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Teams deciding to buy or sell as Deadline looms

Teams deciding to buy or sell as Deadline looms

Teams deciding to buy or sell as Deadline looms
There's less than 72 hours until baseball's non-waiver Trade Deadline, and trade talk remains the one topic that dominates the game these days. Every day, clubs gain more clarity as to whether they're buyers or sellers, and it's already been one of the most active run-ups to the Deadline in recent memory.

From now until the Deadline on Tuesday (4 p.m. ET, to be exact), we'll be checking in on the trade news around baseball, with help from MLB.com's reporters. The countdown is well under way.

White Sox stay busy: This year's most aggressive buyers struck again on Saturday night. The White Sox, who had already brought in help for their lineup (Kevin Youkilis) and bullpen (Brett Myers), finished the trifecta by upgrading their starting rotation. Enigmatic Francisco Liriano makes the short hop from Minneapolis to Chicago, where it's hoped that he'll upgrade a rotation that has a couple of question marks.

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It's possible that both clubs are done dealing. The White Sox have checked off pretty much every item on their list, while the Twins have been hesitant to move most of their tradable players without getting massive returns for them.

Still, this much is clear: If the Sox show any more weaknesses, general manager Kenny Williams will move to rectify them. He's clearly identified an opportunity to win this year and is working to maximize it.

Braves have options: The Braves thought they had a deal for Ryan Dempster, and then they were heavily focused on Zack Greinke, but neither of those trades happened. That leaves Atlanta working on backup plans, but fortunately, they have a couple.

One option for GM Frank Wren, according to MLB.com's Mark Bowman, is to aim lower -- adding a relief pitcher and moving reliever Kris Medlen to the rotation. As of now, Medlen is slated to start on Tuesday night. Bowman reports that the Braves won't part with one of their top prospects for a reliever, though.

Another possibility is one of the biggest name starters still on the market, Tampa Bay's James Shields. It seems the Braves would be much more willing to deal from the top of their farm system in order to acquire Shields, whose contract features quite reasonable team options for 2013 and '14.

Josh Johnson could still be in play for the Braves as well as other teams, but Miami is apparently seeking the moon in order to part with Johnson.

Dodgers still aggressive: Another team that has already struck and hopes to do so again is the Dodgers. Los Angeles still doesn't have a lot to trade in the way of prospects, but the Dodgers' ability to take on contracts could be a very valuable asset over the final days before the deadline (and in August, to boot).

General manager Ned Colletti remains in on Dempster, whose first choice is to be a Dodger, but there don't seem to be any indications of real progress. MLB.com's Ken Gurnick reports that Dempster's far from the Dodgers' only goal right now, noting that they are in on Shields and Shane Victorino as well. According to Gurnick, Colletti "pretty much has the green light" from the team's new ownership group.

Rangers are lurking: On the other side of the spectrum is Texas, which has surprised some people by not being more active thus far. The Rangers were one of the most serious bidders for Greinke but would not deal Mike Olt or Jurickson Profar, writes MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. Johnson, once believed to be a top candidate for Texas, doesn't seem to move the needle, with Sullivan reporting that the Rangers are "not keen" on the Marlins righty.

So, like the Braves, the Rangers are left to ponder other options besides their main goal. Instead of adding a starter, they could bolster their bullpen and bench, and rely on internal options to upgrade the rotation.

Alexi Ogando is stretching out and could be in the Texas starting five soon. Neftali Feliz is on a rehab assignment and could be in the mix sooner than later as well. Thus, it's quite possible that Texas will decide it's set as far as starters.

Running out of gas: The Phillies bandwagon had a last surge, but it appears to be sputtering. Following an inspirational winning streak, the Phils have dropped their first two in Atlanta. MLB.com's Todd Zolecki tells it like it is, that the losses almost certainly leave GM Ruben Amaro Jr. in a position where he cannot buy. The Phillies are 15 1/2 out in the division and 11 1/2 in the Wild Card race.

Victorino is the "most likely" to change addresses, Zolecki writes, with Joe Blanton and Juan Pierre as possibilities as well. It doesn't sound like Hunter Pence is very much in play, which makes some sense since he's under team control for 2013.

Nats aim high: As has been previously mentioned in this space, the Nationals have expensive tastes when it comes to starting pitching. Washington has made clear that it has little interest in adding a starter just for the sake of doing so, since it has John Lannan and Chien Ming Wang available.

However, we've also known for a while that if the right high-end starter were available, Washington could have interest. MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez reported Saturday that one such starter did pique the Nationals' interest. According to Sanchez, Washington was one of the more assertive teams pursuing Greinke, but it just couldn't make a deal work.

That would seem to be the blueprint going forward for the Nationals. If another big-time starter is really available, they may well call and could try to get a deal done. But for more run-of-the-mill starters, there's no interest in Washington.

Next for the Brew Crew: Milwaukee may not have a lot of selling to do now that Greinke is gone. MLB.com's Adam McCalvy reports that Brewers GM Doug Melvin is "unmotivated" to trade Corey Hart or Aramis Ramirez, two corner-infield (and in Hart's case, outfield as well) power bats who could really help the right contender.

But if Melvin doesn't want to deal, they won't help anybody but the Brewers. On the other side of things, Milwaukee might like to flip some relievers, but their value is at a low following an ugly series against the Phillies. Francisco Rodriguez will have to be pretty lights-out in the coming days for the Brewers to have a real chance to cash in on him.

Matthew Leach is a national reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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