As we've now entered the month of July, a new part of the season is upon is: trade season. Over the rest of the month, teams will look to upgrade their rosters or sell off their assets and look to improve their teams for the future. Each team has a different philosphy this month…so first, we're going to roll down the teams by division, and then, we're going to look at the best names available at each position. There will be other good reads this week as well, and we're going to keep an eye on all of the moves and potential moves throughout the league.
41-37, third base, 3.5 back in division, 1 back of wild card
The Braves have had an interesting season so far. Their starting pitching, which has been a strength for years, has struggled. Their ace, Brandon Beachy, will miss the rest of the year after Tommy John surgery in June. Mike Minor and Randall Delgado have struggled at the back-end of the rotation, and Jair Jurrjens struggled in his first four starts of the year before being demoted to AAA Gwinnett. Jurrjens is back, and not dominating for the Braves. Their starting pitching is a huge problem for the team, and the Braves are looking to upgrade. They're scouting guys like Zack Grieinke and Jason Vargas, and while Greinke is clearly the superior option, he'd cost a lot in terms of prospects in comparison to Vargas. The Braves also signed Ben Sheets this weekend, and he could fill a role in the rotation if healthy. Atlanta has also had a lack of production from their bench this season, with Eric Hinske looking past his prime and Juan Francisco struggling terribly with the bat. If the Braves could pick up a solid corner infield bat for their bench in addition to a starter, they'd be looking a lot better in the race for October.
38-40, fourth place, 7.5 back in division, 4 back of wild card
Miami's first season in their new stadium with a completely rebranded image has not gone the way that the Marlins envisioned when they signed Jose Reyes, Mark Buerhle, and Heath Bell this offseason. Miami's rotation has been very good, but they've struggled on offense. What exactly can the Marlins do, however? Gaby Sanchez and Logan Morrison have been awful at first base for the team this year, and at such a premium offensive position, they need to do *something* about that. Morrison could be attractive to teams as a bench bat, and the Marlins may be able to get decent value for him as a talented (albeit loudmouthed) 24 year-old. Aside from Morrison, the Marlins might be able to get some good value for starter Anibal Sanchez, who will be a free agent this offseason. Greg Dobbs could also have some value to a team as a bench bat. Miami isn't in a position to buy, but they don't exactly have many assets that teams would be after, either.
New York Mets
43-37, second place, 3.5 back in division, tied for second wild card spot
The Mets are the biggest surprise team in baseball, and I'm pretty sure no one imagined that they'd be in the spot that they're in right now. David Wright has been fantastic, and with the team's success, there's no chance he'll be dealt. But the Mets do have a couple of pieces that could be attractive to other teams that aren't in New York's long-term plans. Relievers like Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch, and Ramon Ramirez might be able to get decent pieces back, as could bench bats like Ronny Cedeno and Scott Hairston. It doesn't make sense for the Mets to go crazy and start selling off players like Wright, RA Dickey, Ike Davis, or Josh Thole, but the veterans getting paid a decent bit? Those are the types of players that the Mets could look to dump. I don't think the team will be buying at the deadline however. I'm just not seeing a lot of places where a major upgrade is really necessary for the Mets.
36-45, fifth place, 11 games back in division, 7.5 back of wild card
Ah, the Phillies….they're so used to buying at the deadline, but this year, it's looking like a different story. The Phillies got their midseason acquistions internally this year, with Chase Utley coming off the DL last week and Ryan Howard currently on a rehab assignment. At any rate, those two might not be enough to help with an offense that has been just pitiful this year. The bullpen has also been a problem, largely filled with untested youngsters who have struggled at times. But with Philadelphia's starting pitching, they can easily jump right back into contention if Utley and Howard start hitting their stride. At the same time, the farm system is looking weak, and the Phillies could do a decent job retooling by trading free agents to be Cole Hamels and Shane Victorino. Those are two of the top trade chips on the market, and the Phillies can set up a new run in the future by getting good value for the pair. However, with Ruben Amaro at the helm, there's a good chance that they *won't* get good value for either player, or even hang on to both and stumble to the finish without a playoff run in sight. If it were me in charge of the team, I'd trade both players and try to set the future up nicely, instead of going all-in and hoping for a huge second half.
45-32, division leaders
This season has been essentially, a best case scenario for the Nationals. Their starting pitching has been on another level, the bullpen has been dominant, and the offense has been…passable, I guess. When it comes to upgrading the team…there isn't much that *needs* upgrading. Roger Bernadina and Steve Lombardozzi have been getting a lot of playing time in the outfield due to Jayson Werth's broken wrist, but Werth should be back with the team at the end of July or the beginning of August. Washington could use an upgrade behind the plate, where injuries have absolutely destroyed the team this year. Jesus Flores, a career backup, is currently starting for the team, and a more established player could help them out there. Aside from that, I don't see anywhere that the team really needs to make a move. Even with the struggles of Ryan Zimmerman and Danny Espinosa in the infield, Zimmerman's contract prevents him from going anywhere, and Espinosa is coming off of a 20 homer season, and is still young and cost-controlled. The Nationals look like they're going to coast to a division title unless something catastrophic happens.