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National League

5 potential early moves and trades National League contenders should make

Having dealt with some interesting parity to open up the 2019 MLB season, the sport of baseball is in full swing as the month of May closes to an end. The National League divisional leaders, Philadelphia Phillies in the NL East, Chicago Cubs in the Central and Los Angeles Dodgers in the West, all have varying leads and have each faced difficult stretches this year so far.

Besides the Phillies, Cubs, and Dodgers, the likes of the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets in the East, the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals in the Central and the San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies in the West have all been playing decent baseball to remain in the way too early playoff picture. While each team has had enough success to be towards the top of their divisions, there are copious amounts of improvements that can be made.

NL East

Stroman joins the youth movement in Atlanta

Playing for a team like the Toronto Blue Jays can really have its ups and downs, and starting pitcher Marcus Stroman has had to deal with all of those over his professional career. The ace, who has been in the rumor mill for the past few seasons, has real potential to be traded this year to add young, core pieces to the Blue Jays to match up with the Vladimir Guerrero / Cavan Biggio / Lourdes Gurriel Jr. combination that the Blue Jays have coming up.

The Atlanta Braves would be a superb fit for Stroman, who would seemingly be their final piece to the starting pitching puzzle that has reared its ugly head at times. Having a real solid farm system to pick from in any deal, this would present the Blue Jays with potentially the best return package to choose from, which would make a deal for both sides very tantalizing.

Stroman’s impact on the Braves would be immense, as it would take the pressure off of Mike Foltynewicz and his fellow starters while giving their bullpen a better chance of coming into the game in later innings.

NL Central

Milwaukee welcomes back an old friend

Needing to catch up to the division-leading Cubs, the Brewers need a boost while sitting only one game back in second place. Having dealt with what most likely will be their most difficult stretch of the season so far and coming out better than expected, this team looks to be built for yet another postseason run.

Having added Yasmani Grandal this offseason as their biggest coup, the position of catching seems to be addressed, which was one of the team’s biggest downfalls in their run last year. On the other hand, their bullpen was the strongest unit that got this team as far as it did, yet it is the unit in the direst of straits through the end of May.

Needing to inject a boost into their pen, the Brewers should give a call to the white-flag-waving San Francisco Giants and look to see how much it will cost to get Will Smith back after trading Smith to the Giants on August 1, 2016, for the Giants postseason run.

Josh Hader has been his normal dominant self for this team, but the team’s other left-hander, Alex Claudio, has been losing battles against lefties and thus has struggled to replicate the success that he had with the Texas Rangers last year. If the Brewers are able to bring Smith back home, then he would give the Brewers another lefty to take the pressure off of both Hader and Claudio and give manager Craig Counsell another option in high-pressure situations.

Pirates push all chips to the middle – again

Last year at the deadline, the Pittsburgh Pirates, for some reason, thought that they still remained in the heat of the race for the NL Wild Card, which was eventually won by the Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies, respectively. In that race, the Pirates, at the last moment before the trade deadline came and went, gave up two top prospects, pitcher Tyler Glasnow, and outfielder Austin Meadows, in a deal with the Tampa Bay Rays to bring ace Chris Archer to the Steel city.

While performing well for the Buccos, the team was eliminated not long after his acquisition and the Pirates missed the playoffs yet again. This year, the currently-third place team will feel as though they have a good shot to bring notoriety to their franchise and make the playoffs, and general manager Neal Huntington and company will orchestrate another foolish move at the deadline.
Enter in Anthony Rendon, who would be a huge upgrade for Pittsburgh to shore up their third base ranks. While it would take yet another huge package of prospects to land him, potentially starting with future ace Mitch Keller, this team seems to think more highly of themselves than they should when the trade deadline comes around.

NL West

Dodgers get an arm

This division seems to be the most one-sided in the National League, as the Dodgers have a comfortable eight-game lead over the second-place Padres. Being 21-7 at home has been a huge factor for LA, which is the best home record for any NL team.

Riding hot-hitting MVP candidate Cody Bellinger, the Dodgers have been able to cover some pitching shortfalls by their continued mashing of the baseball. With that in mind, a move for more pitching is exactly what the Dodgers need to do.

The combination of Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Kenta Maeda, Walker Buehler, and Rich Hill is one of the better combinations in the NL, but no one has truly stood out this year. All five have either experienced injury issues or a downtick in performance, so getting that swing guy would be a good addition for manager Dave Roberts.

Trading for Ian Kennedy from the Kansas City Royals would constitute a good move that would not cost much, as Kennedy is not highly regarded but is pitching well as the swingman for the Royals. By giving up a low top-30 prospect and a flier Triple-A guy should be enough for the Dodgers to add Kennedy to their squad.

Padres shoot for the moon

For the Padres, bringing in Manny Machado shows their commitment to winning now, especially with how much money he was given to help that case. But outside of Machado and Eric Hosmer, this team desperately needs more firepower.

With the wacky offseason that has extended into the regular season, players like Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel are still looking for deals to pitch for a team this season. While a player like Kimbrel would be a good fit to team with Kirby Yates out of the bullpen, Keuchel fills a more pressing need due to injuries and lack of a big name.

Reports recently surfaced that Keuchel would be alright with a one year, $18 million deal that would eclipse the money offered through any sort of a qualifying offer, so he would be able to earn a big check while auditioning for another team next year.