MLB Trade Deadline: Ranking the 10 Most Shocking Non-Deals
The Dodgers couldn't work out a deal for Ryan Dempster.
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With the 2012 MLB trade deadline now passed, almost as much attention is given to the deals that weren't made as the ones that were. It's much like the selections for the All-Star game. In the immediate aftermath, we focus on which players were snubbed, rather than who made the team.
We saw quite a bit of activity leading up to the trade deadline this year. A surprising number of transactions took place late into the night, rewarding night owls and insomniacs who couldn't stay off Twitter and giving normal sleepers some exciting news to wake up to.
But after all the frenzy leading up to Tuesday's 4 p.m. ET deadline settled down, it was time to collect all the paper off the floor, clean off the desks and look at what really happened.
Though some big names like Ryan Dempster, Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence did get moved and could influence playoff races, there were several deals that surprisingly didn't happen.
A few of these missed transactions could be revisited over the next month leading up to the Aug. 31 waiver trade deadline, depending on which players clear waivers without being claimed. In the meantime, however, here are 10 deals we expected or hoped to see but couldn't quite make it to the finish line.
10. Orioles Don't Get Joe Blanton from Phillies
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This trade was close to being done, judging from most reports. The Phillies were set to deal starting pitcher Joe Blanton to the Baltimore Orioles, who sorely needed help in their rotation, in exchange for a minor league pitcher.
But there was one major hang-up with the trade, namely how much of Blanton's remaining salary the Orioles would have to pay. Blanton was signed for $8.5 million this season. According to the Baltimore Sun's Dan Connolly, approximately $3 million remains to be paid this year.
The Phillies preferred not to pay that money, which was the primary reason Blanton was on the trade market in the first place. However, the Orioles didn't want to pay that much for a back-end starting pitcher who will be a free agent at the end of the season.
Blanton's remaining salary, in addition to the prospect that the Orioles would have to trade, turned out to be two rather significant obstacles to finishing off this trade.
Both sides appeared to be pretty far along in discussions, however, and there was a strong need to make this deal happen. It could still go through before Aug. 31.
9. Mets Decide Not to Trade Scott Hairston
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Is Scott Hairston part of the New York Mets' future?
Maybe, since he doesn't cost very much ($1.1 million salary this season), and the Mets have a need for a corner outfielder with Lucas Duda and Kirk Nieuwenhuis recently being demoted to Triple-A Buffalo.
So maybe Hairston's value to the Mets' current roster superseded whatever prospect—likely a fringe player—the team could have gotten in a trade.
However, Hairston was relatively in demand, with the Detroit Tigers, Atlanta Braves and San Francisco Giants showing interest in adding a right-handed bat and reserve outfielder to their respective rosters.
Hairston would have been an especially good fit with the Tigers, who could pair Hairston's .945 OPS against left-handed pitching with Andy Dirks in left field. Whether it was because the Mets were asking for too much in return or they just weren't particularly motivated to trade him, a deal never came together.
But was it really that smart for Mets general manager Sandy Alderson to hang on to a complementary player—one who might not be with the team next year—instead of getting something in return for him?
It seemed like a strangely short-sighted decision for a front office with an eye on the future.
8. Rockies Don't Trade Rafael Betancourt
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Honestly, what good is a closer to a last-place team like the Colorado Rockies?
Sure, every team needs a reliever to close out the wins that are attainable. To see those games squandered can be crushing to the morale of a club trying to make it through a miserable season.
But a veteran reliever like Rafael Betancourt is a resource that a losing team like the Rockies should spin into pieces better suited to help in the future.
With 17 saves and 38 strikeouts in 37 innings this season, Betancourt's value was never going to be higher. A contract that has him under team control through 2014 is important to a Rockies team that needs to keep costs down as young talent develops.
But those two years of club control also have value that Colorado could have utilized to get more in a possible trade.
