It is important to clarify just why a team ‘needs’ to make a trade. There is the obvious reason—because teams are trying to improve their roster. But every team could improve their roster with the right moves. By that logic, every team needs to make a move.
The only teams that ‘need’ to make a move before the trade deadline are the ones with a legitimate shot at winning the World Series. Why them? Because every World Series winner going back eight seasons has one thing in common.
Each one made a trade prior to the deadline that helped them win the Series. By that logic, the following teams ‘need’ to make a trade before the deadline:
Houston Astros: They have the best staff ERA in baseball and the second most productive offense. What could they possibly need? They need a better, more reliable closer. Ken Giles was great last season (2.30 ERA) but has been struggling this year (4.08 ERA).
Los Angeles Dodgers: After a surprisingly poor start to the season (aided by health issues), the Dodgers appear to be getting on track. They’ve been expected to make a push for Manny Machado ever since Corey Seager went down. Such a move could make them legitimate contenders once again.
New York Yankees: Their offense is on pace to set a new single-season home run mark (277). But their pitching staff could use some help. They’ve had some youngsters play well but could really use a veteran arm to bring it all together. They’ve been tied to just about every potential trade target on the market. The question probably isn’t whether they will trade for someone but who they will trade for.
Seattle Mariners: The offense is playing well, and the pitching staff isn’t bad. But if they want to catch the Astros or lock up a wild-card spot they might want to add a starting pitcher. James Paxton’s injury history should be concerning to them. Mike Leake is okay but okay doesn’t win playoff games. As for King Felix—it’s time to abdicate the throne.
Milwaukee Brewers: They aren’t the most exciting team in the NL, but they are probably the one that needs a boost if they are going to beat the Dodgers. The Braves and Phillies are still in the early stages of their rebuilds; they aren’t going to want to mess things up by subtracting and adding the wrong players.
But the Brewers could use some help now. They have a good offense and a decent enough bullpen. But their starting pitchers are not going to be enough.