This is a big issue. To make it an even bigger issue, the problem is not simply a talent shortage on the 25-man roster, there is also a talent shortage on the 40-man and among the younger players not yet subject to Rule 5 after this season. The Braves and Dodgers lead us in all of these categories. To get where we want the team to be requires sticking to a realistic plan to catch and pass both Braves and Dodgers.
Money is a big tool. It was necessary to add one of Machado/Harper, with Machado preferred. We need to add more FA talent, but that awaits the off-season. In general, I think we've over-spent on FA relievers over the years, but thankfully are moving more in the direction of growing our own. This season's budget spends too much on the pen.
The team is not in a position to trade young prospects for established talent. We are not at all well situated to be a buyer at the deadline -- back to the too weak at all levels. The odds of advancing in the playoffs, even if we go all in at the trade deadline are poor. The odds of even reaching the playoffs aren't good.
I want to see the remainder of this season, including the deadline action, geared to next season. Foremost is shaping next season's lineup and 25-man. First thing in my mind is finding a role for Kingery. He should play 2B or CF. LF is as dumb as 3B or SS. If the team craves a super sub, that is obtainable in FA, especially if we go with a guy who is more D and less O than Kingery. I think Hernandez should be traded -- not a bad player, but Kingery needs his spot. We need to make a final decision on Maikel Franco (I think we almost certainly need a new 3B, but if Bohm is close that can be a FA on a short contract) and Quinn (despite a good game with bat last night, I think his O is nearly as big a problem as his durability). We need to decide which of young pitchers are a part of the future rotation. More of those that don't fall into that slot need to be transitioned to the pen in the minors this season.
The international season is looking to be a mess. Perhaps the big $ need to go to Asia and Cuba and letting the LA staff take a lot of fliers on third-tier arms. Our record on LA position players isn't good and I'd be surprised if we can productively spend the money there, having had our top guy implode. We need to do better in LA. I think we've been going pitcher light/position player heavy both internationally/draft. It hasn't worked, or at least is far from clear that it is working.
Things may look different in 3 weeks, but if things remain much as they are today, at the deadline I trade Hernandez and a reliever and #5 starter type for young minor league prospects. Hope is good, but it can annihilate a good future. Now seems very much not the time to go all in. Middleton may need to enforce this as others may want to go all-in to save their jobs.