Grading All of MLB's Biggest July Trades 1 Month Later
As the calendar turns over to September and the 2014 MLB season enters its final stretch, it's hard to believe it's already been a month since one of the most exciting trade deadlines in recent memory.
Now that some time has passed, it's time to re-evaluate the winners and losers of each notable July trade, though postseason performance will eventually be the biggest determining factor for whether or not a number of a deals were really worth pulling off.
For now, here are updated grades for both sides of each July trade around the MLB based on how players have performed so far with their new teams and how the trades project to work out long term.
SP Jeff Samardzija/Jason Hammel to the Oakland Athletics
Date: July 5
Oakland Athletics Received: SP Jeff Samardzija, SP Jason Hammel
Samardzija is 4-4 with a 3.57 ERA in 11 starts since coming to the A's, and he'll almost certainly have a rotation spot once the playoffs roll around. He also has the added value of another year of team control next season.
Hammel, on the other hand, has been roughed up in Oakland, going 1-5 with a 5.77 ERA and just two quality starts in eight games. The grade of this deal will hinge on how well Samardzija pitches in October, as there's a good chance Hammel won't crack the postseason roster.
Chicago Cubs Received: SS Addison Russell, SP Dan Straily, OF Billy McKinney
There is no question the Cubs got top value out of trading Samardzija, as Addison Russell is one of the game's top prospects. After an injury-plagued start to the season, he's hit .293/.333/.543 with 10 doubles, 12 home runs and 36 RBI in 47 games as a 20-year-old in Double-A.
Billy McKinney will likely find himself ranked among the team's top 10 prospects heading into next season, as he too has a high ceiling, while Dan Straily will get a chance to compete for a rotation spot and was a nice buy-low candidate.
SP Brandon McCarthy to the New York Yankees
Date: July 6
New York Yankees Received: SP Brandon McCarthy, $2.05 million (of $4.1 million remaining salary)
The Yankees took a chance on Brandon McCarthy despite a 3-10 record and 5.01 ERA in 18 starts with the Diamondbacks, as his 3.81 FIP indicated that he was in line for some positive regression.
He's gone 5-3 with a 2.47 ERA (2.39 FIP) in nine starts since coming to New York, helping stabilize the team's patchwork rotation, and significantly boosting his free-agent stock in the process. In fact, the Yankees may very well look to bring him back in the offseason, and he is reportedly interested in re-signing.
"Yeah. There wouldn't be a question in my mind about that," McCarthy told Daniel Barbarisi of The Wall Street Journal. "I feel like it's a great fit for me here. The guys here have been fantastic, everybody associated with the club. And it's living in New York—there's so many great aspects."
Arizona Diamondbacks Received: SP Vidal Nuno
Considering they weren't going to re-sign McCarthy at the end of the season and how bad his numbers were at the time of the trade, moving him for a capable starter in Vidal Nuno, who is under team control through 2019, was not a bad deal.
The 27-year-old is 0-4 with a 3.23 ERA in 10 starts, and even if he winds up getting bumped from the rotation down the line, he still has value as a left-hander who throws strikes.
RP Jason Frasor to the Kansas City Royals
Date: July 16
Kansas City Royals Received: RP Jason Frasor
The Royals bullpen was already one of the best in the league when the deadline rolled around, and adding Jason Frasor to the mix has only made it better.
The veteran right-hander has a 1.69 ERA and 1.031 WHIP in 16 appearances for Kansas City and a 2.90 ERA in 54 games overall on the season.
Texas Rangers Received: RP Spencer Patton
Spencer Patton is a 26-year-old minor league reliever. He has a 3.90 ERA and 1.075 WHIP in 49 games at the Triple-A level this season. Not much upside here, but he could crack the big league bullpen at some point next season.
RP Huston Street to the Los Angeles Angels
Date: July 19
Los Angeles Angels Received: RP Huston Street, RP Trevor Gott
Huston Street has been the best closer in baseball this season, converting 35 out of 37 save chances with a 1.06 ERA, and the move from the NL to the AL has not affected him at all. He's 11-of-12 on save opportunities with a 1.00 ERA since joining the Angels, helping shore up what was a worrisome bullpen.
