The season is barely two weeks old, yet the Trade Deadline (Aug. 31 at 4 p.m. ET) is rapidly approaching. Teams around baseball have already been forced to deal with health issues -- both related to COVID-19 as well as traditional injuries -- that have forced them to adjust on the fly.
With less than four weeks remaining until the Deadline, what areas might the 30 teams need to address as they make their way through the 60-game sprint?
American League East
Blue Jays: Outfield
Toronto has been itching to find a true center fielder (Randal Grichuk is currently playing there), though that seems unlikely to happen before the offseason. Still, the Blue Jays’ infield is loaded with talent, and while the outfield has talent, their group is stocked with similar players. The farm system has produced big names such as Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio, but there are no outfielders to be found on the club’s Top 10 prospect list.
Orioles: Lower-level pitching prospects
In the two Drafts since Mike Elias took over as general manager, the Orioles have loaded up their system with position players, selecting 13 with their top 14 picks. The upper levels of the system have some solid, young arms, but given the club’s recent approach in the Draft, it needs to replenish the lower levels. If Baltimore is able to flip some veteran pieces -- perhaps Mychal Givens or Alex Cobb? -- that could be an area for Elias to address.
Rays: Left-handed reliever
GM Erik Neander did a solid job assembling a well-rounded team this offseason, but Colin Poche’s season-ending UCL injury -- coupled with José Alvarado’s inconsistency -- left Tampa Bay with a potential left-handed hole in the bullpen. The Rays have big postseason hopes and a strong farm system, so they have the capital necessary to make a move at the Deadline.
Red Sox: Starting pitching
This one seems obvious. Chris Sale is out for the season following Tommy John surgery, while Eduardo Rodriguez is out for the year with a heart condition that may be related to his contraction of COVID-19 earlier this summer. That leaves Nathan Eovaldi as the lone proven starter in Boston’s rotation, and while that could result in the Red Sox becoming sellers by the end of the month (Jackie Bradley Jr., J.D. Martinez and Brandon Workman could all be trade chips), it seems logical that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom would pursue a starter under control to pencil in for 2021 (or beyond).
Yankees: Starting pitching
Gerrit Cole has lived up to expectations early in the season, but James Paxton and J.A. Happ have been inconsistent while Masahiro Tanaka got off to a late start after being hit in the head by a batted ball last month. Factor in that Paxton, Happ and Tanaka can all become free agents after the season and it wouldn’t be a shock to see GM Brian Cashman deal for a controllable pitcher if one he likes becomes available.
American League Central
Indians: Impact outfield bat
The Indians could find themselves shopping Francisco Lindor, though that could be on the club’s offseason to-do list. Alternately, the possibility of adding an impact bat would help on two fronts: adding an offensive weapon for one final run with Lindor while also protecting themselves if/when the All-Star shortstop is traded. Entering play on Thursday, Indians outfielders had a combined OPS (yes, OPS) of .407.
Royals: Starting pitching
Four of the Royals’ top six prospects entering the season were pitchers, but aside from Danny Duffy, there was a lack of experience in the rotation. Should Kansas City find itself in contention for a playoff spot, GM Dayton Moore could look to add a veteran arm to the roster for the stretch.
Tigers: MLB-ready bat
Even after drafting six position players in June, the Tigers are still looking for offensive depth in the farm system to go with their stockpile of pitching. If GM Al Avila can add a hitter who is close to MLB-ready, the club will find a spot for him. Regulars C.J. Cron, Jonathan Schoop and Austin Romine are all on one-year deals.
Twins: Left-handed reliever
Aside from closer Taylor Rogers, the Twins are lacking a situational lefty who can get both lefties and righties out. Minnesota has a well-rounded team without many holes, so bolstering the bullpen with another southpaw might be its biggest need unless health concerns appear in the coming weeks.
