Some teams are evaluating whether to buy or sell during the next 13 days, trying to decide whether to throw in their hand or increase their bet on 2012.
But there are a handful of teams so deeply committed to winning this year that they figure to be among the most aggressive teams between now and the 4 p.m. ET trade deadline July 31.
Here are the top three clubs that figure to be most aggressive at the deadline:
They are to the AL Central what the New York Yankees used to be to the AL East. The
Tigers' payroll of about $133 million is about 33 percent more than that of the Chicago White Sox ($97 million), 30 percent more than the Minnesota Twins ($100 million) and twice as much as the Cleveland Indians ($65 million) and Kansas City Royals ($64 million). When Victor Martinez got hurt last January and the Tigers needed a stopgap at designated hitter, 82-year-old owner Mike Ilitch committed $214 million for Prince Fielder.
So now that the Tigers need a starting pitcher and perhaps a second baseman, does anybody really think they're going to take a conservative route?
Nope. Rival executives report that the Tigers are (not surprisingly) one of the most active teams in the trade market, as they scour the landscape for help; Detroit appears poised to add.
Here's the problem: Hamels isn't necessarily available yet -- although the Tigers certainly could get the Phillies' attention if they agreed to put Nick Castellanos in any trade proposal, because Philadelphia seeks a top third base prospect; the Tigers are saying they won't trade Castellanos. And Greinke missed his start this week, raising questions about his condition. You can't trade assets for a two-month rental like Greinke unless you're reasonably certain he's good to go.
The AL East title is almost out of the question now that Boston is 10.5 games behind the Yankees. But the Red Sox have a whole lot at stake after investing a club-record $175 million in payroll this season. If the Red Sox fail to make the playoffs, this would extend their streak of postseason-less baseball to three seasons. Messrs. John Henry and Tom Werner have a product they are selling to their customers, and another season of sitting out October would be a serious problem.
But the Red Sox could completely alter the prism through which they will be viewed if they were to make the playoffs. The internal dysfunction that has plagued this organization this year would be viewed as semi-tolerable if Boston won a wild-card berth -- and perhaps even the most unhappy folks in the organization would have a different perspective if the Red Sox had a chance to spray each other with champagne and celebrate.
If the Red Sox don't make the postseason, you might see firings, trade requests, reactionary deals, amid a whole lot of media review about what went wrong.
So yes, if the Red Sox have roster problems that can be fixed before the trade deadline, you can bet Boston will get 'er done.
In my opinion, the Dodgers' new ownership shouldn't feel pressure to make the playoffs. The question that should be asked, in the midst of L.A.'s month-long slump, should not be "What the hell is wrong with this team?" Rather, it should be, "How the heck did these guys win so many games early?"
It's a flawed team, and the new ownership really hasn't had much time to apply its vision of roster reformation. Overpaying to improve the 2012 Dodgers feels like an overreaction.
But L.A. is being aggressive in trying to make the team better. Other execs continue to view the Dodgers as the front-runners to land Dempster. The club's new owners seem intent on bolstering the team after its improbable early success.
• Kevin Youkilis is physically and emotionally into the game for the White Sox, and he had a big moment in Fenway Park. He has 18 RBIs in 18 games. He's been showing off (in a good way), as Robin Ventura says.
• The Arizona Diamondbacks are not close to a Justin Upton deal, and to this point, a lot of the interest in him is coming from non-contenders, which increases the likelihood that Arizona will wait until the offseason to trade the right fielder.
• The Yankees are in a wait-and-see mode on Brett Gardner, writes Pete Caldera. New York is not hyped up right now to add an outfielder, and in the end, it may not add an outfielder. But the Yankees will monitor the market and if they can get a good outfielder for a good price, they'll consider that.
From ESPN Stats and Info, how Halladay pitched:
A) Halladay threw his fastball/sinker 30 percent of the time, his highest percentage of the season but still short of his 40 percent average from last year.
B) Only four at-bats ended with his fastball/sinker, but all four were grounders -- three groundouts and an error. One of the groundouts was a double play.
C) Halladay worked the ball inside to lefties and righties. Overall, a season-high 44 percent of Halladay's pitches were inside, and five of his six strikeouts came on those pitches.
D) Dodgers hitters were 5-for-7 in at-bats against Halladay ending before two strikes but 0-for-12 in at-bats ending in two-strike counts.
E) Dodgers hitters struck out three times against Halladay's cutter but managed three hits on the five cutters they put in play. All five cutters put in play were hit in the air.
• Watched a lot of Trevor Bauer's outing Tuesday, and came away with this thought: If Bauer is sent back to the minors, which seems to be a possibility, then there needs to be a greater symbiosis between the pitcher and his catcher when he comes back. There were a lot of square peg/round hole moments in this game. From Nick Piecoro's story: