The non-waiver trade deadline passed at 4 p.m. ET with a handful of moves at the end, a number of teams that held tight for no good reason and an epic trade of Bud for Hoes and a Hader. Thanks to that deal, all of us were winners.
In the spirit of objective analysis, however, we present as a complement 10 more winners and 10 losers, in no particular order, from the deals that were done and those that weren’t.
Boston Red Sox: The best player on the move was Jake Peavy, and he went to the team that needed him most. Between Peavy joining the Red Sox’s rotation and Matt Moore hitting the disabled list for American League East-leading Tampa Bay, it was a fruitful 24 hours for the Red Sox, especially since they didn’t give up any of their best prospects.
San Diego Padres: Ian Kennedy is a classic buy-low candidate whose flyball tendencies – he’s got the sixth-lowest groundball rate among starters this year – should play significantly better at Petco Park than he did in Phoenix. Considering all it cost for at least two years of Kennedy’s services was situational lefty Joe Thatcher, relief prospect Matt Stites and a draft pick between the second and third rounds, Padres GM Josh Byrnes might have made the best trade ever for a pitcher with an ERA over 5.00.
Houston Astros: The dismantling continues, and because of it Houston may now have the deepest farm system in baseball. That’s the point of Jeff Luhnow’s destroy-to-rebuild plan, and shipping off starter Bud Norris to the Baltimore Orioles for L.J. Hoes, Josh Hader and a draft pick, along with dealing outfielder Justin Maxwell for promising A-ball pitcher Kyle Smith, played into that. Already the Astros had parlayed closer Jose Veras into two other prospects. That’s how this is done. Don’t get cute. Don’t get fancy. Just bite down, swallow hard and hope your scouts are good.
Detroit Tigers: All along the Tigers understood Jhonny Peralta was likely to take a suspension for his involvement with Biogenesis, so turning an area of strength (outfield, with young Avisail Garcia) into a replacement shortstop for the present as well as the next five years in Jose Iglesias was shrewd as can be. Iglesias may not hit. He will win Gold Gloves, and with a staff of groundball mavens, that’s all they need.
Avisail Garcia has a huge upside for the Chicago White Sox. (USAT Sports)Chicago White Sox: Even if Peavy was the prize of the deadline, he was still a pitcher with a history of arm trouble due $20 million. To get a lottery ticket with the potential of Avisail Garcia as well as a 100-mph fireballer in Frank Montas, plus two other pieces, first-year GM Rick Hahn added much-needed bulk to an organization with next to no potential impact prospects. If they can get rid of Alex Rios and others in August, they’re even bigger winners.
Tampa Bay Rays: Jesse Crain had been arguably the best reliever in baseball this season before he hit the disabled list with a shoulder injury. Other teams that talked with the White Sox about him weren’t worried about him coming back. If he does and is able to pitch meaningful innings, a Rays bullpen that already has Alex Torres (0.29 ERA), Joel Peralta and Fernando Rodney (two earned runs in the last six weeks) gets that much better.
Chicago Cubs: For two months of Matt Garza, Cubs executives believe they got a better return than the White Sox did for a year and a third of Peavy. C.J. Edwards looks like a No. 3 or 4 starter, Mike Olt was a top prospect before a concussion, Justin Grimm could turn into an innings eater and there’s a player to be named on top of that. They finally dumped Alfonso Soriano‘s contract. That would constitute a great deadline by itself. Bonus points for holding on to David DeJesus, which brought us the delight of Kim DeJesus’ deadline-day binge drinking.
Baltimore Orioles: No team did more than the Orioles in terms of volume. Among Scott Feldman, Francisco Rodriguez and Norris, they overhauled a quarter of a staff that already had run through 22 pitchers this season. Considering what they gave up – three of the best prospects in a relatively thin system – they can only hope it’s enough to catch the Rays and Red Sox in the AL East or hold off Cleveland, Texas, New York and Kansas City for a wild-card spot.
Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers are playing so well these days it’s almost as if they don’t need anything. Whenever Matt Kemp returns it’s going to be awkward, and the Dodgers knew that when they were listening on calls about Kemp (as well as Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier). Bolstering their rotation with Ricky Nolasco didn’t cost much at all, and taking a flier on Brian Wilson coming off Tommy John surgery was a gamble with no downside. From May flop to National League favorite? It’s looking more and more like it.
