What moves should these teams make to get them to the postseason?
By Richard Justice
In a perfect world, what would your favorite team do? Forget fallback positions. Let's go for something that might just be the final touch. Let's attempt to put ourselves in the shoes of 10 executives as the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches.
One point to make: Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman might be the two most hotly pursued players in baseball. But the Yankees may not be selling, especially after winning four in a row before Thursday's loss and getting to within 5 1/2 games of a Wild Card spot.
Is a Yankees playoff push a long shot? Sure it is. But it simply is not in their makeup to cash in a season. While it would be tempting to put one or two players -- Miller, Jay Bruce -- on a half-dozen teams, that's not what we've done here.
1.Jon Daniels, Rangers White Sox LHP Chris Sale and Rays RHP Jake Odorizzi
Yes, both of them. Did I mention bullpen help? Daniels is looking for that, too, which emphasizes how fragile things are for a club that has spent virtually the entire season atop the American League West. The Rangers desperately need to shore up a starting rotation that has been the worst in baseball the past three weeks. Daniels is thinking big, too, gauging the price for three elite starters: Sale, Sonny Gray and Chris Archer. So far, the White Sox have said Sale is unavailable. But Daniels' farm system is deep enough to make it tempting for the White Sox. That would mean giving up Joey Gallo or Jurickson Profar.
2.John Mozeliak, Cardinals Phillies RHP Jeanmar Gomez
Mozeliak would surprise no one by doing something larger. His farm system isn't as deep as it once was, but there's still talent. More likely, though, Mozeliak will try to acquire a lockdown closer. Gomez has converted 25 of 28 save chances and has a 1.12 WHIP. His arrival would allow manager Mike Matheny to stabilize an entire group. Mozeliak might even elect to go for two arms, say, getting two from a very good Milwaukee bullpen, possibly Jeremy Jeffress and Will Smith. But top prospect Alex Reyes could be that second arm after he's summoned to the big leagues. The Cardinals are almost good enough to win a World Series. Mozeliak might be one move from positioning them to win.
3. Dayton Moore, Royals Twins RHP Ervin Santana
Only the Orioles have gotten fewer innings from their starters than the defending champions, and with Mike Minor and Kris Medlen's return uncertain, Moore's search for offense has to take a back seat to finding an innings-eating starting pitcher. When healthy, Santana is good for 32 starts and 200 innings. His contract has two years and $28 million remaining on it, which could be problematic.
4. Theo Epstein, Cubs Yankees LHP Andrew Miller
The Cubs may be one bullpen arm from winning the World Series, and they're focused on Miller. Unfortunately, the Yankees are focused on getting Schwarber in return. So far, Epstein has been unwilling to make that deal. Will he change his mind as the deadline approaches and the thoughts of bringing a World Series to Wrigley Field dance in his head? There are about a hundred reasons to think Miller won't wind up with the Cubs, these two experienced general managers -- Epstein and New York's Brian Cashman -- will continue to wrestle.
5.Neal Huntington, Pirates Rays RHP Chris Archer
This one isn't complicated. Huntington wants a rotation upgrade to line up behind Gerrit Cole as we head toward October. And he has the prospects to get any of the best ones, including, not just Archer, but also Gray and Sale. Huntington may settle for something less dramatic, but mindful of playing in a division with the Cubs and Cardinals, he knows he may have to get outside his comfort zone. This one might turn out to be a pipe dream for Pittsburgh, as the Dodgers are apparently making a strong push for Archer.
6.Andrew Friedman, Dodgers Athletics OF Josh Reddick and Brewers LHP Will Smith
Friedman has been focused on a hitter and reliever, but uncertainty about Clayton Kershaw's health could send him in another direction. Let's focus on what we know. A team with too many outfielders at the beginning of the season is now hoping to acquire one, and Reddick and Bruce appear to be the best available. Adding Smith would shore up a bullpen that has been stretched thin.
7.Dan Duquette, Orioles Phillies RHP Jeremy Hellickson
Duquette must upgrade his rotation while also balancing payroll and a thin Minor League system. Hellickson has gotten his career back on track the past two seasons, but he isn't one of the marquee relievers teams are seeking. For that reason, he's precisely the kind of guy Duquette will focus on.
8. Brian Sabean, Giants Brewers RHP Jeremy Jeffress and Reds OF Jay Bruce
The Giants have a larger wish list than you'd think for a team that has spent virtually the entire season in first place. First, there's the matter of the bullpen. Jeffress would stabilize the ninth inning and also provide depth for a group that has been worked hard. Also, because the Giants aren't sure how much they're going to get from Hunter Pence the rest of the way, there's a need for a corner outfielder. They may win the NL West regardless because the Dodgers have some worries as well, but they're shopping hard for re-enforcements.
9.Mike Rizzo, Nationals Yankees LHP Aroldis Chapman
The Nationals are good enough to win a World Series without a single additon. However, Rizzo's farm system might be deep enough to allow him to upgrade the top of the lineup and back of the bullpen. If the Yankees don't move Chapman, Rizzo could go hard for Smith. At the moment, there doesn't seem to be a match regarding a leadoff hitter unless San Diego's Jon Jay recovers more quickly than expected from a broken arm. Rizzo's organization's success is built on young power arms, but having not won a playoff series, he might be willing to part with either of his two best ones -- Lucas Giolito or Reynaldo Lopez -- in the right deal to get a sure thing to pitch the ninth inning.
10.Mike Chernoff, Indians Rockies OF Charlie Blackmon Michael Brantley's uncertain health makes acquiring an outfielder a top priority. Chernoff would also like to upgrade his bullpen, but he may not be able to do both. There's likely to be a long list of relievers changing teams, and Chernoff could be in on one of those as well. For the moment, he has a higher priority, and Blackmon would be a nice fit.
Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.