There was plenty of interest in Betancourt, as there is in any competent reliever at this point in the season. Contenders are looking to add depth to their bullpens with a strong setup reliever and backup closer.
Rumors had the Yankees, Braves, Rangers, Orioles, Athletics, Blue Jays and Red Sox all checking in on Betancourt's availability.
How could the Rockies not trade Betancourt under such circumstances? They have other arms that can be moved into the closer role. Is Rex Brothers a closer of the future? How will the Rockies know, unless they put him out there in the ninth inning?
Betancourt could still be dealt before the Aug. 31 waiver trade deadline. The demand for him will still be there as contenders seek to add an extra arm for the final month of the season. Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd should take advantage of that.
7. No Deadline Deal for the Washington Nationals
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The Washington Nationals already made their big trade during the offseason when they acquired pitcher Gio Gonzalez from the Oakland Athletics. That deal has paid off extremely well for the Nats, with Gonzalez pitching like a Cy Young Award candidate.
But like any other playoff contender, the Nationals have a couple of holes that a complementary player could help fill. A backup catcher behind Jesus Flores would provide some insurance through the end of the season and prevent a starter from wearing down. With Ian Desmond still recovering from an oblique injury, perhaps a reserve infielder is needed.
And what about another starting pitcher to fill in once Stephen Strasburg reaches his innings limit and is shut down for the rest of the season, something general manager Mike Rizzo has been promising to do all year?
Granted, the Nationals already have the depth that their competitors are trying to build.
The Nats could use another outfielder, but Jayson Werth and Chad Tracy are on rehab assignments and will rejoin the major league roster soon. Mark DeRosa is on hand as a reserve infielder, and when Desmond recovers, Steve Lombardozzi can take a utility role that may best suit his skills.
The Nationals also have several arms that could fill the back end of the rotation after Strasburg is shut down, notably John Lannan, Chien-Ming Wang and Tom Gorzelanny.
Still, the Nats only have a 2.5-game lead over the Atlanta Braves in the NL East. The Braves bolstered their starting pitching. And the other playoff contenders in the National League all added key pieces to boost their playoff chances.
Maybe Rizzo is smart not to make a move for the sake of making a move. But the Nationals are in a good position right now, and adding some insurance for the stretch run would not have hurt.
6. Phillies Don't Add Outfield or Third Base Prospect
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As the Philadelphia Phillies debated whether or not this team would be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline, the general understanding was that general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. wanted a young center fielder or third baseman—preferably both—nearly ready to play in the major leagues.
Yet after trading Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence before Tuesday's trade deadline, the Phillies didn't fill either need for their major league roster or minor league system.
Nate Schierholtz, one of the players the Phillies received from the San Francisco Giants in return for Pence, can take over for Pence immediately in right field. He'll be a useful player. But he's never played center field in his career and can't be considered any kind of prospect at 28 years old.
Josh Lindblom, who came over from the Dodgers in the Victorino deal, will provide help for a bullpen that's underperformed all season. And he'll be under club control for five more seasons, which is extremely valuable.
But who plays center field for the Phillies next season? Or how about this season? Is the team looking at Domonic Brown or John Mayberry for that position? Maybe Juan Pierre, if he's not eventually traded before the Aug. 31 waiver trade deadline?
What about third base? Placido Polanco is out with a back injury and almost surely won't be back next season. The Phillies can get by in the short term with Ty Wigginton at the hot corner, but what about the future?
Amaro will surely have to address these needs in the offseason but seemingly should have filled those holes with the deals he made at the trade deadline.
5. Oakland Athletics Don't Get a Shortstop
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The Oakland Athletics were baseball's July surprise, breaking out with a 19-4 record for the month that pushed them into the race for the AL West title and a wild-card playoff spot.
