2012 MLB Waiver Trade Window: Grades for Every Trade
Now that the dust has started to settle on the just-ended MLB waiver-trade period, teams can get to the business of watching the fruits of their labor.
The month of August always presents a set of various issues for teams looking to make upgrades. The waiver process itself is the largest obstacle. For years now, teams in contention have used the month of August to gauge interest in players who could be possible trade chips, either during that month or in the offseason.
Buying teams have much to weigh when making deals as well: assuming the life of a player's contract, weighing short-term vs. long-term impacts and hoping that the acquisition doesn't mess with team chemistry.
This season, the month of August didn't present a tremendous amount of movement, but one deal in particular will make it memorable indeed.
We will take a look at each trade made during the waiver-trade period and attach a grade for both teams involved. Obviously, current results won't define each trade in the long run, so grades can certainly be seen as subjective in nature.
Aug. 3: Los Angeles Dodgers Acquire RHP Joe Blanton
Philadelphia Phillies Trade: RHP Joe Blanton
Los Angeles Dodgers Trade: RHP Ryan O'Sullivan
When the Los Angeles Dodgers traded for starting pitcher Joe Blanton, Ted Lilly had just been scratched from a rehab start and hadn't seen action since May 23, so the deal certainly appeared to be well-timed.
Unfortunately, the results haven't been terrific.
Blanton, who was 8-9 with a 4.59 ERA with the Phillies before the trade, finally won his first game as a Dodger on Wednesday afternoon in his fifth start with the team.
With Lilly's return uncertain and Chad Billingsley now on the DL with elbow issues, Blanton will need to show more of what was seen against the Rockies.
O'Sullivan was a fourth-round draft pick in last year's draft for the Dodgers and has posted a 3.04 ERA in 32 appearances thus far in 2012, nine of them starts. O'Sullivan had been the 23rd-ranked prospect in the Dodgers organization according to Baseball America.
O'Sullivan has been used exclusively in relief since reaching the Advanced Single-A level earlier this season.
Dodgers Grade: C. They didn't have to give up a top prospect for Blanton, as O'Sullivan is projected as a possible mid-rotation starter or reliever at best.
Phillies Grade: B. Blanton was not part of the Phillies' future, and they received much-needed organizational pitching depth in return.
Aug. 3: Washington Nationals Acquire Catcher Kurt Suzuki
Oakland Athletics Trade: C Kurt Suzuki
Washington Nationals Trade: C David Freitas, cash considerations.
The Washington Nationals were very quiet prior to the non-waiver trade deadline, but they did make a splash just three days later, acquiring catcher Kurt Suzuki from the Oakland A's.
Suzuki had been made expendable by the acquisition of George Kottaras and Oakland's long-term plan of using Derek Norris behind the plate.
The Nats, on the other hand, needed depth behind the plate with Wilson Ramos out for the season and Jesus Flores struggling at the plate and dealing with a sore back.
Freitas was the 27th-ranked prospect in the Nationals organization according to Baseball America and never figured to be a prominent impact player, especially sitting behind Norris in the organizational depth chart.
Nationals Grade: B
Athletics Grade: B
This was a solid trade for both teams—Suzuki provides a quality defensive backstop presence in D.C. for the short term, and the Nats didn't need to sacrifice a high-end prospect in return.
Aug. 5: Boston Red Sox Acquire 3B Danny Valencia from Minnesota Twins
Minnesota Twins Trade: 3B Danny Valencia
Boston Red Sox Trade: OF Jeremias Pineda
The Red Sox consummated this deal exactly five days before their prized third baseman, Will Middlebrooks, was lost for the season after suffering a fractured wrist courtesy of a wayward pitch from Cleveland Indians reliever Esmil Rogers.
Valencia showed some promise in his first two seasons with the Twins, hitting .311 and placing third in Rookie of the Year balloting in 2010.
However, Valencia was a major disappointment this year, hitting just .194 with only three walks in 141 plate appearances, earning a demotion to Triple-A Rochester in the process.
Valencia hit only .125 for the Sox in four games after Middlebrooks was hurt, again earning a demotion to Triple-A Pawtucket.
Pineda is a 21-year-old Dominican outfielder who is still honing his skills at the Rookie League level.
Red Sox Grade: D. Just not sure why they even made this deal unless the Sox think they can remake Valencia's swing.
Twins Grade: B. They got rid of a player who has horrible plate discipline and gained a young outfielder hitting over .300 in just under 100 professional games thus far.
Aug. 5: Detroit Tigers Acquire IF Jeff Baker from Chicago Cubs
Chicago Cubs Trade: IF Jeff Baker
Detroit Tigers Trade: Two players to be named later.
The Detroit Tigers were on the hunt to find a player who could give them a better option against left-handed pitching. They found that option in utility player Jeff Baker.
Baker's .298 career average against southpaws was a key factor in his moving from the Windy City to Motown, along with his flexibility in the field.
