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Five big questions that will be answered USA News Today

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Five big questions that will be answered USA News Today

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Keep tabs on all the biggest trades in baseball as the MLB trade deadline approaches.
USA TODAY Sports

Major League Baseball’s trade deadline strikes at 4 p.m. ET on Monday. While there have already been a number of moves, the action figures to hit another gear as the clock winds down.

The reigning World Series champion Chicago Cubs continue to tinker, acquiring lefty reliever Justin Wilson and catcher Alex Avila from the Detroit Tigers late Sunday night in a move that will surely be a precursor of many more to come around the league.

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Here are several questions that could be answered today.

Where will Sonny Gray go, and does Yu Darvish follow him out of the division? 

Gray has been widely connected to the New York Yankees, a team a half-game up in the AL East but one that’s also in building mode. Gray, 27, fits as a frontline pitcher under control until 2019. The Oakland A’s seemed destined to move Gray because they have once again hit the reset button. Gray has an injury history but is pitching well now — with a 3.43 ERA in 97 1/3 innings. There are several contenders — the Houston Astros, Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Dodgers — who could benefit from Gray, too.

Darvish, meanwhile, has ace ability, but he’s also just a rental. The Texas Rangers are not in the AL race, so it would seem like a prudent move for general manager John Daniels to get something for the right-hander. Darvish gave up 10 earned runs in his last start … this after giving up seven five starts ago. He has a 4.01 ERA but can be among the game’s best when he’s right. The Dodgers, with Clayton Kershaw on the disabled list, have been linked.

Which hitter gets moved — and fetches the biggest return?

The market for hitting, especially rentals, does not seem robust. J.D. Martinez, potentially the best right-handed bat available, only returned three prospects (none ranked among the Arizona Diamondbacks’ best) to the Tigers on July 18.

Other hitters in the rumor mill, to varying degrees: Yonder Alonso, Rajai Davis, Jed Lowrie (A’s); Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson, Asdrubal Cabrera (New York Mets);  Zack Cozart (Cincinnati Reds, on DL); Carlos Gomez (Rangers); Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh Pirates); Jose Iglesias (Detroit Tigers). 

Will Zach Britton get traded?

Britton pitched to a 0.54 ERA last season with 47 saves, but this year has been a different story. The left-handed closer missed time because of a forearm strain and has amassed a 3.32 ERA in 19 innings. Even so, Britton, who is controllable for one more season, would be a boon for any contender as he can close or pitch in high-leverage situations. But will the Baltimore Orioles move him? And will a team such as the Astros, Dodgers, or Washington Nationals pay the hefty price?

Which contender needs to make a trade the most?

Teams make moves now for the postseason. The Nationals still lead as one that could use another bullpen arm — and so could the Astros, Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays and Milwaukee Brewers. Teams in the market for a starter: Dodgers, Astros, Cleveland Indians. No contender seems desperate for a bat, though the Indians could make sense for an infielder and the Brewers could stand to add a veteran hitter. Milwaukee likely won’t veer off course in their building process and trade a top prospect.

Kershaw could return for the postseason and be just fine, but would the Dodgers, with a league-leading 74 wins, risk not having another dominant pitcher in the rotation? Do the Astros feel more urgent with Lance McCullers struggling and Dallas Keuchel still getting back up to speed? Are the Indians content with essentially the same core as last season?

Who are the prospects that headline the day?

Whether they are included in trades or promoted after the deadline, prospects will be a part of deadline day. The Mets could promote shortstop Amed Rosario and first baseman Dominic Smith, if they free up space in the infield. The Rays could turn to Brett Honeywell in the rotation or bullpen. The A’s could give a longer look to shortstop Franklin Barreto, while the Chicago White Sox could infuse more youth with pitchers Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Carson Fulmer.

And that doesn’t even include the prospects who could get moved today.

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Five big questions that will be answered USA News Today

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