MLB Trade Deadline: Grading Each Deal

Bobby YostCorrespondent IIAugust 1, 2011

MLB Trade Deadline: Grading Each Deal

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    With the plethora of trades before the MLB Trade Deadline, fans of all teams involved debate how good it was. Inevitably, some teams give up too much, while other teams get back too little.

    Like usual, there were some significant deals, headlined by Hunter Pence, Carlos Beltran, Ubaldo Jimenez and Michael Bourn all changing teams. 

    Using value, need and weighing future, present and financial benefit(or cost), I'll be grading each deadline deal. 

Baltimore Orioles Trade Koji Uehara to the Texas Rangers

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    Baltimore Orioles Trade: Koji Uehara, $2 million

    Baltimore Orioles Receive: Chris Davis, Tommy Hunter

    Texas Rangers Trade: Chris Davis, Tommy Hunter

    Texas Rangers Receive: Koji Uehara, $2 million

     

    As expected, the Orioles were sellers at the deadline and rightfully so. Uehara has been a tremendous reliever the past two seasons and even better this year. His 1.51 SIERA(Fangraphs) is just silly. He's second in the majors in getting swings outside the strike zone as well as tied for third in swinging-strike percentage. Unfortunately, at 36 years old, he does not have a future with the non-contending Orioles this year or next year, when his vesting option kicks in(once he reaches 55 games).

    With Neftali Feliz struggling (4.47 SIERA), the Rangers needed another late-inning option. Getting Uehara, plus cash enough to pay for the rest of this season and part of next year's already reasonable $4 million is a great deal.

    Trading two players who don't figure to be in the Rangers' future or make a big league impact for Uehara is even better. In just over 950 plate appearances, Chris Davis, 25, has managed a whole 0.0 fWAR. Even though he's got tremendous power, his low walk-rate, inability to make contact, and defensive shortcomings will hold him back.

    At this point in his career, Hunter, 25, also does not appear to be anything more than a fourth starter, at best. The Orioles may be more inclined to keep him as a reliever, where he's shown increased velocity and ability to induce ground balls, albeit in just over 15 innings.

    I think focusing on young prospects would have been a better choice for the Orioles. At worst, they could even have held unto him next year also and receive a likely Type-A free agent compensation for him, which would be better than Hunter or Chris Davis.

     

    Orioles Grade: D+

    Rangers Grade: A 

Braves Trade for Michael Bourn

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    Atlanta Braves Trade: Jordan Schafer, Juan Abreu, Paul Clemens, Brett Oberholtzer

    Atlanta Braves Receive: Michael Bourn

    Houston Astros Trade: Michael Bourn

    Houston Astros Receive: Jordan Schafer, Juan Abreu, Paul Clemens, Brett Oberholtzer

     

    Despite leading the Wild Card by a few games, the Braves needed to ensure themselves a spot in the playoffs, and I think they did just that without giving up much. Speed demon Michael Bourn has been one of the most underrated players in baseball the last few seasons. Unfortunately for the Astros, that underratedness must have spread out through the general managers as well. 

    Since 2009, Bourn has been fifth among all outfielders with 13.3 fWAR. Even though he has virtually no power, he more than makes up for it with his speed on the bases and tremendous fielding in center field. He's also locked for another year of team control. He'll certainly see a raise from his modest $4.4 million this year, but will still be a bargain. 

    Compared to the deals given for other outfielders, the Braves did not give up much at all. Jordan Schafer, who turns 25 in September, hasn't displayed any power since 2008 and looks to be on his way as a career backup outfielder.

    The prospects given up are nothing to get excited about either. Reliever Juan Abreu, 26, is old for Triple-A and has had a long, consistent history of poor control.

    Right-hander Paul Clemens could improve, but does not appear to have a high ceiling. In John Sickels' preliminary Braves' top prospects list entering 2011, he was rated as the Braves' 23rd best prospect and has not done much to change that thus far in 2011.

