A Move For Every Team - AL Central
Whether you're the Cleveland Indians -- who, despite losing their last three games, still sit 7.5 games ahead of the Minnisota Twins for first in the AL Central -- or the Kansas City Royals, who are 23.5 games back as they sit in last place in the division; or a team in the middle, every team can make a move at the deadline, and I'm here to tell you what it is.
Today's division: The AL Central.
Cleveland Indians (54-46, 1st AL Central, 6th AL)
It speaks to just how bad the AL Central is that the team winning the division by 7.5 games --The Indians -- has just the 6th best record in the American League. They would be third in the AL East, or fourth (!!) if they were in the AL West.
The Indians are another team that may have already made their move for the deadline when they acquired reliever Brad Hand from the Padres in exchange for catcher Francisco Mejia, ranked number 15 on MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects list.
Cleveland's struggling bullpen was their top priority as they've been without star closer Andrew Miller for most of the season and have the third worst bullpen ERA in the majors. They could still use another bullpen arm or outfield depth if they're looking to make another move.
Their Target: Oriole's Zach Britton before the Yankees took him, now their top target should be Cincinnati Reds reliever Jared Hughes, 3-3 with a 1.59 ERA this season and he is controllable through 2020.
Minnesota Twins (46-53, 2nd AL Central, 9th AL)
The Twins have been hovering around .500 for the entire year, a record that makes it difficult to peg them as sellers or buyers at the deadline. They have some good, young talent in Jose Berrios and Eddie Rosario, but have a desperate need for bullpen help. Minnesota has the 5th worst bullpen ERA in the league at 4.70, and the second worst batting average against at .273. It is clear that they need help in that area, and while they have two pitchers in their farm system on the MLB.com Top 100 Prospects list, only one -- Stephen Gonsalves-- is likely to step on a major league diamond this season and who knows how he'll perform despite being solid on the AAA Rochester Red Wings.
Their Target: Righties Sixto Sanchez or Adonis Medina, they're the top two Phillies prospect's who are ranked No. 23 and No. 73 on MLB.com's prospect list, respectively, and should both be major league ready soon. The Twins could send back a major-league middle infielder such as Eduardo Escobar or Ehire Adrianza, as the Phillies haven't gotten a ton of production out of their second basemen and shortstop this year.
Detroit Tigers (43-60, 3rd AL Central, 11th AL)
The Tigers flirted with a .500 record until the middle of June as they over performed through a massive injury to Miguel Cabrera -- who had started the year strong before his season-ending bicep injury -- but have since started to fall and currently sit 12.5 back of the Indians for the division.
As we will see is a trend across the bottom-half of the AL, they are another team that is in full-on sell mode. While no team in their right mind would take Cabrera's contract, players like Jose Iglesias, Leonys Martin, and Francisco Liriano will all be looked at as potential rentals for other teams. Right-handed pitcher Michael Fiers could also be on the move to a contender or a team looking to have one year of control before he's a free agent.
Their Target: Buyers who have young talent to offer, Yankees for Fiers or Liriano, Phillies for Iglesias, Indians for Martin.
Chicago White Sox (36-64, 4th AL Central, 13th AL)
The oft-forgotten team of Chicago, the White Sox, have reason to be optimistic about their future despite their current record. Chicago had the third best farm system according to MLB.com's preseason rankings with seven players in the top 100 prospects. The White Sox also have control of most of the young talent on their major league roster for at least two seasons, including second baseman Yoan Moancada, starter Lucas Giolito and shortstop Tim Anderson.
This breadth of talent blossoming in the White Sox farm system is the reason they are unlikely to make much noise this deadline, but I could see them trying to find someone to take righty James Shields on as a rental, or get a little more for lefty Carlos Rodón who has had a decent season and has three more years of arbitration.
Their Target: A team willing to overpay on a rental (Shields) or just looking for a pitcher for the next couple years (Rondón) -- think Brewers, Mariners, or Dbacks.
Kansas City Royals (31-69, 4th AL Central, 14th AL)
Oh boy, where do I even begin.
If there's one thing the Royals can take pride in this season, they have a better record than the Orioles. But just like Baltimore, Kansas City is going to need to blow it up, and unfortunately they do not have a farm system with talent on the way. The Royals do not currently have a single player that cracks MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects and not a single one of their organizations top five prospects projects to be in the major leagues before 2020. All of those signs equate to a pile of dynamite in the middle of the clubhouse that the Royals will detonate if they're smart.
Their Target: Any team willing to package legitimate minor league talent in exchange for anyone on their major league roster -- no one should be safe.
Whit Merrifield will likely be able to fetch the most, and I think the Phillies would be able to put together a great package for him. It would likely be similar to one I mentioned above with the Twins featuring Sixto Sanchez or Adonis Medina, and Merrifield is a much better player to get in return than the Twins can offer.