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Buy, sell or hold: NL East

By Matt Snyder | Baseball Writer

As we continue our short series that looks at a snapshot of each club's stance heading toward the trade deadline, it's now time to check out the NL East. The best part about this division is there are a few role reversals from the past five (or more) seasons.

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Washington Nationals

Status: For years, Nationals fans have surely been longing to see this. The first-place Nats are buyers.

Needs: This club doesn't have many glaring weaknesses, but the biggest possible roadblock to the postseason is Stephen Strasburg's inning limit. Assuming they don't have to give up a ton of prospects -- as the future is more bright than the present in Washington -- a veteran starting pitcher as a rental would be perfect. Someone like Ryan Dempster would be a nice remedy to the Strasburg situation. Also, in light of the Ian Desmond injury, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Nats grab a short-term shortstop. Again, though, don't expect the Nationals to cough up any big-time prospects.

Atlanta Braves

Status: They would be anyway, but especially considering last season's September collapse, the Braves are surely going to buy whatever they can to win without going crazy.

Needs: They've already acquired their stop-gap at shortstop (Paul Janish) with Andrelton Simmons injured, so the focus is now pitching. The Braves have been connected with Dempster and Zack Greinke in rumors and reportedly even called the Red Sox about Jon Lester. Also, the Braves were rumored to have kicked the tires on Rockies closer Rafael Betancourt -- who obviously wouldn't supplant Craig Kimbrel, but would instead provide bullpen depth for Atlanta. This isn't to give validity to that rumor, but instead to point out that the Braves are likely seeking depth for their entire pitching staff, not just in the rotation.

New York Mets

Status: If we had to pick between buy, sell and hold here, hold would be the choice. The Mets aren't sellers, but they aren't really going to be big buyers or sellers -- at least in terms of moves strictly for contending this season.

Needs: The entire pitching staff could use upgrades in several spots, but the future will not be mortgaged for anything short-term -- especially in light of the recent skid by the Mets. Unless the Mets start a winning streak this week, I'd expect them to be relatively quiet in trade talks.

Miami Marlins

Status: They sound like tentative sellers.

Needs: More than anything else, the Marlins need to get better as a team as soon as possible, lest the momentum of the new stadium and offseason spending spree die. Thus, any selling needs to provide an immediate return. It sounds like Josh Johnson is going to stay put. On the other hand, Anibal Sanchez and Hanley Ramirez both continue to pop up in rumors. There's also the Omar Infante-to-Tigers rumor. If the Marlins do sell, they need to get back bullpen help -- and if they deal Infante, they could seek a center fielder and move Emilio Bonifacio to second base.

Philadelphia Phillies

Status: Holy role-reversal, the Phillies are sellers.

Needs: The organization as a whole has to get younger. If this season is really a lost cause, it would appear the window of opportunity with the current nucleus is slamming shut. Trading Shane Victorino and/or Cole Hamels would only hammer that reality home, and those two names just won't leave the rumor mill. What if the Phillies also deal Jimmy Rollins and Cliff Lee? As Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com has noted, trading too many guys may alienate the fan base. One thing is for sure, there aren't many teams more intriguing to follow over the next week and a half. Whatever the Phillies do -- or don't do -- will dictate the direction of the franchise moving forward: Stay the course or rebuild?

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