MLB Trade Deadline: Live Grades, Analysis for Every Top Deadline Deal
MLB teams committed to one of three stances as July neared its end—buy, sell or stand pat. As the non-waiver trade deadline approached, we found out what strategy each had implemented.
Player movement has peaked, and I'm here to break down the movement.
It's obvious which front offices filled holes for a World Series run and which had their sights set on 2013. Kudos to the executives who devised a plan and didn't deviate from it.
As expected, general managers pulled off surprising moves. Though their intentions were to take advantage of trade partners, they occasionally ruined themselves.
If you crave live grades and in-depth analysis for every deadline deal, then we'll get along just fine.
*PTBNL is an abbreviation for "player to be named later."
Notable Players Who Weren't Dealt
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A lot was said about the following players. Alas, they didn't change teams at the deadline:
Stephen Drew and Justin Upton (Arizona Diamondbacks), Matt Garza and Alfonso Soriano (Chicago Cubs), Shin-Soo Choo and Chris Perez (Cleveland Indians), Josh Johnson and Carlos Lee (Miami Marlins), Justin Morneau and Denard Span (Minnesota Twins), Cliff Lee and Joe Blanton (Philadelphia Phillies), Chase Headley (San Diego Padres), Jason Vargas (Seattle Mariners), James Shields (Tampa Bay Rays).
July 31: Texas Rangers/Chicago Cubs
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Texas Rangers get RHP Ryan Dempster (Grade: B).
Chicago Cubs get 3B Christian Villanueva and RHP Kyle Hendricks (Grade: B+).
Contrary to speculation that assumed Dempster would be traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Rangers have landed the right-hander.
Texas needed to add starting pitching depth to compensate for the losses of Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz to separate elbow surgeries.
However, Dempster won't be as dominant as Zack Greinke, who was recently obtained by the AL West rival Los Angeles Angels. His .244 BABIP (batting average on balls in play) through 16 starts is an outlier compared to his career average of .305. Regression is inevitable.
Villanueva and Hendricks are High-A minor leaguers who obviously can't help the Rangers win immediately. They are much better fits with the Cubs considering the club's plan to rebuild.
July 31: New York Yankees/Pittsburgh Pirates
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New York Yankees get 1B/3B Casey McGehee and cash considerations (Grade: A).
Pittsburgh Pirates get RHP Chad Qualls (Grade: B+).
For now, the Yankees will use McGehee at both corner infield positions. Alex Rodriguez is out until September after fracturing his hand, and Mark Teixeira is day-to-day with a wrist injury.
Once Teixeira returns, McGehee will platoon with third baseman Eric Chavez. He's more of a power threat than utility man Jayson Nix.
Qualls meant nothing to the Bombers with Joba Chamberlain ready to be activated from the DL. In Pittsburgh, he replaces Brad Lincoln, who was dealt shortly before the deadline.
July 31: Cincinnati Reds/Kansas City Royals
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Cincinnati Reds get RHP Jonathan Broxton (Grade: B).
Kansas City Royals get RHP J.C. Sulbaran and LHP Donnie Joseph (Grade: A).
Leading Major League Baseball in earned run average and strikeout rate, Cincinnati's bullpen was already a strength.
Going into the trade deadline, the club would have helped itself more by adding a top-of-the-lineup speedster or left-handed bench bat.
Broxton is pitching to contact these days (25 K in 35.2 IP), but his knack for inducing ground balls shouldn't have a problem translating to Great American Ballpark. His expiring contract means that this is just a rental.
Sulbaran and Joseph are developing at Double-A and Triple-A, respectively. The latter is thriving as a reliever. By 2013, he might be imitating Broxton's numbers...at a fraction of the cost.
The Royals own the American League's worst record, so receiving talent of this caliber made this a wise move.
July 31: Boston Red Sox/Arizona Diamondbacks
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Boston Red Sox get LHP Craig Breslow (Grade: B)
Arizona Diamondbacks get RHP Matt Albers and OF Scott Podsednik (Grade: B+)
Albers and Breslow share several similarities. Both are excelling as middle relievers. Both will hit free agency in the 2013-14 offseason.
Breslow, however, has greater value because of his minor platoon splits—he fares equally well against lefties and righties—and high strikeout rate (And Yale University education?).
The Red Sox threw in Podsednik to balance out the deal, though they took a risk by doing so. Ryan Sweeney (broken hand) may be done for the season, and Carl Crawford won't be an everyday player down the stretch.