San Diego Padres Received: 2B Taylor Lindsey, SS Jose Rondon, RP R.J. Alvarez, SP Elliot Morris
There is no marquee piece of this trade on the Padres' side of things, but all four of these players have a chance to turn into solid big league contributors.
Shortstop Jose Rondon, a 20-year-old playing in High-A, is now the No. 9 prospect in the Padres system, according to MLB.com's Prospect Watch. Taylor Lindsey is No. 11, while the pitchers both fall outside of the top 20.
Considering what the Rangers managed to get for Joakim Soria, one would think the Padres should have been able to get more for Street, especially considering his team-friendly $7 million option for next year.
3B Chase Headley to the New York Yankees
Date: July 22
New York Yankees Received: 3B Chase Headley
Even if he brought nothing to the table offensively, Chase Headley still represented a significant upgrade defensively at the hot corner over the likes of Kelly Johnson and Yangervis Solarte. With a 22.1 UZR/150 and 11 Defensive Runs Saved, according to FanGraphs, he's been Gold Glove-caliber this year.
As it stands, he has provided a little something offensively, hitting .242/.336/.358 with five doubles, three home runs and 11 RBI in 120 at-bats for the Yankees.
San Diego Padres Received: 3B Yangervis Solarte, RP Rafael De Paula
Yangervis Solarte gave the Padres a capable replacement for Headley, both in the short term and potentially long term. He's hit .264/.355/.357 with 15 RBI and 19 runs in 33 games with San Diego.
Rafael De Paula is a 23-year-old starter with plus stuff, but he's having a tough season at the High-A level, posting a 5.05 ERA and 1.468 WHIP. He does have 137 strikeouts in 124.2 innings of work, and a move to the bullpen down the line could help him reach the majors quickly.
RP Joakim Soria to the Detroit Tigers
Date: July 23
Detroit Tigers Received: RP Joakim Soria
After missing all of 2012 and spending last year pitching in middle relief, Joakim Soria returned to the closer's role for the Texas Rangers this season and again looked like one of the better stoppers in the game.
He had converted 17 of 19 save chances with a 2.70 ERA and 11.3 K/9 at the time of the trade, but he's made just six appearances in Detroit, posting a 10.38 ERA before landing on the DL with a strained oblique.
Texas Rangers Received: SP Jake Thompson, RP Corey Knebel
The Tigers were desperate to upgrade their bullpen, and the Rangers took full advantage, landing two of their top prospects in the deal.
Jake Thompson was a second-round pick in 2012. He's gone 9-5 with a 3.03 ERA and 124 strikeouts in 124.2 innings while reaching Double-A as a 20-year-old this season. He has front-line potential and a relatively high floor. At the very least, he should turn into a solid middle-of-the-rotation arm.
Corey Knebel was one of the first players from the 2013 draft class to reach the majors, and he has a nasty fastball/curveball combination that makes him a future closer candidate. If nothing else, he should be a plus late-inning reliever for years to come.
DH Kendrys Morales to the Seattle Mariners
Date: July 24
Seattle Mariners Received: DH Kendrys Morales
More than a few people were surprised when the Minnesota Twins ended up signing Kendrys Morales shortly after the June draft, but it wasn't at all shocking to see them flip him, as he hit just .234/.259/.325 in 154 at-bats while the team fell out of contention.
He hasn't done much better since returning to Seattle, with a .222/.285/.342 line, but he has managed five doubles, three home runs and 16 RBI in 31 games.
Minnesota Twins Received: RP Stephen Pryor
There was a time not all that long ago when Stephen Pryor was viewed as a future closer and one of the best relief pitching prospects in baseball.
The 25-year-old has a 0.95 ERA and 9.9 K/9 in 13 appearances for the Twins' Triple-A affiliate since the trade, and he'll have every chance to win a bullpen spot next season. There's still some upside here, and considering what the Twins gave up, it was definitely a win for Minnesota.
