2020 Trade Deadline urgency rankings

Traditional thinking is that this Trade Deadline is dramatically different than any other. Is it really? Once you strip away the expanded playoff field and the general weirdness of a shortened season, there’s this: The 2020 Trade Deadline is precisely the same as every other.

Only the timing is different. With every team having played fewer than three dozen games, they nonetheless have to decide if they’re buying or selling by 4 p.m. ET on Monday.

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For some, though, it’s not if they’re buying but how urgent it is that they make a deal. So let’s line ‘em up according to something we’ll call the Trade Deadline Urgency Meter.

Here goes:

1) Astros

Urgency meter: Hair on fire.

Biggest need: Pitching.

Potential targets: Lance Lynn, RHP, TEX; Alex Cobb, RHP, BAL; Robbie Ray, LHP, ARI; Matt Barnes, RHP, BOS

The Astros could have a dramatically different look next season with a bunch of their core guys — George Springer, Michael Brantley, Yuli Gurriel — headed for free agency. No owner is more motivated to try and win another World Series than Houston’s Jim Crane. If the Astros can just get to the playoffs, they believe they’d have a chance with Zack Greinke, Lance McCullers Jr. and (maybe) Justin Verlander at the front of the rotation and Ryan Pressly at the back of the bullpen. One more veteran pitcher would go a long way toward giving the team what it badly needs.

2) Yankees

Urgency meter: Same as it ever was.

Biggest need: Starting pitching.

Potential targets: Trevor Bauer, RHP, CIN; Lance Lynn, RHP, TEX; Matthew Boyd, LHP, DET

General manager Brian Cashman has the Minor League depth to acquire pretty much anyone, but he has become the master of the overachieving under-the-radar acquisition. But in looking ahead to an October matchup against Clayton Kershaw, Shane Bieber or Lucas Giolito, he needs the added certainty of a veteran.

3) Padres

Urgency meter: In it to win it.

Biggest need: Pitching.

Potential targets: Trevor Bauer, RHP, Reds; Zach Plesac, RHP, CLE; Lance Lynn, RHP, TEX; Ian Kennedy, RHP, KC

This is the team to watch. First, general manager A.J. Preller likes to think big. Second, he needs to think big. If he can add a front-of-the-rotation veteran, the Padres could be a dazzling October presence with the emergence of Fernando Tatis Jr., Jake Cronenworth, Trent Grisham and others. But Preller has work to do, even after addressing one need by dealing for Royals reliever Trevor Rosenthal on Saturday.

4) White Sox

Urgency meter: Rebuilding no more.

Biggest need: Starting pitcher.

Potential targets: Alex Cobb, RHP, BAL; Lance Lynn, RHP, TEX; José Quintana, LHP, CHC

Like the Padres, the White Sox see this season as a huge opportunity and that if they can get into the postseason and hand the baseball to Lucas Giolito in Game 1, they’ve got a chance to play awhile. General manager Rick Hahn needs another arm, and the idea of Quintana returning to Chicago’s South Side — where he had by far his most success — is fascinating.

5) Dodgers

Urgency meter: Higher than you think.

Biggest need: Player to give manager Dave Roberts postseason flexibility.

Potential targets: Whit Merrifield, 2B/OF, KC

Andrew Friedman, arguably baseball’s best executive, has assembled baseball’s best team, but he also understands the need to add a piece at the Deadline both to upgrade the talent level (OK, that’s a stretch) and to send a message from upstairs that says, “This is our year.” Friedman does not think small. Witness his acquisitions of Mookie Betts and Manny Machado in recent years. Merrifield would be a perfect fit to add to the Dodgers flexibility and also because he’s the type player that could end up a World Series MVP.

6) Indians

Urgency meter: Patient as always.

Biggest need: Outfielder.

Potential targets: Anthony Santander, OF, BAL; Starling Marte, OF, ARI; J.D. Davis, 3B/OF, NYM

The Indians are in a familiar place. That is, their pitching staff is the AL’s best and plenty good enough to win a World Series. But they’re near the bottom in too many offense categories. Would one outfield bat help all that much? It would be a step in the right direction, but they’d probably need to give up a reliable starting pitcher to make it happen.

7) A’s

Urgency meter: Shhh, don’t tell anyone how good we are.

Biggest need: Starting pitching.

Potential targets: Dylan Bundy, RHP, LAA; Sonny Gray, RHP, CIN; Marco Gonzales, LHP, SEA

If the A’s can get their guys — Jesús Luzardo, Sean Manaea, Frankie Montas — lined up, they’re as good as anyone. Chris Bassitt has been one of their unsung heroes for his work in the rotation, and Mike Fiers has been mostly solid. In short, this team can win the AL West without a single addition. But there’s enough uncertainty about a postseason run to make adding an arm at the top of Billy Beane’s to-do list.

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.

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