielder (Mike Moustakas?), but relief help seems much more the direction they'll go. And it's not a given that they'll get a green light to spend big if that's what it takes.

Buy, sell, hold?
Buy, but how aggressively?

Video: J.T. Realmuto is one of MLB's best young catchers

MARLINS
What we learned in the second quarter
The most encouraging news in the long term is that some of Miami's young pieces may turn out to be OK after all. Lewis Brinson had a very nice June, and Brian Anderson has been a nice OBP source. But in the context of the Deadline, what matters is the pitching, and the news has been mixed.

The Marlins' starters have scuffled. A lot. But the bullpen? It's legit, and it could fetch them some real pieces. Kyle Barraclough, Drew Steckenrider and Adam Conley could all be difference-makers for contenders, if the Fish decide to sell.

What they'll be hoping to accomplish in the trade market
Getting real value in any deal Miami makes. The Marlins' view is 100-percent long term. And they don't need to deal any of those young relievers. None of them can be free agents any time soon. So in order to make a move in that market, Miami will need to be very impressed with the return. Smaller pieces, someone like Derek Dietrich, could well be moved.

Buy, sell, hold?
Definite sell, but only at the right price.

Video: New Mets' leadership may portend future trades

METS
What we learned in the second quarter
Mid-April was a short time, a long time ago. Few -- if any -- teams have fallen from early heights like the Mets, who have gone from a feel-good story to a likely seller.

Injuries have played a large role, as New York is doing without Yoenis Cespedes, Noah Syndergaard, Jay Bruce, Travis d'Arnaud and AJ Ramos, among others. But that's not the only thing that's gone wrong, and it may be time for a rethink in Queens. Particularly concerning is the apparent stagnation of Amed Rosario and Michael Conforto.

What they'll be hoping to accomplish in the trade market
The Mets need to find a direction, and that won't be easy, because there is another complication here. General manager Sandy Alderson has stepped away from his duties to tend to something far more important than the roster -- his health.

So, yes, the Mets are likely to sell some pieces, especially potential free agents. But it could be hard to pull the trigger on franchise-changing moves like a potential deal of Jacob deGrom or Syndergaard without having a clear long-term vision.

Buy, sell, hold?
Sell, but just how drastically remains to be seen.

Video: BAL@WSH: Herrera retires Machado for a clean 8th

NATIONALS
What we learned in the second quarter
This is a team with significant needs that is well aware of its window. Second part first: Washington has already made an aggressive move, acquiring Kelvin Herrera from Kansas City to deepen the back of the bullpen.

As for the first part? The Nats need catching help. They need some punch added to their offense. And it wouldn't be the worst thing if they could add another quality starting pitcher.

What they'll be hoping to accomplish in the trade market
It's hard to say, to some extent, given that the Nationals already made a move and they haven't taken off. But it wouldn't be shocking if GM Mike Rizzo made some kind of move just to provide a jolt. Washington, a preseason favorite not only in the division but the league, has muddled along and is currently no guarantee to make the postseason.

Which means that as much as anything, Rizzo needs to decide whether this team requires -- and merits -- a major move such as meeting Miami's astronomical price for J.T. Realmuto. Or perhaps he'll choose to have faith in the talented core in place, and simply adjust around the margins.

Buy, sell, hold?
Buy, but not as obviously so as it seemed a month ago.

Video: GM Klentak discusses potential needs, Deadline moves

PHILLIES
What we learned in the second quarter
The Phillies are very much in this, though they may not be quite as ready for prime time this year as their burgeoning rivals in Atlanta.

There have been some very good developments, like Rhys Hoskins' surge and Zach Eflin's emergence, but also some disconcerting ones, like the struggles of three-fifths of their starting rotation. What's challenging about the Phils is that different facets of the team have taken turns looking strong and looking shaky, making for quite a challenge for GM Matt Klentak.

What they'll be hoping to accomplish in the trade market
The most obvious thing is a push-button closer, but it's also possible Philadelphia will decide Seranthony Dominguez is really ready to be the guy. The Phillies could certainly use some starting pitching help, and those Machado rumors won't go away.

The thing is, the Phils have prospects and money, so they can be as active as they want to be. Cole Hamels? Maybe, though they seem to be confident that their rotation is better than it has looked. Machado? Probably not, but you can't completely rule it out. This is one of the most intriguing teams to watch as the Deadline approaches.

Buy, sell, hold?
Buy. And don't be surprised if they're aggressive.

Matthew Leach is the National League executive editor for MLB.com.

Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins, Philadelphia Phillies, Washington Nationals, New York Mets