SP Jake Peavy to the San Francisco Giants
Date: July 26
San Francisco Giants Received: SP Jake Peavy
Despite the fact that he was just 1-9 with a 4.72 ERA in 20 starts during his time with Boston, there were more than a few teams interested in adding Jake Peavy at the trade deadline.
He's gone 3-4 with a 2.66 ERA and 1.099 WHIP since joining the Giants and reuniting with manager Bruce Bochy, helping ease the loss of Matt Cain as the Giants try to secure a wild-card spot.
Boston Red Sox Received: SP Edwin Escobar, RP Heath Hembree
Edwin Escobar is not having the best season, but he still has a lot of upside as a 22-year-old lefty pitching at the Triple-A level. He ranks as the No. 9 prospect in a very good Red Sox system, according to MLB.com's Prospect Watch.
Heath Hembree was once viewed as a future closer, and the 25-year-old still looks like he could have a bright future ahead of him in the bullpen. In 47 appearances in Triple-A, he has 20 saves with a 3.80 ERA and 11.0 K/9.
SP Justin Masterson to the St. Louis Cardinals
Date: July 30
St. Louis Cardinals Received: SP Justin Masterson
After a breakout season in 2013 saw him go 14-10 with a 3.45 ERA and an AL-high three shutouts, Justin Masterson has taken a huge step backward this season.
He was 4-6 with a 5.51 ERA through 19 starts with the Indians at the time of the trade, but there was some hope he could turn things around thanks to a 4.08 FIP. Instead, he's been even worse since joining the Cardinals, going 2-3 with a 7.90 ERA and just one quality start in six games.
Cleveland Indians Received: OF James Ramsey
It looks like the Indians dodged a bullet by not re-signing Masterson to a long-term deal last offseason, and they actually managed to get a fairly decent prospect in James Ramsey, considering the numbers he was putting up at the time of the deal.
Ramsey was the No. 23 pick in the 2012 draft out of Florida State, and he's hitting .297/.384/.516 with 23 doubles and 16 home runs this season. He had slipped down the organizational depth chart in St. Louis, but he has a chance to be a solid everyday player in Cleveland.
2B Asdrubal Cabrera to the Washington Nationals
Date: July 31
Washington Nationals Received: 2B Asdrubal Cabrera
Asdrubal Cabrera is not the same dynamic offensive player he was during back-to-back All-Star appearances in 2011 and 2012, but he still puts up decent numbers for a middle infielder.
With Ryan Zimmerman on the DL and Anthony Rendon sliding over to third base, the second base spot was the only real hole for the Nationals to fill at the deadline and they grabbed the best option available. Cabrera has a respectable .760 OPS with nine extra-base hits and 11 RBI in 25 games with Washington.
Cleveland Indians Received: IF Zach Walters
Zach Walters has a chance to carve out a solid career as a versatile defensive player with plus power. He's hitting .310/.361/.619 with 22 doubles and 17 home runs in 268 at-bats in Triple-A this season.
He can play second, third, shortstop and corner outfield, and while the 24-year-old still has a chance to emerge as an everyday player, he should be a valuable utility guy if nothing else.
SP Jarred Cosart to the Miami Marlins
Date: July 31
Miami Marlins Received: SP Jarred Cosart, IF Enrique Hernandez, OF Austin Wates
The Marlins set out to acquire a young, controllable starting pitcher at the deadline, and they landed a good one in Jarred Cosart.
The 24-year-old is 12-8 with a 3.80 ERA on the season, including a 3-1 record with a 1.64 ERA in five starts since joining the Marlins, and he's under team control through the 2019 season. With Cosart slotted alongside Jose Fernandez, Henderson Alvarez and Nathan Eovaldi next season, the Marlins will have one of the best young staffs in the game.
