OAKLAND, CA – JUNE 30: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Atlanta Braves in the top of the first inning at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on June 30, 2017 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Pitcher Jose Quintana was expected to be one of the most sought after players before the MLB trade deadline, and the Chicago Cubs swooped in last Thursday to acquire him from the crosstown rival White Sox. In the American League, not every contender is in search of an elite arm, but the Quintana deal indicates that market value is fairly high for many of the pitchers available. The Cubs had to deal highly touted prospects Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease for the left-hander.

Which positions do the top AL teams need to fill before July 31, and who should they consider?

1. Houston Astros: 

While the Astros rank sixth across baseball in FIP (3.85), they’ve had deal with injuries to Lance McCullers and Dallas Keuchel. If the two accumulated enough innings to qualify in the category, they’d rank fourth (2.73) and tied for fifth (3.10), respectively. Houston (62-31) boasts the best record in the AL by 10.5 games, but another starter would generate even more separation.

According to Sports Illustrated‘s Tom Verducci, the organization has kicked the tires on New York Mets’ ace Jacob deGrom. But would the Mets be willing to give up a 29-year-old starter, who’s still in his prime despite a 3.75 FIP? If he’s unavailable, the Oakland Athletics’ Sonny Gray (3.46 FIP) or San Francisco Giants’ Jeff Samardzjia (3.52 FIP) would be viable options, too. Gray has been fantastic over his last four starts, amassing a 1.33 ERA.

2. Boston Red Sox:

If fans don’t know what position GM Dave Dombrowski is looking to upgrade, they must be living on Pluto. Boston holds a .610 OPS from third base this season. Even if Brock Holt produces after his return from a head injury, the Red Sox (52-42) would be best suited to use him as a utility player. Devin Marrero and Tzu-Wei Lin have filled in admirably, yet it hasn’t been enough.

USA Today‘s Bob Nightingale reported the team is close to reeling in White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier, as it would only need to deal a lower-tier prospect for the veteran. Even though Frazier is batting just .207, his wOBA sits at a respectable .327, along with his 16 home runs and 41 RBI. He’s still an above average defender, too. The Kansas City Royals’ Mike Moustakas or Pittsburgh Pirates’ David Freese could also be a fit if those teams decide to wave the white flag.

3. Cleveland Indians:

Similar to the Astros, the Indians’ rotation ranks eighth in MLB under FIP (3.91). But even with Danny Salazar expected to return from the DL post-shoulder injury, Cleveland (48-43) saw what a commanding pitching staff can do in the postseason just last year, posting a 2.69 ERA and five shutouts in route to a World Series appearance. Hence, the aforementioned Gray would make for a quality addition.

On top of that, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reported that Indians’ president Chris Antonetti is prepared to upgrade at second base or the outfield because of injuries. Jason Kipnis doesn’t appear to be losing his job anytime soon despite a hamstring strain, but outfielder Christain Yelich, who owns a .288/.364/.412 slash line, could be an intriguing option if the Miami Marlins are willing to sell. The White Sox’s Melky Cabrera is posting similar numbers with a .289/.333/.422 slash line, as well as 11 home runs and 50 RBI. If they’ll trade with an AL Central foe, he’d represent a perfect fit.

4. Tampa Bay Rays:

After winning five of their last seven games, the Rays (50-44), find themselves in the driver’s seat of the wild card race. Their offense ranks fourth in WAR (16.3) and tied for 12th in pitching WAR (8.3), but their bullpen has been the most glaring issue, placing 16th in FIP (4.15) and 19th in ERA (4.40). With the Detroit Tigers seemingly on the verge of a fire sale, lefty Justin Wilson makes plenty of sense for the franchise. His stout ERA (2.29) and FIP (2.89) would give Tampa Bay a reliable option in the ‘pen ahead of closer Alex Colome, and he’s only owed a bit over $1 million for the remainder of the season.

5. New York Yankees: 

The Yankees are the wild card here, literally. They could go in numerous directions, searching for help at first base, the bullpen and starting rotation. Like a couple of the aforementioned teams, Gray would be an ideal fit if GM Brian Cashman decides to upgrade in that department. If New York (47-44) focuses on its relief pitching, White Sox closer David Robertson could return to the Bronx, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. He has converted 13 of 14 save opportunities this season, along with manufacturing a 2.70 ERA and 3.05 FIP.

The club already sports a 3.50 bullpen FIP, and he’d also give manager Joe Girardi a dominant group to close out a game with Dellin Betances, Robertson and Aroldis Chapman. Frazier could be an option at first base, too, playing 94 games at the position in his career. If a package deal doesn’t occur, though, the Oakland Athletics’ Yonder Alonso, who sports a .269/.368/.556 slash line, as well as 21 homers and 48 RBI, would fit in well.

* The Minnesota Twins are a half game back of the Yankees for the second wild card spot, but ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that they won’t make any major moves.

About Eli Hershkovich

Eli Hershkovich is a graduate of DePaul University. Along with writing, he also works at 670 The Score, a sports radio station in Chicago.