    Likewise, Oberholtzer does not have a high ceiling either, despite another nice season in Double-A at just 21 years old. In the same list, Sickels had him as the Braves' 21st best prospect. However, he did manage to be 9th on Baseball America's list of Braves' top prospects

    The deal they got for Bourn was a far cry from the package they received from Philadelphia. It's tough to say if they could have gotten better elsewhere, since he could just be undervalued among other teams, but the Braves did in fact get tremendous value.

     

    Braves Grade: A+

    Astros Grade: D+ 

Dodgers Trade Rafael Furcal to the Cardinals

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    L.A. Dodgers Trade: Rafael Furcal, about $2.5 million

    L.A. Dodgers Receive: Alex Castellano

    St. Louis Cardinals Trade: Alex Castellano

    St. Louis Cardinals Receive: Rafael Furcal, about $2.5 million

     

    With the Dodgers going nowhere and needing to shed money, they had to sell-low on Furcal while saving about $1.4 million and getting a player back. Castellano, who turns 25 on August 4, is old for Double-A but shows good pop when he makes contact. He strikes out too much and walks too little, not a good combination. He may make it as a backup outfielder someday.

    From the Cardinals side, they risk very little for a rental to upgrade their poor shortstop situation. I believe Furcal still has more left in the tank and certainly more than what Theriot can provide. Once Furcal's very low .226 BABIP begins regressing, the Cardinals' will be in fine shape at shortstop.

     

    Dodgers Grade: B

    Cardinals Grade: B+ 

Athletics Trade Reliever Brad Ziegler to the Diamondbacks

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    Oakland Athletics Trade: Brad Ziegler

    Oakland Athletics Receive: Brandon Allen, Jordan Norberto

    Arizona Diamondbacks Receive: Brad Ziegler

    Arizona Diamondbacks Trade: Brandon Allen, Jordan Norberto

     

    The Diamondbacks certainly needed another good bullpen arm in their race for the playoffs. While Ziegler is not a strikeout or control dynamo. He makes up for it by being a ground-ball machine. Under team control through 2014 with just over $400,000 due the rest of the season, he is also a good deal financially. If need be, they can easily trade him again come next year or the year after's trade deadline and recoup a prospect. 

    In return, the Athletics receive first baseman Brandon Allen and reliever Jordan Norberto. Allen is the main piece here as he's displayed great power in the minors, hitting 43 homers over the last two years in Triple-A. While he's struck out a ton(34.9%) in his brief major league appearances, he's shown much better plate discipline in his minor league career walking around 17 percent of the time and striking out in the low-20 percent range.

    Left-hander Jordan Norberto, 24, racks up both strikeouts and walks. In his first shot at the majors, he walked over a batter an inning over a 20-inning sample. He's had a couple minor league seasons with over 11 strikeouts per nine innings.

     

    Athletics Grade: B+

    Diamondbacks Grade: B- 

Pirates Get Ryan Ludwick

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    Pittsburgh Pirates Trade: Player to be Named or Cash

    Pittsburgh Pirates Receive: Ryan Ludwick

    San Diego Padres Trade: Ryan Ludwick

    San Diego Padres Receive: Player to be Named or Cash

     

    I was not a big Ludwick fan coming into the trade deadline, but I certainly thought the Padres could get more than that for him. Ludwick's offensive numbers should improve upon exiting PETCO Park and he's above-average defensively. Personally, if this was the best the Padres could get, I feel they would have been better served to keep him, offer arbitration, and hopefully attain a draft pick as a Type-B free agent. It will be interesting to see if the Pirates go with this plan.

     

    Pirates Grade: B+

    Padres Grade: C- 

Rangers Add Another Bullpen Arm in Adams

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    Texas Rangers Trade: Robert Erlin

    Texas Rangers Receive: Mike Adams

    San Diego Padres Trade: Mike Adams

    San Diego Padres Receive: Joseph Wieland

     

    The Rangers solidified their bullpen even further with the addition of Mike Adams, who has been dominant over the last four years. Since 2009, he's accumulated the most wins above replacement among relievers, with the exception of Mariano Rivera, Brian Wilson and Matt Thornton. He's due under a million dollars for rest of the year and has another year under team control.

