With the trade deadline in less than a month, baseball teams start to make trades to improve their team if they are contending, or improve their farm system if they are rebuilding. The National league mostly features contending teams as the race to lead the division in all leagues are pretty close. The Braves and Phillies are tied for the lead in the NL East. The Brewers are leading the NL Central by one-and-a-half games and the Diamondbacks lead the NL West by only one game. Here's a look at the positional needs for each contending team in the NL.

Atlanta Braves

The Braves have surprised many people this year,. No one expected them to be doing as well as they are now.

In what was expected to be the final year of rebuilding, the Braves are ahead of schedule. As legitimate contenders with a 50-39 record, the Braves have some positions to upgrade in order to hold their division lead.

Third baseman

By looking at the Braves depth chart, you'd be able to tell that third base is their most glaring need. They currently have Camargo manning the hot corner and is currently batting .252. They did have Jose Bautista play 12 games for them at third until they released him. The Braves have been linked to Moustakas but they will have to compete with the Yankees for his services. The Braves have also been interested in Machado but they will have a harder time getting him, as according to Eduardo Encina of The Baltimore Sun, seven teams have made an offer for Machado. If the Braves fail to land Machado or Moustakas, they could give Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins a call and pursue Josh Donaldson.

Starting pitchers

The Braves have three solid pitchers in Teheran, Folytnewicz, and Newcomb but their rotation drops off considerably after them. They currently have Anibal Sanchez in their rotation who has a 2.72 ERA but can be hard to trust going forward as he has struggled in previous years. Other than Sanchez, none of the Braves' starting pitchers have playoff experience which can be worrisome. It would be best if the Braves go out and acquire a veteran starter with playoff experience.

Late inning relief pitcher

The Braves are seeking bullpen help and have been linked to Britton of the Orioles. If the Braves were to acquire Britton, it would create a solid back-end with current closers Vizcaino and Britton but no one would be guaranteed the closer role between the two. Vizcaino holds a 1.71 ERA with 15 saves in 17 chances. He also has an opponent average of .209 and can reach 98 MPH with his fastball. Britton hasn't appeared in many games this season due to injury but when healthy, Britton is known to be one of the best relievers in the game.

Philadelphia Phillies

Like the Braves, no one expected the Phillies to be contending for a playoff spot but they are, with a current record of 49-38. They're tied for first in the NL East and have a win percentage of .563.

Closer

The Phillies started the season off with Neris as their closer as he converted 26 saves in 2017. Now, Neris is currently in the minors as he got demoted due to poor outings. In 33 games this season at the major league level, Neris has a 6.90 ERA with an ugly opponent average of .292. He has also given up 11 home runs in 30 innings pitched. Ever since Neris was demoted, Gabe Kapler has bounced around with different pitchers in save situations. If the Phillies want to stay as a contending team, the Phillies front office should seek a closer.

Washington Nationals

The Nationals are currently five games behind the Braves and Phillies for the division lead but if you look at their team on paper, you'd be able to tell their a very strong team. They currently only remain one game above .500 but many people expect them to start going on a hot streak soon.

Pitcher

The Nationals have a fairly good rotation that's lead by Max Scherzer who won a Cy Young award in the past two seasons and is on his way to win another one this season. The Nationals also have Stephen Strasburg who's dominant when healthy but is extremely injury-prone as he has been injured in every season since he's made his debut and he is currently on the disabled list. They fill out their rotation with Hellickson, Gio Gonzalez, and Roark. MLB notes that Hellickson has spent time on the disabled list and Roark has been ineffective with a record of three wins and 11 losses with a 4.76 ERA.

Their bullpen also remains shaky other than Doolittle and newly acquired Kelvin Herrera. The Nationals would be best to add a pitcher who has experience pitching in both the rotation and bullpen. What they can do with that pitcher, is use him as rotational depth in the regular season, and use him in the bullpen in the playoffs. Francsico Liriano would be a good fit as he has experience pitching both out of the bullpen and rotation in the regular season and playoffs.

Catcher

The Nationals best catcher is Matt Wieters who is currently on the disabled list, according to The Score, and is not too good when healthy. If the Nationals want to turn things around and get back to the top of the division, they should strongly consider upgrading what they have behind the plate. They have contacted the Marlins regarding J.T. Realmuto but the asking price has been deemed too high for him. They have just recently been linked to newly minted all-star Wilson Ramos who formerly played on the Nationals.

Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers currently lead the NL Central with a record of 54-36. The Brewers will need to figure out a way to hold onto the division lead as the NL Central features the Cubs and Cardinals who are serious contenders.

Starting pitching

Starting pitching for the Brewers hasn't been a strength for the club in a while. Their best pitcher in the rotation is Chase Anderson who's only recorded 73 strikeouts in 94 2/3 innings. The Brewers rotation also contains Zach Davies, Jhoulys Chacin, Junior Guerra and rookie Freddy Peralta who are all average starters. Also, Jimmy Nelson has been on the disabled list all season as he has been recovering from shoulder surgery that was done back in September. In order for the Brewers to stay in contention, they will need to shop for a strong starter that has the ability to strikeout batters. Happ has been listed as a potential trade candidate as the Jays have been extensively scouting the Brewers farm system.

