5 Blockbuster Trades MLB Teams Have to Make at the 2013 Deadline
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MLB contenders must seize opportunities to add impact players prior to the 2013 non-waiver trade deadline. They face ultimatums as July winds down: Complete blockbuster deals to address glaring weaknesses, or risk having those weaknesses exploited down the stretch.
Five teams in particular feel the urgency to find solutions for specific needs. Of course, their challenge is fending off the other dozen or so clubs that feel postseason competition is still a possibility.
All of the veteran targets included in this article—such as Jake Peavy, Alex Rios and Ervin Santana—are ones who could realistically be moved.
We'll spend the next few slides imagining what prospects/controllable players the league's top teams would be willing to sacrifice in an effort to bolster their rosters now.
Cleveland Indians Reinforce Pitching Staff
Cleveland Indians get: LHP Mike Gonzalez and RHP Kyle Lohse
Milwaukee Brewers get: RHP Kieran Lovegrove, SS/2B Ronny Rodriguez and RHP Jake Sisco
Even with Justin Verlander slumping for the Detroit Tigers, the Tribe doesn't have the pitching strength to leapfrog them in the standings.
One specific problem has been that their right-handers struggle when at a platoon disadvantage (Ubaldo Jimenez being the unlikely exception). Zach McAllister, for example, surrenders an .816 OPS to left-handed batters and doesn't confidently pound the strike zone against them.
The 34-year-old Lohse could remedy that problem. Since 2011, his performance has been completely unaffected by the opposition's handedness.
Moreover, the staff sorely needs a workhorse to spell the bullpen, which has thrown more pitches than any other American League contender, according to MLB.com. Excluding a rain-shortened outing on June 30, Lohse has lasted six-plus innings in every start for the past two months.
Cleveland general manager Chris Antonetti admits that he wants the 'pen to be "a little more consistent," tweets MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. Southpaw Rich Hill has pitched himself onto the chopping block. His velocity has gradually risen, but Hill's inability to throw strikes makes him untrustworthy in high-leverage situations.
Gonzalez, meanwhile, has only issued one walk in the entire month of July. The Indians would just need to be careful calling his number on back-to-back days.
As Bleacher Report's own Mike Rosenbaum explains, "Rodriguez’s place in Cleveland’s long-term picture is fading fast" with Francisco Lindor and Jason Kipnis looking like the middle infield of the future. Both Lovegrove and Sisco are several years away from sniffing a major league mound.
Baltimore Orioles Rent Ervin Santana
Baltimore Orioles get: RHP Ervin Santana
Kansas City Royals get: LHP Josh Hader, RHP Steve Johnson and LHP T.J. McFarland
The Scott Feldman trade wasn't enough. At this point, the O's rotation isn't strong enough to lead them to a playoff berth, much less allow them to advance.
Jason Hammel needs to be bumped to the bullpen in favor of somebody more efficient. Like in 2012, he's struggling to provide length. (Only six of his first 20 starts lasted more than six innings.) A bloated home run rate and drop-off in strikeouts have made him far less effective.
Santana is incredibly inconsistent from year to year, but he's masterfully harnessing his front-line starter stuff this season (3.06 ERA, 1.08 WHIP in 138.1 IP). He uses fewer than 15 pitches per inning and has not been knocked out prior to the fifth on any occasion.
Understandably, the asking price is steep. The Royals can choose to keep the right-hander through the summer to please their season-ticket holders, extend a qualifying offer to him in the offseason and receive a future first-round draft pick if he signs elsewhere. They would only consider moving Santana at the deadline if offered "major league-ready talent," tweets Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
The Orioles wouldn't be averse to that; they moved Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop to acquire Feldman.
Johnson and McFarland have both pitched for Baltimore this season, and they're both under team control through 2018. Hader's dominance in the low minors the past two years makes him the centerpiece of this package.