    In return, the Padres got a much better deal than the Orioles received for Uehara. Left-hander Robert Erlin, 20, has put up silly strikeout-to-walk ratios during his minor league career. He hasn't skipped a beat in his first season at Double-A, either. Entering 2011, Erlin was considered among the Rangers' top-five prospects. Baseball America also rated him 34th in their midseason top 50 prospects.  

    Wieland, 21, may not be in the same breath of a prospect that Erlin is, but he's also exhibited terrific control and nice strikeout rates in the minors. He's also coming off of a no-hitter in his last start.

     

    Rangers Grade: B

    Padres Grade: A- 

Pirates Get Derrek Lee

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    Pittsburgh Pirates Trade: Aaron Baker

    Pittsburgh Pirates Receive: Derrek Lee

    Baltimore Orioles Trade: Derrek Lee

    Baltimore Orioles Receive: Aaron Baker

     

    Pittsburgh upgraded first base with another rental in Derrek Lee. Of course almost anything would be an upgrade over Lyle Overbay's -0.5 fWAR. Lee's struggled at the plate this year also, but he's still above average defensively.

    Aaron Baker has had a couple of decent seasons but is not much of a prospect. Earlier today Sickels wrote:

    "Baker's best attribute is power, but his other tools are mediocre and he has problems against left-handed pitching, hitting just .224 against them this year, with a more robust .305/.374/.473 mark against right-handers. He lacks speed and is nothing special defensively. He's a Grade C prospect, but if he hits in Double-A he could have a future as a platoon player."

    At least the Orioles are getting something, while saving a few bucks for a player that will provide no more value. 

     

    Pirates Grade: B+

    Orioles Grade: B  

Giants Get Best Rental Available, Carlos Beltran

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    San Francisco Giants Receive: Carlos Beltran, $4 Million

    San Francisco Giants Trade: Zach Wheeler

    New York Mets Trade: Carlos Beltran, $4 Million

    New York Mets Receive: Zach Wheeler

     

    Beltran is the purest of rentals. Unable to receive free agent compensation for Beltran in the offseason, getting anything while saving some money would have been terrific. Amazingly, that anything was a top 50 prospect. Wheeler, the sixth overall pick in 2009, has looked nice in the minors, striking out over 10 per nine innings. His control is still suspect though.

    Beltran is still a very good player, but the lack of free agent compensation makes this rental much worse compared to high-profile rentals in previous years. I also expect his power to regress a bit for rest of the season, but a .370-.375 wOBA is still very appealing. 

     

    Giants Grade: C-

    Mets Grade: A

Indians Make Big Splash for Ubaldo

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    Cleveland Indians Trade: Alex White, Joe Gardner, Matt McBride and Drew Pomeranz

    Cleveland Indians Receive: Ubaldo Jimenez

    Colorado Rockies Trade: Ubaldo Jimenez

    Colorado Rockies Receive: Alex White, Joe Gardner, Matt McBride and Drew Pomeranz

     

    Cleveland gave up a lot for Jimenez, but 27-year-old, cheap starters with 12 WAR combined the previous two season will never come cheap. While he's been better than his 4.46 ERA dictates (3.56 SIERA), Colorado was probably quite worried about his significant drop in velocity and ability to get swinging strikes. With a serious chance at playoffs in the horizon and a cheap team option for next year, the Indians decided to take the chance and hope for a rebound this year and next year. 

    Pomeranz, who was taken fifth overall in the 2010 draft, has been dominant this year at both Advanced-A and Double-A, posting a 2.36 FIP and 2.99 FIP, respectively. He was named the 14th best prospect in Baseball America's midseason top 50 prospects.

