2013 MLB Free Agency: 15 Ways Deadline Action Directly Impacted Winter Moves
Now that a week has passed since the MLB non-waiver trade deadline, the smoke has cleared, and a much clearer view can be seen of the direction that each team is taking.
Even for teams which are looking to win now, some of the transactions that took place in the weeks leading up to the deadline helped shape parts of their futures as well as current needs for possible playoff births.
For selling teams, the direction was more evident—stockpiling prospects to rebuild, as in the cases of both the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros.
Bleacher Report will take a look at how the activity at the trade deadline may have affected the future plans of teams, and we will take a look at how actions not taken may affect teams in the future, as well.
1. Will the Los Angeles Dodgers Now Stop Searching for a Third Baseman?
One of the bigger moves made before the MLB non-waiver trade deadline was the trade of third baseman/shortstop Hanley Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Dodgers were definitely on the hunt for corner infield help, with both first baseman James Loney and third baseman Juan Uribe not contributing in the way that the Dodgers had hoped.
With Ramirez on board, their search for a third baseman is likely over.
Ramirez is under contract through the 2014 season. Uribe is under contract through next season, but it's likely that GM Ned Colletti will do all he can to jettison Uribe, either via trade with possible money attached or through an outright release.
Dee Gordon appears to be the shortstop of the future for the Dodgers, with tremendous speed and as a solid contact hitter at the top of the order.
Gordon will be back at some point before the season ends, and at that time, Ramirez will likely slide over to third base. Colletti has said that Gordon is "absolutely" in the Dodgers' plans for the future.
With Shane Victorino now in the fold, Gordon will likely bat in the No. 8 hole when he returns.
2. Will the Boston Red Sox Move on Trading Jacoby Ellsbury This Offseason?
In the days leading up to the trade deadline, there was much speculation about the course that the Boston Red Sox would take, considering that they can't seem to play better than .500 ball yet are not totally out of the playoff picture.
Some of the speculation centered on oft-injured but talented center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury.
On July 30 Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com suggested that the Sox were willing to wait until the offseason after rebuffing offers for Ellsbury:
Reds did ask about Ellsbury, as has been reported elsewhere,but Sox not looking to move him now. This winter, tho, couldbe interesting— Gordon Edes (@GordonEdes) July 30, 2012
Based on inquiries before the trade deadline and contracts that the Red Sox are currently saddled with (especially those of Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, John Lackey and Josh Beckett), just the fact that Ellsbury's name came up indicates that the Sox will be willing to listen to offers on one of their hottest commodities.
3. Since Josh Hamilton Wasn't Re-Signed or Traded, Is He out of Texas?
This may be one of the biggest questions that will dominate the early offseason.
Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton has clearly slumped since the first two months of the season, during which he got off to a scorching start.
Since June 1, however, Hamilton has hit just .181 with eight home runs and 33 RBI.
The Rangers have not engaged in negotiations with Hamilton for a long-term contract, and since he was not traded or extended, it seems also certain that he will in fact test the free-agent waters.
It had also been rumored that the Rangers had discussed a trade with the Boston Red Sox that would have sent center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury and pitcher Josh Beckett to Texas, so it certainly seems apparent that the Rangers, based on discussions and non-activity before the deadline, are prepared to proceed in the future without Hamilton.
4. Are the Philadelphia Phillies Going Full Speed Ahead with a Reorganization?
The Philadelphia Phillies were clearly one of the more active teams at the deadline, dealing away Chad Qualls, Jim Thome, Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence before the deadline expired.
In addition, they dealt Joe Blanton to the Los Angeles Dodgers and attempted to negotiate a deal with the Dodgers for pitcher Cliff Lee after the Dodgers placed a claim on the left-hander.
The failed Lee negotiations came on the heels of GM Ruben Amaro telling MLB.com that all of the rumors concerning Lee were overblown and that they never intended on trading him.
The Phillies have over $100 million committed to just seven players next season—considering the age concerns of those players under contract, it's a little disingenuous to continue saying that Lee is a part of the future for the Phillies, especially based on activity and discussions before and after the trade deadline.
