MLB Trade Deadline: Winners and Losers as the Clock Ticks Down
As another July comes to a close we once again have many teams who have upgraded their rosters, and thus their chances of making the playoffs and winning a World Series.
Some of the deals teams made may come back to haunt them in later years, while for others the deals may be what puts them over the top, so the cost is worth it.
With the trading deadline just hours away, here are this year’s biggest WINNERS and LOSERS so far...
WINNER: San Francisco Giants
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Beltran gives the Giants a legitimate middle of the order bat, to go along with their stellar pitching staff, and will improve their defense in the outfield as well.
Wheeler could become the ace of the Mets staff in future years, and the Giants may come to regret dealing him away, but this was a move the defending World Champions should have made without any question.
LOSER: Cleveland Indians
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However, they severely overpaid for Jimenez, giving up top pitching prospect Alex White, along with three other players. With the Rockies shopping their ace, who is signed to a very reasonable contract, questions have arisen such as “Do they know something we don’t?” about Jimenez?
After starting last season 15-1 and dominant, he’s been anything but, and the numbers show it. The Rockies were selling high, and the Indians bought it.
Acquiring Fokudome did not cost as much, but when the Indians fail to make the playoffs this year (Detroit or Minnesota will win the division), these deals will come back to haunt them in later years.
WINNER: Philadelphia Phillies
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With the Phillies’ offense struggling mightily for consistency and needing a right-handed bat, they acquired Houston outfielder Hunter Pence for two of their top prospects.
With the Phillies dealing away a significant number of their better prospects over the last few years, their farm system has taken a huge hit. However, in a “win-now” mode, the main job of the minor leagues is to feed the major league roster—in whatever way possible.
Pence gives the Phillies an upgrade offensively, defensively and especially a better balance in the lineup.
Five to six years from now when they’re watching the Astros succeed with the players they drafted and signed, there may be some regret, but another World Championship trophy would go a long way towards easing that.
LOSER: Houston Astros
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For the second year in a row the Astros had at least one of the game’s hottest names on the market. In 2010, they dealt the Phillies' Roy Oswalt for a marginal return; in 2011, they again traded with the Phillies, acquiring a couple of top prospects for Pence.
However, after rejecting the Phillies initial offer, GM Ed Wade accepted a marginally improved one. (Ed Wade does not get enough credit for helping to build the current Phillies juggernaut, but I forget, didn’t he get fired?) Then two days later they sent OF Michael Bourn to the Atlanta Braves for OF Jordan Schafer and a package of prospects, none of which are rated as Atlanta’s best.
WINNER: Atlanta Braves
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After watching their two biggest National League competitors, the Phillies and Giants, beef up their outfield and offense with players they themselves were interested in, the Braves turned to Houston and sent a package of players for speedy outfielder Michael Bourn.
While Carlos Beltran or Hunter Pence would have been a good upgrade for them, Bourn is a better fit. He give them a legitimate leadoff hitter they have lacked for years. And, perhaps just as important, Michael Bourn is a terrific outfielder, the best they’ve had patrolling the spacious outfield of Turner Field since Andruw Jones.
Without having to surrender any of their better prospects, the Braves definitely come out ahead on this one, especially since Bourn will be making trouble for the rest of the NL East for years to come.
LOSER: New York Mets
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Heading into the season the Mets had a number of players widely regarded as trade-bait to restock their farm system. So far they’ve dealt closer Francisco Rodriguez and outfielder Carlos Beltran and acquired one prospect of significance.
With ownership trimming payroll it’s unlikely they’ll be able to afford to keep Jose Reyes AND David Wright in Flushing, and they could have hauled in a king’s ransom for either or both.
Fan pressure, performing above expectations, and the thinking that Reyes will not receive top-dollar offers on the free agent market have led management to hold onto both.
Most trades made at the deadline take years to truly know the value; the Mets will know before Spring Training 2012 if holding onto Reyes was a smart move.
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The jury is still out on a number of contenders.
The Red Sox and Yankees have yet to make any moves of significance, although Boston had a deal for Rich Harden that fell apart. It seems odd that neither AL East powerhouse would fail to add anyone at the trading deadline, especially when each still has holes to patch up.
In the National League the Brewers and Cardinals both picked up utility infielders, while the Diamondbacks acquired starter Jason Marquis from Washington, in an effort to challenge the Giants in the West.
The Padres almost have to make at least one move, dealing away some veteran talent they have on their roster. Never count out the Athletics from putting something together late, as Billy Beane seems to enjoy making loud splashes that enhance his reputation as a “genius.”
It will be an interesting rest of the way, and teams can still make deals through August 31st and have acquired players available for their postseason roster, although a lot of the game’s better players will not pass through waivers.