More like MLB trade dudline, huh?
While not a heck of a lot actually happened on July 31, the final day of non-waiver trading this year, that doesn't mean that the action—or inaction, as it were—from the past week won't have an impact on the playoff races over the final two months of the regular season.
Let's make a pit stop at each of the contenders who made a noteworthy, potentially postseason chase-altering swap in the last week to see what the road to October looks like now.
So no, the Texas Rangers' trade for right-hander Matt Garza isn't included, because that one happened outside of the window.
And with apologies to the Cleveland Indians and their acquisition of lefty reliever Marc Rzepczynski, that's not quite going to cut it.
Here, then, is a rundown of the contending teams in order of who helped themselves the most relative to their place in the standings, specifically for the rest of 2013.
Boston Red Sox
Key Addition(s): RHP Jake Peavy (from Chicago White Sox)
Key Subtraction(s): INF Jose Iglesias (to Detroit Tigers)
Not only was this the biggest trade in terms of quantity—according to Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston, the three-teamer involved seven players in total—it was also the biggest one in terms of quality of return, especially in Boston's case.
The Red Sox were leading the American League East for much of the first half of the season, but the Tampa Bay Rays have come on like bandits over the past 30 games.
The battle to win the division is shaping up to be a dogfight.
With the difference between first and second place that much more important—second place means your postseason stay could be all of one game—the Red Sox needed to do something, particularly given the performance concerns regarding left-hander Jon Lester, and the health issues of righty Clay Buchholz.
At 32, Peavy is no longer the ace he was back in his heyday with the San Diego Padres, and he comes with his own injury concerns. But he's also the best player to change uniforms over the past week in terms of impact for the rest of 2013.
While the loss of Iglesias hurts, the rookie was simply hitting well over his head, and Boston might not lose much, if anything, by giving second-year man Will Middlebrooks the job again. And frankly, it's even possible that Xander Bogaerts, who is one of the top five prospects in baseball and only one level away at Triple-A Pawtucket, could become an X-factor in the third base equation.
The Red Sox helped themselves a good amount with their swap, enough to at least stay neck and neck with Tampa, which just placed left-hander Matt Moore on the DL with a sore elbow, according to The Associated Press.
Key Addition(s): INF Jose Iglesias (from Boston Red Sox); RHP Jose Veras (from Houston Astros)
Key Subtraction(s): OF Avisail Garcia (to Chicago White Sox)
This week was about general manager Dave Dombrowski making just the right moves to help his club get back to the World Series.
First came hard-throwing righty reliever Jose Veras, who was having a strong season as a first-time closer at age 32. That move was followed up a day later by the addition of Iglesias—a slick-fielding infielder who was having a breakout season—in the three-team trade mentioned above.
Neither player is on par with Peavy in terms of talent, but at the same time, Veras and Iglesias will have more opportunities to do something positive for Detroit because of their roles.
The bullpen, especially the back end, has long been a problem area for the Tigers, who now can team Veras with setup-man-turned closer Joaquin Benoit as a second potent right-hander in the late innings.
And Iglesias is a good get as a young player under several more years of team control who does one thing—up-the-middle defense—extremely well.
He's capable of playing third and second base, where Detroit has faced recent injury problems with reigning MVP Miguel Cabrera and Omar Infante, respectively. Not to mention, if starting shortstop Jhonny Peralta is suspended by MLB, as Chris Iott of MLive.com notes, then Iglesias is ready to take over.
The Tigers have been out front in the AL Central for much of the past month, but the Indians—who added only Rzepczynski, as noted up top—are right on their tail and don't seem to be going away.
The division winner could very well wind up being the only playoff team in the Central, and Dombrowski made two moves that should go a long way toward ensuring his club gets that spot.
Key Addition(s): RHP Bud Norris (from Houston Astros); RHP Francisco Rodriguez (from Milwaukee Brewers)
Key Subtraction(s): None
Similar to the Tigers, the Orioles made a pair of moves to obtain two mid-tier players at areas of weakness.
The Rodriguez acquisition bolsters a bullpen that hasn't been as fantastic—and perhaps as lucky—as 2012's unit, and K-Rod still has the stuff and moxie to pitch the eighth inning and get the ball to closer Jim Johnson.
Meanwhile, getting Norris in the last hour or so before Wednesday's deadline (via the AP) is going to pay immediate dividends for Baltimore, who had to put fellow righty Jason Hammel on the DL with right flexor mass tightness, per Derek Wetmore of MLB.com.
