One Trade MLB Contenders Will Regret Not Making at the Deadline
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Fifteen major league teams still have a realistic shot at making the playoffs. Five of those teams will have their season end after game 162 of the regular season. Two others will be eliminated after the one-game Wild Card Games in each league. The remaining eight will then be cut down to four for the championship series, and then the final two will play in the World Series. Only one team will end the season on a high note.
After their elimination, non-champs will ponder the "what ifs" that could have changed the outcome of their season. If they were to look back to July and the potential trades that they passed on before the trade deadline, regret could follow when they realize that the roster weakness that did them in could've been addressed a couple months earlier.
Here is one trade that each of the 10 contenders (teams with the sixth to 15th best overall record) will regret not making at the deadline.
Royals Don't Trade for Chase Utley
Rumors surrounding Phillies second baseman Chase Utley (pictured) over the past few weeks were more focused on a contract extension and less on trade talk. That doesn't mean he couldn't have been had for the right price.
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. likely set that price extremely high, and a team like the Royals wouldn't have landed the 34-year-old Utley without including one of their top two pitching prospects, Yordano Ventura or Kyle Zimmer.
It would've been a steep price to pay for a two-month rental. But by not adding an impact bat like Utley, the Royals won't have enough firepower to win a playoff spot and they'll end up having one of two regrets. That they didn't acquire Utley or that they didn't just give up and trade starting pitcher Ervin Santana for a huge return when they had the chance.
Diamondbacks Don't Trade for Jake Peavy
Before the Red Sox finally acquired Jake Peavy (pictured) from the White Sox in a three-team deal that included the Tigers, the Diamondbacks had surfaced as a front runner late in talks, according to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com. Buster Olney of ESPN also tweeted that a deal could get done with the D'backs but Arizona would need the Sox to eat some of his remaining salary.
Maybe the deal that sent Ian Kennedy to the Padres on Wednesday, freeing up salary and a rotation spot, would've helped. But Peavy had already been dealt to Boston for Jose Iglesias and a package of lower-level prospects. The D'backs have a very strong farm system. They could've done better.
They'll regret not offering a trade package that was better than Boston's if Trevor Cahill and Brandon McCarthy continue to struggle as they did early in the season once they return from the disabled list later this month.
Yankees Don't Trade for Kendrys Morales
The Yankees did well to acquire right-handed hitting slugger Alfonso Soriano, who will continue to get regular playing time when Curtis Granderson returns.
Soriano will most likely split his time between left field and the designated-hitter spot. But even if Alex Rodriguez isn't suspended and returns to the Yankees lineup in the near future, the team still has one major weakness in the lineup when a left-handed pitcher is on the mound.
First baseman Lyle Overbay is having a fine season filling for the injured Mark Teixeira, but Overbay can't hit lefties and the Yankees don't really have any other options.
General manager Brian Cashman had to at least ask the Mariners about Kendrys Morales (pictured; .846 OPS vs. LHP) and Michael Morse (.945 OPS vs. LHP), who'd be perfect fits in the part-time role as Overbay's platoon partner and possibly even full-time upgrades.
The price was likely too high but Cashman might not think that if the Yankees continue to get zero production out of the spot. Brent Lillibridge (2-for-22 vs. LHP) started at first base against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers on Thursday.
Dodgers Don't Trade for Michael Young
Dodgers third baseman Juan Uribe is having a comparable season to Phillies third baseman Michael Young (pictured), trailing him only slightly in OPS (.736 to .758). But here's the question. In a playoff game against a tough opposing pitcher, who would you rather have in your lineup—Uribe or Young?
Even at age 36, you take Young every time. The career .300 hitter is still a tough out with 26 multi-hit games on the season. Uribe, after posting a very out of character 11/8 walk-strikeout rate in April, is back to his free-swinging ways with 12 walks and 39 strikeouts since.
The Phillies were shopping Young at the deadline but couldn't come to an agreement with any teams. It's not known if the Dodgers were involved in talks, but general manager Ned Colletti will wish that he would've acquired Young if Uribe turns back into the guy that posted a .552 OPS over his first two seasons with the team.
Rangers Don't Trade for Alex Rios
Lance Berkman's injury that could keep him out for the season, Nelson Cruz's possible suspension, David Murphy's continued struggles and a four-game deficit in the AL West gave the Rangers plenty of incentive to acquire a bat at the trade deadline.
When it was all said and done, though, they didn't acquire Alex Rios (pictured) or Nate Schierholtz or even Marlon Byrd. It's not that they didn't try—they reportedly asked the Blue Jays about Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion according to Danny Knobler of CBS Sports—but it's possible that trade package that landed them Matt Garza might have left them gun shy.
After trading away three very good prospects and at least one player-to-be-named-later to the Cubs, trading away three more for Rios might not have seemed like the best idea, despite having one of the deepest farm systems in baseball.
