The Aug. 31 trade deadline has passed and the 2020 Major League Baseball season has entered its final month. Here at CBS Sports, we’ve got you covered with full coverage of the happenings from Monday’s trade deadline. We handed out trade deadline grades, picked winners and losers of the deadline and ranked of every prospect moved at the deadline.

With the calendar flipped to September, we’re going to take a closer look at some of the biggest stories from the last week, and give each one a buy/sell decision.

Now, let’s get to it:

Buy: Rays ready to overtake Yankees in AL East

Entering Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Rays hold a 4.5-game lead over the New York Yankees in the AL East. The first-place Rays are looking like the real deal as we near this abbreviated season’s end. With starters not lasting as long each game in 2020, the Rays have been helped by their impressive bullpen. The Rays are 19-4 in their past 23 games and have the best record in baseball since Aug. 8. Furthermore, the Rays have won the past six games in the series and are 7-1 against the Yankees this season.

Rays second baseman Brandon Lowe is powering the Rays offense, and in the process, he has become a true AL MVP candidate. The 26-year-old saw a power surge in the month of August, and despite hitting a slow stretch recently, he’s still hitting an impressive .273/.371/.612 with a .983 OPS and 26 runs scored and 27 RBI in 34 games. The rest of the lineup has been solid as well, helping to score 188 runs (an AL best) so far this season. Here’s a look at the Rays who are getting it done in 2020:

Then, there’s the Rays bullpen. They’re a big reason why the Rays are close to dethroning the Yankees in the AL East this year. Tampa’s bullpen ranks in the top half of the league for ERA, Fielding-Independent Pitching (FIP) and strikeouts.

The Yankees and Rays will continue their third and final series of the season on Wednesday and Thursday. It’s New York’s last, best chance to get back into the AL East race, but it’s not looking too good. Crushed by injuries and hurt by under performances from the back-half of their lineup, the Yankees are struggling to regain momentum in the division.

Despite several pitchers on the injured list, the Rays didn’t make many meaningful moves at this year’s trade deadline, but it’ll benefit them that the Yankees followed a similar policy. The 2020 success is a combination of things working out in their favor (Yankees struggling with injuries, Red Sox going into rebuilding mode) and also the fact that this Tampa Bay club is built really well. I’m buying that this is going to be the year that the Rays win the AL East for the first time since 2010. 

Sell: Concerns for skidding Twins

It’s been a rough week for the Minnesota Twins. They’re currently in the middle of their worst losing streak of the season, at six straight losses. This past week saw losses to Cleveland, the White Sox and a three-game sweep by the Tigers. Oof.

But I’m going to sell on concerns for this club. Entering Tuesday, the Twins are 2.5 games behind the first-place White Sox in the AL Central. It helps that the Twins are scheduled to play the White Sox six more times before the season’s end. But mostly, I’m selling because Minnesota’s offense is in a lull, but it doesn’t appear to be a permanent one. 

“The road trip was a rough one. Every time we felt like maybe we were getting something going, or we were on a little roll, maybe we wouldn’t execute, maybe something wouldn’t go our way,” manager Rocco Baldelli told reporters after the rough road trip. “It wasn’t pretty baseball from the beginning. We need to do more to get things going and make things happen. Because right now, it’s not coming to us.”

We know that in this short season, teams are not given a lot of time to figure things out. Making adjustments has to be a sped-up process from what teams can usually do during a normal 162-season. The club is also hurt by the fact that they’re missing some regulars. Josh Donaldson, Mitch Garver and Byron Buxton are all on the injured list. The Twins lineup, aside from Miguel Sano and Nelson Cruz, aren’t matching their once-dominant power at the plate. 

Most of the club’s lineup currently is below the league’s average for barrel, a stat that measures the player’s ability to put the barrel of the bat on the ball and generate good contact. The potential is still there, but I’d chalk up the recent lagging offense to multiple players slumping at the same time. I’d expect a bounce back in this final month.

Buy: Padres are a legitimate World Series threat

The San Diego Padres made the biggest trade of this year’s Aug. 31 deadline when they scored starter Mike Clevinger from Cleveland. San Diego also added catchers Jason Castro and Austin Nola, 1B/DH Mitch Moreland, and reliever Trevor Rosenthal. General manager A.J. Preller addressed each of his team’s weaknesses while doing so at reasonable prices.

The Padres are going all in on being serious contenders in the 2020 postseason. And I’m buying it. The Padres are packed with a nice mix of young talent and veterans, and they boast an impressive pitching staff. They also have the sixth-best record in baseball.

With their deadline moves, the Padres are embracing the “win-now” mentality and with that, proving they’re a team to be reckoned with this postseason. San Diego has not reached the playoffs since 2006, and the franchise has never won a World Series title. In the abnormal 2020 season, eight MLB teams from each league will make the playoffs. Entering Tuesday, the Padres owned a 97.5 percent chance of making the playoffs and a 4.7 percent chance of winning the World Series, according to Sportsline. Fangraphs is a even more optimistic, giving San Diego a 9.7 percent chance of winning the World Series.

This all just means that Padres superstar shortstop and NL MVP candidate Fernando Tatis Jr. wasn’t exaggerating when he said his club was all-in on going after the 2020 World Series.

“We’re aiming for the big cake, man,” Tatis said. “We’re aiming for everything. I think the boys are ready. I think we have a very good team out here. The new guys that have come in, they’re adding to our game. So, I think we’re just going to aim for the big cake. Why not? Let’s go win a World Series.”


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