The July 31 trade deadline is approaching. May every team in Major League Baseball get everything it wants.
But what would the opposite of that look like?
We've endeavored to answer this question by imagining the nightmare trade deadline scenario for all 30 MLB teams. The specifics vary, but they essentially involve sellers failing to sell and buyers failing to buy.
We'll proceed in alphabetical order by city.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Overplaying Their Hand
Record: 43-45, 3rd in NL West
When Zach Buchanan of The Athletic asked Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen in June about his trade deadline plans, he replied: "The amount of the resources that we contribute are going to be more of a reflection of where we're at playing-wise at the time."
Where the D-backs are now is complicated. On one hand, they've been inconsistent since a strong April. On the other hand, they're technically still in a crowded National League wild-card race.
If they don't pick up the pace between now and the deadline, the Snakes' best play would be to back off and trade rentals such as Greg Holland and Adam Jones.
In lieu of that, the worst thing they could do is try too hard to stay in the race. They're essentially attempting to contend and rebuild at the same time. At their current pace, the former pursuit isn't worth subtracting major pieces from their No. 12-ranked farm system.
Atlanta Braves: Failure to Add Pitching
Record: 50-36, 1st in NL East
The Atlanta Braves entered June with a three-game deficit in the NL East. They exited the month with a 5.5-game lead, and they picked up 2015 American League Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel along the way.
But despite the addition of Keuchel, the Braves can't rest easy with their pitching staff just yet.
Their bullpen came around in a big way with an MLB-best 2.59 ERA in June, yet it would look even better with an additional late-inning reliever or two. Their rotation, meanwhile, continued its season-long struggle with a 5.46 ERA last month.
The Braves are sitting on MLB's No. 2-ranked farm system, so they have no excuses not to acquire more arms for the stretch run.
Baltimore Orioles: Nobody Wants Their Wares
Record: 25-61, 5th in AL East
Based on their record, the Baltimore Orioles are about as obvious of a seller as sellers come.
But how much of a seller can they be, really?
The O's ditched their best trade chips (e.g., Manny Machado) ahead of last year's deadline. What's left is an assortment of veterans headlined by veteran pitchers Mychal Givens, Andrew Cashner and Dylan Bundy and young-ish slugger Trey Mancini.
Those three pitchers may have limited value. Mancini might be too one-dimensional to generate serious interest. As such, the Orioles could have little leeway for adding to a farm system that must be better than merely the No. 13-ranked system in baseball.
Boston Red Sox: Failure to Add Relief Pitchers
Record: 46-41, 3rd in AL East
The Boston Red Sox lost ace closer Craig Kimbrel to free agency last winter. Rather than do something about it, they shrugged their shoulders and went about their day.
They're paying for that now. Their pen held together through May, but it coughed up a 4.92 ERA and upped its blown save total to 17 throughout June.
Per Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, team owner John Henry doesn't want to add "a lot" of payroll ahead of July 31. According to NESN's Tom Caron, Boston's preferred solution may be to use Nathan Eovaldi as a late-inning reliever once he comes off the injured list.
In short, the Red Sox are looking to pinch pennies and waste a perfectly good No. 5 starter. What they should do is suck it up and move heaven and earth for proper bullpen upgrades.
Chicago Cubs: Coming Away Empty-Handed
Record: 46-42, T-1st in NL Central
The Chicago Cubs secured a major piece when they signed closer Craig Kimbrel last month. Their bullpen figures to be much better with him there to handle the ninth inning.
Now all they need is the rest of a functional contender.
The Cubs seem to have everything they need on paper, but it hasn't looked that way in practice. Nearly anything would help them achieve greater consistency, although they especially need another bat and another bullpen arm alongside Kimbrel.
According to Madeline Kenney and Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, the Cubs are well-aware of both needs. With an NL Central title and a possible World Series run at stake, failure to do anything would be unacceptable.
Chicago White Sox: Failure to Cash in Alex Colome
Record: 41-43, 3rd in AL Central
The Chicago White Sox arguably should trade slugging first baseman Jose Abreu, who's headed for free agency at the end of the year. But by all accounts—e.g., this one and this one—they won't.
If not Abreu, the White Sox should absolutely cash in on Alex Colome.
They acquired the 30-year-old right-hander from the Seattle Mariners in November, and he's paid off with a 2.08 ERA over his first 35 appearances. Between that and his club control through 2020, he's one of the more desirable options on a trade market that's saturated with relievers.
The White Sox might keep Colome and hope he's closing games in a pennant race for them next year. But in the event that his low strikeouts-per-nine-innings rate comes back to bite him, they'll wish they had sold high.
Cincinnati Reds: Overplaying Their Hand
Record: 41-44, 5th in NL Central
The Cincinnati Reds look like a seller, but their plus-42 run differential suggests they deserve better.
They could creep up the NL Central ranks if their bad luck turns good, and they may be counting on that. According to Jon Morosi of MLB.com, the Reds are "open to adding" a controllable bat.
