As play resumes in Major League Baseball following the All-Star break, there were 16 teams at or above .500. All of them, if not more, are at least somewhat in contention for a postseason spot.
So any of a number of them could be looking to acquire big league talent before the July 31 non-waiver Trading Deadline. In order to do that, though, a team needs to have something to offer in return. That typically means prospects. Building a farm system is important for long-term success in terms of getting homegrown players to the big leagues, but it's also needed to provide potential trading chips to non-contenders seeking to swap veteran talent for prospects.
Some teams are better equipped than others to be active near the Deadline, as talent closer to being big league ready is the hotter commodity for teams looking toward 2014 and beyond. Here's a look at contending teams and what they might have to offer in terms of up-and-coming talent.
Arizona: The D-backs have four players among the Top 100 Prospects and one, left-hander Tyler Skaggs, who recently graduated off the list. Skaggs gets asked about quite a bit, but it's difficult to imagine the D-backs parting ways with him or their top prospect, right-hander Archie Bradley. Arizona has fielded calls about lefty David Holmberg, No. 6 on Arizona's Top 20, and shortstop Chris Owings (No. 4).
Atlanta: The Braves have used their pitching depth to make trades in the past, and it wouldn't be surprising if they did so again. They have three pitchers in their Top 10 -- J.R. Graham, Sean Gilmartin and Cody Martin -- who have received a good amount of attention, given their closeness to the big leagues.
Baltimore: Despite missing the entire season because of Tommy John surgery, there's still plenty of interest in right-hander Dylan Bundy. The Orioles also have been getting plenty of action on fellow righty Kevin Gausman and left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez. The trio ranks among the top four prospects in Baltimore's Top 20.
Boston: The Red Sox would likely rather not part with three of the top four prospects from their Top 20 -- Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Allen Webster -- but their overall depth could come in handy. Pitchers like Anthony Ranaudo or perhaps even Henry Owens could be in play, as could hitters like Garin Cecchini, Blake Swihart or Bryce Brentz.
Cincinnati: Robert Stephenson and Billy Hamilton may prompt the most calls, but it's hard to see a scenario in which the Reds trade either of the top two prospects on their Top 20. They might be more willing to entertain offers on hitters like Jesse Winkler, Neftali Soto and Yorman Rodriguez, or even perhaps a young pitcher like Nicholas Travieso.
Cleveland: Forget about top prospect Francisco Lindor. He's off the table. Most of the Indians' depth is in the lower levels, Class A and Class A Advanced, and that's where teams are poking around. There is some infield depth and a shortstop like Dorssys Paulino would likely garner some interest.
Detroit: While the Tigers might have to be overwhelmed to trade away a top prospect like Nick Castellanos or a young hitter like Avisail Garcia, they do show some corner outfield depth in the system. There are some power arms, too, and Drew VerHagen, now in Double-A, has been as good as any in the organization.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Most of the interest is likely around pitchers, especially because hitters like outfielder Joc Pederson and shortstop Corey Seager -- Nos. 2 and 3 on the Dodgers' Top 20 -- are likely close to being untouchable. Chris Withrow and Jose Dominguez, power relievers now in the big leagues, continue to draw attention. Zach Lee and Chris Reed also come up in conversations.
New York Yankees: The Yankees' system has had an up-and-down year because of injuries and some less-than-stellar performances. There's likely to still be interest in the top two in the organization, catcher Gary Sanchez and outfielder Mason Williams. Catcher J.R. Murphy, having reached Triple-A, could be a close-to-the-bigs option for a team looking for help behind the plate, and Jose Ramirez could provide the same on the mound.
Oakland: With top prospects like second baseman Grant Green and right-hander Sonny Gray getting a chance to help the cause lately, it's possible the A's will mostly look for help from within, perhaps with outfielder Michael Choice. Most of their talent, save a guy like outfielder Michael Taylor, is at the lower levels.
Philadelphia: The Phillies have some talent at the upper levels, with half of their Top 20 at Double-A or Triple-A. Many people have come calling about their Futures Gamers, left-hander Jesse Biddle and third baseman Maikel Franco, though to get them, it will likely take a large deal. Lefty Austin Wright, also at Double-A with those two, along with third baseman Cody Asche, second baseman Cesar Hernandez and right-hander Ethan Martin -- all of whom have seen considerable time at Triple-A -- might be more realistic targets.
Pittsburgh: The Pirates have attempted to improve themselves at the Deadline without raiding a farm system they've worked hard to cultivate. Will that happen again? Expect right-hander Jameson Taillon, their No. 2 prospect, to be untouchable, but it will be interesting to see if the Pirates would be willing to part with outfielder Gregory Polanco or shortstop Alen Hanson in the right deal.
St. Louis: Another strong system, one the Cardinals have used to bolster the big league roster quite a bit this season. With Matt Carpenter breaking out with an All-Star season, one can't help but wonder if second baseman Kolten Wong, No. 3 on their Top 20, could be available, while the Cardinals undoubtedly will continue to get calls about guys like outfielder Oscar Taveras and right-hander Carlos Martinez.
Tampa Bay: The Rays haven't been huge Deadline dealers, perhaps because they've been so reliant on their farm system to keep them competitive. There isn't a ton of upper-level talent among their Top 20 they'd part with, though pitchers Enny Romero, Mike Montgomery and Alex Colome (if healthy) surely would be of interest to other teams.
Texas: A number of teams still have interest in Martin Perez's left arm, but it doesn't appear the Rangers are eager to deal him. Mike Olt has had a rough year, but his power at the hot corner still has value. Other Top 20 prospects who could be on the market are shortstop Luis Sardinas and right-hander Neil Ramirez.
Washington: Infielder Anthony Rendon, hitting .301 in 43 games for the Nationals, is off the table. But there is some pitching on Washington's Top 20 list. A.J. Cole's power right arm is always of interest. Righty Nathan Karns has seen big league time, and lefty Robbie Ray is in Double-A, not too far away.