If they fall short of the playoffs, though, general manager Jon Daniels won't help but second guess himself knowing he assembled a championship-caliber pitching staff but left the offense a hitter or two short.
Orioles Don't Trade for Michael Morse
It's not that the O's weren't aggressive. They acquired two very good starting pitchers—Scott Feldman and Bud Norris—and Francisco Rodriguez, one of the best relievers available on the trade market. But they've gotten very little production out of the designated-hitter spot this season and are currently going with rookie Henry Urrutia (9-for-29, 0 HR, 0 BB, 6 K).
As was the case with the other three acquisitions, it didn't take a top prospect to get the deal done. Adding Michael Morse (pictured) on a two-month rental would've likely cost a very good prospect, but it's hard to believe they couldn't have gotten a deal without including one of their top three pitching prospects—Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman or Eduardo Rodriguez—or top position player prospect Jonathan Schoop.
A package of any other combination of two prospects in the organization to acquire Morse, who has a .736 OPS with 11 homers in 58 games for the Mariners, would've given the O's a better shot to catch the Red Sox and Rays in the AL East.
General manager Dan Duquette confirmed that they were trying to add a right-handed bat but came up short because of so many contenders also in on the same hitters. Since none were traded, though, we can assume the price was high. That won't be considered the case if the O's fall just shy of the playoffs or in a playoff series because of an offensive deficiency.
Reds Don't Trade for Luke Gregerson
With Sean Marshall having missed most of the season due to a shoulder injury and a recent setback pushing back his return, and Jonathan Broxton also out with a forearm injury, the Reds have been leaning on J.J. Hoover, Sam LeCure, Logan Ondrusek and Manny Parra to get the ball to closer Aroldis Chapman. And they've been up to the task, especially as of late.
But Broxton, who is on a rehab assignment, wasn't pitching all that well before the injury and with Marshall's status up in the air, it might've been a smart move to add another proven late-inning reliever.
Luke Gregerson (pictured), who has been one of the most consistent eighth inning setup men in the game over the last few seasons for the Padres, would've been a nice pickup as the third place Reds try to avoid falling out of contention.
Indians Don't Trade for Javier Lopez
Of all the left-handed relief pitchers who appeared to be available on the trade market—Mike Gonzalez, Javier Lopez, Oliver Perez, James Russell, Wesley Wright—the Indians filled their need by acquiring Marc Rzepczynski, a guy who hasn't been good enough to fill a spot in the rookie-filled bullpen of the Cardinals this season.
Rzepczynski was sent to the minors in late April after he allowed seven earned runs in his first nine innings. He was decent in Triple-A (3.07 ERA, 44 IP, 18 BB, 31 K), holding left-handed hitters to a .185 batting average, but I'm guessing he'd be the sixth choice of most teams in the group that includes the aforementioned lefties.
Sure, acquiring Rzepczynski was probably the cheapest option while the price for two months of Giants lefty Javier Lopez (1.42 ERA; lefties hitting .172) was reportedly very high.
But unless the Giants were holding out for a top prospect, which would've been ridiculous for a lefty relief specialist who will be a free agent at season's end, it would've made sense to pay the price to acquire the battle-tested veteran as the Tribe fights to get back into the playoffs for the first time in six years.
Tigers Don't Trade for Hunter Pence
Maybe the Giants weren't aggressively shopping Hunter Pence and maybe the Tigers weren't aggressively pursuing an upgrade over left fielder Andy Dirks, who is having a rough season (.659 OPS). But that doesn't mean that general manager Dave Dombrowski didn't at least think of the possibility.
Pence was acquired by the Giants just before last year's deadline and helped lead the team to a World Series title over Dombrowski's team. He's aware of the impact Pence could have. He also probably didn't want to give up his top prospect, Nick Castellanos, in order to acquire him.
But with two months to go in the season, Castellanos also doesn't look like a guy ready to come up and help down the stretch (.557 OPS in Triple-A in July).
If they fail to capture the championship again, the window for this Tigers team could start shrinking in the near future and they will regret not going all out in a year where they appeared to have a very good shot. Even if going all out meant trading Castellanos for Pence.
Braves Don't Trade for Tim Lincecum
The Braves, who have a huge lead in the NL East and are destined for the postseason, are in an interesting position. They appear to have enough starting pitching but lack a veteran with proven success in the playoffs. They appear to have enough relief pitching but lack a dominant eighth inning setup man with Jonny Venters out for the season.
So the best answer could've been acquiring someone who has a chance to be either one. Tim Lincecum can still pitch like an "ace" on occasion and can look close to his former dominant self. He has two World Series titles and has success as a starter and reliever in the playoffs.
Acquiring the 29-year-old free agent-to-be for a pretty good package of prospects and taking on a majority of his remaining salary might have been one of the riskiest moves in trade deadline history. But standing pat, aside from adding lefty Scott Downs, and hoping this young and untested roster will thrive in the spotlight of the playoffs is also a risk.