Pittsburgh Pirates Bolster Lineup and Defense
Pittsburgh Pirates get: SS Alexei Ramirez, RF Alex Rios and cash
Chicago White Sox get: RHP Luis Heredia, RHP Nick Kingham and SS Jordy Mercer
I initially suggested this blockbuster earlier this month, and it still makes so much sense, especially from Pittsburgh's perspective.
Ramirez has been an outstanding defender for the past half-decade. Even when he isn't launching balls over the wall, the Cuban veteran provides an above-average all-around contribution at shortstop. His long-term contract and durable track record ensure that the Pirates wouldn't even need to think about making changes at the position until 2015.
Although Rios annoyingly alternates hot streaks and slumps, he would easily out-hit and out-defend the current Garrett Jones/Travis Snider/Jose Tabata combination in right field.
Opposing catchers already have trouble monitoring Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen on the basepaths. The complementary running ability of Ramirez and Rios would make facing the Bucs that much more of a nightmare.
The 26-year-old Mercer belongs in the Windy City with a team that's interested in contending a few years down the road. Heredia's 2013 season got off to a late start, but he's showing promise at the Single-A level. Kingham's stock has skyrocketed thanks to a sexy strikeout-to-walk ratio. He could be ready for a taste of the majors this September.
Boston Red Sox Upgrade Injury-Riddled Bullpen
Boston Red Sox get: LHP Glen Perkins
Minnesota Twins get: SS Deven Marrero and LHP Henry Owens
Boston's consistency is remarkable.
The Red Sox haven't dropped more than three straight games at any point this summer. It's hard to believe they're battling for a division title just one year after finishing in the cellar.
However, these good times will not be sustainable with their current personnel. The front office has only acquired one established reliever (Matt Thornton) to replace three who have been lost to season-ending injuries (Andrew Bailey, Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Miller).
This team has an abundance of starting pitchers in the high minors to fill in for Clay Buchholz until he returns from the disabled list. Rather, the chief priority as the deadline nears ought to be getting an overpowering yet composed reliever to secure tight games.
In his second year as the Twins closer, Perkins is faring surprisingly well against right-handed batters. He's been used sparingly so far in 2013, so the Red Sox don't have to be concerned with him tiring down the stretch.
Minnesota's high asking price for its homegrown 30-year-old is justified by his affordable long-term contract. Perkins earns just $10 million from 2013-2015, and his 2016 club option is either $4.5 million or a $300,000 buyout.
The 21-year-old Owens is already closing in on a promotion to Double-A with an 11.1 K/9 through 42 professional appearances. Marrero might take longer to progress, but his elite fielding and advanced plate discipline suggest he could enjoy a long career.
Arizona Diamondbacks One-Up Rival Los Angeles Dodgers
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Arizona Diamondbacks get: OF Alejandro De Aza and RHP Jake Peavy
Chicago White Sox get: 3B Matt Davidson, 3B/1B Brandon Drury, LHP David Holmberg and OF Jason Kubel
The D-Backs and Los Angeles Dodgers will wrestle for the NL West title in August and September. Being at a talent deficit, the former should have more motivation to complete a trade in the coming days.
Peavy pitched to a 119 ERA+ from 2002-2009 during his time with the San Diego Padres. In 299 innings over the past two seasons, he has maintained an identical 119 ERA+. There hasn't been any drop-off in quality; he's still a front-line starter.
Right-handers Trevor Cahill and Brandon McCarthy could soon return from shoulder injuries, but there's no such thing as too much pitching depth. They weren't performing up to their potential before landing on the disabled list, anyway.
De Aza is a more complete offensive player than Kubel and less of a liability with the glove. Kubel has been mired in a miserable slump the past five weeks, and Arizona cannot afford to wait until he breaks out of it.
Posting a career-high batting average and slugging percentage at age 22, Davidson is ready to handle the hot corner for a major league team. What a perfect fit for the White Sox, who have had horrible production at that position.
Drury was an afterthought in the Justin Upton blockbuster, but here's an opportunity to sell high on him amid a breakout year. A more legitimate prospect, Holmberg gets compared to Mark Buehrle. They wouldn't mind having another one of those on the South Side.