Houston Astros Received: OF Jake Marisnick, 3B Colin Moran, SP Francis Martes, 2015 Comp Pick
Jake Marisnick looks to have a bright future ahead of him, but with an outfield of Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton in Miami, he was definitely an expendable piece.
Colin Moran was the No. 6 pick in the 2013 draft, and he'll battle another former Marlins top prospect, Matt Dominguez, for the long-term third base job in Houston. He's hitting .305/.353/.419 with 21 RBI in 26 games for the team's Double-A affiliate since the trade.
RF Chris Denorfia to the Seattle Mariners
Date: July 31
Seattle Mariners Received: RF Chris Denorfia
Chris Denorfia quietly had a very nice season in 2013, hitting .279/.337/.395 with 10 home runs and 11 stolen bases as a part-time player, and there were several teams interested in him last winter.
His numbers are down this year, as he's hitting just .242/.290/.317 with one home run and 19 RBI on the year, but he was a nice low-cost addition to pair with Endy Chavez in a right field platoon.
San Diego Padres Received: OF Abraham Almonte, RP Stephen Kohlscheen
Considering he was a free agent at season's end and unlikely to be re-signed, the Padres were going to take what they could get for Denorfia, and they wound up with a decent pair of players.
Abraham Almonte has served as the team's primary center fielder since the trade, hitting .300/.324/.429 over 70 at-bats from the No. 2 spot in the lineup.
Stephen Kohlscheen was a 45th-round pick in 2010, and he's slowly climbed the organizational ranks, reaching Triple-A for the first time this season. In 50 total appearances this year, he has a 2.47 ERA, 1.111 WHIP and solid 1.4 BB/9 and 8.7 K/9 marks. He'll get a shot at the big league bullpen next year.
2B Stephen Drew to the New York Yankees
Date: July 31
New York Yankees Received: 2B Stephen Drew
After signing with the Red Sox at the end of May, Drew has had trouble rounding into form this season, hitting just .171/.249/.327 over 199 total at-bats. That includes a .162/.237/.324 line with two home runs and 10 RBI in 68 at-bats with the Yankees. He's seen the bulk of the playing time at second base this month.
Bad as his numbers are, he may actually wind up being a candidate to be re-signed as the team looks to replace the retiring Derek Jeter.
Boston Red Sox Received: UT Kelly Johnson
The real score for the Red Sox here was unloading most of the $5 million remaining on Drew's contract, as they actually wound up flipping Johnson again in a trade to the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday, as reported by David Wilson of MLB.com.
SP John Lackey to the St. Louis Cardinals
Date: July 31
St. Louis Cardinals Received: SP John Lackey, SP Corey Littrell
This trade was perhaps the biggest surprise of the deadline, as the Cardinals unloaded a pair of key contributors at the big league level to add John Lackey to the rotation.
Lackey has gone 2-1 with a 4.50 ERA in five starts with the team and carries a 3.03 career postseason ERA in 19 games (16 starts). He also has a clause in his contract that will have him playing for the league minimum next season, so that's an added bonus for the Cardinals moving forward.
Corey Littrell is an underrated piece of this deal. The 22-year-old has shown some promise at the High-A level this season, and the Cardinals know a thing or two about evaluating and developing pitchers.
Boston Red Sox Received: 1B Allen Craig, SP Joe Kelly
Unloading Allen Craig and Joe Kelly seemed like a drastic move on the surface, but it actually made sense for the Cardinals. Moving Craig opened up everyday at-bats for top prospect Oscar Taveras, while dealing Kelly was necessary if the team wanted a second proven veteran like Lackey.
For the Red Sox, the deal gives them big league talent as opposed to more prospects, and that should help them turn things around quicker to potentially contend again in 2015 after a dismal 2014 season.
SP Jon Lester to the Oakland Athletics
Date: July 31
Oakland Athletics Received: SP Jon Lester, OF Jonny Gomes
The A's made it clear they were all-in on the 2014 season when they traded top prospect Addison Russell earlier in the month, and they only further solidified that notion when they pulled the trigger on acquiring Jon Lester.
