Buster Olney of ESPN believes that the Pittsburgh Pirates, Atlanta Braves and Texas Rangers have the most to gain by making the playoffs in 2012, and thus being aggressive players on this summer’s trade market.
Olney believes the Pirates could look to augment their lineup by adding Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino. He also says a trade for Phillies ace Cole Hamels or Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Zack Greinke could be "the right move at the right time" for the Pirates.
Pittsburgh is 43-36, and if the lineup were augmented by someone like a Shane Victorino, this would be a team that could dent October. If the Pirates traded for a Greinke or a Hamels to reinforce the rotation, it might seem a little out of character. But it might be exactly the right move at the right time.
Olney states that an acquisition of Hamels or Greinke would make the Rangers a strong favorite this fall. He notes that Texas could look to use third base prospect Mike Olt to bring in Hamels.
Which team, the Pirates, Rangers or Braves, has the most to gain from making the playoffs this season?
A trade for a Greinke or a Hamels would make the Rangers a strong October favorite. Keep in mind that the Phillies' focus in marketing Hamels is on landing a third baseman or an outfielder in return, and Texas has a good young third baseman, Mike Olt, at a time when Adrian Beltre still has years to go on his current contract.
Greinke would make a ton of sense for the Braves, opines Olney, and he could see the club trading a young pitcher like Randall Delgado to the Brewers in exchange for their ace.
They collapsed last September and were among the most disappointing teams in the majors. Chipper Jones remains an important piece of their lineup, but he is retiring after the season. Michael Bourn is likely headed into free agency, and Brian McCann will be eligible to walk away after next season. Atlanta has been to the postseason once in the past six years, and the time is right for it to make another push. The Braves are scouting Greinke, who grew up near Atlanta's spring training home, and trading for him with someone like Randall Delgado makes complete sense. A run into the postseason would help fog over the ugliness of 2011.