All of a sudden, their outfield depth is compromised.
July 31: Pittsburgh Pirates/Miami Marlins
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Pittsburgh Pirates get 1B Gaby Sanchez and RHP Kyle Kaminska (Grade: A-).
Miami Marlins get OF Gorkys Hernandez and competitive balance pick (Grade: B).
The Fish have given up on Sanchez, but the Bucs like his bat.
His .202/.250/.306 triple-slash line this season is a far cry from his .783 OPS from 2010-2011. The first baseman will inherit the roster spot just vacated by Casey McGehee. He'll be under team control through 2015 and save the small-market Pirates considerable cash.
Kaminska (5.11 ERA, 1.60 WHIP at Double-A) actually worsens the package.
Hernandez wasn't getting much work as a pinch-runner/defensive replacement. Unlike Sanchez, he has never been a steady producer in the majors.
Baseball America's Jim Callis has information about the draft pick:
July 31: St. Louis Cardinals/Miami Marlins
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St. Louis Cardinals get RHP Edward Mujica (Grade: A)
Miami Marlins get 3B Zack Cox (Grade: B)
Cardinals relievers comprising the bridge to closer Jason Motte—particularly those arms responsible for the sixth and seventh innings—haven't been effective.
Mujica possesses impeccable control. His four-plus earned run average in 2012 is a reflection of the poor defense that played behind him, not his own shortcomings. The Cards will have control of him next year, too.
Cox, a former first-round pick, has the offensive potential to replace Hanley Ramirez, who was dealt last week. David Freese is entrenched at third base in St. Louis, so Cox's path to the big leagues was blocked.
July 31: San Francisco Giants/Philadelphia Phillies
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San Francisco Giants get OF Hunter Pence (Grade: C+)
Philadelphia Phillies get C Tommy Joseph, OF Nate Schierholtz and RHP Seth Rosin (Grade: A-)
Right fielder Hunter Pence improves the Giants by deepening the batting order...but he'll eat up a huge chunk of their 2013 payroll.
The 29-year-old will enter his final year of arbitration eligibility this winter. Matt Swartz of MLB Trade Rumors estimates that he'll earn $14.3 million. If that commitment prevents San Francisco from re-signing Melky Cabrera, then this was a mistake.
The Phillies have saved a ton of money and gained a catching prospect, Tommy Joseph, who has impressed at least one big-league GM:
rival gm says catching prospect tommy joseph who goes to #phillies from SF in pence deal is "GREAT"— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) July 31, 2012
July 31: Los Angeles Dodgers/Philadelphia Phillies
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Los Angeles Dodgers get OF Shane Victorino (Grade: B+).
Philadelphia Phillies get RHP Josh Lindblom, RHP Ethan Martin and PTBNL (Grade: B-).
As a result of the Brandon League acquisition (which I hated, by the way), the Dodgers had to make room in the bullpen.
Lindblom will be affordable for years to come, though he has a tendency to keep his pitches up in the strike zone (9 HR allowed in 47.2 IP). He's an ideal reinforcement for Philadelphia's relief corps because the team has other large contracts to manage. His approach must change at the hitter's haven that is Citizens Bank Park.
Dodgers GM Ned Colletti is hesitant to include elite pitching prospects like Zach Lee and Allen Webster in midseason deals. He can live without Martin, who's been very wild at Double-A.
Victorino is going to serve as L.A.'s leadoff batter while playing left field. He steals bases efficiently and regularly puts the ball in play.
July 31: Los Angeles Dodgers/Seattle Mariners
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Los Angeles Dodgers get RHP Brandon League (Grade: D).
Seattle Mariners get OF Leon Landry and RHP Logan Bawcom (Grade: A+).
Ken Rosenthal continues to break trade news at all hours.
In a matter of months, League has regressed from All-Star closer to middle reliever. He's struggling to throw first-pitch strikes and getting hammered by left-handed batters. He isn't inducing ground balls like he used to, either.
L.A. paid way too much for this mediocre rental.
Landry is amid a phenomenal season at the High-A level. The Dodgers, evidently, are too impatient to groom him further.
If they wanted relief help, how come Bawcom wasn't recalled from Chattanooga? His strikeout rate is extraordinary.
The rebuilding Mariners received a considerable return for a player who was about to switch organizations as a free agent.
July 31: Pittsburgh Pirates/Toronto Blue Jays
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Pittsburgh Pirates get OF Travis Snider (Grade: B+).
Toronto Blue Jays get RHP Brad Lincoln (Grade: A).