The Phillies are indeed making changes, and the team that is on the field right now will likely be vastly different than the one next spring, based on the movement seen thus far.
5. What's Next for the Los Angeles Angels?
After spending $317.5 million on Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson this offseason and then trading for former AL Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke last week, what's next for the Los Angeles Angels?
There are some major decisions that GM Jerry Dipoto will have to make. The Angels simply wouldn't have given away three top-20 prospects (Jean Segura, Johnny Hellweg and Ariel Pena) to the Milwaukee Brewers for Greinke if they didn't think they had a shot at signing him to a long-term contract.
DiPoto will need to free up money in order for Greinke to sign in Anaheim.
Pitchers Dan Haren and Ervin Santana have options for next season that total $28.5 million. Right fielder Torii Hunter's $18 million comes off the books, as well.
DiPoto will have money available, but hard decisions will need to be made in order to sign Greinke, and it's likely that owner Arte Moreno isn't keen on adding on to a payroll that's already above the $150 million mark.
Yes, there will be consequences for signing Greinke.
6. Have the Los Angeles Dodgers Become the Next New York Yankees?
For many years the New York Yankees were the only team above the $200 million payroll plateau, paying an expensive luxury tax each year as a result. Under Hal Steinbrenner, however, those days are likely over.
The Los Angeles Dodgers aren't likely to be the new Evil Empire of the West, however.
Yes, they took on the contract of Hanley Ramirez, and yes, they added Brandon League, Shane Victorino and Joe Blanton. And yes, they want an impact first baseman during the offseason. And yes, they apparently negotiated unsuccessfully for the services of Cliff Lee and the remaining $87.5 million owed to him.
However, League, Victorino and Blanton are all free agents at the end of the season. It would appear that all of them were acquired for the short term.
The Dodgers have a win-now mentality, but it's with players that are expendable. If, in fact, all three players acquired are gone, then money will be there to acquire the impact first baseman this offseason.
The new ownership group now in place in LA is clearly committed to winning, but don't expect them to spend money like old George (Steinbrenner).
Those days are likely gone.
7. Did Changes in CBA Affect Movement of Top Prospects at Deadline?
The short answer to that question is—yes, absolutely.
The only top prospect of note for any team that was moved was Jacob Turner of the Detroit Tigers, who was part of the package deal that sent Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante from the Miami Marlins to Motown.
There were several top-10 prospects who were dealt (Jean Segura, Angels; Arodys Vizcaino, Braves; Tommy Joseph, Giants; Christian Villanueva, Rangers), but teams were steadfast in not moving the best of the best for the most part.
With teams no longer receiving compensatory draft picks for players traded in the final years of their contracts, top-prospect movement literally stopped.
The Orioles were adamant about not including Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado, the Dodgers would not part with Zach Lee or Allen Webster, and many other teams had untouchable prospects, as well.
The new CBA definitely put a new spin on the importance of prospects for just about every team in baseball.
8. Does the New York Yankees' Relative Inactivity Mean They're Happy?
The New York Yankees made one deal of note before the trade deadline, acquiring right fielder Ichiro Suzuki from the Seattle Mariners for two middling prospects.
On July 31 they acquired Casey McGehee, as well, more for bench depth in the absence of the injured Alex Rodriguez.
The acquisition of Suzuki will likely raise questions about the future of Nick Swisher in New York, but other than that, the Yankees' relative inactivity may be more a reflection of the direction taken under managing partner Hal Steinbrenner, who is keen on getting the Yankees underneath the luxury tax threshold and keeping them there.
9. Did the Toronto Blue Jays' Failure to Land an Impact Starter Signal Surrender?
Throughout the months and weeks leading up to the MLB non-waiver trade deadline, it had been believed that the Toronto Blue Jays were on the hunt for an impact starting pitcher.
At different times, it was believed that the Jays were interested in Matt Garza, Josh Johnson and Zack Greinke. However, the Jays essentially bulked up their bullpen (Brandon Lyon, Brad Lincoln, David Carpenter) and unloaded two outfielders that were disappointments (Eric Thames, Travis Snider).
