The time between the All Star break and the August 1st trade deadline is crucial for now and the future. Teams in the playoff hunt who need an extra piece will be shopping for the right additive for their mix, something to increase their odds of winning this year without mortgaging the farm. Looking to take advantage of those playoff bound clubs, deadline sellers are trying to get the most back for the assets they possess. If the right move is made, it can push a team over the top for a championship run or help to rebuild the franchise. Just as easily though, front offices around baseball can make catastrophic mistakes that impact their product for years.

Starting Pitching: You can never have enough pitching, the Braves of the 90's were even in the market for hurlers from time to time.

Jason Vargas, Royals - (12-3) 2.62 ERA 1.14 WHIP

Vargas is having the best season of his career leading the AL in wins and ERA. The Royals are only 3 games back in the central and 1.5 back in the wild card but most likely the Indians will run away with the division in the second half. Regardless, Kansas City needs to pull the trigger on Vargas now while they can get optimal value. The 34-year-old is a free agent after the season so there's no predicting the Royals asking price for the crafty left hander, but no doubt plenty of calls will be made when discussing his services.

Teams that could inquire:

  • Yankees- (need to solidify rotation)
  • Astros- (Keuchel comes back, but could use another arm)
  • NL West contenders- (Rockies and Dbacks playing keep up with the Dodgers, L.A. trying to pull away)
  • Brewers- (If they feel they are serious contenders)

Ervin Santana, Twins - (10-6) 2.99 ERA 1.08 WHIP

Staying in the AL central, Santana is also enjoying his most effective campaign.

Like the Royals, the Twins are considered still very much in the hunt, but just like Vargas, Santana shouldn't be considered a piece to build around at 34, and Minnesota needs to bulk the farm system. The veteran has a year left on his contract and a team option in 2019. Stock is sky high, so it is time to cash in.

Teams that could inquire:(same market as Vargas)

  • Yankees- (need to solidify rotation, Vargas and Santana are cheaper options)
  • Astros- (again, a veteran arm could go a long way)
  • Brewers- (good option to go for it this year and still have future plans in place)
  • Dodgers- (righty to compliment Kershaw, Wood)
  • Rockies and Dbacks- (NL West arms race)

Mike Leake, Cardinals - (6-7) 3.12 ERA 1.15 WHIP

St. Louis doesn't have enough going to rebound from a sub .500 first half. Leake is 29 and has separated himself nicely from a dismal 2016 when he posted a career high 4.69 ERA. Through 17 starts this year he has posted a career low 3.12 ERA. This up and down track record could scare the Cardinals' front office enough to want to get out from under the last 3 years of Leake's deal.

Now would be the time to do it.

Teams that could inquire:

  • Cubs- (St. Louis would hate to deal with a rival but Chicago could get desperate and over pay, Quintana and Leake would be a huge boost)
  • Dodgers- (right hander to break up the lefties in October)
  • Astros- (plenty of prospect depth to deal)
  • Rays- (unless they decide to sell)
  • Red Sox- (righty to split up Sale and Pomeranz with club control)

Ivan Nova, Pirates - (9-6) 3.21 ERA 1.09 WHIP

Nova has been great since arriving in Pittsburgh last year. The Pirates, on paper, were serious contenders in the spring, but a staff with both young and veteran talent hasn't produced the way they hoped. The franchise has a multitude of decisions to make regarding the trade deadline and Nova will be one of the most coveted pieces.

He comes with a very team friendly contract for the next two seasons. It should be a seller's market for Pittsburgh.

Teams that could inquire:

  • Astros, Red Sox, Dodgers, Rays, Dbacks, Rockies, Yankees, Cubs, etc.
  • Nationals?- (not in the market like other contenders but 2 years of cheap Nova would be brilliant)

Marcus Stroman, Blue Jays - (9-5) 3.28 ERA 1.26 WHIP

Toronto has been rumored to be a motivated seller after a disastrous, disappointing season so far. Favorites of many to win the American League, they aren't completely out of the wild card race but have greatly underachieved to this point. Stroman is only 26, so if they were planning on a teardown and rebuild he would be the guy to base it around.

At the same time, If the Jays executives want to blow it up, he and Josh Donaldson would replenish a farm system by themselves. Stroman is a free agent after 2017, so Toronto would have to give him some serious capital to stay anyway. If they do shop him, teams won't want to rent a 26-year-old. A team with cap space to sign him after this season and some young talent available to deal would be the best fit.

Teams that could inquire:

  • Yankees- (the farm is loaded and they want to win now, plus money is never an issue)
  • Brewers- (plenty of pieces and current cap space, but will he resign?)
  • Astros- (plenty of pieces, Stroman would make the staff rival the offense)
  • White Sox- (sold off Quintana, Stroman would give them an ace with plenty left over to build)
  • Phillies- (the farm has been rebuilt, but its time to acquire MLB level talent)
  • Braves- (more than enough pitching talent to package a deal and fill out future rotations)

Yu Darvish, Rangers - (6-8) 3.49 ERA 1.12 WHIP

While Texas is only 3 games out of a wild card spot, Darvish is a free agent after the season.

The Rangers won't be looking to dump him for prospects, but it's easy to imagine a team needing an ace panicking and offering a king's ransom for Darvish. In which case it would be hard for the Texas front office not to take the deal. The right handed strikeout artist has had injury concerns the past few seasons anyway, and the Rangers need pitching depth.

Teams that could inquire:

  • Yankees- (have the money to sign him to a new deal)
  • Red Sox- (punch outs galore with Sale and Darvish going 1 and 2)

Plenty of other candidates could see a change in employer based on different circumstances:

  • Honorable Mention
  • Chris Archer - Rays
  • Dan Straily - Marlins
  • Scott Feldman - Reds
  • Alex Cobb - Rays
  • Mike Fiers - Astros
  • R.A. Dickey - Braves
  • Johnny Cueto - Giants
  • Justin Verlander - Tigers
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