This one makes perfect sense for both sides.
Snider has spent the past several summers shuttling between Toronto and minor league affiliates. Poor plate discipline prevents him from reaching his full potential, but all the tools are there. The Pirates want to ease Starling Marte into their outfield, and Snider can split starts with him.
Injuries to key players may dash Toronto's chances at a postseason berth. Lincoln, however, is under team control through 2017.
Frequently entering during the seventh and eighth innings, he has enjoyed a breakout campaign (2.73 ERA, 1.10 WHIP in 59.1 IP). He could even get a chance to stick in the rotation.
July 30: Texas Rangers/Chicago Cubs
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Texas Rangers get C Geovany Soto (Grade: B+).
Chicago Cubs get RHP Jacob Brigham (Grade: A).
Yorvit Torrealba can't be happy about this.
The long-time reserve catcher—in his second season with the Rangers—was swinging the stick well since returning from paternity leave on July 21. Clearly, though, the front office wants to go in a different direction.
As of Independence Day, Soto had a .163/.250/.318 triple-slash line. He has been rebounding from that miserable start ever since, but unleashing the 2008 NL Rookie of the Year within him is going to be tough. His caught stealing percentage and ability to get in front of errant pitches culminate in a solid defensive reputation.
If Texas signs Mike Napoli to a multi-year contract this winter, Soto will be non-tendered. Alternatively, he can take over as a regular if Napoli walks away in free agency.
Welington Castillo is Chicago's future behind the dish, so nobody on the team is pouting about this decision.
Brigham, 24, has been hiding at Double-A since 2011. He could get his feet wet with the Cubs in the next few weeks. A spot in the starting rotation has just opened...
July 30: Atlanta Braves/Chicago Cubs
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Atlanta Braves get OF Reed Johnson, LHP Paul Maholm and cash considerations (Grade: A-).
Chicago Cubs get RHP Joye Chapman and RHP Arodys Vizcaino (Grade: B).
This isn't the haul that the Braves were supposed to get from the Cubbies (a Ryan Dempster deal seemed imminent last week), but it brings in much-needed depth, nonetheless.
Maholm has allowed one run or less in seven straight appearances, according to a Jon Heyman tweet. He has tossed eight-plus innings three times over that stretch. Without a doubt, the left-hander is superior to Jair Jurrjens, who Atlanta just demoted to the bullpen. Also, there's a $6.5 million team option that could keep him around for 2013.
Johnson fits in as the club's fifth outfielder. He's a great platoon player, just like Matt Diaz was before succumbing to a thumb injury. He'll make it onto the roster at Jose Constanza's expense.
While Chapman only projects as a big-league reliever, Vizcaino could be stretched out. Formerly a top prospect, the 21-year-old is recovering from Tommy John surgery and hoping to be ready for Opening Day.
July 29: Arizona Diamondbacks/Houston Astros
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Arizona Diamondbacks get 3B Chris Johnson (Grade: A).
Houston Astros get OF Marc Krauss and OF Bobby Borchering (Grade: B+).
This was brilliance on the part of Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers.
Between this acquisition and an earlier Ryan Roberts deal, Arizona upgraded at third base and obtained a promising middle infielder for the price of two surplus prospects.
Johnson's bat, ironically, caught fire during Houston's recent 12-game losing skid. He is one year further from free agency than Roberts, not to mention four years younger.
Borchering and Krauss are destined to play every day in the major leagues as an outfielder and designated hitter, respectively. The Astros will be joining the American League in 2013, remember?
After sending established veterans to Pittsburgh, Chicago, Toronto and Miami, who does Houston have left? The team bound to lose many of its August and September matchups.
July 29: Oakland Athletics/Milwaukee Brewers
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Oakland Athletics get C George Kottaras (Grade: B).
Milwaukee Brewers get RHP Fautino De Los Santos (Grade: B+).
Nearly two months elapsed, but Jonathan Lucroy's hand has finally healed from a bizarre suitcase incident.
Rookie catcher Martin Maldonado played relatively well in his absence. The organization didn't want to demote him, so to activate Lucroy, they had to cut ties with Kottaras.
The Brewers designated him for assignment and were wise to consummate a trade (rather than release him outright). Billy Beane was eager to negotiate for their expendable piece.
The A's sent back De Los Santos, who can be an intimidating opponent in the later innings. First, though, he'll have to slim down his 1.81 WHIP at Triple-A.
Oakland backstop Kurt Suzuki seems completely inept as a batter. At least Kottaras gets on base.
