MLB Trade Deadline Rapid Reaction

The non-waiver MLB Trade Deadline has come and gone, and some big time names have changed jerseys over the past week or so. Here are some thoughts on the winners, losers and noticeable events of all the trades: 

The Winners

  • Kansas City Royals: the AL’s best pitching staff got the Ace it needed with the acquisition of Johnny Cueto. While the bullpen has been unhittable, starters Yordano Ventura (4.86 ERA) and Jeremy Guthrie (5.35 ERA) have struggled, and the starters have averaged under 6 IP per game. Cueto’s 6.9 IP average and 2.62 ERA will help spell the league’s best bullpen. They gave up a big time prospect in Brandon Finnegan, but Cueto could be the piece that leads the defending AL Champs to a return trip to the World Series. Adding Ben Zobrist also offered them depth as Alex Gordon sits out with injury. Things are looking good for the AL Central leaders.
  • Houston Astros: The Astros opened up their trading barrage with the acquisition of Scott Kazmir, who has been lights out in his first two start, going 1-0 with 0 ER over 14.2 innings in 2 crucial Astros wins. Just as importantly, this move displayed that the franchise is officially out of rebuilding mode and ready to win now. The team went on to acquire Carloz Gomez and Mike Fiers who will make immediate impacts as well, with Gomez providing a good mix of average, power and solid defense, and Fiers adding some depth in the rotation behind Keuchel and Kazmir. Add in a sweep of the Angels to snag a two game lead in the AL West, and it’s been an exciting week for Houston Astros fans.
  • Toronto Blue Jays: Worst-case scenario, they went all in and failed, but it’s pretty unusual to pull off the kind of week the Blue Jays just had. Not too many teams manage to land the best SS in baseball and one of the best LHP starters in baseball over 10 years let alone 3 days. And they rounded off their haul with solid pieces in reliever Mark Lowe and a left-handed leadoff man Ben Revere. Revere setting up a murders row of Tulowitzki, Donaldson, Bautista, Encarnacion, Martin, has to have Blue Jays fans ecstatic as the major league’s best offense became even scarier. They better win now though; the farm system just got emptied out, and Price is a free agent this off-season.
  • Detroit Tigers: This team saw the writing on the wall, and smartly went out and traded their big-name free agents to be in David Price and Yoenis Cespedes. In return for Price they landed a coveted prospect in Daniel Norris, who has the potential to be a top-line pitcher like Price with his mid-90’s fastball and devastating slider. They also managed to trade Cespedes for a few minor leaguers, which was smart as Cespedes will likely test free agency this off-season.

The Losers

  • Baltimore Orioles. I’m going to put the Orioles at the top of this list, as this trading deadline felt very much like their quiet off-season. A team with a load of free agents to be (Matt Wieters, Chris Davis, Wei-Yin Chen just to name a few) either needed to go all-out for a World Series run, or make an effort to trade some of these free agents to try and get something in return for players who will likely leave in the off-season. But all they accomplished was grabbing Gerardo Parra and getting rid of Hunter for a AAA outfielder. Parra is having a nice year batting .328, but his career average of .269 makes him look like this year’s version of Alejandro De Aza- a short term fix that could crash and burn quickly. Trailing the Yankees by 6 games and seeing their division rival Blue Jays go all-out makes it tough to see this roster making a serious playoff push.
  • San Diego Padres: Similar to the Orioles, this team stayed pat, not really buying or selling. They could have made an aggressive approach on either end with trade chips like Justin Upton, James Shields and Craig Kimbrell, but despite all the rumors made no moves. Their GM came out and said this team can make a playoff push, but they currently sit in 4th place in the NL West, and Wild Card spots will be tough to come by with the Giants, Pirates and Cubs all looking like legitimate playoff teams.
  • Atlanta Braves. Not sure what they were thinking when they traded away four players including their top prospect (21 year old Jose Peraza), a 24 year old starter having a nice season (Alex Wood) and a rumored to be in-desire reliever (Jim Johnson) in exchange for a 30 year old SS prospect with injury issues, a middle reliever, and the 34th draft pick in next year’s draft. Seems like they gave away two young promising players and a solid trade chip for not much of anything.
  • Colorado Rockies: Sure they landed a few players, but they traded away their Franchise player who still had several years of control for a worse Short Stop and a few minor league pitchers. Tulowitzki-caliber players don’t come around often, and it really feels like they came out of this deal on the short side of the stick.

Quick Thoughts

  • The Nationals finally got a closer with a history of playoff success in Jonathan Papelbon, and if he extends his contract has the chance to become the franchise leader in saves for a third franchise.
  • The Cincinnati Reds ended up somewhere in the middle of winning and losing- they got a great haul in my opinion for Cueto from the Royals including Brandon Finnegan who I think will be a great pitcher in this league, but they held onto Chapman, Bruce and a few other players who had some value if this team truly wanted to rebuild.
  • The Mets finally got a big time bat in Yoenis Cespedes. For a team that has such great pitching, they NEEDED a bat and they got a coveted one in Cespedes.
  • The Yankees have had a nice season so far, but missed out in their inability to land Kimbrel or Chapman. Their bullpen is already strong with Betances and Miller, but adding one of those two guys would have made them an equal match with Kansas City in terms of back-end bullpen strength.
  • The Cole Hamels trade may not show dividends this year, but if Yu Darvish can come back healthy, the Rangers may be the team to beat in the AL West in 2016. The Phillies in turn may see future output from this trade in grabbing a haul of prospects in return.
  • The San Francisco Giants seemed to strike out on landing a big name pitcher like Price, Cueto or Hamels, but acquired a solid pitcher in Mike Leake. They find themselves in the midst of perhaps the most interesting division race in Baseball right now, and the Dodgers didn’t do much to improve either. Chalk it up as a win, but it could’ve been a big time win.

By Aaron Gillette

Photo courtesy of Scott Zolotorow

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