Most pressing questions facing AL East teams

While the Yanks and Red Sox look to add, the other three will weigh offers for current stars

June 21st, 2018

The decision-makers for each team are entering the busy season, and their phones should be buzzing with possibilities. The non-waiver Trade Deadline is July 31, and the buyers and sellers are crystal clear in the American League East.
The Yankees and Red Sox are in search of the final pieces that can turn their already strong squads into juggernauts, while the Blue Jays, Orioles and Rays will likely look to turn enticing trade chips into future gains.
• Non-waiver Trade Deadline explained
Here are the key questions for all five AL East clubs as the Deadline draws near.
The question: Will Josh Donaldson recoup enough value in the coming weeks to justify a trade prior to the Deadline?

Donaldson hasn't played since May 28 because of a sore left calf muscle. Before that, a right shoulder injury caused him to miss three weeks in April. As a result, Donaldson has just five home runs and 16 RBIs as the end of June quickly approaches.
The 2015 AL Most Valuable Player Award winner is expected to return soon, but he'll need to bounce back in a hurry if the Blue Jays want to jumpstart a potential rebuild with a big July trade. A qualifying offer at the end of the year remains a possibility, but if Toronto can get a haul for Donaldson before the Deadline, that's the course of action it is expected to take.
The question: Will superstar Manny Machado be traded?

Machado is a hot commodity on a last-place team, so it seems like a no-brainer that he will be moved. But it's not necessarily a sure thing, as the O's didn't like any of the offers they received during the offseason for their prized shortstop, who can be a free agent after the season.
So what will it take? Young, controllable talent -- preferably pitching -- is what Baltimore wanted last offseeason. Given that Machado is essentially a rental for the team that acquires him, the Orioles won't get an organization-changing haul, but there still will be a lot of pressure to get something of substance in return. Further complicating matters is that O's vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette is also in the final year of his contact.

The question: Will Chris Archer get traded?

Archer, who is on the disabled list with a left abdominal strain, has a deal that pays him $6.4 million this season and $7.7 million in 2019, which is relatively affordable compared to other pitchers of a similar talent level. So the question is, will Archer be healthy by the time the Deadline rolls around, and if he is, can the Rays find a suitable trade partner who values the right-hander enough to part with the prospect haul that they would want in return?
Of course, a trade for Archer, who is one of Tampa Bay's most popular players, would further signal the Rays' decision to get younger, which could have an adverse effect on the team's efforts to get public funding for a new stadium.
The question: Will the Red Sox get another impact arm in 'pen?

In his first two pennant races running Boston's front office, vice president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski bolstered his bullpen. In 2016, the Red Sox got , and he helped the team win the AL East. was similarly effective in helping Boston close out the division last year. With out for the season after injuring his shoulder and still an uncertainty in his rehab from thoracic outlet syndrome, Dombrowski is likely going to have to hit the bullpen market again.
A power left-hander would be a particularly good fit for manager Alex Cora, considering all his best relief arms are right-handed. The cost for Padres southpaw Brad Hand could be exorbitant, but Dombrowski will stay in touch with San Diego all the way up to July 31. Baltimore's Zach Britton is another possibility.
The question: Can they add a starting pitcher?

General manager Brian Cashman has been searching for a starter since the offseason, when the team settled for re-signing to a one-year contract with a belief that they could upgrade in late July if necessary. As anticipated, the rotation has proven to be a concern, with second-year lefty out for the year due to Tommy John surgery and right-hander expected to miss a month after straining both hamstrings while running the bases in a game against the Mets.

The Yankees have patched things together by summoning righties and from the Minors, but with a postseason berth in sight, Cashman is open to dipping into the club's prospect reserves to add a stabilizing veteran like the Rangers' Cole Hamels or the Blue Jays' J.A. Happ. Cashman recently said that he has touched base with 20 of the 29 other clubs on some level, a number that will certainly inch closer to 29 as July 31 nears.