The Jays also picked up J.A. Happ, who will move into the rotation later this week.
While the failure to land an impact starting pitcher may have made it look as though the Jays were folding tent on the 2012 season, in actuality, the moves made by GM Alex Anthopoulos were pretty shrewd.
In unloading both Thames and Snider in separate trades, he got rid of outfielders who were clearly underachieving and not parts of the Jays' future. With the exception of Lyon, who is likely in Toronto to help bolster the bullpen short-term, Anthopoulos picked up strong 'pen arms under team control along with Happ, also under team control.
Anthopoulos simply wasn't going to give up prospects for pitchers with health concerns (Garza, Johnson) or for a pitcher who will likely command at least a $20 million annual contract with no guarantee that he'd actually sign.
The Blue Jays GM will continue to look for starting pitching this offseason, but will likely follow his documented pattern of behavior—players he can control.
10. Is Another Major Fire Sale Imminent for the Miami Marlins?
The Miami Marlins spent close to $200 million this offseason, and based on moves already made, they may be ready to shed as much of that money as possible.
After picking up Carlos Lee in early July in an attempt to infuse life into a struggling offense, it became apparent within weeks that Lee alone wasn't going to fix what ailed the Marlins.
Within just days, the Marlins in separate deals parted ways with Omar Infante, Anibal Sanchez, Hanley Ramirez, Randy Choate, Edward Mujica and Gaby Sanchez. They also entertained offers for Josh Johnson and others, as well.
With Miami now at 49-60, one could easily assume that the sale has only just begun.
Marlins president David Samson admitted that mistakes were made (via The Miami Herald):
I think it’s going to be an interesting October, a little different than the October we envisioned. Jeffrey [Loria is] going to look at everything. I mean, he’s angry, and he should be. It’s hard to think you put a plan together and almost every part of the plan does not work out, either by injury or non-performance.
Translation? More of a sell-off.
There should be no question that the deals already seen in Miami have been a preview of what's to come this offseason.
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/08/07/2936431/last-place-miami-marlins-lament.html#storylink=cpy
11. Do the Minnesota Twins Have Any Plan Whatsoever?
The trade deadline came and went with the Minnesota Twins making only one move of note, despite having several players available and ready to be shipped out.
Starter Francisco Liriano's was the only deal finalized by GM Terry Ryan, with Liriano off to the division rival Chicago White Sox.
The official line from Minnesota Twins was that they found no deal to their liking—apparently meaning not enough return.
While the coming weeks could decide the fates of pitchers Carl Pavano and Matt Capps—both of whom should be healthy and will have value to contending teams—the Twins appear content to wait until the offseason.
However, what their plan is for the coming offseason remains to be seen.
12. Is Brewers Owner Mark Attansio Finally Ready to Throw in the Towel?
The Milwaukee Brewers' fate was likely decided in May after losing three key players to season-ending injuries.
They lost starter Chris Narveson in April with a torn rotator cuff, and then in a span of just two days lost both first baseman Mat Gamel and shortstop Alex Gonzalez to season-ending knee injuries.
To top it off they then lost hot-hitting catcher Jonathan Lucroy for three months after a freak hotel accident in which he broke his hand retrieving a suitcase.
Not being able to re-sign starting pitcher Zack Greinke to a long-term contract certainly didn't help matters.
Still, the Brewers were relatively quiet in the days leading up to the trade deadline, with the exception of Greinke heading to Anaheim. Only catcher George Kottaras was dealt away, and shortstop Cesar Izturis was placed on waivers to make way for prospect Jean Segura, acquired in the Greinke deal.
GM Doug Melvin will have decisions to make regarding Shaun Marcum and Gonzalez at the end of the season, and it seems unlikely either will be back. Considering the Brewers' current record of 49-59, the only deals owner Mark Attansio may be approving are ones that get money freed up.
