MLB Power Rankings: What baseball's best teams need at the trade deadline

Are you ready for Major League Baseball to be consumed by the trade deadline? Because it’s that time of the year.

From today until the trade deadline on July 31, expect plenty of rumors about who might be on the move and just as many takes about who should be buying and selling.

So for this week’s installment of the MLB Power Rankings, we’re doing something special — ranking the teams, but also assessing what they’ll be looking to do in the next two weeks. Particularly with this week’s Top 10.

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Good teams generally buy at the deadline and the bad teams generally sell, but this year there a few interesting teams that might be testing those traditions — like the San Francisco Giants, who have gotten themselves into wild-card contention but also have one of the biggest trade chips out there, or the Cleveland Indians who are rumored to be listening to offers on Trevor Bauer but are one of the better teams in the league.

Here’s how I size up all 30 teams in MLB this week, both in terms of power rankings and the MLB trade deadline.

THE TOP 10

1. Los Angeles Dodgers (67-35; last week: 1)

The Dodgers continue to top the list and their success stems from reasons that don’t need to be repeated. But there is a place they can get better — the bullpen. Their bullpen ERA is 4.07, which ranks 9th in the league. They still have the best overall ERA in the league, but that’s because their starters have been so good. With the trade deadline upon us, this will be L.A.’s top priority.

2. New York Yankees (64-34; last week: 2)

The Yankees aren’t too far behind the Dodgers anymore — and with a season that’s been much rockier up to this point. Remember, they’re still without ace Luis Severino, whose status should drive the Yankees’ desire for a starter at the deadline. We haven’t yet seen the full-formed-Death Star Yankees, and may not until September. That’s something that should frighten the rest of the league.

3. Houston Astros (64-37; last week: 3)

There aren’t many problems in Houston, but the Astros will keep an eye on the starting pitching market (like most clubs). They would be well served to add another arm to their rotation, which is led by Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, but after could use some help for crunch time.

4. Minnesota Twins (60-38; last week: 4)

The Twins had been the most prolific offense in the league for most of the season, but they’ve slipped since our last rankings. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say the rest of the league caught up. They still rank fourth (seven runs ahead of the Rockies but behind the Dodgers, Yankees and Red Sox). It’s not a coincidence that the Twins have also lost five out of their last seven games. This may be enough to turn the Twins into a player at the trade deadline. They’re a team that could use rotation and bullpen help.

5. Atlanta Braves (60-41; last week: 5)

We all figured the NL East was going to be the league’s most competitive division, but it turns out the Braves have an Astros-sized lead. The Braves’ lineup is solid with young talent and productive veterans, but they should be looking to add pitching, in the bullpen, in the rotation — or both.

6. Cleveland Indians (57-41; last week: 7)

Here come the Indians. They’re 12-3 in July, closing the gap in the AL Central standings to just three games entering play Monday. That division is now fully up for grabs and the Indians would be smart to add some outfielder power. There have been talks for months about trading Bauer, but it wouldn’t be a sell, it would be to add an MLB-ready impact bat.

7. Tampa Bay Rays (57-45; last week: 6)

The Rays are still hanging with the big boys in the AL East, and could be looking at some trade-deadline improvement in the form of better bats and bullpen help. Remember that the Rays’ 2018 trade of Chris Archer is still paying dividends, so keep your eyes on the Rays and their smart front office.

8. Oakland A’s (57-43; last week: 11)

The A’s have lost just four games in July and are speeding up the standings. Their offense is a big reason why (ranking seventh in both runs and home runs). We’ve already seen them add to their rotation by adding Homer Bailey, but don’t be surprised if they’re making more pitching moves.

9. Boston Red Sox (54-46; last week: 7)

The Red Sox’s offense ranks among the best in the league, but that bullpen is still a mess. They’re making Nate Eovaldi their closer. They rode him last postseason as a reliever and that worked, but Boston still should be in the market for some bullpen help. Competing for a wild card spot in one thing, winning in October is another.

10. Chicago Cubs (54-45; last week: 9)

The Cubs enter the week with a two-game lead in the NL Central, but Milwaukee and St. Louis are both close in the standings. The Cubs already grabbed catcher Martin Maldonado in a trade, but appear to be looking for more help. Most recently, they’ve been connected to Tigers outfielder Nick Castellanos and relief pitcher Shane Greene in trade rumors.

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner (40) looks on during the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)
San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner (40) looks on during the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

NEXT UP

11. Milwaukee Brewers (53-48; last week: 8)

12. Washington Nationals (52-46; last week: 15)

13. Philadelphia Phillies (52-48; last week: 12)

14. St. Louis Cardinals (51-47; last week: 16)

15. San Francisco Giants (50-50; last week: 23)

Well, would you look at that? In this group, we have two teams who need starting pitchers (Milwaukee and Philly) and the team with the biggest free agent on the market — Madison Bumgarner of the Giants. San Francisco’s hot month (they’re 14-3 in July) has fans thinking they can make a wild-card push, which just makes the question about whether to trade Bumgarner (and others) tougher. The Nats, also looking re-ignited these days, could use bullpen help while the Cardinals, trying to move past the near-.500 doldrums and see if they can compete, are another team that could use starting pitching.

IN THE MIDDLE

16. Los Angeles Angels (52-49; last week: 19)

17. Arizona Diamondbacks (50-50; last week 14)

18. Texas Rangers (50-49; last week: 13)

19. San Diego Padres (47-52; last week: 18)

20. Pittsburgh Pirates (46-52; last week: 20)

Except more selling than buying from here on out. The Padres might be one of the most interesting teams to watch, as closer Kirby Yates could fetch something good in return and they could be compelled to move an outfield bat (Hunter Renfroe, Franmil Reyes) if the price is the right. The Rangers, 4-11 in July, are looking like sellers now too, which should mean All-Star pitcher Mike Minor is on the move, and potentially others.

IT’S NOT LOOKING GOOD DOWN HERE

21. Colorado Rockies (47-52; last week: 17)

22. New York Mets (45-52; last week: 24)

23. Cincinnati Reds (44-53; last week: 21)

24. Chicago White Sox (44-52; last week: 22)

25. Seattle Mariners (40-62; last week: 25)

The Rockies, Mets and Mariners are all firmly in the “disappointment” category this year. The Mariners are selling, we know that — if there’s anything left of value they’re willing to deal. It will be interesting to see what the Mets and Rockies are willing to trade. Could Noah Syndergaard be on the movie? The Reds have seen some good forward movement this year, but Scooter Gennett is a prime trade candidate. With the White Sox, the big question is whether they’ll trade slugger Jose Abreu.

THE CELLAR

26. Toronto Blue Jays (38-63; last week: 26)

27. Kansas City Royals (37-64; last week: 28)

28. Miami Marlins (36-62; last week: 27)

29. Baltimore Orioles (31-67; last week: 30)

30. Detroit Tigers (30-65; last week: 29)

The Tigers hit rock bottom this week, as they officially have the fewest wins in the league. For trade purposes, they could also be the most interesting team in this group with the aforementioned Castellanos and Greene ready to be dealt. The Marlins, Royals and O’s don’t figure to be huge players either. Keep an eye out, however, on whether the Blue Jays move starter Marcus Stroman as he could help a number of teams.

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Mike Oz is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @mikeoz

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