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MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Opportunity abounds as teams prepare for Deadline

With deals done, more moves need to be made as wealth of clubs vie for contention

Opportunity abounds as teams prepare for Deadline play video for Opportunity abounds as teams prepare for Deadline

The Angels, A's and Tigers have done their heavy lifting. That is, all three teams are good enough to win the World Series without doing another thing to their rosters.

That's probably true of the Nationals, Orioles and Cardinals. Possibly others as well. For instance, the Pirates. Sleep on Andrew McCutchen's team at your own risk. And there are the Brewers. They've spent 124 days atop the National League Central. They've had stretches when they've looked like baseball's best team and others when they didn't look good enough to be playing in October.

It's clear they do have enough, and even if general manager Doug Melvin can't add to his pitching staff, his team just keeps on trucking along.

The Rays? No team is playing better than this one right now, and if you've got October on your mind, this is a good place to start. Tampa Bay is on the verge of becoming the fourth team in more than 100 years to get back to .500 after falling 18 games under during a season.

If the Rays get to October, they can line up David Price, Alex Cobb and Chris Archer and match up with anyone. But that 24-42 start has left them with virtually no margin for error.

Finally, there are the Yankees. Here's a tip of the hat to general manager Brian Cashman. He has been absolutely relentless in attempting to upgrade his roster.

Having added Chase Headley, Brandon McCarthy and Chris Capuano, Cashman will continue to burn up the telephone lines. For that matter, the A's, Angels and Tigers may not be finished, either. All three general managers will stay at it until Thursday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline. In fact, it would be surprising if the Tigers and A's don't make at least one more deal.

These two general managers -- Oakland's Billy Beane and Detroit's Dave Dombrowski -- are two of baseball's most aggressive traders. They're also two of the general managers every other is measured against, and maybe there's a connection in there somewhere.

Having already added Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, Beane probably will turn his attention to upgrading his club at second base this week. Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto is also in a good spot, having gotten arguably baseball's best closer, Huston Street, for the back of his bullpen.

And Dombrowski addressed his most pressing need by getting reliever Joakim Soria from the Rangers.

So what's left?

Here are five thoughts on the week:

1. The Dodgers are thinking big.
They're likely to add a starting pitcher and seem to be toying with the idea of trading Matt Kemp. He definitely would get them a pitcher, but here's guessing the Dodgers won't pull the trigger on a deal involving him.

While Kemp may not be happy with his role at the moment, the Dodgers know he's just 29 years old and might have another MVP season in him. The Dodgers have some nice offensive talent in their lineup, but they don't have a player who has done the things Kemp has done.

But the Dodgers have enough quality in their Minor League system that if, for instance, the Red Sox made Jon Lester available, they could land him. How would a rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Lester look in October?

2. The Phillies are also a team to watch.
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. could reshape his roster if he decided to open up the doors and make Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Jonathan Papelbon, Cliff Lee and others available.

Amaro seems likely to take a more cautious approach, but he seems to be weighing all his options. His hurdles are higher than some because of no-trade clauses and veto power, but he also understands that everything is negotiable.

3. Utley makes so much sense for the A's that it probably has no chance of happening.
Amaro doesn't seem inclined to undertake a full-blown makeover, but it would be fascinating to be a fly on the wall this week as he and Beane chat on the phone.

4. Reds general manager Walt Jocketty would like to add a hitter, preferably a first baseman.
Cincinnati is in a tough spot, with the team struggling to remain in contention, and Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips out until perhaps late August. If Jocketty decides to be a seller, clubs will be lining up to see if Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, etc., can be had.

5. The Mets are interesting.
They have a ton of pitching depth and Matt Harvey returning next season. If the Rockies are willing to listen on shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, the Mets are the team that could make a deal happen. He could keep the Mets in the mix this season. They've done a tremendous job hanging in there. Tulo would add an energy charge to the entire clubhouse.

Stay tuned. Twenty of baseball's 30 teams began Monday within 5 1/2 games of a playoff berth. Sixteen teams were within 3 1/2 games.

So there's opportunities out there. There's so much opportunity that contenders likely will end up talking trades with other contenders.

Don't you love competitive balance?

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.

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