The rebuilding has begun in Milwaukee, and the offseason is likely to see Marcum and Gonzalez, and possibly others, in the hunt as free agents.
13. What Does the San Diego Padres' Inactivity at Deadline Mean?
The San Diego Padres made absolutely no transactions in the days leading up to the trade deadline and seemed more than willing to build on what they currently have.
The inactivity by the Padres was also in large part due to their many offseason moves in the course of which new GM Josh Byrnes executed several trades that brought in an abundance of prospects that have already made their ways to San Diego.
First baseman Yonder Alonso, catcher Yasmani Grandal (now on the DL with an oblique injury), Alexi Amarista, Edinson Volquez and Andrew Cashner (also on DL) have all contributed this season for the Padres.
All of them, with the exception of Amarista, who was acquired in May, were brought in by Byrnes over the winter.
In addition the Padres have made major financial commitments to both Cameron Maybin and Carlos Quentin and last week extended closer Huston Street for two years and $14 million, as well.
A group headed by Peter O'Malley and his family will likely take ownership of the Padres as soon as they get approval from MLB (via CBSSports.com), and with the commitments made to key players and the steady influx of solid prospects, it wasn't really a surprise that the Padres were silent at the deadline.
What it does signify is that Byrnes has a plan, is sticking to it and will continue to build the team based on what is widely considered the best farm system in all of baseball.
No activity doesn't mean indifference. In the Padres' case, it simply means they have a plan and they're sticking to it.
14. What Does the Nationals' Inactivity Mean for Their Offseason Plans?
The Washington Nationals were another team that made absolutely no moves leading up to the trade deadline, leaving many to speculate about what GM Mike Rizzo has up his sleeve.
Some thought that Rizzo would try to go after depth for the starting rotation, given the fact that star pitcher Stephen Strasburg could be shut down at some point in September when he reaches a pre-determined innings limit.
Others speculated that maybe a reliever was in order, considering the health of Henry Rodriguez and the recent return of Drew Storen.
Still others speculated on infield help, given the oblique injury suffered by shortstop Ian Desmond.
But Rizzo stood pat. So, what's the deal?
For Rizzo, it was simply a case of liking what he already has and not rocking the boat (via The Washington Times):
All along we said we like who we are, we like where we’re at, and we like the composition of the roster. We didn’t see a whole lot of holes to fill. It’s not about complacency. It’s about making good, sound decisions. Not taking the short route with rental players that could [cost] us long-term.
Sometimes, the best moves are the ones never made.
In the Nationals' case, John Lannan has already provided two excellent spot starts and can step into the rotation if and when Strasburg is shut down. Danny Espinosa has stepped in and filled in admirably at shortstop in the absence of Desmond, and Jayson Werth's return to the field after missing significant time with a broken wrist was like a deadline transaction in itself.
By making no moves at all, Rizzo looks like a genius.
The offseason will no doubt see some natural movement, but it made no sense for Rizzo to sacrifice current chemistry.
15. How Does the Orioles Inactivity at Deadline Affect Their Offseason Plans?
When Dan Duquette took over as the vice president of baseball operations for the Baltimore Orioles, he made a couple of points abundantly clear.
First, he was not going to sacrifice the farm system for the sake of the present. Second, he was going to use his expertise to find international talent to further bolster his roster. And last, he wasn't going to waste the owner's money with fat contracts that made no sense.
Duquette followed through with his plan from the moment he took control, and his team got off the mat quickly, heading into the All-Star break with a 45-40 record and well in sight of a wild-card birth in the American League.
However, as the trade deadline neared, the O's sought to add an impact starting pitcher, but Duquette was steadfast in his edict not to sacrifice his farm system, refusing to even discuss top prospects Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado.
Duquette wouldn't even sign off on a proposed deal to land Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Joe Blanton because he was loathe to give up No. 3 prospect Jonathan Schoop.
The Orioles' inactivity was not an indication of Duquette giving up on the 2012 season.
It was more about sticking to a plan, not giving away prospects for certain rental players and looking forward to an offseason that could yield a more fruitful crop for the future.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.