Now that the season is about to enter its third month, most teams are gearing up to commit to buying or selling at the deadline. All teams have their own challenges, but these five have the difficult task of trying to upgrade their roster during the season, while not sacrificing their future.
Los Angeles Dodgers, (24-14, 1st in the NL West)
Like Steve Kerr with the Warriors, Andrew Friedman inherited a fantastic situation with the Dodgers. LA had won over 90 games for two consecutive seasons, had the best pitcher on earth leading their staff, and put together one of the league's best farm systems.
MLB Trade Deadline is July 31
On the surface, it would seem that this season has gone as planned for Friedman and his group, but that has not been the case. Brandon McCarthy tore his UCL in the first month of the season, and Hyun-jin Ryu will undergo shoulder surgery and miss the rest of the year. There are going to be more than a few pitchers available for trade, and the Dodgers will likely try to pick up an ace, if not more.
Potential targets: Cole Hamels, Scott Kazmir, Johnny Cueto, Jordan Zimmermann, Mike Leake.
Kansas City Royals, (25-14, 1st in the AL Central)
The Royals have sustained their hot start to the season, and are 2.5 games up on the Tigers. According to fWAR and wRC+, they have the 2nd most valuable offense in baseball, and need to ensure they wont waste it. Jeremy Guthrie has disappointed in 2015, Danny Duffy is starting to unravel and, Jason Vargas has dealt with an elbow injury.
The Royals are probably going to need pitching help, but unfortunately don't have the resources that the Dodgers do. They must acquire one of the cheaper pitchers on the market, and hope that the rest of their starters remain healthy.
Potential targets: Scott Kazmir, Mike Leake, Dillon Gee.
Houston Astros (27-14, 1st in the AL West)
Of the teams on this list, the Astros are the most surprising. Beginning in 2009, Houston had six consecutive losing seasons but are 13 games over .500 at this point.
Their offense has been one of baseball's most powerful, and have the added benefit of being able to call up top prospect Carlos Correa. The Astros seem likely to try and upgrade their starting pitching, but will be limited due to payroll.
San Francisco Giants, (21-18, 2nd in the NL West)
With Hunter Pence fully recovered from a fractured forearm and back in the lineup, the Giants have an intriguing offense. The top of their lineup consists of high OBP hitters, while the middle of the order has a surprising amount of power.
The one sore spot however has been third base. With Pablo Sandoval on a mission to leave San Francisco, the Giants traded for the NL's comeback player of the year in Casey McGehee. So far the results have been disastrous, and McGehee has posted a slash line of .196/.248/.284 with a wRC+ of 53, and an fWAR of -0.7. They're reluctant to commit to Matt Duffy, and will likely trade for help at third base.
Potential targets: Daniel Murphy, Adrian Beltre.
Chicago Cubs (21-17, 2nd in the NL Central)
Now that the prospects have arrived, the Cubs are in full contention mode. Their lineup is deep, and consists of homegrown players under team control for years to come. Their young offense is the 10th most valuable in baseball, and while their starting pitching has been great, the bullpen has disappointed.
They've been worth just 0.7 fWAR through 38 games, and are primed for some fine tuning. The Cubs were already connected to the Phillies Cole Hamels, but one of his teammates may also come along for the ride.