Few active pitchers have a more impressive postseason track record than Lester, and he should be the bona fide ace the staff needs for October. Bringing back Jonny Gomes, who was with the team in 2012 when it made a surprise run to the playoffs, was also a nice move to fill out the outfield rotation.
However, the A's offense has fallen off significantly without Yoenis Cespedes, and that is a fact that can't be overlooked when grading this deal.
Boston Red Sox Received: RF Yoenis Cespedes, 2015 Comp Pick
Just like the aforementioned John Lackey trade, the Red Sox opted to add big league talent over prospects. Yoenis Cespedes gives them a powerful bat in the middle of their lineup for next year and beyond if they can come to terms on an extension.
The 28-year-old is hitting .277/.299/.465 with four home runs and 22 RBI in 26 games since coming to Boston, and he's helped provide some much-needed protection for David Ortiz in the cleanup spot.
If the Red Sox can find a way to extend Cespedes and re-sign Lester this coming offseason, this would be a slam dunk "A++" grade for this deal.
RP Andrew Miller to the Baltimore Orioles
Date: July 31
Baltimore Orioles Received: RP Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller emerged as one of the best left-handed relievers in baseball this season, and the Red Sox held strong to their asking price of a top prospect in return for him.
The Orioles paid that price, and they've gotten a great return so far. Miller has a 0.75 ERA and 0.667 WHIP in 12 appearances in Baltimore, helping turn the bullpen into a legitimate strength for the stretch run.
Giving up Eduardo Rodriguez was still a steep price to pay for a non-closer reliever on an expiring contract, though.
Boston Red Sox Received: SP Eduardo Rodriguez
Miller has been great, but giving up left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez was still a steep price to pay, and the Red Sox did a nice job getting maximum value out of a rental middle reliever.
The 21-year-old Rodriguez has gone 5-8 with a 3.71 ERA in 21 starts in Double-A this season, including 2-1 with a 0.86 ERA in five starts since the trade, and he gives the Red Sox another high-ceiling pitching prospect in an organization that is loaded with them.
SP Tommy Milone to the Minnesota Twins
Date: July 31
Minnesota Twins Received: SP Tommy Milone
Through no fault of his own, Tommy Milone ended up as the odd man out in Oakland after the team added Samardzija and Hammel to the rotation. Milone found himself demoted to the minors as a results of that deal, despite going 6-3 with a 3.55 ERA in 16 starts to that point.
The Twins, a franchise in desperate need of some reliable starting pitching, jumped at the chance to add a controllable young starter at a low price, and this could wind up looking like the best deal of the deadline a few years from now.
Oakland Athletics Received: OF Sam Fuld
Sam Fuld is actually in his second go-around with the Athletics this season, as he opened the year in Oakland before being scooped up on waivers by the Twins on April 20.
He was an on-base machine in Minnesota, hitting .274/.370/.354 in 164 at-bats, and the A's jumped at the chance to bring him back, pairing him with fellow deadline acquisition Jonny Gomes in a left field platoon to replace Yoenis Cespedes.
He's hit .253/.298/.354 with 11 runs scored in 27 games since returning to Oakland.
LF Gerardo Parra to the Milwaukee Brewers
Date: July 31
Milwaukee Brewers Received: LF Gerardo Parra
A two-time Gold Glove winner during his time with the Diamondbacks, Gerardo Parra became expendable in Arizona thanks to the emergence of Ender Inciarte and David Peralta.
The Brewers didn't necessarily need him, but with a weak bench and an injury-prone Ryan Braun, he was a nice addition nonetheless. He's hit .238/.304/.405 in 42 at-bats in Milwaukee.
Arizona Diamondbacks Received: OF Mitch Haniger, SP Anthony Banda
Mitch Haniger is now ranked as the No. 10 prospect in the Diamondbacks system, according to MLB.com's Prospect Watch, and he's hitting .258/.325/.422 with 11 home runs on the year in Double-A.
