MLB trade deadline primer: American League

Scott Halleran

The July 31 trade deadline can be a confusing time. Wondering who is looking to buy? Who is looking to sell? We have you covered. Let's run down each team's position in the market, division by division.

AL East

Red Sox: Buy

Needs: Starting pitching, Late-inning relief, third base

The Red Sox are at the top of the AL East despite a bullpen that has struggled badly with Joel Hanrahan gone for the year and Andrew Bailey battling injuries and ineffectiveness. They have already added Matt Thornton to replace injured lefty Andrew Miller and they are likely to add another arm to the bullpen before all is said and done.

The Red Sox have been in on Matt Garza as well as they look to add some insurance to the rotation in case Clay Buchholz doesn't make it back from the DL on schedule. His progress over the next week could determine how much they pursue starting pitching.

Rays: Hold

After a slow start, the Rays have surged back into contention with a 13-2 record in July and now sit just 2.5 games behind the Red Sox. The healthy return of ace David Price is probably the biggest addition that they will get this month. After posting an ERA over 5.00 before hitting the DL in mid-May, Price has return to post a 1.97 ERA in 32 July innings.

Price's return addresses their biggest weakness from the first half and though Jim Bowden of ESPN has connected them to the Twins' Justin Morneau, Mark Tompkins of the Tampa Tribute doesn't see them doing much at the deadline. With their budget limits, that is probably a safe bet.

Orioles: Buy

Needs: Left field, bench/DH bats

The Orioles have already addressed one major issue by adding starter Scott Feldman in a deal with the Cubs, but with both the Red Sox and the Rays above them in the AL East standings, they could be aggressive going into the trade deadline.

They could use another bat in the outfield, where their left fielders have been the fourth worst group at the position. Nate McLouth has been the one productive player at that position this season and should remain the starter, but after giving up on Chris Dickerson and losing Nolan Reimold, the Orioles are short on outfield depth. Cuban prospect Henry Urrutia will get a chance to be the answer there before the deadline, but Baltimore may still look to the trade market for extra bats.

Yankees: Buy

Needs: Right-handed bats

The Yankees have been ravaged by injuries, but have somehow managed to stay well above .500 and now they sit just three games back in the wild card race. They are looking to move Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes in exchange for hitting, but they aren't finding many teams that have interest in those two.

Morneau is a possibility, but Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes that New York is focused on right-handed hitting. They also inquired on Padres' third baseman Chase Headley, but San Diego does not appear ready to move their star slugger.

Blue Jays: Hold/ Sell

Movable assets: Josh Johnson

Despite disastrous early results for their major offseason rebuild, the Blue Jays have not been looking to dismantle at the deadline and Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports even has them as possible suitors for Astros starter Bud Norris.

The one player they could be motivated to move would be Josh Johnson, since the righty will be a free agent at the end of the season, but Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reports that a move doesn't look to likely at this point. Johnson has battled injuries this season and he has posted a 5.16 ERA in 12 starts with the Blue Jays, so his value is at an all-time low right now.

AL Central

Tigers: Buy

Needs: Relief Pitching

The Tigers are fairly desperate for relief pitching. Their 4.12 reliever ERA is the fourth worst in the American League and several players expected to play key roles in the pen have been awful; Phil Coke, Jose Valverde, Bruce Rendon and Al Alburquerque have all posted ERAs over five.

The Tigers have looked into big names like Jonathan Papelbon and even considered Tim Lincecum in search for a solution to their relief woes, but they haven't found the answer yet. Just what the solution will be is still unclear, but the Tigers are almost certain to do something to help their bullpen before the deadline hits.

Indians: Buy

Needs: Starting Pitching, Relief Pitching

After an aggressive offseason, the Indians have made the AL Central a much tighter race than anyone expected, trailing the Tigers by just 1.5 games as the deadline approaches. They have managed to keep pace with Detroit while posting the fourth-worst ERA in the American League. Prospect Danny Salazar was impressive in his first major league start and could offer some hope for their rotation, but the Indians could still use another starter and a left-hander in the bullpen.

Royals: Hold

Dayton Moore gets mocked quite a bit on the Internet. The Royals GM has made himself the favorite punching bag of the statistically-oriented by handing starting roles to players like Jeff Francoeur, Yuniesky Betancourt and Chris Getz and by trading away top prospect Wil Myers and three other players under the misguided notion that Kansas City was ready to win now. It seems that Moore still can't get enough of this abuse.

Danny Knobler of CBS reported earlier this month that the Royals would not look to move Ervin Santana because they still believe they can complete. At that time, the Royals had just finished an impressive 20-12 stretch, which put them one game below .500. Since then, however, they have lost four out of five, but Moore isn't the type to let small samples dictate his plans.

