Every MLB team from the contenders to the pretenders had a chance to make some moves during the months of July and August that could help improve their teams.
The contenders were looking for that last piece to get them into the postseason while the pretenders wanted to deal veterans and impending free agents for young players that could help in the future and free up cash for the offseason.
A number of teams missed opportunities that could have made their rosters better this summer. There were, however, a few teams that did an outstanding job this summer. This slideshow will look at how well each team handled their opportunity.
By trading away both Joe Saunders and Stephen Drew, the Arizona Diamondbacks were able to get something back for players that they would have little use for next season.
However, the Diamondbacks did have one miss. They tried to bring in Matt Garza according to Buster Olney of ESPN, but they were not able to put together a deal. Garza could have been an anchor for their staff for years and kept them competitive against the Giants and Dodgers. Without Garza, it is hard to imagine them making a playoff push like they did in 2011 anytime in the near future.
The Atlanta Braves entered trade season in a fairly good place in the standings and they were able to bring in both Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson who should both play key roles in the Braves playoff push.
Adding a bat off of the bench is the only area that the Braves really missed out on during the trade season, but they should still have little problem making the postseason. Still, you have to think Atlanta fans, only one year removed from watching a historic meltdown to miss the postseason on the final night, are a little worried without a blockbuster signing.
With the news that there is no timetable for Nolan Reimold's return, the Baltimore Orioles should have aggressively pursued someone that could take his spot in the outfield (h/t Greg Luca of MLB.com).
Baltimore has been using Nate McLouth for the time being, but they could be in a better position if they had gone out and acquired someone. This issue, however, should not prevent the Orioles from reaching the postseason.
It is really hard to knock the Red Sox for anything that that did not do in the trade market this summer. Boston was able to get rid of $260 million worth of salary commitments in their mega deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers (h/t Robyn Norwood of USA Today).
That move will give the Red Sox a ton of payroll flexibility moving forward and it will also let them pursue a number of big name free agents this winter. The future is definitely bright in Boston.
While Alfonso Soriano has played much better this year, he is still not worth the money that is left on his contract. He has, however, raised his trade value with his play.
The Chicago Cubs certainly would have benefited from dumping his contact. They tried to deal him, but Soriano used his no-trade clause to prevent a trade with the San Francisco Giants (h/t R.J. White of CBS Sports). Until they find a way to rid themselves of Soriano's contract, Theo Epstein will have a hard time finding a complete squad to field.
Holding off the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central will not be an easy task for the Chicago White Sox. A few minor improvements could have made it a bit easier for them.
With a bullpen ERA of 3.75, good for 19th in baseball, the White Sox could have tried to go after a reliever (h/t ESPN). There were not many top relief arms on the market, but there were a few that could have helped out, especially if they were willing to take a risk on a player like Francisco Rodriguez of the Milwaukee Brewers. Oftentimes good players in the middle of a nightmare season can find new life from a change in environment. The White Sox apparently didn't think the arms on the market were worth the risk.
The Cincinnati Reds have really turned things on since the All-Star Break and they have begun to run away with the National League Central.
Cincinnati could have tried to find a slightly better pitcher to replace Mike Leake in the starting rotation, but as a World Series contender, that upgrade was not really needed. The Reds were best to not gamble an upgrade and risk wrecking their team chemistry and momentum.
Shin-Soo Choo was arguably the Cleveland Indians player with the most trade value this summer and the team was considering dealing him. According to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Pittsburgh Pirates had an interest in him.
There are a number of solid prospects in the Pittsburgh Pirates system that the Indians could have acquired, but the were not able to put together a deal. Cleveland definitely missed out here. As a team in rebuilding mode, Choo was a must-move player, but they could not find anyone willing to pay the asking price.
The Colorado Rockies season went nowhere fast this year and they find themselves mired in last place in the National League West. Their pitching has been nothing short of a mess.
Rafael Betancourt has put up good numbers as the Rockies closer this season and he would have been able to bring them a nice piece back in any deal, but they were not able to find a trade partner. They will have to hope that next year their pitching staff rediscovers their potential from years past and the rest of the lineup is consistent in support.
By trading for Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante this summer, the Detroit Tigers were able to fill two of their biggest needs, pitching and a solid infielder, respectively.
The Tigers will likely be in a fight to the finish for the American League Central crown with the Chicago White Sox. The players they added from the Marlins this year could be enough to push them ahead.
One of the winners from the MLB trade deadline was the Houston Astros. They were able to get rid of a number of their veterans and bring back a lot of prospects. This team and its farm system is now stacked with potential future talent. Of course, it will be a few years before this young squad is able to make an impact, but if everything progresses as the Astros hope, they could be the team to beat in five or six years. But still, that's a lot of ifs.
Jeff Francouer has put up awful numbers this season and likely did not have much trade value. However, the Royals should have tried harder to get rid of him. Francouer is currently occupying a roster spot instead of hot prospect Wil Myers and there is no way that that Royals should let that happen again next year. They better hope that Francouer gets hot to end the season if they want any chance of working an offseason deal.
If there is one area that the Los Angeles Angels have had an issue with this year it has been their starting rotation. C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver have been good, but the other starters have struggled.
Adding Zack Greinke was a good decision even though he has struggled, but the Angels also should have tried to go after a cheap back-of-the-rotation starter. If Greinke finds his old self and wins some key games in the postseason, this could be seen as the trade of the year.
It seems as if there was almost no one that the Los Angeles Dodgers didn't acquire during the trade season. They went out and made massive improvements to their roster to put themselves in a position to win the World Series, acquiring AL MVP Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto.
The only potential drawback could be the amount of money spent, but the deep-pocketed new owners and an impending blockbuster TV deal should make this reasonable financially. And even if they are limited a bit by cash in the offseason, they now have a core of solid players that should lead to tons of future success.