While that would indeed boost an offense sorely in need of a boost, the Reds must be wary of overestimating their playoff odds. They face an uphill climb to the top of the NL Central, and the wild-card race is a veritable Royal Rumble.
If the Reds do get a hitter, they should target one who doesn't cost much from their No. 6-ranked farm system. And if their bad luck ultimately doesn't turn around, they'll have to swallow their pride and move rentals like Yasiel Puig and Tanner Roark.
Cleveland Indians: Failure to Add a Hitter
Record: 48-38, 2nd in AL Central
Plenty of contenders would love to get their hands on ace starter Trevor Bauer or ace closer Brad Hand, but the Cleveland Indians might have other ideas.
The Indians haven't been horrible at any point this season, and they were downright good amid a 17-9 June. Their pitching staff turned in yet another solid month, and even their much-maligned offense came around.
With two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber nearing his returnfrom a broken arm, Cleveland can focus its trade efforts on safeguarding its offense against regression. The team needs an impact hitter who can support Francisco Lindor and Carlos Santana.
The worst-case scenario involves the Indians wanting to keep their payrollnice and cheap while also becoming overprotective of their No. 24-ranked farm system. Such an approach would put their recent momentum in jeopardy.
Colorado Rockies: Failure to Add a Hitter
Record: 44-42, 2nd in NL West
As always, the Colorado Rockies need more pitching. Their staff's 5.18 ERA is the worst in the National League.
However, it would be futile for the Rockies to make pitching their top priority. Coors Field is going to punish any new arms they bring aboard, no matter how talented. Besides, they can simply wait on closer Wade Davis and starter Kyle Freeland to get their acts together.
Instead, the Rockies should seek reinforcements for an offense that doesn't have much depth around All-Stars Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, Trevor Story and David Dahl. This issue is especially evident on the road, where they have only a .660 OPS as a team.
If the Rockies don't do something about this, they'll risk missing out on a third straight postseason berth.
Detroit Tigers: Failure to Cash In on Nicholas Castellanos
Record: 28-54, 4th in AL Central
The Detroit Tigers could trade breakout ace Matthew Boyd for a haul of prospects. Alternatively, they can keep him under their control through 2022. They could also hypothetically keep ace closer Shane Greene, who's controlled through 2020.
Nicholas Castellanos, on the other hand, has to go.
This is his final season under Detroit's control, and it sure doesn't seem like a contract extension is forthcoming. Meanwhile, Castellanos has been recovering from a slow start with an .899 OPS since May 19.
Tigers GM Al Avila has had trouble generating interest in Castellanos in the past, but he's bound to hear from offense-needy contenders over the next few weeks. For the sake of the team's almost-elite farm system, he'll need to get something out of one of them.
Houston Astros: Failure to Add a Starting Pitcher
Record: 55-32, 1st in AL West
The Houston Astros could do no wrong for a while there, but then came a June swoon.
Specifically, the month came for the back end of their starting rotation. Brad Peacock and Framber Valdez both had ERAs over 6.00 in June, and they allowed 12 home runs between them.
According to Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle, Astros GM Jeff Luhnow understands pitching needs to be his top priority ahead of the trade deadline. If he's strictly interested in hanging on to the AL West lead, a mere back-end starter will do. But given the club's prospect depth, something better is possible.
In any case, adding no new starting pitching would be both a massive letdown and potentially a problem for the stretch run and (knock on wood) the postseason.
Kansas City Royals: Failure to Sell High on Ian Kennedy
Record: 29-59, 5th in AL Central
The Kansas City Royals will be open for business this month. According to Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, pretty much everyone except shortstop Adalberto Mondesi and third baseman Hunter Dozier is available.
The Royals don't necessarily have to move certain players (i.e., Whit Merrifield) right away. Then there's Ian Kennedy, who's the ultimate sell-high candidate.
The 34-year-old righty came into 2019 as a failed starter. Now he's a relatively successful closer with a 3.18 ERA, 41 strikeouts and only seven walks through 33 appearances. Suddenly, the $16.5 million he's making both this year and next doesn't look so bad.
But if Kennedy wavers, he'll go right back to looking like an albatross. The Royals must move him before that happens.
Los Angeles Angels: Failure to Replace Tommy La Stella
Record: 44-44, 4th in AL West
In the wake of the tragic death of young lefty Tyler Skaggs on Monday, playing and winning baseball games must feel like a secondary concern for everyone in the Los Angeles Angels organization.
Yet the Angels must play on, and a wild-card berth might be in reach with the right kind of effort at the trade deadline. That includes providing their lineup with a replacement for Tommy La Stella.
Mere days after he was named an All-Star for the first time, La Stella broke his leg on a foul ball Tuesday. He's due to miss 8-10 weeks, which would put him out of action until September.
La Stella had broken out with an .848 OPS and 16 home runs. The Angels can't afford not to try and replace that kind of production, as their offense was already having a hard enough time carrying the team.