MLB Trade Deadline 2012: Recap and Grades for Every Deal
After months of MLB trade rumors and speculation, the trade deadline is now over. Players who were expected to move stayed on their own teams, while some players who completely slipped by all the trade rumors were shipped out.
As a result, as is the case every year, the landscape of baseball looks different. Which teams made great moves to push themselves to the playoffs and which teams stocked up on solid prospects?
For that matter, which teams completely whiffed at the deadline? Each deal will be graded on both sides to figure this out. Trades from July 30 and 31 will be evaluated.
Paul Maholm to Braves
As expected, on July 30, the Cubs started off their fire sale, but the first pitcher to go was surprising. Everyone expected Ryan Dempster or Matt Garza, but instead Paul Maholm was shipped to the Atlanta Braves with Reed Johnson for Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman.
This is a big risk for the Cubs since Vizcaino is missing the year due to Tommy John surgery. As long as he's fine, they got one of the top pitching prospects out there, and Chapman should be a capable reliever.
As for the Braves, Maholm is a nice pitcher who will add depth, and Johnson has been playing very well in a fourth outfielder role. They needed the pitching and outfield depth, and that's what they got in a solid trade for both sides.
Grade: B for both. Nothing special about it, but very sensible for both teams.
Brandon League to Dodgers
While the Cubs were the big sellers, the Dodgers were the big buyers. After acquiring Hanley Ramirez a week earlier, they continued their push by acquiring Brandon League from the Mariners for Leon Landry and Logan Bawcom.
Bawcom has been a great reliever in the minors and could end up as League's replacement, while Landry has been tearing it up at Single-A ball. Both are nice, but neither have hit Triple-A yet.
As for League, he could be a solid eighth-inning man, but the bullpen was not really a weakness for the Dodgers. I find League to be a bit overrated, but they didn't give up much for him.
Grade: C+ for both
Eric Thames to Mariners
This is a trade that seemed a little strange. Eric Thames had a nice rookie season but has hit a sophomore slump, yet he was traded by the Blue Jays to the Mariners for Steve Delabar.
The Mariners get a hitter who can be very good, and for that matter he can actually provide some power to the lineup. Even in this down year, his production fits with the Mariners.
As for the Blue Jays, Delabar is pitching okay in relief this year, but he doesn't help them at all. Thames's ceiling was much higher than Delabar's, but Delabar can help the Blue Jays more right now given how much the bullpen is hurting.
Grade: A for Mariners, C- for Blue Jays
Brad Lincoln to Blue Jays
The Blue Jays need relief help badly. This was proven not only with the previous slide, but also with this one, as they traded Travis Snider to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Brad Lincoln.
Lincoln has been one of the Pirates' best relievers and has shown he can start if needed. However, this has been his first good major league season, so we will see if that works out.
As for Snider, he has been lights out in Triple-A this year, but in five major league seasons he has yet to stick full time. He's still young and should be good, but for a team that's trying to make the playoffs, it's mildly confusing since he doesn't have the major league track record.
Grade: A- for Toronto, B for Pittsburgh as long as they put him in the starting lineup immediately.
Geovany Soto to Rangers
The Rangers were looking for a backup catcher after designating Yorvit Torrealba for assignment. They got one from the Cubs, acquiring Geovany Soto for Jacob Brigham.
This year's Soto is not an improvement over Torrealba, but should the Rangers lose Mike Napoli to free agency or should he need to convert to first base, Soto can play there. He's the type of player that would likely thrive in Texas, so despite the bad year I can see why they traded for him.
As for Brigham, the Cubs could have at least gotten a prospect that looks like he could make the majors. He's in Double-A now, but has struggled. He has a nice strikeout rate, but his ERA is rather high, and he's not someone I would expect to see make it all the way up.
Grade: B- for Texas, D+ for Cubs since they weren't going to get much for Soto anyway.
Gaby Sanchez to Pirates
After two very good years for the Marlins, Gaby Sanchez struggled big time this year. Despite that, the Marlins got a good amount for him, trading him and prospect Kyle Kaminska to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Gorkys Hernandez and a draft pick.
Sanchez is someone who has shown he can be good, and a change of scenery may help him find that power swing again. The Pirates need hitting, and it's a high-risk, high-reward move, since those two earlier years could have ended up being all he had.
Hernandez has been good in the minors, but the Marlins have similar players already, so I'm not sure where he would fit in the outfield. Kaminska was great in relief last year but bad this year, so he's a risk for the Pirates as a prospect.
Not an easy one to grade, but the Marlins did get a nice return for a guy barely hitting .200 this year.
Grade: B for both; risky, but can't downgrade for that.
Jonathan Broxton to Reds
The Cincinnati Reds knew that they needed a legitimate closer moving forward, and they found one in Jonathan Broxton. They traded to get him from the Royals, giving up Donnie Joseph and J.C. Sulbaran.
Despite his struggles, Broxton's been great this year, and the Reds just need a closer who can be great this year. This frees up Sean Marshall and Aroldis Chapman to be dominant in their comfort zones as well.
The Royals get Joseph, who has been a great reliever and could be a September call-up, as well as Sulbaran, a 22-year-old in Double-A who has merely been okay, but he is young enough that he can continue to grow. Not bad for a one-year rental.
Grade: A for both; difficult to nitpick anything here.
Shane Victorino to Dodgers
The Dodgers were aggressive at the deadline and were certain to at least acquire one hitter. They did so, snagging Shane Victorino from the Phillies for Josh Lindblom, Ethan Martin and a player to be named later.
Victorino is a speed demon and can bring that playoff leadership to the Dodgers, but that makes for a crowded outfield. Presumably, Victorino will get a starting role and Tony Gwynn will be the fourth outfielder. Of course, a crowded outfield is better than an empty one.
Lindblom gives the Phillies a capable reliever with some major league experience. Martin has been pitching well at Double-A this year and could help the team late next year.
It's interesting that the Phillies went with just pitching in this deal, but it's not a bad group of players, even if I think they could have gotten a bit more talent.
Grade: A- for Dodgers, C+ for Phillies
Hunter Pence to Giants
The Phillies continued their outfield fire sale by trading Hunter Pence right after Shane Victorino. Pence goes to the Giants, and the Phillies got Nate Schierholtz, Tommy Joseph and Seth Rosin in return.
Pence gives the Giants exactly what they need: an extra power hitter in the lineup who can boost the outfield and help out Melky Cabrera.
Schierholtz is simply a stopgap for the Phillies in right to replace Pence there. Joseph is a 20-year-old catcher in Double-A who is hitting for power, of which you can never have too many. Rosin is a decent pitcher, but given how high the Phillies made prices to start, I'm surprised Gary Brown wasn't requested in a deal.
Grade: A+ for Giants, C+ for Phillies—I think they could have gotten a bit more.
Ryan Dempster to Rangers
After projections had Ryan Dempster as the first domino to fall in the trade deadline, he ended up being the last big player traded. He went from the Cubs to the Rangers for Christian Villanueva and Kyle Hendricks.
The Rangers do need depth after Colby Lewis's injury, and Dempster has been lights out this year. He's not quite an answer to Zack Greinke, but he's a good stopgap addition.
The Cubs overplayed their hand and got less than they likely would have a week earlier, but nonetheless both prospects are good. Villanueva is a very good third baseman, and he's expendable since the Rangers have Mike Olt in the farm system.
Hendricks, meanwhile, has been great this year in Single-A ball, and the Cubs might get a great player out of him.
Grade: B+ for Rangers, B- for Cubs