If they were to admit that at 44-49, eight games back in the wild card race, this probably isn't their year, Ervin Santana would become one the hottest names on the market. At this point, however, the Royals are likely to just stand pat.

Twins: Sell

Movable assets: Justin Morneau (1B), Kevin Correia (SP), Glen Perkins (RP), Jared Burton (RP)

The Twins have a solid group of young players not far from the majors, headlined by the top prospect in the game, Byron Buxton, and they could add some more young talent at the deadline if they are aggressive in selling. Minnesota has some of the better assets on the relief market in closer Glen Perkins and setup man Jared Burton, but they may not be willing to move Perkins at this point.

They are also hesitant to trade starter Kevin Correia. The 32-year-old is not a top name on the starter market, but he could draw interest if made available. After some of the bigger names in the starter market come off the board, teams may turn their attention towards relief pitching and second-tier starters, and the Twins can offer both.

White Sox: Sell

Movable Assets: Alex Rios (RF), Jake Peavy (SP), Alexei Ramirez (SS), Jesse Crain (RP)

When manager Robin Ventura pulled Alex Rios from the game against the Braves on Friday night, trade rumors ran rampant, but the move turned out to be a punishment for Rios' lack of hustle. The reaction is understandable, though. The Pirates have been rumored to be pursuing both Rios and Ramirez and the right fielder has been connected to the Rangers and Red Sox as well.

Peavy showed that he is healthy with six solid innings on Saturday, and Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that he may now have passed Garza as the top starter on the market. Peavy doesn't come cheap, however, and his price tag could diminish the return Chicago can get in prospects. Teams interested in the righty will need to pick up the remainder of this $14.5M salary this year and the $14.5M owed to him in 2014. Crain has also been on the DL recently, hurting his value, but he should make it back in time for teams to get a look at him.

AL West

Athletics: Hold/Buy

The Athletics don't have the money to pick up a player like Rios, Morneau, or Peavy and they may not have much need for deadline additions either.

They lead the AL West by two games and the Texas Rangers, their closest competitor in the division, are dealing with injuries to six of their starting pitchers. The Athletics are expected to turn to their farm system for any late season help they may need, but Billy Beane always seems to have trick or two up his sleeve.

Rangers: Buy

Needs: Starting Pitching, Corner bats

The Rangers are currently missing starters Yu Darvish, Justin Grimm, Matt Harrison, Nick Tepesch, Alexi Ogando and Colby Lewis to injuries, making them the front-runners to land Garza or Peavy. Even one of those two might not be enough though if Darvish or Grimm cannot return as soon as expected.

The Rangers have also been disappointing on offense this season, ranking just ninth in the American League in runs while playing in a high offensive environment at home, so adding a bat is also a real possibility once they get done bolstering their rotation.

Angels: Hold

Like the Royals, the Angels are third in their division and below .500, and they have no plans to make any major moves at the deadline, according to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.

With the high-priced group the Angels have put together, however, there are few movable assets that would return significant value. Lefty reliever Scott Downs and starter Jason Vargas would draw interest on the trade market if the Angels decide to sell. If they were to buy, the obvious need would starting pitching, but it's hard to see them getting premiere talent with a farm system that Baseball America ranks as the worst in the game.

Mariners: Sell

Kendrys Morales (RF/1B), Michael Morse (1B/LF) Raul Ibanez (LF), Jason Bay (LF), Joe Saunders (SP), Oliver Perez (RP)

The Mariners have been rebuilding under Jack Zduriencik and with the emergence of Kyle Seager, Nick Franklin, Brad Miller and Justin Smoak this season, along and prospects like Taijuan Walker and Mike Zunino at or near the majors, there may finally be a light at the end of the tunnel. Even so, the Mariners are not aggressively shopping hot commodities like Ibanez, Morales and Saunders.

According to Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times, the team wants to avoid the bad publicity of another 90-loss season and Zduriencik is likely to keep many of his most tradable players as a result. Some Mariners will probably be moved before the deadline, but if Baker's report is accurate, the team will not try to maximize the number of prospects they can get and some of the bigger names here may not move.

Astros: Sell

Movable Assets: Bud Norris (SP), Lucas Harrell (SP), Wesley Wright (RP)

The Astros have too few players that interest other teams to really make a huge splash in the next 10 days. Norris is the player most frequently cited when discussing potential trades for Houston, but he is in just his first year of arbitration and the Astros have been hesitant to move him in the past.

Harrell has even more team control left, making him an even bigger long-shot to be moved. Most of the other players that Houston does not control for an extended period of time have not performed well enough to warrant much attention for contenders. If anyone gets dealt, it will probably Norris or Wright, who is a lefty reliever, which contending teams often look at add at the deadline.

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