With less than two weeks remaining until the Trade Deadline, the National League West remains one of the sport’s most intriguing divisions. The Dodgers have a huge lead, but their Deadline strategy will be fascinating. The other four teams, meanwhile, are all still contenders -- even if they're currently on the outside looking in.
With the August waiver period no longer in existence, there's only one Deadline this season: July 31. In the next 13 days, front offices across baseball will need to map out a strategy that will define the final two months of the season.
So, who's buying and who's selling in the National League West? Here's a look at each team's outlook:
D-backs: Cautious buyers and cautious sellers
Arizona has pieces other teams might covet, and if general manager Mike Hazen decides to sell, he could fetch a nice return for players such as David Peralta, Robbie Ray and Nick Ahmed. All three are under contract in 2020, though, so there's no immediate need to sell if the offer isn't overwhelming.
"We're going to stay engaged with every team," Hazen said. "We're going to keep talking. We're going to kick around ideas. I still think we have challenges in front of us long-term that we need to address. As it’s currently situated, there’s a lot of guys [on our roster] that have one-plus years of control. We need to figure out what the roster is going to look like after that point."
The Dodgers are the class of the National League once again, and they're clear favorites to win a third consecutive pennant. But that isn't their goal, and the path to the World Series could get dicey if they don't upgrade their bullpen over the next few weeks.
It will take a lot to trade for someone like Cleveland's Brad Hand, and the Dodgers have generally tried to avoid moving their top prospects at the Deadline in the past. So, what's that mean for their strategy this season?
Los Angeles will almost certainly try and add a bullpen piece or two. Rather than parting with a big name like Keibert Ruiz or Gavin Lux, it might take a larger package of b-level prospects.
Giants: Still sellers
The Giants came out of the break roaring, winning five of their first six games. With several players -- notably Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith -- whose contracts run out after this season, they're still sellers. But it puts them in a nice position.
"We don't feel like we have to do anything, or there are X number of things that we have to accomplish by July 31," said president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi. "When you put yourself in that position, you create sort of unnecessary pressure and maybe panic to do something that isn't in your long-term interest."
Bumgarner and Smith will almost certainly head elsewhere. Additionally, in a season where good relievers are like gold, the Giants have a deep bullpen. Their push for the Wild Card might change things slightly. But it also means they've got a handful of trade chips who are playing well. If they can sell high and re-stock the system, the Giants would consider this Deadline a success.
Padres: Short-term sellers, long-term buyers
The Padres dropped four straight coming out of the break, and if they had planned to be aggressive for a 2019 Wild Card push, they're probably reconsidering right now. But this is general manager A.J. Preller we're talking about. "Aggressive" is in his nature.
On the flip side, Preller owns one of the trade market's most coveted pieces in Kirby Yates, a lockdown closer who is under team control through 2020. He's set the price predictably high for Yates. However, given the scarcity of elite relievers, that price just might be met.
After consecutive trips to the postseason, the Rockies are looking to take their playoff run a step further come October. A rotation upgrade or two at the Deadline would increase general manager Jeff Bridich’s comfort with the roster.
Bumgarner looms as an option. Toronto's Marcus Stroman is even more intriguing; his ground ball rate might play well at Coors Field. Stroman can't be a free agent until after the 2020 season, so his trajectory fits well with Colorado's.
Bridich first needs to figure out what kind of prospect capital he’s willing to part with to acquire rotation help. It won't come cheap.