    Alex White was the Indians' first round pick in 2009 and has not disappointed either. He may not have the upside of Pomeranz but can be a nice third starter. Before the season, Sickels rated him as a B+ prospect and 25th ranked pitching prospect. He also was serviceable in his brief stint in the majors earlier this year with a 4.38 SIERA.

    I question the move from the Rockies perspective given Ubaldo's cheap price tag next year and I think with a healthy Carlos Gonzalez and another move or two, they could have competed for a playoff spot.

    It's quite a risky move for both teams. 

     

    Rockies Grade: C+

    Indians Grade: B-  

Three Team Deal Involving Red Sox, Mariners, and Dodgers

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    Red Sox Trade: Stephen Fife, Juan Rodriguez, Tim Federowicz, Chih-Hsien Chiang   

    Red Sox Receive: Erik Bedard and Josh Fields

    Dodgers Trade: Trayvon Robinson

    Dodgers Receive: Tim Federowicz, Stephen Fife, and Juan Rodriguez

    Mariners Trade: Erik Bedard, Josh Fields 

    Mariners Receive: Trayvon Robinson and Chih-Hsien Chiang

     

    The Red Sox got a much needed boost to their starting rotation adding Erik Bedard for four prospects. The oft-injured Bedard has had a strong season thus far, posting 3.34 SIERA and 1.4 fWAR. The Sox also received soon to be 26-year-old bullpen arm Josh Fields. Fields strikes out a good amount but walks too many batters to make a major league impact. 

    In return for Bedard, the Mariners ended up receiving Trayvon Robinson and Chih-Hsien Chiang. Switch-hitting outfielder Robinson, who turns 24 in September, has displayed a good combination of speed and plate discipline in the minors along with a nice walk-rate, but strikes out too often. In his first season at Triple-A he's set a career high in homers, 26, but is striking out almost 30 percent of the time. His wOBA+(StatCorner) is just 102. Sickels graded him at a B before the season. 

    Chiang, 23, has torched this year in his second season for the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs, hitting .339/.401/.652. Sickels graded him at a C+/B-. Given how his season has gone, he's probably more along the lines of a B- now.

    Federowicz, Fife and Rodriguez all are fringe prospects. It appears the Dodgers preferred to go with quantity over quality in the trade, while the Mariners received nice value for a player they no longer need and only signed for $1 million before the year.

     

    Mariners Grade: A-

    Red Sox Grade: B

    Dodgers Grade: C   

Giants Trade Prospect for Orlando Cabrera

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    Giants Trade: Thomas Neal

    Giants Receive: Orlando Cabrera

    Indians Trade: Orlando Cabrera

    Indians Receive: Thomas Neal

     

    At this point in his career, Cabrera is a zombie. He no longer can contribute offensively and his once stellar defense has dropped off. I'm pretty sure they could have found another player without giving up anything. The Giants have struggled badly at shortstop this year, with Miguel Tejada's injury topping it off. Mike Fontenot has been replacing Tejada, but to meager results. Still, with Tejada coming off the disabled list in a few weeks, I question the move for a couple week rental that is not even an improvement.

    Outfielder Thomas Neal was once a good prospect after tearing up Advanced-A ball in 2009. Since then, he's struggled as he's been promoted. In Triple-A now, he's currently having career-worsts in walk-rate, strikeout-rate and isolated power. He's still pretty young, turning 24 in August. Landing anything for a player who is totally expendable is terrific.

     

    Giants Grade: D+

    Indians Grade: A

Indians Trade for Kosuke Fukudome

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    Indians Receive: Kosuke Fukudome, Cash

    Indians Trade: Carlton Smith, Abner Abreu

    Cubs Trade: Kosuke Fukudome, Cash

    Cubs Receive: Carlton Smith, Abner Abreu

     

    With Travis Buck, Austin Kearns, and Ezequiel Carrera playing significant time in the Indians' outfield, they certainly needed an upgrade to a team with Michael Brantley and a returning Shin-Soo Choo. Grady Sizemore may return by September, but he cannot be counted on given his injury history.