With the Cubs promoting both third baseman Josh Vitters and outfielder Brett Jackson, Baker figured to be out of the mix in Chicago anyway.
Tigers Grade: C-. I'm assuming that, considering Baker is a utility player, the two PTBNL will be minimal prospects at best. That said, I'm not impressed with the fact that the Tigers are giving up two players—no matter how minimal—for a bench player.
Cubs Grade: B. The fact that the Cubs got two players, even unnamed, in return for a bench player is impressive.
Aug. 9: Houston Astros Acquire 2B Tyler Greene from St. Louis Cardinals
St. Louis Cardinals Trade: 2B Tyler Greene
Houston Astros Trade: Player to be named later or cash considerations.
For the past four seasons, infielder Tyler Greene tried and failed to make an impact at the major league level for the St. Louis Cardinals. He'll now have a clean slate in what is clearly an audition for the Houston Astros.
Greene thrived in the minors, hitting .291 at the Triple-A level in 267 games, but he was unable to translate that to success with the big club in St. Louis. Greene hit just .218 in parts of four seasons.
Time is running out for the 29-year-old infielder, who has hit .245 thus far in 15 games for the Astros. His play over the final month of the season could well dictate his future in Houston.
Cardinals Grade: B. They did well in unloading Greene for at least something.
Astros Grade: TBD.
Aug. 13: Baltimore Orioles Acquire LHP J.C. Romero from Cleveland Indians
Cleveland Indians Trade: LHP J.C. Romero
Baltimore Orioles Trade: IF Carlos Rojas
Every once in a while, there's a trade that becomes an absolute swing-and-miss.
This was one of them.
The Orioles acquired the oft-traveled Romero from the Cleveland Indians for minor league infielder Carlos Rojas. Romero was released by the St. Louis Cardinals after posting a 10.13 ERA in 11 appearances. He was then signed by the Orioles in late May and released in early June, signing a minor league deal with the Indians shortly thereafter.
The O's apparently thought they might like Romero better the second time around.
That didn't last long either.
After five appearances with Baltimore, Romero elected to become a free agent after refusing a minor league assignment on Monday.
Did you keep up with all of that?
Orioles Grade: F. Why would they make the same mistake twice?
Indians Grade: B. Kudos for getting anything for Romero, even if it was a journeyman minor leaguer.
Aug. 14: New York Mets Acquire C Kelly Shoppach from Boston Red Sox
New York Mets Trade: RHP Pedro Beato
Boston Red Sox Trade: C Kelly Shoppach
This particular trade may well have been part of the clubhouse purge of the Boston Red Sox.
Shoppach had only been part of the team for four months but had already created waves when it was reported that he, not Adrian Gonzalez, was the author of a text message sent to Red Sox ownership complaining about manager Bobby Valentine.
While the Sox have wanted to find a way to get prospect catcher Ryan Lavarnway back in Boston, Shoppach's involvement in the ongoing clubhouse saga certainly didn't help his cause.
In return, the Sox got reliever Beato, who started the season on the disabled list with shoulder stiffness and has shuffled back and forth from the minors since his return.
Red Sox Grade: C. They got rid of one of their cancers. Not sure if what they got in return in Beato will amount to much of anything, though. Great potential, but he hasn't matured at the major league level as of yet.
Mets Grade: B. They picked up a quality backstop for Josh Thole, and maybe Shoppach can get along better with Terry Collins than he apparently did with Valentine.
Aug. 20: Oakland A's Acquire SS Stephen Drew from Arizona Diamondbacks
Arizona Diamondbacks Trade: SS Stephen Drew
Oakland Athletics Trade: SS Sean Jamieson
The A's had been rumored to be looking at an upgrade at shortstop for weeks, with incumbent Cliff Pennington struggling mightily at the plate all season.
Three weeks after the non-waiver trade deadline passed, they pulled the strings on a deal, acquiring Stephen Drew from the Arizona Diamondbacks for minor league shortstop Sean Jamieson.
Drew had struggled at the plate since his return to the roster in late June after missing nearly a year with a fractured ankle.
Drew was hitting .193 at the time of the trade and has hit .214 since.
It's doubtful that the A's will pick up Drew's $10 million option for 2013, but there is a possibility he could negotiate a new deal with Oakland.
Jamieson was a 17th-round draft pick by the A's last season and has hit .239 in 196 minor league games since that time. He was not thought to be a top prospect for the A's, so the damage in terms of Drew's cost was minimal.
Diamondbacks Grade: C. Give the D-Backs credit for getting something in return. It was clear that Drew was not part of their future.
Athletics Grade: B. Minimal cost to A's; Drew will audition for the future in his six weeks remaining there.
Los Angeles Dodgers Acquire Gonzalez, Beckett, Crawford and Punto from Red Sox
Los Angeles Angels Trade: 1B James Loney, RHP Allen Webster, 2B Ivan De Jesus, two players to be named later.
Boston Red Sox Trade: 1B Adrian Gonzalez, RHP Josh Beckett, LF Carl Crawford, IF Nick Punto, cash considerations.
