10 MLB Teams Who Will Most Regret Deals Made or Not Made
The trade deadline came and went a week ago. With teams across the league settling in for the stretch run, the deadline may as well be ancient history.
It's not, though. The deadline has a way of shaking things up, and the impact it has on clubs has a tendency to stick around for a while. Teams will still be feeling the effects of deals made and not made months after the fact.
The question now is which clubs are going to be happy with their actions at the deadline, and which clubs are going to come to regret their actions at the deadline.
Let's discuss the clubs who are going to regret what they did (or didn't do) at the trade deadline. Here's a rundown of 10 clubs who could have done better.
Note: All stats come courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.
10. Toronto Blue Jays: No Deal for a Controllable Starting Pitcher
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The injury bug has been chomping on the Blue Jays all season. Presently, they have 12 different players on the disabled list. Nine of those 12 players are pitchers, and seven of them are out for the season.
Take the injuries out of the equation, and the Jays are probably right there in the thick of the American League postseason race. They've shown this year that they have a lot of talent. Better yet, things are set up for them to make the most of their talent in the very near future.
Nevertheless, it's hard to be overly optimistic about their chances in 2013 because their pitching woes aren't going to go away overnight. Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison won't be ready for Opening Day in 2013, as they'll both need a year to recover from Tommy John surgery. Nobody has any clue when Dustin McGowan will be able to pitch again.
So it would have been nice to see the Jays go out and acquire a quality starting pitcher who could have helped them the rest of this season and next season as well. (J.A. Happ doesn't qualify as a "quality" starting pitcher.)
The Jays were definitely looking to acquire a starting pitcher, and they had their sights set fairly high. Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com tweeted that they were in on Josh Johnson. Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com reported that the Jays scouted Matt Garza (who, fittingly, is now on the DL). Well before Cole Hamels re-signed, Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com even reported that Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos (pictured) had checked in on Hamels.
The Jays teased big, but Anthopoulos settled for making minor moves.
In doing so, he put pressure on himself to go out and find a capable starting pitcher or two during the offseason. If he doesn't find options to his liking, he'll regret not being more aggressive at the deadline.
9. Oakland A's: No Trades for Infield Help
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The A's had an outstanding month of July, but they never were one of the league's top offensive clubs. They still aren't.
The A's have several shortcomings in their lineup, but the two most problematic positions are third base and shortstop. A's third basemen (i.e. Brandon Inge) have managed just a .582 OPS this season. A's shortstops have managed just a .535 OPS.
The word around the campfire was that Billy Beane was on the prowl to find some help for the left side of the infield. According to a report from Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com, the A's were in on Hanley Ramirez before he was traded to the Dodgers, and he also listed Jimmy Rollins, Yunel Escobar and Stephen Drew as possibilities. ESPN's Jayson Stark reported that the A's were interested in Chase Headley.
Those who watched Moneyball may have been expecting Beane (and Jonah Hill) to fix the problem with a series of phone calls in a matter of minutes.
Instead, the only deal Beane made before the deadline was for George Kottaras, a backup catcher.
It was easy to forgive Beane for standing pat at the time because the A's were just finishing up a wildly successful month of July. But just around the corner was the reality that what goes up must come down. The A's were bound to get a wake-up call eventually.
Sure enough, they've lost five of their last seven games, and they've scored only 16 runs in the month of August. The extra offense they didn't acquire at the deadline is looming large right now.
And it will continue to loom large until the end of the season.
8. San Francisco Giants: Not Trading for a Reliever
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The Giants had one of the best bullpens in baseball in 2011, as their relievers posted a 3.04 ERA and lost only 18 games all season.
It's been a different story in 2012. Giants relievers have an ERA of 3.74 and have already lost 14 games and blown 11 saves.
Brian Wilson's absence has been felt. The Giants were able to get along just fine without him for a while there, but Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo have both struggled recently. Bruce Bochy finally broke down and told Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com on Monday that he's decided to go with a closer-by-committee approach for the time being.
Brian Sabean solved a major need when he went out and acquired Hunter Pence at the deadline, but he did nothing to solve the club's bullpen problems. The Giants were linked to a handful of capable relievers, including Jonathan Broxton, Brandon League, Rafael Betancourt and Chris Perez. Any one of them would have helped.
Sabean acquired none of them, setting the club up to make do with the relievers at hand for the rest of the season.
The Giants did end up acquiring Jose Mijares from the Royals via waivers, and he'll at least provide them with some depth. But while he may be better than nothing, what the Giants really needed was a stud late-inning reliever. To that end, Mijares falls short.
The Giants can probably make the postseason with what they have in their bullpen. But once they get into October, what they have may not be good enough.
7. Cincinnati Reds: No Trade for a Leadoff Hitter
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The Reds didn't need to find bullpen help at the trade deadline. They have the lowest bullpen ERA in the majors, not to mention the league's nastiest closer in Aroldis Chapman.
But they went out and got bullpen help anyway, acquiring former Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton from the Kansas City Royals.
