More trade deadline coverage: Most important players on the market
This year's trading deadline should be very interesting. Several teams remain in the playoff race, and that is a true testament to the wild card.
I believe 15 teams have a chance to make the postseason. Just about every club needs to add something by the July 31 deadline. Here's what they should be shopping for.
Baltimore Orioles – The Orioles know exactly what they need – pitching – but there are just not that many arms out there. One starting pitcher that would help a lot is Florida's A.J. Burnett, who would like pitching for Baltimore with that powerful offense.
Chicago White Sox – There's been a lot of talk that general manager Kenny Williams is for another starting pitcher. They won't be able to pull Jason Schmidt from the Giants, but they could benefit from promoting a strong minor-league arm.
Minnesota Twins – They'll try to make a move to win the AL wild card. Problem is, the Twins don't have a ton of money to spend and, just as they've done in the past, they won't do anything that is going to hurt their chances in the future. Reportedly, Minnesota is interested in acquiring some hitting, possibly Boston's Bill Mueller. Mueller would fill two holes as a very good defensive third baseman and a consistent bat.
Los Angeles Angels – They don't need all that much. Their bullpen might be the best in the majors and they're scoring runs with ease.
Texas Rangers – Just as in the past, they could really use pitching. However, GM John Hart will have to decide whether he wants to make a huge push for the postseason. They're 2½ games out in the wild-card race.
Oakland Athletics – Surprisingly, the A's find themselves only three games out of the AL wild card. Billy Beane has already added veteran help in outfielder Jay Payton and pitchers Joe Kennedy and Jay Witasick. They're a team that – with the right help – could sneak into the postseason.
Washington Nationals – They made a big move last week by acquiring Preston Wilson, who'll give them a strong veteran bat, and their bullpen is strong. They can't spend a ton of money, considering they don't have an owner yet.
Atlanta Braves – I really think they have enough to win the division. They just got Mike Hampton and Tim Hudson back. Hampton got hit hard in his first start in more than six weeks, but both of them will be fine.
Philadelphia Phillies – They're another team that has a big decision to make. They're 4½ games out in the wild-card standings, but they could clear salary by moving Jim Thome and David Bell. Also, a lot of teams would love to have closer Billy Wagner.
Chicago Cubs – They'll have Jody Gerut in left field now after acquiring him from Cleveland on Tuesday. But I would love to see the Cubs go after a center fielder/leadoff man. There has been talk of Juan Pierre, but I'm not sure the Marlins will be selling. They could definitely use a strong bullpen arm to secure the eighth inning, too.
San Diego Padres – I think they'll win the NL West, but I don't think they'll go much farther than that. One option could be a starting pitcher. The return of Phil Nevin and Mark Loretta to the lineup will have the same impact as a big trade. Having those two healthy again should give the Padres a lift.
Arizona Diamondbacks – They're the most serious threat to the Padres down the stretch. Their starting pitching and offense are solid, but one area that needs an upgrade is the bullpen. That's why they're interested in acquiring former White Sox closer Shingo Takatsu.