But the A's are hardly an offensive juggernaut, and that's no more apparent than at shortstop, where Oakland is getting the worst production in the major leagues. The A's have gotten a .545 OPS from that position this season, with Cliff Pennington, Eric Sogard and Brandon Hicks all currently hitting under .200
A's general manager Billy Beane tried to address the shortstop deficiency before the July 31 trade deadline by entering the bidding for Hanley Ramirez. Unfortunately, Beane ultimately lost out to the Dodgers, perhaps because they were willing to take on the approximately $35 million remaining on his contract through 2014.
Yet other shortstops were available, and the A's still weren't able to find an upgrade.
The Blue Jays were looking to trade Yunel Escobar but were presumably asking for more in return than Beane was willing to deal. Both Stephen Drew and Willie Bloomquist were available from the Diamondbacks, but they maybe weren't enough of an improvement over what the A's already had in-house.
The most surprising acquisition would have been Jimmy Rollins, who the A's and Dodgers reportedly showed interest in. As with Ramirez, however, Oakland would have been on the hook for the remaining $25 million or so on Rollins' contract (with another potential $11 million if an option for 2015 was triggered).
However, this is something that Beane will surely revisit before the Aug. 31 waiver trade deadline if shortstop is still a major problem.
One or more of these infielders should get through waivers. Then it will just be a matter of putting a deal together. Maybe Beane just needs more time.
4. No Blockbuster for the Arizona Diamondbacks
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One of the juiciest rumors in the hours leading up to Tuesday's 4 p.m. ET trade deadline was what Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal heard about the Arizona Diamondbacks working on a blockbuster deal to land a starting pitcher.
Who exactly was involved in this mega-deal-that-wasn't is unclear. We may never find out the names that were tossed around, though Rosenthal is trying to get those details. Maybe we'll find out if this deal is revisited in the offseason, which is a better time for blockbuster trades to come together.
Of course, that didn't stop speculation from running wild among reporters, bloggers and fans. How could there not be guessing with such an intriguing premise thrown out there to examine?
Were the D-Backs talking about Cliff Lee? Josh Johnson? Josh Beckett? What about Felix Hernandez, who the Seattle Mariners have kept untouchable?
Justin Upton likely would have been involved in such a deal, as general manager Kevin Towers had dangled his young right fielder for any team that was interested. Perhaps rookie pitcher Wade Miley would have been included as well. Miley has been impressive this season but may be considered expendable with all the young pitching the D-Backs have in their system.
No deal came through, unfortunately. But that didn't stop D-Backs owner Ken Kendrick from giving Fox Sports Arizona's Jack Magruder a memorable quote regarding Lee and the Phillies.
"He is owed $100M. If they want to keep $90M," Kendrick told Magruder. "He's 37 years old. Really problematic to move him."
Kendrick got the money right, but Lee is only 33 years old. Maybe that's older than the D-Backs would like, however.
Check back with Kendrick and the D-Backs in December, though.
3. Reds Can't Get a Leadoff Hitter
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The Cincinnati Reds have asserted themselves in the NL Central, winning 15 of 18 games since the All-Star break and reeling off a 10-game win streak before losing to the Padres on Monday.
With that surge, Dusty Baker's club has the best record in baseball going into Wednesday's play at 62-41. The Reds hold a three-game lead over the Pittsburgh Pirates for the NL Central lead and a seven-game margin over the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals.
Yet despite that success, the Reds have a glaring hole at the top of their lineup. No team has gotten worse production from its leadoff hitters than Cincinnati, plagued with a .247 on-base percentage and .553 OPS in that spot.
The Reds talked with the Phillies about Shane Victorino and Juan Pierre to address that need. Neither player is an ideal leadoff hitter at this point, but either would be a vast improvement from what the Reds are currently getting at the top of the order.
Victorino might have provided more pop, which Baker seems to like in his lineup. But he ended up going to the Dodgers instead.
It's more baffling that the Reds couldn't swing a deal for Pierre. Not only was his cost likely lower than what the Phillies sought for Victorino, but Pierre has been a leadoff hitter for much of his career.