White Sox: Starting pitching
The time is now for the White Sox, who have rebuilt their team with an eye on contending this season. Dallas Keuchel was added to provide a veteran presence in the rotation, but injuries to Reynaldo López and Carlos Rodón have thrown a wrench into their plans, so GM Rick Hahn could look to add an arm for the stretch run. Chicago could potentially take on a big contract if one becomes available -- the Sox are set up well financially moving forward -- having already locked up Luis Robert, Eloy Jiménez, Yoán Moncada and Tim Anderson to club-friendly, long-term deals.
American League West
Angels: Starting pitching
Regardless of whether the Angels are buyers or sellers by the end of the month, GM Billy Eppler figures to be seeking starting pitching. Outfield prospect Brandon Marsh is the club’s top trade chip, though the return would likely have to include a controllable starter for the Angels to move him.
The Astros have been crushed by pitching injuries this season, both major and minor, with more than a half-dozen arms already on the injured list. Rookie GM James Click could find himself shopping for starters and relievers, though given the expanded postseason field this season, there might not be an abundance of arms available before the Aug. 31 Deadline. Even when healthy, the back of the bullpen is loaded with unproven arms, so that could become the priority.
Athletics: Second base
Tony Kemp and Chad Pinder have been an underwhelming combination at second base, so the Athletics could look to upgrade the spot as they seek their first AL West title since 2013. Oakland has made deals to reinforce its bullpen in each of the past two years, adding Jeurys Familia in 2018 and Jake Diekman last summer, so that is always a possibility if an attractive relief arm becomes available.
Seattle’s catching depth -- which was already thin -- took a hit when Tom Murphy suffered a broken bone in his foot. Austin Nola has handled most of the duties behind the plate, but he projects as more of a backup, so adding a backstop who could share the load would make sense. The Mariners are in a rebuilding phase right now, so it would be surprising if GM Jerry Dipoto dealt away any prospects in an effort to augment the roster for the season’s final month.
Rangers: Corner infielder
Todd Frazier hasn’t hit much, while neither Ronald Guzmán nor Greg Bird has inspired much confidence they would do any better. Isiah Kiner-Falefa doesn’t profile as the power bat most teams desire at third base, representing another spot worthy of an upgrade. The Rangers took a hit with the loss of Corey Kluber to a shoulder injury, but Texas’ pitching should still be good enough to contend if the lineup can produce.
National League East
Braves: Starting pitching
Mike Soroka was the Braves’ lone front-line starter, but the Achilles injury he suffered this week will keep him off the mound until 2021. Given the lack of expected sellers, it might be difficult for GM Alex Anthopoulos to find a No. 1 or No. 2 starter, but the Braves have the prospects to pull off a big deal if one presents itself.
Marlins: Relief pitching
Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak that wreaked havoc on the Marlins’ roster, the club’s main area of need was in the bullpen. Brandon Kintzler and Yimi García (the latter of whom tested positive) are the top two options, followed by Brad Boxberger and a number of young, unproven arms. Should Miami find itself with a chance to contend for a postseason berth, shoring up the bullpen will likely be a priority for president of baseball operations Michael Hill.
Mets: Starting pitching
Once considered a strength for the Mets, the rotation has already taken several hits this season. Noah Syndergaard underwent Tommy John surgery this spring, Marcus Stroman opened the season on the injured list with a calf injury, and offseason additions Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello have been just OK. Despite their slow start, the Mets have postseason aspirations, so reinforcing the rotation should be a priority for GM Brodie Van Wagenen.
Phillies: Relief pitching
Beyond the trio of Hector Neris, Jose Alvarez and Adam Morgan, the Phillies’ bullpen is one big unknown. Management of his relief corps has long been a strength for Joe Girardi, so pitchers including Tommy Hunter (who got lit up by the Yankees on Wednesday) and Nick Pivetta could emerge in key roles. GM Matt Klentak will likely be scouring the league for another proven bullpen arm to add into the mix.
Nationals: First base
Howie Kendrick and Eric Thames have shared the bulk of the playing time at first base, also seeing some at-bats as the designated hitter. Neither has had the type of early-season production most teams expect from those spots, so the idea of adding a much-needed bat at first base would help the lineup, while also adding another name into the DH mix.