There has certainly been enough written about this trade to fill a small library.
Gonzalez was the centerpiece of this deal for the Dodgers, and Beckett and Crawford were the proverbial collateral damage—in this case the price they had to pay to acquire Gonzalez, which includes their remaining contracts of $262.5 million.
Boston's presumed centerpiece will be the player to be named, namely Rubby De La Rosa. De La Rosa is coming off Tommy John surgery but has looked impressive, easily throwing mid-to-high 90s heat. The other PTBNL, Jerry Sands, could be a very nice fit in left field with the ability to play first as well.
There is tremendous upside for Webster as well, who has a solid fastball with late sinking movement.
Dodgers Grade: D. If they somehow win a World Series championship, either this year or next with big contributions from both Beckett and Crawford along with Gonzalez, then the grade drastically changes. Otherwise, the Dodgers now have three unmovable contracts.
Red Sox Grade: A. No question the Red Sox are the big winners here. Getting rid of $60 million in guaranteed payroll for the 2013 season alone gives GM Ben Cherington tremendous flexibility, not to mention getting rid of a perceived cancer in the clubhouse in Beckett.
Aug. 26: Baltimore Orioles Acquire Joe Saunders from Arizona Diamondbacks
Arizona Diamondbacks Trade: LHP Joe Saunders
Baltimore Orioles Trade: RHP Matt Lindstrom, player to be named later.
It was pretty clear that southpaw pitcher Joe Saunders had no future in Arizona—not with the stable of pitching being developed in Trevor Bauer, Tyler Skaggs, Patrick Corbin and others.
In moving to Baltimore, the presumption was that Saunders would add a veteran arm to a rotation filled with youngsters. The return of Jason Hammel sometime late next week would also provide a boost.
Lindstrom is as solid a reliever as they come and was once again delivering, posting a 2.72 ERA in 34 appearances for the O's. Lindstrom does have a $4 million option for next season, a decision the Diamondbacks will be forced to make soon after season's end.
The $200K buyout is minimal as well.
Orioles Trade: C. Saunders struggled in his first start for Baltimore, giving up six earned runs on 10 hits in 5.1 innings in the 8-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox. Saunders will have another five or six starts to make a serious mark as the O's try to nail down a playoff spot for the first time in 15 seasons.
Diamondbacks Grade: B+. The D-Backs got back a quality reliever plus a player to be named, so GM Kevin Towers did well with the return package.
Aug. 27: New York Yankees Acquire OF/1B Steve Pearce from Houston Astros
Houston Astros Trade: OF/1B Steve Pearce
New York Yankees Trade: Cash Considerations
After spending the first five years of his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, outfielder/first baseman Steve Pearce has been a much-traveled man in 2012.
Pearce was signed to a minor league deal by the Minnesota Twins during the offseason and was released prior to the start of the regular season. Pearce then signed a minor league deal with the Yankees, but after not being called up the big club, Pearce used an opt-out clause to become a free agent.
Pearce then signed with the Baltimore Orioles, but after just 28 games he was placed on waivers in late July and claimed by the Houston Astros. Now, a month later, Pearce is back with the Yankees once again.
The timing of the deal was certainly fortuitous for the Yankees, who will be without the services of Mark Teixeira for at least another week.
Pearce is hitting .237 on the season with three homers and 14 RBI.
Yankees Grade: C-. They had him originally and are now paying more to get him back.
Astros Grade: B. Again, the Astros got something for not much of anything.
Aug. 31: Atlanta Braves Acquire Utility Man Jeff Baker from Detroit Tigers
Detroit Tigers Trade: UTIL Jeff Baker
Atlanta Braves Trade: Player to be named later
Utility man Jeff Baker is on the move for the second time in less than a month.
Baker becomes the first player to be moved twice within the waiver-trade period. After going to the Detroit Tigers on Aug. 5 from the Chicago Cubs, Baker is now on his way to the Atlanta Braves.
The Tigers had designated Baker for assignment earlier in the day on Friday, paving the way for this deal.
The Braves pick up a player who balances out their bench. Baker is a career .298 hitter against left-handed pitching.
Braves Grade: B. Solid pickup. That is, of course, assuming the Braves aren't giving up a top prospect.
Tigers Grade: D. The Tigers already gave up two PTBNL for a man who lasted less than four weeks with the team.
Aug. 31: Tampa Bay Rays Acquire of Ben Francisco from Houston Astros
Houston Astros Trade: OF Ben Francisco
Tampa Bay Rays Trade: Player to be named later
Francisco is another player, much like Jeff Baker, traded to a second team within weeks.
Francisco had been part of the nine-player trade between the Toronto Blue Jays and Astros on July 20.
The deal gives the Rays some bench depth headed into the final few weeks, but Francisco at this point won't be counted on to provide much more than that—he's hitting just .244 with two homers and seven RBI in 58 games this season.
Rays Grade: C
Astros Trade: B-. The fact that they got anything for Francisco is in their favor.
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.