After the Dust Has Settled: MLB Trade Deadline Winners and Losers
This year's trade deadline proved to be very exciting. The aftermath, somewhat like a game of Yahtzee, has left us looking at the deals that shook out pondering what to make of it all. Here's our take on this busy trade deadline.
Going for it now... Winners
Early on, the Indians added Kosuke Fukudome to plug the hole in their outfield that was created by the recent injuries to Grady Sizemore and Shin-Soo Choo. The price for Fukudome was a couple of middling prospects. It's a low-risk, middle reward type of move that was largely anticipated. It was the next move they made that sent shockwaves through the MLB landscape. Despite heavy rumors that the Yankees and Red Sox were 'in' on Ubaldo Jimenez, it was the Cleveland Indians that ended up taking the prize of the 2011 Trade Market. The price for Jimenez was steep (four prospects in total, including two very good pitching prospects) but the Indians added a young and uber-talented pitcher whom they will control for three more years. Ubaldo has marketability and a high ceiling - he needs refine and consistency but he has put up very good numbers in his young career in a ballpark that eats pitchers for breakfast. One way or another, we will likely look back at this trade and say, "Remember when the Indians traded four prospects for Ubaldo Jimenez?" For now, I would say that the Indians have made a decent statement that they're not backing down.
The Pirates didn't make any blockbuster deals but they added a couple of solid veterans in Derrek Lee and Ryan Ludwick. Those two pieces could prove to be very important. Lee has been hot in recent weeks and Ludwick has the ability to really help a ballclub. Beyond their obvious talents, they're both character guys with experience- they can and should help set the tone in the clubhouse for what should be an exciting stretch run.
Ruben Amaro saw a need, he identified the man he wanted and he moved. Hunter Pence is a right-handed all-star outfielder who is under control through 2013. With Pence, Shane Victorino and Domonic Brown, the Phillies have saved themselves the headache of trying to find an outfielder in the 2012 free-agent crop (a crop with slim pickins'). The price they paid was steep. Jonathan Singleton, who has earned the nickname "the boss" in some circles, is their top hitting prospect (and top prospect overall) and Jarred Cosart is considered their top pitching prospect. Singleton's path was somewhat blocked (by the time Howard's deal expires, he would be 25 years old) so he was considered expendable and Cosart has a lot of potential but he's far from refined. Some wonder whether they could have gotten more than Pence for those two but, at least for now, Pence fills a dire need (a RH #5 hitter to protect Ryan Howard) and sets the Phillies up for the next few years.
San Francisco Giants
If Ubaldo Jimenez was the cream of the crop in this year's trade deadline, Carlos Beltran was not too far behind. There were a lot of teams out there looking for a run producing outfielder and the Giants made the first move to get the best run producer among the 'available' names. They paid a hefty price to land the 3 month rental- Zack Wheeler is young pitcher that is oozing with potential. The other killer in this deal is that Beltran's inevitable exit will net them no compensatory draft picks (a clause in his contract says that his team cannot offer him arbitration). That being said, the Giants made a move to get the guy that could carry them down the stretch. They also signed a couple of veteran infielders to fill in for the injured Miguel Tejada (and wherever else they might need a utility guy).
Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox obtained a decent utility man in Mike Aviles and a starter in Erik Bedard that could prove to be very valuable if Clay Bucholz doesn't return to form (he is attempting to rehab from a back injury).
Paid a lofty price for Doug Fister (two guys that have already debuted at the major league level and another young prospect who projects well) but they got him and he will definitely help their rotation. Fister is a very nice compliment to Justin Verlander. The best part for the Tigers is that they did not have to move Jacob Turner to get him.
Still in it, caught sitting on their hands... Losers
The Braves have tried to fill gaping holes with toothpicks. While the rest of the NL was out there cutting deals, the Braves sat on their hands and ended up with Michael Bourn. In my opinion, with Brian McCann on the DL, Chipper Jones playing on one leg and Jason Heyward slumping the Braves seemingly needed a guy that could drive in runs and instead they went for a guy with a ton of speed that fills in at the top of the lineup card. Bourn is a good player but I'm in the camp that believes that this was not enough.