Anthony Banda may wind up being the prize of the deal, though, as the 21-year-old lefty is 9-6 with a 3.03 ERA and 117 strikeouts in 118.2 innings on the year in Single-A.
3B Martin Prado to the New York Yankees
Grade: July 31
New York Yankees Received: 3B Martin Prado
Despite the fact that he's having a down season at the plate, Martin Prado still remains an incredibly valuable player thanks to his defensive versatility.
He's due $11 million each of the next two seasons, so picking him up has financial ramifications for the Yankees beyond 2014, but he's been solid since coming to New York.
In 99 at-bats, he's hit .273/.301/.465 with seven doubles and four home runs while spending time at second, third and both corner outfield spots.
Arizona Diamondbacks Received: 1B Peter O'Brien, Player To Be Named Later
Unloading the $22 million remaining on Prado's contract, and thus opening up a spot for top prospect Jake Lamb at third base, was a solid move by the Diamondbacks, but they also picked up a solid power prospect in Peter O'Brien.
The 24-year-old is hitting .271/.316/.594 with 23 doubles and 34 home runs on the season between High-A and Double-A, and while his future may be as a designated hitter, his bat will find its way to the majors one way or another if he keeps hitting for power.
SP David Price to the Detroit Tigers in Three-Team Deal
Date: July 31
Detroit Tigers Received: SP David Price
Picking up David Price was a win for the Tigers on a number of levels. Obviously, adding one of the game's best pitchers to a rotation that was already one of the best in the AL was big, but it also provides Detroit with some insurance should Max Scherzer decide to walk in free agency this offseason.
Price still has a year of team control, and Detroit could opt to turn its attention to locking him up long term as opposed to Scherzer.
Price was shelled his last time out, and he's now 1-2 with a 4.41 ERA in five starts with the Tigers, but this was a move made with the postseason and beyond in mind.
Tampa Bay Rays Received: SP Drew Smyly, IF Nick Franklin, SS Willy Adames
This deal was a bit shocking on the Rays' side at first, as it was hard to believe they couldn't get more for Price, but when all is said and done, they may wind up getting the best end of this deal.
Drew Smyly has gone 3-1 with a 1.50 ERA in five starts replacing Price in the rotation, and he's controllable through the 2018 season.
Nick Franklin could wind up replacing Ben Zobrist at second base if he walks after next season, while Willy Adames appears to have as high a ceiling as any shortstop prospect in baseball.
The soon-to-be 19-year-old is hitting .276/.355/.437 with 41 extra-base hits and 61 RBI in full-season Single-A this year. He's well ahead of the developmental curve and should only get better.
Grade: B, with the potential to be an A+ when all is said and done.
Seattle Mariners Received: CF Austin Jackson
As the deadline drew to a close, the Mariners essentially flipped an infielder they didn't have a place for in Nick Franklin for one of the better young center fielders in the game in Austin Jackson. Hard to call that anything but an A+ move.
He's hit just .248/.293/.303 since coming to the Mariners, but there's little question he's an upgrade at the leadoff spot, and Seattle will be counting on him to contribute down the stretch.
RP James Russell, UT Emilio Bonifacio to the Atlanta Braves
Date: July 31
Atlanta Braves Received: RP James Russell, UT Emilio Bonifacio
The Braves' two biggest needs were a left-handed reliever and some versatility off the bench, and they addressed both needs in one trade with the Cubs.
James Russell has a 2.31 ERA in 13 appearances, and he'll be back next season as well. Emilio Bonifacio is hitting .281/.313/.328 in 64 at-bats while playing second, shortstop and all three outfield spots.
All in all a solid move for a relatively low cost.
Chicago Cubs Received: C Victor Caratini
An athletic catcher who can also play third base, Victor Caratini gives the Cubs another option in their search for a long-term answer behind the plate.
The 21-year-old is hitting .277/.346/.402 with 22 doubles and 55 RBI in Single-A this season, and his plus plate discipline should make him an above-average offensive backstop long term.
All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference and are accurate through Saturday, Aug. 30.
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