There are a number of teams in both the American (AL) and National (NL) Leagues who could be either buyers or sellers by the 4 p.m. Eastern time trade cutoff on July 31. The biggest lead in any MLB division is currently held by the Atlanta Braves in the NL East, a five-game margin over the Washington Nationals.
Staying in the senior circuit, right behind the Braves and Nationals in the East are the Philadelphia Phillies. They have a veteran team that could be on the verge of being broken apart in order to shed big contracts and get younger. Second baseman Chase Utley's name has been bandied about as a possible trade target. Relief pitcher Jonathan Papelbon also could find himself heading out of town, if the right deal can be made.
In the NL Central, there's a tight race between the St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Cincinnati Reds. The Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers bring up the rear in the division. Cubs president Theo Epstein, who helped create a two-time World Series-winning Boston Red Sox club, is looking to re-tool the Cubs in a similar fashion, and has chips like outfielder Alfonso Soriano and pitcher Matt Garza to deal.
The tightest race could be the NL West, with all five teams within eight games of each other. The Arizona Diamondbacks is the only club with a winning record at the moment. But the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers, who have already picked up pitcher Ricky Nolasco from the Miami Marlins, will probably not stand pat as they strive to reach the postseason.
The AL East has all five teams within ten games of each other. The Red Sox is in search of pitching help, especially in the bullpen. The New York Yankees have endured injuries to several front-line players. Meanwhile, the Baltimore Orioles have already made a trade, getting starting pitcher Scott Feldman from the Cubs. They and the Tampa Bay Rays could continue looking for more help over the next three weeks.
Right now, it's the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians battling for first place in the AL Central, with the Tigers currently leading by three and a half games. Kansas City, Minnesota, and the Chicago White Sox, well back in the standings, could be sellers later this month.
Finally, the AL West has the Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers neck-and-neck for first place. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim recently won a weekend home series against the Red Sox and could be looking to stay in the race. Both the Seattle Mariners and Houston Astros, sporting losing records, have players and pitchers contenders could use for the stretch run.