Trading for Broxton wasn't a bad move by any stretch of the imagination. The Reds made a strength even stronger, which is never a bad idea.
The issue is that they ended up ignoring their biggest need at the deadline. They desperately needed to go out and acquire a leadoff hitter, and they didn't.
Cincinnati's leadoff hitters have been awful this season, managing a measly triple-slash line of .205/.250/.316. Rookie shortstop Zack Cozart (pictured) is the man largely responsible for these numbers, as he's hit just .221/.263/.367 in 77 games out of the leadoff spot.
The Reds were looking to acquire some help for their leadoff spot. Scott Miller of CBSSports.com reported that they were interested in Denard Span. Ken Rosenthal linked them to Shin-Soo Choo. Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com linked the Reds to both Shane Victorino and Juan Pierre.
The fact that Walt Jocketty wasn't even willing to make a trade for Pierre goes to show that he felt fairly content with the club he already had.
If so, it's not hard to see why. The Reds had just gone on a 10-game winning streak shortly before the deadline, adding distance between them and the rest of the NL Central in the process. They were doing just fine without a true leadoff man.
Then again, these wins were coming against the likes of Milwaukee, Houston, Colorado and San Diego, four of the worst teams in the National League. Not exactly a good excuse to ignore the biggest imperfection on what is otherwise a very good team.
Not dealing for a true leadoff hitter could come back to bite the Reds.
6. Minnesota Twins: Dealing Francisco Liriano for Spare Parts
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The Twins were never in a position to demand an arm and a leg in a trade for Francisco Liriano. As good as he can be on any given night, Liriano has been an enigma for far too long at this point.
But you had to figure that Liriano was worth at least one decent prospect in a trade. Surely the Twins wouldn't give him up for nothing.
That's basically what they did, as they traded him to the White Sox for shortstop prospect Eduardo Escobar and pitching prospect Pedro Hernandez, neither of whom appeared in Baseball America's preseason prospect rankings for the White Sox.
Because the White Sox have such a shallow minor league system, that says a lot about the quality (or lack thereof) of the two prospects the Twins got for Liriano.
The Common Man, a baseball blogger for The Platoon Advantage, said it best when he wrote, "To call either of them prospects is to stretch the definition of 'prospect' to its breaking point."
It's almost as if Kenny Williams was able to talk Terry Ryan into believing that he wasn't going to be able to get a better deal for Liriano, even though he probably could have.
Then again, it's hard to tell what Ryan and the Twins are up to these days. The organization has gone from being one of the most enviable organizations in the league to being something of a sad sack, and there's little hope for a bright future any time soon.
5. Cleveland Indians: Not Selling
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Things were starting to look pretty bleak for the Indians in the final days before the trade deadline. They started the second half by losing seven of 10, and they lost their fourth game in a row on deadline day.
That losing streak hasn't ended yet. Cleveland's skid has reached 11 games, and the organization has made it fairly clear in recent days that the white flag has gone up. Veteran players Derek Lowe and Johnny Damon have both been jettisoned to make room for the young guys.
Had the Indians raised a white flag a few days earlier, they could have sold off several valuable parts and acquired even more youngsters for the stretch run and beyond.
The Indians were rumored to be dangling Justin Masterson and Shin-Soo Choo, according to Jayson Stark. There was also some buzz about them moving Chris Perez, according to a separate report from Stark.
The Indians could have made a killing on these players had they chosen to trade them for prospects. They chose instead to hold on to them, presumably because they figured they still had a shot at making the postseason.
So much for that. Plans to contend in 2012 have been pushed aside and replaced with plans to contend in 2013.
If the Indians fail to contend in 2013 too, they're not going to be able to get as much for their key trade chips as they could have at this year's deadline.
4. Texas Rangers: Settling for Ryan Dempster
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It was clear all along that the Texas Rangers needed an ace pitcher, and they soon found themselves in need of rotation depth as well once Colby Lewis was lost for the season, and Roy Oswalt emerged as a massive flop.
Once their options started to dwindle, more and more rumors came out about them being in the mix for Josh Johnson. At one point, Bob Nightengale of USA Today characterized the talks between the Rangers and Marlins as being "heavy."
The Rangers did not get Greinke, nor Hamels, nor Lee, nor Johnson. They got Ryan Dempster.
Dempster arrived with a shiny 2.25 ERA, but few figured that he was going to be able to be as dominant in the American League as he was in the National League. He did the skeptics a favor by getting destroyed by the Los Angeles Angels in his Rangers debut.
Dempster followed his disastrous debut with a solid outing against the Red Sox at Fenway Park, but that has to be taken for what it's worth seeing as how he also dominated the Red Sox at Wrigley Field in June when he was still a member of the Cubs.
In the long run of things, Dempster fits into Texas' rotation as a solid No. 3 or No. 2, not as a No. 1.
And that's the dilemma. The Rangers were seeking a No. 1 starting pitcher who they could match up against the AL's various aces in the postseason, and they didn't get one.
