It might just be that the New York Yankees know only one way to conduct business in July, but they'll be one of the teams looking to bring in established major league talent before Aug. 1.
In their quest to reach the postseason for the 18th time in 19 years, the Yankees will be among the buyers before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
This is the time of year that can make a difference between success and failure based on whether a Major League Baseball team buys, sells or holds firm on player transactions -- and there is no single set of rules to guide team executives.
Who are the buyers and sellers -- or others -- in the American League approaching the July 31 trade deadline? The Sports Xchange conducted a survey of its team correspondents for all 15 clubs to find out:
Houston Astros -- Sellers.
The Astros started the season as sellers, have done nothing but sell since general manager Jeff Luhnow took over in December 2011 and will likely again be movers before the July 31 deadline. No. 1 starter Bud Norris is the biggest trade piece and at a career crossroads. But Luhnow insists the Astros won't be as active as others expect them to be. "Because we feel like our minor league system is fairly well-stocked, we won't be looking for quantity in return," Luhnow said.
Los Angeles Angels -- Holding.
The Angels don't fit neatly into a buyer or seller category, as general manager Jerry Dipoto acknowledged late last month. "We are not a buyer, we are not a seller," he said. "We're the Angels." The Angels are too close to the race to sell, and they don't have enough prospects to acquire an impact player. They also aren't close enough to justify dealing any of the few top prospects they have.
Oakland Athletics -- Buyers.
The A's most unsettled spot is second base. Prospect Grant Green played against left-handed starters in the past week without making much impact and Eric Sogard, the left-handed hitting part of the platoon, is a good player but not indispensable. Phillies free-agent-to-be Chase Utley would be a nice fit. Oakland is also likely to at least look at the market for starting pitchers; Brett Anderson's comeback from a stress fracture in his foot is not a sure thing.
Seattle Mariners -- Sellers.
Seattle is stocked to start selling off veterans like left-handed pitchers Joe Saunders, designated hitter Kendrys Morales, outfielder Raul Ibanez and left-handed pitcher Oliver Perez if the price is right. The Mariners have been trying to stockpile their minor-league system for far too long, with only mixed results.
Texas Rangers -- Timid buyers.
If the Rangers do anything, they will buy and general manager Jon Daniels indicated the team could use a right-handed bat. The Rangers had scouts watching White Sox outfielder Alex Rios, he comes with a commitment of close to $20 million through 2014 for a 32-year-old player who has never hit more than 25 home runs. The Chicago Cubs and Rangers have also talked about right-handed pitcher Matt Garza, who can be a free agent at the end of the season, but he may be too expensive to rent. The Rangers would like Philadelphia left-handed pitcher Cliff Lee if the Phillies fade, but the cost for both teams may be too high.
Chicago White Sox -- Sellers.
The Sox have been in sell mode since June, with first-year general manager Rick Hahn sending the first piece out on July 11, trading left-handed pitcher Matt Thornton to Boston. Hahn said in the spring that a slow start would lead to a rebuild and it's underway. Reliever Jesse Crain, starting pitcher Jake Peavy, shortstop Alexei Ramirez and outfielder Alex Rios are all being shopped, as the Sox have started the youth movement.
Cleveland Indians -- Selling with intent to Buy.
Pitching is the clear need. While a starter takes priority, the bullpen has been shaky, and they are only carrying one left-handed reliever. The Indians could conceivably fill some of those needs by trading SS Asdrubal Cabrera, a potential free agent who could be replaced short-term by Mike Aviles. As for long-term? SS Francisco Lindor, one of the top prospects in all of minor league baseball, was promoted from Class A Carolina to Double-A Akron just before the All-Star break, which manager Terry Francona called "a significant step in his career."
Detroit Tigers -- Buyers.
The Tigers will be looking to add bullpen depth before the end of the month, a reliable veteran who can work the late innings as well as close on those occasions when Joaquin Benoit is not available. "It would be real significant," manager Jim Leyland said, "if we could get one guy, in house today, to do significantly better." Look for one addition, possibly two, in either July or via waivers in August.
Kansas City Royals -- Holding.
Perspective changed the Royals staggered into the break with five consecutive losses. If they sweep the Tigers coming out of the All-Star break to close the current 6.5-game lead and general manager Dayton Moore believes they are still in it, the Royals need some offensive help. Otherwise right-handed pitcher Ervin Santana can become a free agent after this season and would be attractive trade bait to contenders desiring to beef up their rotation.
Minnesota Twins -- Sellers.
"It's safe to say we are in trade mode," general manager Terry Ryan said, adding that he's "all ears" right now. Until Josh Willingham had knee surgery, he was a top trade prospect. Justin Morneau's contract expires at the end of the season, so he is likely available, and interest in him has heated up recently. Ryan said he received "an unlimited" number of calls on closer Glen Perkins, but that the Twins are not motivated to trade the local product.
Baltimore Orioles -- Buyers.
The Orioles already bought once -- right-handed pitcher Scott Feldman provided an improvement at the back end of the rotation -- and are still shopping. The Orioles now have rotation depth, and shouldn't be desperate for another arm but will be looking for the right deal to add a front-end starter if available. The Orioles are also in the market for a right-handed reliever, a designated hitter-type and a second baseman.
Boston Red Sox -- Buyers.
Given that they're leading the AL East at the All-Star break, the Red Sox will be buyers before the July 31 trade deadline. But after acquiring left-handed pitcher Matt Thornton last week to bolster the bullpen, it's possible general manager Ben Cherington won't make any additional moves depending on how the market shapes up. The Sox are seeking upgrades at third base and have checked in on the Phillies' Michael Young. They're also monitoring starting pitchers, including the Cubs' Matt Garza.
New York Yankees -- Buyers.
Starting pitcher Phil Hughes and reliever Joba Chamberlain -- both free agents at the end of the season -- are probably on the block, but given the inconsistency of starters Andy Pettitte, Ivan Nova and David Phelps, it's hard to imagine the Yankees dealing the equally inconsistent Hughes and sacrificing depth. Chamberlain could easily be moved if there's a chance to get a bat, particularly a right-handed-hitting corner infielder.
Tampa Bay Rays -- Holding.
The Rays typically aren't big players in this market and this year they seem even less likely to be active. In calling up top prospect Wil Myers and ace starting pitcher David Price coming back from the disabled list -- plus the possibility of adding Alex Cobb by early August -- the Rays are set. They could use another arm for the bullpen, but with so many other teams looking, the price will be high.
Toronto Blue Jays -- Holding.
They Blue Jays might have a touch of buyer's remorse after acquiring the hefty contracts of Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson in the wintertime blockbuster with the Marlins. But this month, they will not necessarily be sellers or buyers. "For the trade deadline right now, I don't see us being in the rental market at this point," general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. "...I do see us being active in players that we'd have beyond the year that can help us currently. If anything, we may stand pat, which as of now I'd say that we will."