MLB Trade Grades: Teams Whose Moves Will Make Them Playoff Locks

Nathan Giese@@gieseflysouthSenior Analyst IIAugust 1, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 29: Hanley Ramirez #13 of the Los Angeles Dodgers walks back to the dugout after striking out in the eighth inning against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on July 29, 2012 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The MLB trade deadline has come and passed. Not a lot of big names were moved, but there were still plenty of solid trades around the league that help push a few teams closer to the playoffs.

There were buyers (Dodgers) and there were sellers (Phillies) who made the biggest splashes on the trade market. However, there were also winners and losers in each and every move that was made.

A few of the winners made themselves virtual locks for the playoffs based on who they brought in.

These three teams made the best improvements to help them gain their way into the playoffs:

Los Angeles Angels:

Sitting only three games behind the Texas Rangers for the lead in the American League West, the LA Angels made the one move that could put them over the top.

The Angels traded for Milwaukee ace Zack Greinke in a four-player deal on Saturday. This move helps to solidify their already outstanding rotation, featuring C.J. Wilson, Jered Weaver and Dan Haren. Essentially, the Angel pitching staff is nothing but all-stars and award winners.

Albert Pujols, Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo have been on a tear lately and have helped propel the Angels into a top-tier team once again. Since they are within striking distance of the Rangers, moving for another top pitcher in Greinke may just be the final piece in the LA puzzle.

Texas Rangers:

Texas, seeing that the Angels traded for a pitcher, traded for an ace of their own in Ryan Dempster.

Trading for Dempster was extremely necessary. Not only was it needed to help maintain the three-game lead over the Angels, but they also needed a replacement for Neftali Feliz. From ESPN:

Dempster gives the club some much-needed depth in the starting rotation, especially after the Rangers announced that Neftali Feliz needs Tommy John surgery and will miss the rest of the season.

If the trade for Dempster hadn't been made, the Rangers would have been without a star pitcher for the rest of the season, possibly ending their chances at clinching the division. While the Rangers are a solid team, they have been struggling as of late, dropping six of their last ten games.

Texas needed to make a move and moving for Dempster helps in a great way. Look for Dempster to shine now that he is finally on winning team instead of the Chicago Cubs.

Los Angeles Dodgers:

Sitting just a game back behind the San Francisco Giants, the Dodgers needed to make a move, and make a move they did. Trading for a three-time all-star in Hanley Ramirez was a nice start, but adding Shane Victorino was a great way to end.

Ramirez adds a much needed versatility to the infield and youth. Victorino brings speed and a quick bat to the lineup and will help sure up the every day batting order.

However, the Dodgers didn't stop there. They even brought in relief pitcher Brandon League to provide that extra knock-out punch to the bullpen.

All-in-all, LA dominated the trade market around deadline time, making both the Dodgers and Angels locks to make it to the postseason.

For the Angels, whether or not that is a division title or a wildcard birth will be decided by the Rangers, who also made it known they are for real. All three of these teams made the right moves at the right times.

Look for the Rangers, Angels and Dodgers come October.