The Major League Baseball trade deadline is approaching, and teams will look to improve their rosters to make a playoff push. Here is every MLB contender’s biggest need.
New York Yankees: Top-Line Starting Pitcher
The Yankees arguably have the deepest bullpen in baseball, and it has masked their starting rotation’s inconsistency. Statistically speaking, their rotation hasn’t killed them, but that’s because the Yankees are getting the ball to their bullpen midway through games. They don’t have an ace, or someone consistently pitching at a high level. Without one, or a significant upgrade, they’ll be eliminated in the American League Division Series for the second consecutive season.
Tampa Bay Rays: Long Reliever
You can never have enough pitching, even if you’re the Rays. With only three true starting pitchers (Blake Snell, Charlie Morton, Yonny Chirinos) and a bullpen used to extremes, the Rays would benefit from the addition of another pitcher. Any injury to manager Kevin Cash‘s pitching staff can be detrimental. Having depth for such an occurrence is pivotal, especially in a potent AL Wild Card Race.
Boston Red Sox: Closer
Acquiring veteran right-hander Andrew Cashner was a solid transaction to bolster their starting rotation, but Boston’s bullpen is a guessing game. They’ve nearly blown as many saves as they’ve executed (19:18), struggled to pick up the slack for their starting rotation, and are an unreliable bunch. Cashner’s arrival moves a starter to the pen — theoretically improving that unit — but the Red Sox still need a shutdown reliever, ideally a closer.
Minnesota Twins: Backend Reliever
The Twins have the most productive offense in MLB and a reliable starting rotation. They also have select individuals getting big outs in their bullpen, but they still need a proven commodity. Whether it be someone to get the ball to Taylor Rogers or Blake Parker in the ninth inning, or someone to permanently take the closer reins, Minnesota needs to acquire a veteran backend reliever. Doing as such fills one of the few voids on their roster.
Potential Targets: Colome, Greene, Ken Giles
Cleveland Indians: Outfielder
The Indians are on a tear and getting valiant outings from a young starting rotation in the midst of injuries. At the same time, their offense is still sagging, their outfield in particular. Tyler Naquin and Jordan Luplow have been respectable in the field and at the plate, but the Indians need an offensive jolt. Carlos Santana and Francisco Lindor have carried the load this season, but without another heavy-swinger, the Indians will struggle to contend for the AL pennant.
Houston Astros: Backend Starting Pitcher
Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and Wade Miley are having superb seasons, and Brad Peacock has been respectable. With that said, the backend of their starting rotation could use another arm. Nearly ever fifth day, the Astros are getting a shaky outing from their starter, and Peacock is on the injured list. Plus, Cole and Miley are free agents after this season, so adding a pitcher under team control through next season gives the Astros a safety blanket.
Oakland Athletics: Starting Pitcher
Mike Fiers and Brett Anderson are arguably having the best season of their careers, and Chris Bassitt has been a steady force. But the A’s need at least one more proven starting pitcher — even with the acquisition of Homer Bailey. Their lineup has been firing on all cylinders, and their bullpen is a dependable unit. The addition of a fourth reliable starter deepens the A’s pitching staff and potentially gives them a leg up on the competition for the second AL Wild Card seeding.
Texas Rangers: Starting Pitcher
The Rangers offense is captivating, as is their 2019 campaign; they went from obvious sellers to playoff contenders. Mike Minor is having a career year, and Lance Lynn has been one of the best pitchers in baseball over the last two months. However, outside of those two, the Rangers starting rotation has been unstable and forced their bullpen’s hand. Adding a sturdy starting pitcher would enhance their odds of making the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
Potential Targets: Bumgarner, Boyd, Ray
Atlanta Braves: Closer
Different season, same problem for the Braves: They need a closer. Yes, Luke Jackson has pitched much better this season, and Jacob Webb has been a pleasant development, but that’s not enough. The Braves have a relentless offense and a savvy starting rotation, which has catapulted them into contention. They have the assets and coin to make a big-boy move. Do the Braves really want to come up short because they didn’t address their bullpen?
Potential Targets: Greene, Giles, Felipe Vazquez
Washington Nationals: Long Reliever
Fernando Rodney has been a reliable force, and Wander Suero has turned a corner over the last month setting up closer Sean Doolittle; the Nationals should be looking to add a long reliever. They don’t have a reliever who consistently pitches multiple innings an appearance, which forces them to heavily rely on their starting rotation. Limiting their rotation’s workload, while also boosting their bullpen, makes the Nationals a National League pennant threat.
Potential Targets: Givens, Phelps, Diekman
Philadelphia Phillies: Starting Pitcher
Outside of Aaron Nola and Zach Eflin, the Phillies have sported an unreliable starting rotation. Jake Arrieta has struggled and is nursing an elbow injury. Meanwhile, Vince Velasquez, Jerad Eickhoff, and Nick Pivetta have struggled to provide length. The Phillies have slipped to third place in the NL East, and their pitching staff is an enormous reason for their downfall. Without the addition of an established starter, the Phillies will miss the postseason for the eighth consecutive season.
Potential Targets: Stroman, Bauer, Zack Greinke
Chicago Cubs: Outfielder
The Cubs have an array of talented players and depth, but they haven’t played up to their typical standards this season; their outfield has been an essential reason for that. Kyle Schwarber is hitting .232, while Albert Almora and Ben Zobrist underwhelm. The Cubs have too many hitters, in their outfield specifically, not coming through in crucial at-bats and holding their lineup back. Even if they feel those individuals can turn a corner, it would be wise to have an insurance policy.
Potential Targets: Castellanos, Cabrera, Hamilton
St. Louis Cardinals: Starting Pitcher
The Cardinals have gutted their farm system over the last two years in trades for Paul Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna, but they have to be in the market for a starting pitcher this month. Despite being a disappointing 47-45, they’re in the thick of a wide-open NL Wild Card Race. Their rotation has been inconsistent, and there’s no pure ace present. Adding a proven starter would alleviate the Cardinals rotation, as well as the team’s playoff aspirations.
Potential Targets: Stroman, Boyd, Ray
Milwaukee Brewers: Top-Line Starting Pitcher
Zach Davies is enduring an impressive bounce-back season, and Brandon Woodruff has made a seamless transition into being a full-time starting pitcher. Outside of those individuals, the Brewers starting rotation has been a shaky bunch. Manager Craig Counsell heavily relies on his bullpen, and their pitching staff is going to run out of gas without reinforcements. Not making a move for a top-of-the-rotation starter could also keep Milwaukee out of the playoffs.
Potential Targets: Stroman, Bauer, Noah Syndergaard
Los Angeles Dodgers: Left-Handed Reliever
Yes, the Dodgers have the best starting rotation in baseball, a formidable lineup, and proven bullpen. With that said, there’s no such thing as a perfect roster, and the Dodgers could use a left-handed reliever. The bulk of the relievers manager Dave Roberts pivots to in the late innings are right-handers (Kenley Jansen, Pedro Baez, Joe Kelly, etc.). A reliable left-hander who can jam hitters would further weaponize the Dodgers pen and give them more options in October.
Potential Targets: Diekman, Smith, Jarlin Garcia