Chicago White Sox
Still hanging around, the White Sox were sellers early. I guess they figure that their best chance of making the playoffs is to get their underproducing bats going. Where fore art thou, Alex Rios and Adam Dunn? What boggles my mind is that the Chi Sox basically donated Edwin Jackson to the Blue Jays and yet, somehow, the Blue Jays were able to parlay Edwin Jackson and a couple of relievers to the Cardinals for Colby Rasmus (a 5 tool outfielder who has already had success at the major league level). Talk about getting boned - I mean, it's like selling an old painting at yard sale for a dollar and then watching the buyer have that same painting apprasied on Antiques Roadshow for a few grand.
Made their bullpen better but didn't do much else. Jason Marquis and Brad Ziegler will not be enough to match the Giants and they gave up a couple of big league prospects in the process. The A's received Brandon Allen in the Ziegler deal (Allen was beginning to put up some decent numbers in the big leagues) so kudos to the A's for getting a decent haul for their reliever.
New York Yankees
Let Ubaldo slip away and did not do anything to bolster their rotation. It seems like they're content with saying, "We'll pick three of Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, A.J. Burnett, Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes behind C.C. Sabathia." Their bats better be hot in the playoffs because they could be spotting their opponents four runs, if that's the case.
It was no secret - the Astros have been brutal this year and a fire sale was emminent. Every other GM knew that they would be forced to sell, and yet, somehow, the Astros still managed to obtain decent value for their movable parts. Make no mistake, Jonathan Singleton and Jarred Cosart are a decent fetch for a corner outfielder with somewhat limited upside. They also shopped Michael Bourn for four prospects, including major league outfielder, Jordan Schafer (who was once a top 25 prospect).
Toronto Blue Jays
Fleeced the White Sox for Edwin Jackson and then churned Jackson over for Colby Rasmus.
New York Mets
Rather than watching Carlos Beltran walk and get literally nothing for him, the Mets did the smart thing and shopped him for devent value. Zack Wheeler is a fine pitching prospect that projects as a top of the rotation talent. I think that they could have gotten more for Francisco Rodriguez but given the salary he's owed and the frustration that he's caused the organization, I was not surprised to see him be the first name to go.
The Orioles swapped a reliever for two players that will have an immediate impact on their roster. They churned over Koji Uehara for Tommy Hunter (who was on their World Series roster in 2010) and once untouchable Chris Davis. The Rangers sold low on both of those players but it's a price to pay for solidifying your bullpen (assuming Uehara can pitch with success in Arlington, which is unkind to pitchers).
San Diego Padres
Another team forced to sell, the Padres traded RP Mike Adams for two really good pitching prospects. The Rangers were, yet again, the trading partner in this one. If I was a GM, rule number on in my book would be to stay away from Padres relievers but Adams does appear to have what it takes. Again, we'll see how he does in Arlington. By all accounts, the Rangers are not starved for pitching prospects but Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland have both been really good in their short minor-league careers and I'm not sure if giving up prospects cheap, just because you have a wealth of them, is wise.
Things that make absolutely no sense...
The Washington Nationals and Cincinnati Reds
The Washington Nationals are out of contention and the Reds are in the middle of a pennant race so the trade to send Johnny Gomes to the Nationals for a couple of low-tier prospects doesn't make sense. Gomes' presence in the clubhouse was certainly worth the two prospects they gave up to get him. The move, which opens the door for Yonder Alonso to be Chris Heisey's back-up makes no sense to me. It would make slightly more sense if Alonso was being brought up to start but with rosters set to expand in September, it would have made more sense in the short-term to keep Gomes around and continue to let Alonso get at bats in the minor leagues. As for the Nationals, this move gives them a major league outfielder who can only hit left-handed pitching for the next three months. Even if they choose to pursue a longer-term deal with Gomes, his upside is limited and he's surely keeping left field warm for Bryce Harper's expected arrival next week... or next year... or the next year (it can't come soon enough, can it?).
The Dodgers Stand Pat
With the looming bankruptcy and the empty seat count growing by the day at Chavez Ravine, the Dodgers would have to be selling, right? I mean, they have so many pieces that could be valuable to a contender jut wasting away in LA. For those reasons, it makes absolutely no sense that the Dodgers would make no major moves at the deadline. There was some smoke, albeit nothing like I expected, but no fire and now Matt Kemp will be forced to hit home runs into empty seats for the forseeable future.