July 28: Chicago White Sox/Minnesota Twins
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Chicago White Sox get LHP Francisco Liriano (Grade: C).
Minnesota Twins get INF Eduardo Escobar and LHP Pedro Hernandez (Grade: A-).
With the division rival Detroit Tigers renting a middle-of-the-rotation starter, Kenny Williams was compelled to do the same. Liriano is his counter to Anibal Sanchez.
An old baseball adage says to add pitching depth whenever possible, but I'm not sure that Liriano improves the quality of Chicago's staff. High walk totals run up his pitch count in a hurry. His short outings will tax a bullpen that the team just went through so much trouble to solidify.
News that Chris Sale is suffering from a "dead arm" justifies the Liriano move, though this deal was completed before the White Sox ace was shut down.
Minnesota now has an extra slot in its rotation to use for 2013 auditions. Hernandez, 23, looks comfortable at Triple-A, so he may soon return to the bigs.
Escobar, the Twins hope, can be more productive than infielders Jamey Carroll and Danny Valencia.
July 27: San Francisco Giants/Colorado Rockies
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San Francisco Giants get INF Marco Scutaro and cash considerations (Grade: B+).
Colorado Rockies get 2B Charlie Culberson (Grade: C+).
According to MLB Trade Rumors, this is the first time since May 2006 that these NL West rivals have traded with one another.
Scutaro, who will be a free agent this offseason, is a great defensive middle infielder. However, the Giants made this deal in response to Pablo Sandoval's hamstring injury, realizing that Scutaro also has 734.2 innings of experience at third base.
Baseball-Reference.com reveals that Scutaro's offensive WAR hasn't been so low since 2003. Prior to the trade, his 2012 triple-slash line outside of hitter-friendly Coors Field was .238/.278/.292. Clearly, San Francisco is most interested in his glove.
The 23-year-old Culberson has also struggled with the bat, both at Triple-A and during a nine-day stint in the big leagues. Holes in his swing must be addressed, but he provides more power than Scutaro.
The Rockies will pay $1.75 million of the $2.25 million that remains of Scutaro's salary.
July 27: Los Angeles Angels/Milwaukee Brewers
Los Angeles Angels get RHP Zack Greinke (Grade: A-).
Milwaukee Brewers get SS Jean Segura, RHP John Hellweg and RHP Ariel Pena (Grade: A+).
All of these L.A. prospects were ranked in the organization's preseason top 10, writes ESPN's Keith Law (Insider access required). That's too much to pay for any rental (even one of Greinke's caliber), but the Halos have the financial means to keep him in SoCal for a while.
Ervin Santana's 2013 team option is sure to be declined and outfielder Torii Hunter has expressed interest in re-signing with the team at a discount, according to Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times. If Dan Haren departs, the Angels could actually lower their payroll next season without losing Greinke.
The Brewers weren't going to extend the right-hander, anyway, and they see Segura as their regular shortstop. After parting with Alcides Escobar a few winters ago, they once again have a young, talented middle infielder.
John Hellweg was stretched into a starting pitcher, but his command is still suspect. Pena has enjoyed better minor league results despite lesser pure stuff.
July 25: Los Angeles Dodgers/Miami Marlins
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Los Angeles Dodgers get 3B Hanley Ramirez and LHP Randy Choate (Grade: A).
Miami Marlins get RHP Nathan Eovaldi and RHP Scott McGough (Grade: A-).
L.A. ultimately won the Han-Ram sweepstakes by agreeing to take full responsibility for his contract ($15.5 million in 2013, $16 million in 2014).
Immediately, the former batting champion appears enthusiastic and rededicated to baseball. I swear, he must have lost 10 pounds on the plane ride west!
The team had a void at the hot corner and Ramirez is a much better athlete than Jerry Hairston or Juan Uribe. His presence instantly bolsters the Dodgers' lineup.
And Choate isn't chopped liver. Lefty batters have a measly .558 OPS against him in parts of 13 seasons.
The Marlins are relieved to be free of Hanley, who had frequently been criticized for his work ethic and overall effort. They couldn't continue to pay him for run-of-the-mill production.
Eovaldi was plugged into the starting rotation upon arrival. He's 22 years old and already approaching 100 innings of big league experience.
McGough will make his impact in the near future as a potential closer.
July 24: Tampa Bay Rays/Arizona Diamondbacks
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Tampa Bay Rays get INF Ryan Roberts (Grade: A-).
