Everybody knew a fire sale was coming in Chicago, but the beginning of it was unexpected. The Cubs began their second half by dealing outfielder Joc Pederson to the Atlanta Braves, who signaled they're still in go-for-it mode and officially kicked off what should be a wild stretch before the July 30 deadline.
The next week will help a lot of teams figure out which direction to go, or how hard to go on the trade market. The Giants, for example, play four games at Dodger Stadium starting Monday, with first place in the NL West on the line. They have seven more games against the Dodgers before the deadline, which will be instructive as Farhan Zaidi and Scott Harris try to figure out how aggressive to be.
It's going to be just as intense elsewhere. There are five teams separated by 3 1/2 games for the second Wild Card spot in the American League, and there are three teams with a legitimate shot of chasing down the New York Mets in the NL East.
Add it up and you've got a make-or-break week for a lot of executives. Before the action starts, here's our latest look at how all 30 stack up:
30. Arizona Diamondbacks (27-68): Madison Bumgarner returned Friday after missing six weeks with a shoulder injury and he pitched well. Bumgarner allowed one earned on two hits in six innings. The Giants visit Chase Field for four games in early August and Bumgarner currently is on schedule to face his former teammates.
29. Baltimore Orioles (30-62): It was cool to see Trey Mancini (in the Home Run Derby) and Cedric Mullins (in the All-Star Game) get some national love last week. They each have 16 homers.
28. Kansas City Royals (37-55): With three teams at the top of the NL West looking for starting pitching depth, the odds seem pretty good that Danny Duffy finds his way to the West Coast. The veteran lefty has a 2.51 ERA for the Royals and got plenty of big-game experience during their glory years.
27. Pittsburgh Pirates (36-57): They were three outs away from a sweep of the Mets, but closer Richard Rodriguez gave up a two-run homer to Michael Conforto. It still was a solid weekend for a bad team that should look a lot different after July 30.
26. Texas Rangers (35-58): Joey Gallo has gotten hot at the right time, hitting 11 homers since June 26 to get to 24 for the year. He should bring back some nice young pieces before the deadline, with the San Diego Padres known to have particular interest.
25. Minnesota Twins (39-53): The darlings of the trade deadline -- if they decide to sell. They have something to offer every contender, although ESPN's Buster Olney reported they don't want to deal players -- like Jose Berrios -- under team control next season.
24. Colorado Rockies (41-53): Their interim front office should have received a lot of calls Sunday night. Trade candidate Jon Gray threw seven strong innings against the Dodgers at Coors Field, allowing two earned and striking out seven. Like Trevor Story, he should be elsewhere in a couple weeks.
23. Detroit Tigers (43-51): They allowed just four runs while sweeping the Twins to start their second half. They also might have found a trade chip in 32-year-old starter Wily Peralta, who is back in a big-league rotation for the first time in four years and has a 1.64 ERA after seven scoreless Sunday.
22. Miami Marlins (40-53): They have the second-best run differential in the NL East but sit in fifth. Time to sell off their veterans and build around Jazz Chisholm and other promising young players.
21. Washington Nationals (43-49): They're six games under .500, but not totally out of it. They're just six out in the NL East and if Juan Soto -- three homers in his last three games -- gets going they can make that up in a hurry.
20. Seattle Mariners (50-44): Top outfield prospect Jarred Kelenic went hitless in 10 straight starts before getting sent back to Triple-A, but he went down and quickly found his swing. He returned for the start of the second half and got a hit in each of his first three games.
19. St. Louis Cardinals (46-47): Good news for the Giants: The Cardinals are nine out in their division and 7 1/2 back in the Wild Card race, so the Giants likely won't have to worry anymore about a team that took it to them in two series.
18. Cleveland Indians (47-43): One of those teams in a weird spot at the deadline. They haven't been very good overall and have no chance of catching the White Sox in the AL Central, but they're just 3 1/2 out of the second Wild Card spot.