Atlanta Braves: Sure, there are concerns about Brandon Beachy playing a big role down the stretch coming off Tommy John surgery. And B.J. Upton looks like a $75-million mistake. But the Scott Downs-for-next-to-nothing deal was a nice bit of trickery to cover the overuse that led to their two best lefty relievers, Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty, blowing out their elbows.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Rarely do you see a trade deadline go by with the best team in baseball sitting on its hands entirely. While the Pirates have reached that point where it’s difficult to doubt their viability, the same criticisms as always remain: Namely, can they hit enough and how is their bullpen going to hold up? Already closer Jason Grilli is on the disabled list, and their efforts to add a bat fell short. There is August, though having the best record does have its disadvantages: So long as the Pirates are on top, every team can block them from claiming a player.
Seattle Mariners: Michael Morse: free agent. Raul Ibanez: free agent. Kendrys Morales: free agent. Seattle Mariners: six games under .500, 8½ back of the wild card, 12½ out of first place. We’ll leave this one to Randolph and Mortimer.
The Mets failed to deal Marlon Byrd despite his pending free agency. (USAT Sports)New York Mets: Similarly, a number of contenders needed right-handed bats, and the Mets have 35-year-old free-agent-to-be Marlon Byrd there for the picking. No, the offers for him weren’t great, but what would they expect with a fourth outfielder. They did the same thing with Scott Hairston last season and missed an opportunity for one more lottery ticket in a system that could use everything it can get.
Texas Rangers: When the Rangers dealt for Garza, they looked like they were all-in. Then they started slumping, got cold feet on just how much this team was worth buying into and didn’t bother getting a bat to replace the soon-to-be-suspended Nelson Cruz. They tried, calling around on everyone from Carlos Gonzalez to Jose Bautista to Kemp, offering Joe Nathan and Elvis Andrus and even Garza. Ultimately, they’re left with this team and the hope that the returning Matt Harrison and Neftali Feliz will make up for an atypically meek offense.
Philadelphia Phillies: There is a reason some teams refuse to offer no-trade clauses: exactly what happened to the Phillies this season. Not that they wanted to deal Chase Utley – they seem to love the idea of him as the player who will spend his whole career in their uniform – but he would have brought significant return if not for the 21-team no-trade clause. And Michael Young‘s refusal until late in the process to consider deals was laughable, seeing as the Phillies’ acquisition of Young was something of a folly in the first place, compounded by guaranteeing a no-trade.
Michael Young: Enjoy that drive for .500!
Los Angeles Angels: They whiffed on Kennedy. They didn’t trade Howie Kendrick or Erick Aybar despite motivations to do as much – motivations in place, mind you, because they need pitching, which they need, of course, because they traded Ervin Santana for a guy who had Tommy John surgery before he threw one pitch for them. The deadline was a microcosm of the season for the Angels: a big, ugly mess.
New York Yankees: Look, Alfonso Soriano may hit some homers. He certainly has had his share over the last 6½ seasons with the Cubs. Still, when the average age of your outfield is AARP eligible, there is something decidedly wrong with the process of curating talent. The Yankees made this trade over the objection of GM Brian Cashman, and as long as that continues to happen – a neutered GM, an attraction toward past-their-prime players and, of course, a $100 million outlay for a guy who may never play again – the Yankees will have trouble digging themselves from this bad place they created and may stay there for longer than they have since the early 1990s.
San Francisco Giants: GM Brian Sabean said he was insulted by the offers. Perhaps that’s because he was asking for a major league-ready starting pitcher for lefty specialist Javier Lopez, as insulting an ask as executives this week found. (Though, come to think of it, that’s pretty much what San Diego got for Thatcher, so maybe not.) Holding onto Lopez, Tim Lincecum and Hunter Pence doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for a team that’s in last place. Oh, well. Sabean can reach into his stack of get-out-of-jail-free cards from two championships in three seasons.
Hunter Pence: Apparently staying on a last-place team and all but ensuring you receive a compensation tender that very well could destroy your free-agent value is worth pumping your fists over. To each his own.