Arizona Diamondbacks get 2B Tyler Bortnick (Grade: B).
Tatman's career year helped the club capture an NL West title last season.
However, his 2012 numbers are far less impressive. Keeping the arbitration-eligible Roberts would have meant raising his pay despite the regression.
Management will study Bortnick carefully and consider using him at shortstop. Retaining Stephen Drew is an expensive alternative.
Roberts is perfect for the Rays.
He'll fill Evan Longoria's shoes until the All-Star comes off the disabled list. After that, he could still be valuable as a right-handed bat with defensive versatility.
July 24: Pittsburgh Pirates/Houston Astros
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Pittsburgh Pirates get LHP Wandy Rodriguez and cash considerations (Grade: C).
Houston Astros get LHP Rudy Owens, LHP Colton Cain and OF Robbie Grossman (Grade: B).
If the Pirates were going to acquire an overpriced veteran, they should have made it a position player.
Instead, Rodriguez—whose pedestrian strikeout rate points toward a gradual decline—is stuck on their payroll through 2014 (unless he declines a $13 million player option). Plus, former starter Kevin Correia is in a grumpy mood.
The Astros included a ton of cash, which is why these grades aren't so dissimilar.
Bleacher Report's own Mike Rosenbaum thinks the above prospects improve Houston's farm system.
Owens is a strike-thrower with solid platoon splits. We'll know more about Cain once his changeup and curveball are refined.
Though currently a center fielder, Grossman might shift over to right and play alongside Andrew McCutchen.
July 23: Detroit Tigers/Miami Marlins
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Detroit Tigers get RHP Anibal Sanchez, 2B Omar Infante and 2013 draft pick in compensation round A (Grade: B+).
Miami Marlins get RHP Jacob Turner, LHP Brian Flynn, C Rob Brantly and 2013 draft pick in compensation round B (Grade: A-).
Tigers second basemen have stunk in 2012, so Infante is an excellent pickup. He contributes in every facet of the game, and Detroit has him under contract through next season.
Sanchez adds depth to a starting rotation that, outside of Justin Verlander, hasn't been consistent. The question is whether he can adjust to the American League after spending his entire MLB career with the Fish. His debut in a new uniform ended with mixed results.
Expectations are high for the 21-year-old Turner, but he isn't quite ready to join a big league staff. Poor fastball command is his chief weakness.
Brantly and Flynn also project to stick on the 25-man roster once their development is complete.
This deal was the first in MLB history that involved the exchange of draft picks, writes Jim Callis of Baseball America.
July 23: New York Yankees/Seattle Mariners
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New York Yankees get OF Ichiro Suzuki and cash considerations (Grade: A-).
Seattle Mariners get RHP D.J. Mitchell and RHP Danny Farquhar (Grade: C+).
Without giving up much, the Yankees found a replacement for oft-injured speedster Brett Gardner.
Suzuki hasn't lost any defensive prowess. His throwing arm continues to be strong and precise.
Yankee Stadium's short porch in right field should lead to more extra-base hits, though he surely won't revert into an elite hitter. Declining bat speed prevents him from catching up to left-handed pitching.
Danny Farquhar had thrived in New York's farm system, but the 13-inning sample size is negligible. At the next level, his ceiling is as a late-game strikeout artist.
Mitchell is likely to spend his career shuttling back and forth between Seattle and Triple-A Tacoma. Fortunately for him, it's just a 45-minute trip.
Even with deteriorating skills, Suzuki remained a beloved figure in the Pacific Northwest and across the pond in Japan. Lost marketing opportunities and fan apathy may lead the M's to regret this transaction.
July 21: Chicago White Sox/Houston Astros
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Chicago White Sox get RHP Brett Myers and cash considerations (Grade: B+).
Houston Astros get RHP Matthew Heidenreich, LHP Blair Walters and PTBNL (Grade: C).
GM Kenny Williams strengthened his rookie-laden bullpen with the acquisition of Myers.
Even in limited innings, Chicago's young relievers have had issues with pitch location. Myers—if nothing else—attacks the strike zone (2.81 K/BB ratio since 2010).
After closing for the Astros, he will be used primarily in the eighth inning.
Houston is covering $3.45 million of Myers' salary, but that generosity was for naught because this trade doesn't include any special prospects.
Heidenreich lacks speed differential between his fastball and off-speed stuff. He won't be missing many bats at the major league level.
Walters, meanwhile, has been ineffective at High-A. He's probably two-plus years from an MLB debut.