A Move For Every Team - AL East
Whether you're the Boston Red Sox -- who will enter the MLB trade deadline with the best record in baseball -- or the league-worst Baltimore Orioles or a fan of any team in-between, there's a move your squad can make at this years deadline, and I'm here to tell you what it is.
First up, the AL East.
Boston Red Sox (71-31, 1st AL East, 1st AL)
The Red Sox have been chugging along all season. They have the best record in baseball, have posted separate winning streaks of 8, 9, and 10 games, and have maintained their strong play as we've gotten into the dog days of summer -- going 15-3 so far in July. They don't really look like they have any major flaws, and there's a chance they already made their move for the deadline.
Boston acquired Steve Pearce from the Toronto Blue Jays -- a move that brought them a utility man who can also hit left-handed pitching. He's already contributed 15 hits and a .405 average since the trade for the Sox, but in a situation where you can have your cake and eat it too, one position they may be able to upgrade is at catcher. Boston has Sandy Leon behind the plate following Christian Vazquez's pinky injury, and have a non-catcher on the depth chart at backup catcher in Blake Swihart.
Their Target(s): JT Realmuto, Miami Marlins
New York Yankees (63-35, 2nd AL East, 3rd AL)
The Yankees have scored 511 runs through 68 games -- good for 4th most in the league. There isn't much New York needs on the offensive side of the baseball, aside from Gary Sanchez getting his average above .200 and starting to run out ground balls. They do however, have a clear need in pitching, specifically starting pitching.
They have a 4.10 starter ERA this year, and while that sits right around the middle of the pack at 16th in the MLB, it also includes Louis Severino contributing a 2.63 ERA in 133 innings -- the most innings and lowest ERA on the team by far. There's no chance that in a playoff series the Yankees are comfortable running out Sonny Grey, CC Sabathia, or Masahiro Tanaka as a Game 2 starter. Acquiring a number two or three starter is their most pressing need, and with the abundance of pitchers on the market and their position behind the Red Sox, they can't afford to be stagnant at another deadline.
Their Target(s): J.A Happ, Chris Archer, Matt Harvey, Cole Hamels
Edit: The Yankees have now acquired pitcher Zach Britton from the Orioles... They still need starting pitching.
Tampa Bay Rays (51-49, 3rd AL East, 7th AL)
I was honestly shocked to see that the Rays had the 7th best record in the American League despite playing in the daunting AL East, but having a strong Cy Young candidate in Blake Snell will do that for you. Unfortunately, the playoff format of the MLB and their limited budget makes them sellers as usual at this year's deadline. They have already shipped out outfielder Denard Span and closer Alex Colome to the Mariners in exchange for prospects, and I think they'll likely continue that trend if they make any more moves. Several teams have reportedly had interest in right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, who has been solid since his return from injury and would be a sound addition to many playoff rotations.
Their Target: It's a tough sell because it is inter-division, but the Yankees could be a trade partner -- they have plenty of assets and know they need a pitcher. Either Archer or Eovaldi for a minor league prospect package -- one that would likely include some of the Yankees' young pitching talent that isn't quite major-league ready like Matt Sauer or Luis Medina -- after Dillon Tate was just moved to the Orioles.
Toronto Blue Jays (46-54, 4th AL East, 10th AL)
The Jays have had an underwhelming season to say the least -- thanks mostly to injuries to key players such as Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki -- but Toronto's pitching has been their greatest flaw for the season. The Blue Birds have a 4.90 starter ERA this year, one of several categories they are below league average. Like many teams in the American League, the Jays will be sellers at the deadline and have begun their rebuild as they look to the future to put a team around Vladimir Gurrerro Jr. once he makes his inevitable Major League debut.
They still have plenty of pieces to move including Justin Smoak, Donaldson --who's on an expiring contract and may be a post-waiver deadline move-- and Roberto Osuna who will be returning shortly from his suspension. Toronto has already made a move as mentioned above, when they sent utility man Steve Pearce to the Red Sox for minor league infielder Santiago Espinal and are clearly thinking long term, but only time will tell how much youth they will try to bring in before the deadline.
Their Target: Buyers looking for arms or overall talent -- think Arizona Diamondbacks, Yankees, or Milwaukee Brewers. J.A. Happ is right up there as one of the best arms on the market and Justin Smoak would be a solid addition to almost any lineup.
Baltimore Orioles (28-73, 5th AL East, 15th AL)
Well, there really isn't much to say here.
The Orioles have already made the blockbuster deal of the deadline when they sent Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for 5 prospects including L.A.'s No. 9 ranked farmhand, outfielder Yusniel Diaz. They also, as this article was being written, sent Zach Britton to the Yankees for three minor-league pitchers, including the Yankees No. 9 prospect right-handed pitcher Dillon Tate.
Neither of these are major hauls in return, but it's the beginning. They are clearly in full rebuild mode, and the only real question is if they are done yet or not. I could still see them making multiple moves, including second baseman Jonathan Schoop or designated hitter Mark Trumbo before the deadline because this season is about as much of a wrap as it can be for the O's.
Their Target: Buyers who have an abundance of young talent. Look out for the Philadelphia Phillies, they need to make a move to make sure they don't lose their spot atop the NL East and had the 5th best farm system in MLB.com's pre-season rankings.