They could have gotten one, mind you. They had more than enough prospects at their disposal to go get Greinke, Johnson or even Lee. They chose to be conservative instead.
Don't be surprised if this costs them a coveted World Series championship.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers: Not Trading for Ryan Dempster
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Before the Rangers swooped in at the last minute and traded for him, it seemed to be a foregone conclusion that Ryan Dempster was going to head to Los Angeles to play for the Dodgers.
Things were set up perfectly for the Dodgers to acquire Dempster. As soon as Dempster nixed a trade to the Atlanta Braves, word came out from FoxSports.com that he wanted to play for the Dodgers. Since they were looking for a solid starting pitcher who wouldn't cost them any of their best prospects, it was clear that the Dodgers were a good fit.
But Ned Colletti decided to play hardball with the Cubs, refusing to part with either Zach Lee or Allen Webster, according to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.
This wasn't such a bad idea, as it was clear that the Cubs didn't have a whole lot of leverage to play with after Dempster killed the trade to the Braves. But given the club's need for a quality starting pitcher, you figured that Colletti would give in eventually.
He didn't, and Dempster ended up going to the Rangers. The Dodgers didn't get a starting pitcher ahead of the trade deadline, and have since been forced to settle for Joe Blanton, who they acquired from the Phillies in a waiver deal.
Blanton's a decent enough starting pitcher, but he doesn't project as a good fit behind Clayton Kershaw in the Dodgers' postseason rotation. That's a role Dempster would have filled quite well.
Of course, it's not a given that the Dodgers will make the postseason. It would have been a lot easier to like their chances of making it that far had they traded for Dempster.
2. Philadelphia Phillies: Not Jettisoning Cliff Lee
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The Philadelphia Phillies got a lot of things done in the final days and hours before the trade deadline. They started by inking Cole Hamels to a massive extension, and they ended up trading Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence.
One guy they didn't trade was Cliff Lee.
There wasn't much of a market for Lee at the trade deadline, which presumably had everything to do with the $100 million or so remaining on his contract after this season. But ESPN's Buster Olney reported that Lee was definitely available, and that the most obvious suitor was the Texas Rangers.
A deal could have been made with the Rangers, who are one of the only teams in baseball with both the prospects and the necessary funds to conceivably pull off a deal for Lee.
But no deal was made with the Rangers or any other club. Lee remained a member of the Phillies as the deadline passed.
The story doesn't end there, though. The Phillies placed Lee on waivers last week, prompting the Los Angeles Dodgers to come running to claim him, according to a report from Jayson Stark.
A trade with the Dodgers was never likely, as the Dodgers lack the prospects to pull off such a major trade. However, the Phillies could have just let the Dodgers have Lee and his contract, thus freeing up a ton of payroll space in 2013 and beyond.
This is why the Phillies are going to regret not jettisoning Lee, something they were basically given two separate chances to do. With Lee, Hamels, Roy Halladay and Ryan Howard all locked up for over $80 million in 2013, the Phillies are going to have precious little payroll space to work with. That would be fine if they didn't have holes to fill, but they have a lot of holes to fill.
The Phillies may try to trade Lee again in the future, but they have no way of knowing that he's going to have as much value on the trade market as he did this year. Nor do they know if they're going to get another chance to so easily unload his contract.
They're going to regret not making the most of these opportunities.
1. Boston Red Sox: Not Trading Josh Beckett
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The vibes surrounding Josh Beckett and the Red Sox aren't good and haven't been good for almost a full year.
The trouble started when Beckett posted a 5.48 ERA last September, which helped lead to Boston's collapse. Then came reports of fried chicken and beer escapades in the clubhouse, in which he was portrayed as a ringleader of sorts. Earlier this season, Beckett ruffled some feathers when he played golf on a day off despite the fact he was injured.
To make matters worse, Beckett hasn't pitched like an ace this season, going 5-9 with a 4.54 ERA in 18 starts. He's battled a series of nagging injuries.
Things are made all the more complicated by the fact that Beckett is on the hook for nearly $16 million this season, and nearly $16 million in 2013 and 2014.
It's no wonder the Red Sox gave some thought to trading him during the deadline. Most notably, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reported that the Red Sox discussed sending both Beckett and Jacoby Ellsbury, a free agent after 2013, to the Rangers.
According to Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com, the Braves and the Dodgers were also in the hunt for Beckett.
It's unclear how seriously the Red Sox took these talks, but indications are that they were looking for something significant for him in return. They weren't going to give him up for nothing.
That's where they should have thought twice. Just like with the Phillies and Lee, the Red Sox have no way of knowing if Beckett is going to have any trade value in 2013 and 2014, meaning they could be stuck paying top dollar for a disgruntled pitcher whose stuff is in decline.
Assuming there was a deal to be made, the Red Sox are going to wish they had made it. Beckett and Boston just aren't a good fit for one another anymore.
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