Even if his skills aren't what they once were, Pierre has produced this season. In 295 plate appearances, he has a slash average of .306/.346/.473. Additionally, Pierre would bring some speed to go with Drew Stubbs in the Reds lineup.
The Reds even have several infield prospects that would seemingly appeal to the Phillies, who are looking for young third basemen. None are as close to the majors as Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. apparently prefers.
But perhaps Amaro will look past that as the Aug. 31 waiver trade deadline approaches. Better to get a prospect that could help down the line than nothing at all.
2. Yankees Don't Add a Starting Pitcher
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With injuries to CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte, starting pitching appeared to be an urgent need for the New York Yankees.
But with Sabathia's return, Pettitte's near-recovery and depth at the back end of the starting rotation, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman apparently didn't feel that an urgent move was necessary.
The Yankees also have the biggest lead of baseball's six first-place teams right now, so they didn't have to make a trade to keep up with anyone.
A future postseason matchup could be a concern, but if the Yankees don't have as strong a top three in their rotation as a team like the Angels, their formidable lineup should make up for that.
Yet the Yankees were reportedly one of three teams competing for Ryan Dempster in the hours and minutes leading up to Tuesday's 4 p.m. ET trade deadline. So there must have been some interest on Cashman's part in adding a starting pitcher as insurance in case Pettitte's return takes longer than expected.
If starting pitching becomes a greater need over the next month, perhaps an arm will clear waivers that attracts the Yankees' curiosity. (Cliff Lee, for instance?) But Cashman hasn't been one to make a splashy move at the trade deadline in years past, so maybe this is his standard operating procedure.
Considering what was available, however, it would be a tremendous disappointment if starting pitching turns out to be the Yankees' weakness by the end of the regular season and into the postseason.
1. Dodgers Don't Trade for Ryan Dempster
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The Los Angeles Dodgers have been looking to add a starting pitcher for much of the season.
Rumors swirled around a deal for Cole Hamels since he was set to be a free agent, the Dodgers' new ownership was ready to spend money and Hamels was a Southern California native.
But the Dodgers understandably didn't want to risk trading a top prospect for a player who could bolt for free agency. And as it turns out, the Phillies really didn't want to trade Hamels, ultimately signing him to a six-year, $144 million contract extension.
However, other starting pitchers were available for the Dodgers. Most notable among them was Ryan Dempster. Dempster all but begged to be traded to Los Angeles, invoking his "10-and-5" rights (10 years in the majors, five with the same team) to kill a deal with the Atlanta Braves in an attempt to engineer a trade to the Dodgers.
The circumstances seemed ideal for the Dodgers to arrange a deal with the Chicago Cubs. Dempster's preference to be traded to the Dodgers arguably gave them leverage over the Cubs.
But Cubs president Theo Epstein wasn't going to accept less than he thought Dempster was worth. And Dodgers GM Ned Colletti, as Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports, refused to trade any of the organization's top four prospects for a pitcher whose contract expires at the end of the season.
Even though the Dodgers are considered the champs of the trade deadline for getting Hanley Ramirez, Brandon League and Shane Victorino without giving up a top prospect, Colletti's reluctance to part with one of his best minor leaguers for a starting pitcher could come back to haunt the Dodgers.
Not only do the Dodgers not have Dempster now, but they traded one of their best young pitchers, Nathan Eovaldi, to get Ramirez. Maybe Eovaldi is what it took to get the Ramirez deal done, but would Colletti have parted with a starting pitcher if he knew he wouldn't be able to get Dempster (or Matt Garza)?
Yet the Dodgers have gotten excellent starting pitching all season long, and Ted Lilly will soon return to the rotation after missing time with shoulder inflammation. And perhaps it's best not to compromise the future when a starting pitcher could be signed through free agency this offseason.
We'll find out soon enough if Colletti should regret not making a deal for Dempster when the opportunity was available.
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