Four of the five teams are .500 or better, sorry Orioles fans. Below is a team by team summary of where things stand. Reminder that the draft is in a week and the trade deadline at the end of the month. The teams are addressed in order of the standings.
Boston Red Sox—Last year their pitching staff was a tire fire. This year they are outperforming expectations. Will that hold up over the second half? I’m going to guess yes. Even if the present rotation does regress, they should be getting Sale back in the second half of the season. If he returns showing anything like his old form, that could seal the deal for the division. They could use a first baseman, but so could a couple other potential playoff teams, setting up possible bidding wars behind the scenes. A significant constraint for the Red Sox: their payroll is $209M. The luxury tax threshold is $210M. That might keep them from making splashy moves.
Tampa Bay Rays—It’s been a bad end of June for them. Their current slump now has them in back of the Red Sox by 4.5. Tyler Glasnow became the 9th(!) pitcher on their 60 day IL. They entered June needing to bring up Wander Franco and to bolster their pen. They did both, but to make a real run in the playoffs, they need an ace. Going for a rent-a-players is not their MO, so don’t count on it, but with their minor league depth selling teams could be made to be interested. They also need a middle of the order at bat. I think they will wait until the last week of July to decide if they will be aggressive.
Dunedin/Buffalo Blue Jays—They are a third place team with three starters for the All Star game. Their offense is not a problem, and recently getting Springer back definitely helps them. Their issue has been pitching. They’ve begun to address that with one trade this past week for a reliever, but they need more. If they stay hot, expect them to make more moves…especially if they get word that they can return to Toronto for September.
New York Yankees—Centerfield has been a disaster for them since Aaron Hicks went down for the season. Other than Judge, most of the offense is underperforming expectations. Overall Cole has pitched well (and yet I’ve seen “What’s wrong with Cole” articles), but Severino had a setback in his TJS recovery (a groin injury, not another arm problem). They’re languishing, and their first losing season in over a quarter century is possible. The team owner has publicly blamed the players. He’s not wrong. Can/Will they make moves to try to get into contention? They need a good lefty bat. However, like the Red Sox, they are up against the luxury tax threshold at $208M for their payroll.
Baltimore Orioles—They’ve at least had some fun things to watch. Means hurled a no hitter. Mancini returned from cancer and will participate in the Home Run Derby. Mullins has had a break out season. Still, they are likely sellers, and the only player that I’ve heard is off limits is Mancini.