basketball 1 week ago

5 teams in limbo with the trade deadline approaching

theScore

Who's going all in, and who's waving the white flag?

With the non-waiver trade deadline just two weeks away, the following five teams find themselves in a holding pattern, hovering around .500 without a clear indication of whether or not the playoffs are a realistic goal this season.

The waiting game will soon be over, so which of these clubs will decide a last-second push for postseason glory is worth the effort? Let's take a look.

Minnesota Twins

The Twins were the AL Central's unlikely leaders for the first couple months. A poor run differential predicted an eventual fall from grace, but they remain only 1 1/2 games out of first place.

In the offseason, it seemed inevitable that second baseman Brian Dozier would be on the move, but being surprisingly competitive complicates things. Other assets like starter Ervin Santana are under team-friendly deals, so the Twins won't be in a rush to unload them. If the team scuffles over the next week or so, closer Brandon Kintzler would be a target for other clubs looking for bargain bullpen help. If it doesn't, Minnesota's lack of prospect depth could still limit its ability to buy.

St. Louis Cardinals

Offseason contracts given to Dexter Fowler and Brett Cecil gave the appearance that the Cardinals were trying to hang with the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central. At 44-47, though, the postseason is looking increasingly unlikely, especially given Milwaukee's surprising campaign. But the Cardinals aren't far enough behind to give up on the season yet, either.

With rumors floating that St. Louis is looking to deal away starter Lance Lynn - but is also targeting Miami Marlins outfielders Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich - the team may attempt to just pivot ahead of 2018 and beyond, in lieu of a total teardown.

Texas Rangers

The Rangers have a ton of question marks, most specifically tied to ace Yu Darvish and catcher Jonathan Lucroy. The team has been adamant about not trading Darvish despite him being a free agent following the season, but Lucroy could be on his way out come the deadline.

With a losing record, things need to change quickly. Otherwise, Texas may simply stand pat and let the chips fall where they may.

Atlanta Braves

After winning three straight, Atlanta is at .500 and in the thick of the NL wild-card race. For much of the season, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that they'd be sellers at the deadline, but with news that the Braves offered top prospect Ozzie Albies to the White Sox for Jose Quintana, that may not be the case.

The Braves do have several impending veteran free agents in Jaime Garcia, Kurt Suzuki, and Brandon Phillips, but if they keep winning and the wild-card-leading Rockies and Diamondbacks continue to scuffle, they could stick around.

Toronto Blue Jays

If not for a historically terrible start to the season, the Blue Jays would be leaning toward buying at the deadline in pursuit of a third consecutive postseason berth. On April 20, they were 3-12 and already declared dead in the water. Since then, they've gone 39-37. Not amazing, but still above .500.

With big money tied to the team's top names - and with the chance to compete with a similar roster next year - a full sell-off is unlikely, while players like Marco Estrada and Jose Bautista have struggled to the point that their trade value has stagnated, anyway. A lengthy road trip out of the All-Star break should determine Toronto's deadline strategy.

(Photos courtesy: Action Images)

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