The All-Star break is behind us and now trade rumors are at full strength. So, as promised, here is the top area of need for each AL contender.
Texas Rangers: Starting Pitcher
The Texas Rangers’ DL currently holds 7 pitchers, and even when they get Yu Darvish back, the middle and back of the rotation is very weak. Due to all the injuries to the rotation, the Rangers have been forced to turn to youngsters like Justin Grimm, Martin Perez and Nick Tepesch. However, Grimm has struggled with a 6.37 ERA and Tepesch has compiled just a 4.85 ERA. The Rangers have the finances and the farm system to be able to acquire a top Starting Pitcher, and are said to be in on the Cubs’ Matt Garza.
Oakland Athletics: Second Base
The Oakland A’s don’t have many holes, but second base is a big one. The A’s starter at second base, Eric Sogard, has slashed just .255/.328/.346 with just 1 home run and 13 RBI. The second base market is not very strong, especially if the Phillies are not willing to deal Chase Utley, but the A’s have a deep enough farm system to acquire an upgrade at the position. The Mets’ Daniel Murphy would be a good offensive upgrade, while also fitting the A’s blueprint with great versatility.
Detroit Tigers: Left Fielder
Many experts have argued that the Tigers greatest need is a reliable closing pitcher. While the Tigers have certainly had issues in finishing games, it seems that Joaquin Benoit can handle the 9th inning for this talented club. Benoit has a 1.64 ERA and is 8/8 in save opportunities. Meanwhile, the Tigers are receiving little offensive production from Left Fielder Andy Dirks. Dirks has slashed .243/.305/.344 with just 6 HRs, but his struggles are even more severe against Left Handed pitchers, who have held Dirks to just a .205 batting average against. The Cubs Alfonso Soriano could fit nicely into this team’s lineup, but a cheaper alternative could be to just a Right-handed hitting LF to platoon with Dirks.
Cleveland Indians: Starting Pitcher
The Indians have numerous options to start games for them; however, none of these pitchers are Aces, and most are 4th or 5th starters at the present time. The Indians rotation ranks 22nd in the MLB in ERA and Innings Pitched. The Indians do not need to acquire an Ace to reach the Postseason, but the addition of a more reliable middle of the rotation starter, such as Bud Norris of the Astros, would certainly strengthen this team.
Boston Red Sox: Third Baseman
The Red Sox likely felt pretty comfortable with the Wil Middlebrooks coming into this season, especially after he slashed .288/.325/.509 with 15 HRs last season in just 75 games last season. However, Middlebrooks has been a huge disappointment so far this season, and is now in Triple-A to fix his contact issues. The Red Sox have turned to numerous players in an effort to solidify the position, but none of the options have been overly impressive. The Red Sox are heavily scouting Michael Young of the Phillies, but if the Phillies choose not sell then the Red Sox would have to trade Major League talent to acquire Young.
New York Yankees: Catcher
The Yankees really have too many holes to fill, but they have stayed in contention thus far, and there is no chance the Yankees choose to sell. Despite so many holes, their biggest need is at the catcher position, where the Yankees are receiving little production. The Yankees catchers are tied for the fewest HRs in the MLB, with just 6 long balls this season. At a few other positions the Yankees at least have the hope of receiving production from injured players who will return, such as Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson. If the Phillies choose not to trade Carlos Ruiz, then the Cubs’ Dioner Navarro is the best available catcher.
Tampa Bay Rays: Catcher
The Rays may choose to just stand pat as they have done in the past. Nevertheless they still have needs, and their biggest need is at catcher, where the Rays have never really had a reliable backstop. The Rays are tied with the Yankees for the fewest home runs from their catchers at 6 HRs. The Twins’ Ryan Doumit may fit the Rays better than Navarro or Ruiz, because Doumit provides the Rays with more versatility, as he is able to play the corner outfield spots as well as first base.
Baltimore Orioles: Infield Depth
The Orioles addressed their biggest area on need when they acquired starting pitcher Scott Feldman from the Cubs. The Orioles now have no glaring needs, except acquiring a utility infielder that can produce more offensive value than their current backup infielders. It is not a major concern, but because second baseman Brian Roberts has so much trouble staying healthy, it may be wise to add another infielder that can play second base in the event that Roberts is injured. The Royals’ Miguel Tejada could fill in nicely as he has for the Royals.