Middle infield

The Brewers current middle infield situation is murky as Villar is their current second baseman and Saladino is currently their best option at shortstop. Villar, at times, struggles to make contact and Saladino is a bench player; someone that shouldn't be on a playoff roster. The Brewers will need to address their middle infield situation by acquiring a star middle infielder. The Brewers have been linked to Machado along with Merrifield and Dietrich.

Chicago Cubs

The 2016 World Series Champions are still a great team but they do have some holes in their roster that they need to fill. Making trades may be hard as they have a depleted farm system from trades they made in previous years. They are currently 51-36 and hold the first wild-card spot with a two game advantage.

Relief pitcher

The Cubs have a pretty good bullpen but it may be smart to add another reliever with playoff experience. Morrow has been very good this season with 20 saves converted and a 1.63 ERA but has no experience closing games in the postseason. The Cubs don't need an elite reliever, but if they can get a solid relief pitcher with playoff experience, they should add him. If they can get a relief pitcher with closing experience in the playoffs, that's a bonus.

St.Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals are currently 46-43 and remain seven-and-a-half games behind the Brewers for the division lead. Even though they're a little far back of the division, they are only four games back of a wild-card spot. The Cardinals are unsure whether they'll buy or sell at the deadline but if they decide to buy, they have some positions where they will need upgrades.

Third base

The Cardinals have been looking to get a star third baseman for a while as they've been interested in trading for Donaldson since last season. With Donaldson only appearing in 36 games this season due to injury, their interest in him may not be as strong. This could be why they have gotten interested in other players like Machado and Moustakas. Any of those players would be an upgrade over current third baseman, Jedd Gyorko, who would be moved to a utility role if the Cardinals were to acquire Machado, Donaldson or Moustakas.

Bullpen

The Cardinals need to upgrade their bullpen. No question about that. Their bullpen has been a bit of a struggle this year as Greg Holland, who was brought in to be the closer in the off-season, has struggled to an 8.27 ERA, Sam Tuivailala has an opponent average of .273, John Brebbia has a 4.26 ERA and the Cardinals' bullpen has dealt with multiple injuries throughout the season. The Cardinals should look to get anyone they can that can pitch out of the bullpen.

Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers have won the NL West for the past five years and are looking to win the division for the sixth consecutive season this year. They are currently one game back of the Diamondbacks for the division with a 48-40 record.

Relief pitchers

The Dodgers have an elite closer in Kenley Jansen and don't have too much else in their bullpen. They currently have five relief pitchers on the disabled list which has forced them to use minor league pitchers in their bullpen. In order to improve their bullpen, they've been linked to a bunch of Marlins' relievers and Raisel Iglesias of the Reds.

Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks have been in a tight race for the division lead with the Dodgers for the whole season. They're currently a game ahead of the Dodgers for the division and will need to add to their roster in order prevent the Dodgers from winning the division for a sixth straight season.

Middle infielders

The Diamondbacks have a solid corner infield with Goldschmidt at first and Lamb at third but their middle infield of Ketel Marte and Ahmed is weak. Marte is batting .244 and Ahmed is batting .232. For a team that wants to make the playoffs, they will need to seek middle infielders that can overtake them. The Diamondbacks are one of seven teams that made an offer for Machado and it remains to be seen if they're the lucky team that lands him.

Back-end bullpen help

The Diamondbacks have Boxberger as their closer, who's been decent, but this is his first season since 2015 as a full-time closer. Boxberger has never appeared in a playoff game in his career so it would be smart if the Diamondbacks went out and acquired a relief pitcher. The Diamondbacks are in the same situation as the Cubs regarding their bullpen. They have a solid bullpen but should add a relief pitcher with playoff experience. If they can get a relief pitcher with closing experience in the playoffs, that's a bonus.

San Francisco Giants

The Giants are four games back of the division and four-and-a-half games out of a wild-card spot but they need to buy as in the off-season, they made several trades to make an attempt at the playoffs.

Pitching

Their bullpen and rotation are both average and have been depleted by injuries. All of Cueto, Bumgarner, and Samardzija have spent time on the disabled list this season and their rotation weakens a ton when any of them goes down with an injury. Regarding their bullpen, Strickland is not returning until August and Melancon's arm is still not strong enough to be heavily relied on. The Giants should try and get any pitching they can get.

Outfield

Recently, the Giants traded their center fielder, Austin Jackson, and called up prospect Steven Duggar to take his place. They have McCutchen in right but they have Gorkys Hernandez in left who isn't someone that should be in a starting lineup with a team that has playoff aspirations. The Giants should try and get a strong outfielder no matter where in the outfield he plays.

Colorado Rockies

  • Tied with Giants in standings
  • Unsure if they'll buy or sell at deadline
  • Rotation is very weak and will need starting pitching.