With the AL East as tightly packed as it is—the O's are 5.5 games behind the Red Sox and only 2.5 up on the New York Yankees—any sort of improvement via trade should be welcomed in Baltimore, which has the same record as the Rangers, leaving both clubs a half-game behind the Indians for the second wild-card spot.
New York Yankees
Key Addition(s): OF Alfonso Soriano (from Chicago Cubs)
Key Subtraction(s): None
Soriano is not the dynamic player he was the last time he played in New York 10 years ago, but no team landed a better—or more desperately needed—bat than the Yankees.
Now 37, the 15-year big leaguer has his flaws but still brings middle-of-the-order power (.467 SLG) to a lineup that had only one player, Robinson Cano, slugging north of .430 prior to Soriano's arrival.
Counting the Yankees' addition of shortstop Derek Jeter last week and outfielder Curtis Granderson set to return Friday, per Jed Weisberger of MLB.com, New York all of a sudden has some Bombers—or at least hitters—back in the Bronx.
As much as those three bats should help, it's fair to question whether even that will be enough for a Yankees team that sits three back of the second wild-card position and has three teams to jump to get there.
Key Addition(s): LHP Scott Downs (from Los Angeles Angels)
Key Subtraction(s): None
Usually, when your lone addition is a lefty specialist, it's hard to say you've done well. In the Braves' case, though, they did.
Atlanta's once-deep and dominant bullpen has been—and will remain—without Jonny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty, two elite lefty setup men, for the season. So bringing in the southpaw Downs is about as big of a small move as there is.
Downs, 37, has plenty of experience and excels in his role year after year. Plus, he becomes only the second left-hander in Atlanta's bullpen, which should provide some rest for the emerging, but still young, Luis Avilan.
The regular-season impact factor here is a bit lower, but only because of the fact that the Braves have the NL East well at hand at 11 games up.
Don't underestimate the significance of having Downs once October rolls around, though.
Key Addition(s): INF Alberto Callaspo (from Los Angeles Angels)
Key Subtraction(s): INF Grant Green (to Angels)
From here on out, the moves were less than major.
Callaspo is a better fit as a backup/platoon type than as a starting player for a team with playoff hopes, and that's just what he'll be for the A's, his new club, per ESPN.
Oakland has struggled to fill second base all year long, including a disappointing 0-for-15 showing by Green, a rookie who was the club's first-round pick in 2009.
While Callaspo isn't a true fix, he's at least a Band-Aid who can play a couple of positions on defense and switch-hit. Primarily, he's expected to split time at second base, where he'll face left-handers, while lefty-swinging Eric Sogard handles righties.
The A's have managed to keep the Rangers at half an arm's length, and while this deal might not help their chances, it won't hurt them either.
Kansas City Royals
Key Addition(s): OF Justin Maxwell (from Houston Astros)
Key Subtraction(s): None
The Royals, surprisingly, have gotten back into the AL wild-card chase with their eight-game winning streak entering play Thursday.
They're still well on the outside looking in, though, at 4.5 games back and behind four clubs, so the addition of Maxwell—a 29-year-old fringe big leaguer who's got some pop and is athletic enough to help at all three outfield spots—is more of a hedge than a bet.
Tampa Bay Rays
Key Addition(s): RHP Jesse Crain (from Chicago White Sox)
Key Subtraction(s): None
This one would have ranked a notch or two higher, but Crain remains on the DL with a sore shoulder. In other words, the Rays' acquisition isn't going to help much—or at all, really—right away.
But if the 32-year-old veteran, who's been one of the better righty setup men in the game in recent seasons, can come back healthy, this will probably turn out like many of Tampa's other savvy, under-the-radar moves.
The good news is that the Rays—winners of 22 of their past 27—have put themselves in position to be able to wait, if only a little while, for Crain to be ready to help.
Key Addition(s): LHP Joe Thatcher (from San Diego Padres)
Key Subtraction(s): RHP Ian Kennedy
Some will see this as too low, especially given the D-Backs' ongoing bullpen problems, which Thatcher—a premier lefty specialist—can help.
But it's hard to feel good about a trade that sends away a starting pitcher with more years of team control, even one who's struggled as much as Kennedy has this season.
Even while acknowledging that Arizona is due to get righties Trevor Cahill and Brandon McCarthy back soon to help cover the rotation, one really has to squint to see how unloading Kennedy helps the team catch the red-hot Los Angeles Dodgers, who are 2.5 up and won as many games in July (19) as the D-Backs have since June 12.
Then again, addition by subtraction has worked before.
All AP stories come via ESPN.
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