Major League Baseball has traditionally had two trade deadlines, the first on July 31 that is a free-for-all during which any player can be traded (barring no-trade clauses in contracts). The second trade deadline, which has come at the end of August, was known as the waiver trade deadline because players had to clear waivers in August before being able to be traded. Before this season, the league announced it was ending the waiver trade deadline, meaning July 31 is the last day during the season that teams can make trades. Given that, there is expected to be a bigger flurry of trade activity in July. Here’s a look at some teams on the fringe of the playoff hunt that should be buyers at the MLB trade deadline.
Baseball is a funny sport, and the Washington Nationals prove it. They were expected to take a step backward this season after losing Bryce Harper in free agency, but they weren’t expected to be as bad as they were to start the season. At the time, it looked as if the Nationals would be sellers at the MLB trade deadline.
They were 24-33 at the end of May, but a 17-7 June has put them back in the thick of things in the National League wild-card race, just a couple games back of the second wild card. Since they’re in the hunt, they should make trades to improve the team, and if they do look for them to focus on relief pitching. The bullpen has been the Nats’ biggest weakness in 2019, so it should be their area of focus in July if they’re trying to get better to make a playoff push in the second half.
The A’s were a surprising playoff team last season, and they’re looking to get back to the postseason this October. Like the Nationals, they’re a couple of games out of a playoff spot, so they should also be thinking about adding to the team by the July 31 trade deadline. They’re also in need of pitching, with closer Blake Treinen injured and starter Frankie Montas suspended 80 games for violating MLB’s PED policy.
The Rangers won just 67 games last season, but they’re competing for a playoff spot this season. They currently hold the second wild card in the American League, and they’re within shouting distance of the Astros in the AL West.
They’ve gotten surprisingly good pitching this season, especially from journeyman starter Mike Minor, but it never hurts to add more pitching before the MLB trade deadline. The offense is good with the likes of Joey Gallo and Hunter Pence leading the way, but adding another arm wouldn’t hurt the Rangers if they want to return to the postseason for the first time since 2016.
Los Angeles Angels
The Angels are a few games out of the second wild card in the AL, and they should make noise on the trade market to help them make a push for the postseason in August and September. They’re another team that should look to improve starting pitching because their current rotation isn’t getting it done, with their best starter being Griffin Canning, who has a 3.79 ERA in 11 starts.
The Angels gave Mike Trout a monster contract extension earlier this year, and now they need to add to the team around him to avoid wasting his talent while in his prime, as they have done for much of his career; they haven’t made the postseason since 2014, when they got swept, meaning Trout has never won a playoff game.
The AL Central looked like Cleveland’s division to lose before the season, but now it needs to be a buyer at the MLB trade deadline to help the chances of making the postseason.
The Indians are unlikely to catch the Twins in the AL Central, but they are in the thick of things in the AL wild-card race. Their starting rotation isn’t in the best shape due to injuries, but when at full health, they have a formidable starting rotation with the likes of Trevor Bauer, Corey Kluber, and Mike Clevinger. That’s why their focus should be on adding a veteran bat to help improve the lineup.