17. Los Angeles Angels (46-46): Mike Trout tweeted out some airplane emojis Sunday night, so it appears he'll be back in the lineup when the Angels visit the A's. With a former MVP joining the AL MVP frontrunner, will the Angels finally go on a run?
16. Chicago Cubs (46-47): Started their sale early by shipping Pederson to the Braves, and if they want to keep going they can shake up the races in both leagues. Craig Kimbrel, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo would represent massive upgrades for contenders and those trades could rebuild the Cubs' system overnight.
15. Philadelphia Phillies (47-45): They've won five of their last six to get within two games in the NL East. All of a sudden they might be a buyer, just as the next team has been ...
14. Atlanta Braves (45-47): It seemed like they might pack it in after Ronald Acuña Jr. went down for the year, but give them credit for pivoting and dealing for Joc Pederson and Stephen Vogt. It might not work, but at least they're giving their fans a reason to keep dreaming about a second-half run for the NL East title.
13. Cincinnati Reds (48-45): With a chance to make up ground in the NL Central race they got swept by the Brewers over the weekend at home, allowing 26 runs in three games. That leaves them seven out, although they're a bit closer in the Wild Card race.
12. New York Yankees (48-44): If you would read the headlines coming out of New York, you'd think this team is dead and buried. But they took two of three from the Astros just before the break and then did the same this weekend against the Boston Red Sox. They have seven more against the Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays before the deadline, so they'll know by July 30 which direction they should go.
11. New York Mets (48-42): Avoided a complete disaster when they overcame a six-run deficit in Pittsburgh on Sunday, but they still lost two of three in the series and watched Jacob deGrom and Francisco Lindor go down. There's a reason their NL East opponents aren't giving up.
10. Toronto Blue Jays (48-42): There was no All-Star break hangover for Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who homered three times the first weekend back. He's going to take a legitimate crack at a Triple-Crown; he's currently first in the American League in average and RBI and just three homers behind Shohei Ohtani.
9. A's (53-32): As their ballpark discussions dominate the headlines, they drew just 32,000 for a three-game weekend series against the Indians. They should get a little more buzz the next two nights with Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout coming to town.
8. Boston Red Sox (56-38): Old friend Christian Arroyo made his first appearance at first base on Sunday but injured his hamstring and could end up on the IL. Arroyo is having a solid year, posting a 111 OPS+ while primarily playing second base.
7. San Diego Padres (55-41): As the Giants and Dodgers battle, the Padres will visit the Braves and Marlins this week. It's a chance to make up a ton of ground if they can have a good week, and they appear ready for it. They scored 41 runs while taking a series against the Nationals.
6. Tampa Bay Rays (55-38): The Giants aren't used to being on the wrong end of trades, but they've watched Matt Wisler go to Tampa Bay and turn into the player they thought they were getting when they signed him in the offseason. Wisler has made 13 appearances for the Rays and allowed one earned run. Classic Tampa Bay.
5. Milwaukee Brewers (56-39): They swept the second-place Reds over the weekend to move seven games up in the NL Central, and they're the only team in the division with a positive run differential. They can pretty comfortably start to make moves to help them in October.
4. Houston Astros (56-38): They've had seven different pitchers make at least nine starts, and six of them have an ERA under 3.60. That's the kind of depth that every front office is looking for this season.
3. Chicago White Sox (56-36): In a potential ALCS matchup, they took two of three from the Astros, winning 4-0 and 10-1. They also gave Lance Lynn a two-year, $38 million deal. Strong weekend all around.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers (58-36): Just two outs from a tie for first place, they instead watched Kenley Jansen blow his first save in more than two months. They also watched Gavin Lux go down, although Corey Seager should be back at some point in the next week.
1. Giants (58-34): They had a quiet offensive weekend in St. Louis, but narrowly held their lead in the NL West. They've been in first for 76 days now, and with Buster Posey and Kevin Gausman back Monday, that's enough to once again hold off the Dodgers in our Power Rankings.