National League Central
Brewers: Third base
Milwaukee has already used three starters at third base, with Eric Sogard and Jedd Gyorko splitting the bulk of the action in a platoon. With no prospect at the position ready to emerge, GM David Stearns could look for either a short- or long-term answer at the hot corner if the right player becomes available.
Cardinals: Impact bat
Even with their December 2018 trade for Paul Goldschmidt, the Cardinals have seemingly been in search of another impact bat for several years. St. Louis believes it has offensive answers internally, but if the club finds itself behind in the NL Central, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak could look to address the lineup if the price is right -- both in terms of prospects and salary. The fallout from the team’s COVID-19 outbreak could also determine what course the front office takes in the coming weeks.
Cubs: Relief pitching
Craig Kimbrel’s 2019 struggles have continued into 2020, leaving a big question mark at the back end of the Cubs’ bullpen. Rowan Wick and Jeremy Jeffress have helped ease the burden, but if Kimbrel isn’t able to straighten himself out, the Cubs will likely seek an additional arm (or two) before the Deadline.
With GM Ben Cherington in his first season, the Pirates must focus first and foremost on adding talent to their system in whatever form they can find it. Cherington took that approach when he traded away Starling Marte to Arizona for high-ceiling prospects Liover Peguero (shortstop) and Brennan Malone (right-hander). The biggest hole in Pittsburgh's organization is behind the plate. The Pirates like what Jacob Stallings offers at the Major League level, especially defensively, but they have remarkably little depth behind him -- and not a single one of their top 30 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline, is a catcher.
Reds: Relief pitching
The everyday lineup has no obvious holes, while the rotation has been well above average thus far. The bullpen has been the most volatile spot on the roster, so if Cincinnati decides to add a player or two for the stretch, the relief corps would seem to be the most likely area to address.
National League West
D-backs: Starting pitching
GM Mike Hazen has said in the past that he always looks to add bullpen arms when possible at the Trade Deadline, but given Luke Weaver’s early struggles -- and the fact that Robbie Ray is headed for free agency at the end of the season -- Arizona could look to add a starter this month. Madison Bumgarner’s contract was structured to give the club some financial flexibility in 2020, and with $32 million set to come off the books (Ray, Jake Lamb and Yasmany Tomás) after the season, the D-backs might be able to take on some salary in a deal.
Dodgers: Starting pitching
Los Angeles’ loaded roaster has few holes that need addressing, but the rotation -- which lost Hyun Jin Ryu, Kenta Maeda and Rich Hill this past offseason -- would benefit from the addition of a proven arm to protect against injuries, especially with David Price electing not to play this season.
Buster Posey’s decision to not play this season left the Giants thin behind the plate, and while Tyler Heineman has handled his duties well thus far, San Francisco doesn’t have a whole lot else to fall back on. Adding a veteran backup to share time and assist with the pitching staff would help fill the void for the rest of the season and help bridge the gap until top prospect Joey Bart is ready to take over behind the plate.
Padres: Impact bat
San Diego had dreams of acquiring Mookie Betts, but the star outfielder landed with the division-rival Dodgers. Francisco Lindor was another middle-of-the-order hitter on the Padres’ wish list, though acquiring the Indians shortstop would require a positional move for either him or Fernando Tatis Jr. In a perfect world, adding offense at second base or in the outfield would seem to be the ideal situation.
Rockies: Relief pitching
A hot start to the 2020 season has the Rockies thinking about a return to the postseason after a disappointing 2019. In their playoff seasons of 2017 and ’18, the Rockies traded for experienced relievers (Pat Neshek and Seung-hwan Oh) for the respective pennant races. The bullpen has already gone through changes this season with the releases of Bryan Shaw and Jake McGee, not to mention a shoulder injury that has sidelined Wade Davis. The rest of the group has pitched well, but the addition of a proven veteran could help the cause.