When the Miami Marlins went out and acquired Carlos Lee, it looked like they were gearing up for a run to the postseason. That plan quickly changed as the Marlins struggled and fell from realistic contention.
Other teams had an interest in Lee once the Marlins were no longer playoff contenders, but they held on to him (h/t R.J. White of CBS Sports). The Marlins missed out trading the free-agent-to-be and picking up a decent prospect.
One of the biggest moves of the summer came when the Milwaukee Brewers dealt Zack Greinke to the Los Angels Angels for prospects, including Jean Segura who the Brewers believe is their shortstop of the future. If the others turn into solid big-leaguers, this trade will be a huge success for the Crew.
Milwaukee also had the chance to deal a few more potential free agents this summer. Both Francisco Rodriguez and Shaun Marcum cleared through waivers but neither were dealt (h/t Chris Cwik of CBS Sports). Getting anything of value for either of the pitchers would have made a deal worthwhile, but K-Rod struggled enough all season to stave off potential buyers and Marcum is still rehabbing an injury and teams with postseason hopes did not want to assume the risk.
Joe Mauer has been one of the faces of the Minnesota Twins franchise for years. He's a local kid that signed a mega-deal with the team a few years ago.
Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN noted that the Twins had little intention of dealing Mauer. They would have done well to rid themselves of his contract which has left little wiggle room for other signings. Who knows, maybe the could have found a taker in the Dodgers.
Although the season started off well for the New York Mets, the wheels eventually began to fall off and it was clear that they would not be making the playoffs.
Teams had expressed interest in Scott Hairston, but the Mets chose not to deal him (h/t Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger). New York could have gotten at least a decent prospect in return for Hairston.
There will likely be an intense fight to the finish between the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles and the Tampa Bay Rays for the available playoff spots. It could be that only two of the teams get in.
While Andrew Jones and Raul Ibanez have been decent this season, finding a better outfielder for the next few months would have improved the Yankees playoff chances.
Although the Oakland Athletics did not address their issue at shortstop at the July 31st trade deadline, they did eventually fill their hole by acquiring Stephen Drew in August.
When Bartolo Colon failed a drug test and was suspended for 50 games, the Athletics lost one of their most consistent players. While there are a number of young starters in Oakland that can replace him, his veteran presence will be missed.
The Philadelphia Phillies emptied out two-thirds of their starting outfield when they dealt Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino away this summer. A third Phillie outfielder could have been dealt as well.
Juan Pierre is also a player with value as a bench bat for a contender. He cleared waivers, but the Phillies were not able to find a suitor for him (h/t Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports). Pierre is set to become a free agent this summer.
As the season winds down, the biggest area of concern for the Pittsburgh Pirates as they try to make the playoff is the shortstop position.
While there were not many available shortstops, the Pirates should have jumped on Stephen Drew when they had the chance. He did not cost a great deal and he would have been an upgrade over Clint Barmes. Their chances for ending their historic postseason drought now seem to be fading away, and fans, I'm sure, can't help but wonder what pieces they could have added.
Chase Headley is having a career year and is finally looking like the player that scouts thought he could be. As a result, his value has skyrocketed, but he was not dealt at the deadline.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has reported that the team may not look to deal him in the winter either. This could be a mistake because he has a lot of value and the Padres have Jedd Gyorko waiting in the wings to take over at third base.
It was a "Hard Knock Life" for the San Francisco Giants this summer. Everything they did, the rival Los Angeles Dodgers did better.
The Giants made a big improvement to their team by adding Hunter Pence, but they could be in a better place right now if they added more starting pitching. Their roster still seems poised for a postseason run, but the Dodgers are an intimidating foe to face multiple times a season.
Kevin Milwood is set to become a free agent after the season. The Seattle Mariners put him on waivers and he cleared but they did not deal him (h/t Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports). Milwood has little value to the Mariners for the rest of the year since they will not make the postseason. It is a bit of a head-scratcher that they did not trade him.
There was also, as always, talk of trading King Felix, but once again they chose to keep their ace at home.
With a 4.02 ERA, the St. Louis Cardinals' bullpen ranks 21st in the MLB (h/t ESPN). If they are going to make the postseason this year, their bullpen needs to pick things up.
Adding a new reliever into to mix could have significantly improved the Cardinals bullpen. They certainly missed out on that chance this summer.
The Tampa Bay Rays have the fourth worst team batting average in the majors this year and they are just slightly above the Houston Astros (h/t ESPN). However, the Rays are right in the thick of the playoff race.
Finding a solid shortstop, catcher, or even someone that is an improvement over Carlos Pena would have been a nice boost for the Rays. But even so, you can never count out Joe Maddon's squad.
After reaching the World Series for two consecutive years, the Texas Rangers are looking for anything that can finally put them over the edge and allow them to win their first title.
According to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com, the Rangers tried to claim a number of players on waivers this summer. Unfortunately, they were not able to make any moves and it could harm their chances at bringing home the World Series title.
The second base market was fairly weak this winter, which means that the Toronto Blue Jays could have found a taker for Kelly Johnson. He is set to become a free agent after the year so anything would have been a nice return for him. With the Blue Jays squarely out of the playoff picture, they could have traded away Johnson to give one of their youngsters more playing time in the majors and build for the future with some fresh prospects.
With the Stephen Strasburg shutdown date now officially set for September 12th, one must wonder how they can replace him in their starting rotation (h/t Matthew Pouliot of NBC Sports). Sure, they can turn to one of their other pitchers, but they won't replicate what Strasburg could do.
The Washington Nationals are legitimate World Series contenders this season and losing Strasburg for the playoffs hurts. While going out and getting Zack Greinke would have been costly, the Nationals should have gone after another top-of-the-rotation starter such as James Shields.