Weeks of anticipation and searching for just the right fit culminates in an Aug. 1 finale.
But enough about "The Bachelorette." Let's talk about the fast-approaching non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Much like our friend JoJo, buyers and sellers have been looking for perfect matches in this market, and there's nothing more satisfying than one-stop shopping in which the contender fills multiple gaps and the seller brings back a huge haul. With that in mind -- and with less than a week to go -- here are five pairs of clubs that match up particularly well in this marketplace.
Rangers and Royals
We've heard an awful lot of rumors linking the Rangers to the Rays, and that makes sense, in theory, given the Rangers' possession of young, controllable bats and the Rays' possession of young, controllable arms (and Steve Pearce might be a perfect offensive fit for Texas right now, too). But the Rays are understandably maintaining extraordinary asking prices for Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi and Matt Moore, and Rangers president of baseball operations Jon Daniels has said his club has to give closer consideration to rental types.
Meanwhile, the Royals have to give closer consideration to the idea that this injury-riddled season is going to be tough to resuscitate, and selling off a couple expiring assets for near-Major League-ready depth would be a good way to ensure their window remains wide open in 2017.
Edinson Volquez makes a ton of sense for Texas, and not just because he was so effective (one run over six innings) against the Rangers over the weekend. Volquez has Texas ties, having initially been signed by the club out of the Dominican Republic and made his debut with the Rangers in 2005. He's having an inconsistent season, but his Fielding Independent Pitching mark is nearly half a run lower than his ERA, and he gets a lot of ground balls.
Kendrys Morales is a rental, too, and he's rebounded from a rough start to the year to post a .352/.423/.656 slash going back to the middle of June. Though the Rangers might ultimately value a more versatile player like Pearce, given the injuries that have hampered Shin-Soo Choo in the outfield, Morales would be a perfect fill-in for the injured Prince Fielder. And in the bullpen, Texas could make a play for another pending free agent in Luke Hochevar.
The key question: Could the Rangers do a double dip with Kansas City without giving up Jurickson Profar, Joey Gallo or Lewis Brinson?
Dodgers and A's
OK, let's just say it right off the bat: The Dodgers do have the pieces to overwhelm the A's for Sonny Gray. Now, whether they'd want to give up, say, a Julio Urias in a deal for a guy who has drifted virtually overnight from third place in the American League Cy Young Award voting to a 5.49 ERA is another question entirely. But with Clayton Kershaw on the shelf and a $250 million investment on the line, no sense ruling out anything drastic.
But even if it's not a Gray trade, the A's and Dodgers still align well. Though he's battled a mild back issue in recent days, Josh Reddick would address the Dodgers' need for improved offense from the outfield, or perhaps Khris Davis could be a Dodger target. And Rich Hill, assuming he can get past his current blister issue, would provide valuable innings to the starting staff. As recently as last week, Billy Beane, believe it or not, was selling Hill as comparable to Noah Syndergaard, which would sound ridiculous in just about any market other than this one (I mean, did you seewhat the Cubs just gave up for a few months of one-inning stints from Chapman?).
The Indians are going to acquire bullpen help between now and Aug. 2, and they have the pieces in the system and the need to go all in on Andrew Miller, should the Yankees decide to deal him. But the Brewers stand as a reasonable alternative in the bullpen market, with lefty Will Smith the piece probably of most interest to the Indians. And, of course, we've heard plenty of chatter linking the Tribe to catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who might be this market's big fish. Though the level of engagement between Cleveland and Milwaukee on Lucroy has been overstated in some places, the Indians do have the pieces to get it done -- and perhaps the injured Yan Gomes, who is under contract through 2019, could be one of those pieces.
But here's another alternative altogether. The Rockies have not yet identified themselves as sellers, and their second-half success buoys their Wild Card chances. But they remain a sub-.500 squad with a negative run differential and an imposing division deficit. To not investigate the value of pending free-agent lefty relievers Boone Logan and Jake McGee would be silly at this stage. Logan, with a sub-2.00 FIP and a sub-1.00 WHIP, is having an underrated season in Colorado, and though McGee (5.59 ERA) has struggled in a new setting, he's posted a 1.98 ERA away from Coors and has closing experience.
Another reason these two might match up well is pending free-agent catcher Nick Hundley. The Rox could throw him into a trade to make room for prospect Tom Murphy, while the Indians could view him as a veteran stopgap solution until Gomes is healthy. It ain't as enticing as a Lucroy pickup, but it's a lot more economical.
Giants and Mariners
The Giants have an uncanny knack for plugging gaps from within. Their farm system is consistently underrated in that regard. That said, do they have enough top-end prospect talent to pull off an earth-shattering swap like the one the Cubs just made? Debatable.
Perhaps, though, there are ways for the Giants to make the sort of understated improvements that have been a hallmark of their even-year title runs. Should the Mariners decide to unload some more pieces (they've insisted that what they considered "selling high" on Mike Montgomery is not indicative of a full sell situation), they might match up well with the Giants. Pending free agent Franklin Gutierrez is an expiring asset that would be a nice patch piece for a San Francisco club that could use some more outfield insurance. The Giants could also ask about M's closer Steve Cishek, who is under contractual control through 2017.
One way or another, the Giants, having dropped seven of their first eight after the All-Star break going into Tuesday, probably have to bolster their roster -- especially the 'pen -- beyond the nearing returns of Hunter Pence, Joe Panik and Matt Duffy.
Orioles and Phillies
Small samples can lead to big conclusions at the Deadline, and maybe the Orioles are so encouraged by the recent outings from Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman that they decide not to pursue the starting help we've insisted they needed for weeks. But if they do land a starting arm, it's likely to be more of a back-end rental type, because the O's system is thin relative to those of some other contenders right now.
The suggestion here is a two-fer involving Jeremy Hellickson, who has had success in the AL East in the past, and Peter Bourjos, who would be quality outfield insurance on an Orioles team that lost Joey Rickard to injury and could use a backup to Adam Jones in center. Hellickson could deliver quality innings and Bourjos would fit in perfectly with the O's defensive profile.
The problem, of course, is cost. The Phillies have maintained a high price tag on Hellickson, as is their right in this particular marketplace. It will be interesting to see to what depths a hot Orioles team goes to maintain its current AL East edge.
Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.