    While Fukudome has only accrued 0.1 fWAR this year, he is terrific at drawing walks and getting on base. His .366 OBP will be best among Indians' outfielders. While he has shown very little power(.096 ISO) this year, I expect some regression. His home run to fly ball ratio is only at 4.7 percent, well down from his career 9.2 percent.

    The prospects in the deal are nothing significant. Outfielder Abner Abreu turns 22 in October and has set a career high in homers(12) while in Advanced-A ball, but strikes out far too much(27.8%) and cannot get on base(.294 OBP). He does have nice speed though with 19 stolen bases in 22 attempts.

    Right-handed reliever Carlton Smith, 25, is having his best year while in Triple-A, posting a 22.8 strikeout percentage and 9.9 walk percentage, which is still too high. He was a 21st round pick in 2004.

     

    Indians Grade: A-

    Cubs Grade: B

Phillies Get Their Right-Handed Outfielder

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    Phillies Receive: Hunter Pence, Cash

    Phillies Trade: Jonathan Singleton, Jarred Cosart, and Josh Zeid

    Astros Trade: Hunter Pence, Cash

    Astros Receive: Jonathan Singleton, Jarred Cosart, and Josh Zeid

     

    As for my favorite team, the Phillies, I've written previous articles on Bleacher Report stating my displeasure of trading a significant amount for Pence, or any other right-handed outfielder.

    The basic gist of those three articles are that the Phillies will only face a handful of left-handed starters and good relievers, they already have a right-handed outfielder in Mayberry who has put up similar offensive numbers,(.341 wOBA) albeit in limited time. It would take away playing time for Domonic Brown, since they would dare not bench Ibanez and his $11.5 million salary. And Pence will suffer from some BABIP regression the rest of the year, while also showing an alarming trend of decreased power every year.

    However, Pence is still a nice player. His 9.5 fWAR since 2009 is 15th among outfielders. I'd certainly rather give up an extra top 50 prospect for Pence this year and another two years rather than a pure rental like Beltran.

    As far as the two key prospects in the deal, Cosart and Singleton, it's not that I am a huge fan of them, although I do like Singleton more than Cosart, but keeping them as trade chips would enable the Phillies to trade for an even better player if another situation arises. 

    Cosart has an electric arm, but has been inconsistent this year. His strikeouts are down and his walks are up.

    First baseman Singleton is very young, turning 20 in September while showing good plate discipline. His power has not been there this year, but his .366 wOBA and 124 wRC+ are still impressive.

    I was just thrilled they didn't trade Domonic Brown.

     

    Astros Grade: B+

    Phillies Grade: B-

Tigers Get Some Pitching Help

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    Tigers Receive: Doug Fister, David Pauley

    Tigers Trade: Francisco Martinez, Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush, and player to be named later

    Mariners Trade: Doug Fister, David Pauley

    Mariners Receive: Charlie Furbush, Casper Wells, Francisco Martinez, and player to be named later

     

    While Fister is not as good as his 3.33 ERA suggests(3.93 SIERA), he's still an improvement over Brad Penny and Rick Porcello. He's still relatively young at 27 and is under cheap, team control through 2015.

    Pauley also is not as good as his 2.15 ERA(3.61 SIERA), but is an upgrade over Phil Coke and David Purcey. Like Fister, he's under cheap, team control through 2015.

    Furbush, 25, is a left-hander who once was an up and coming prospect. However, he was less effective in 2010 with each promotion. He got a crack at the majors this year as a reliever, posting a 3.98 SIERA in 33.1 innings. Chances are he tops out at a fourth or fifth starter.

    Casper Wells has been a nice backup outfielder the last two years, accumulating a sneaky 2.3 fWAR with help from above-average defense. He displayed nice power in the minors(.251 ISO in 2010) but will struggle making contact in the majors.

    Francisco Martinez is a young third baseman currently in Double-A. While his power has improved this year, his doesn't have the best plate discipline. He must improve his 5.1 percent walk rate and 21.5 percent strikeout rate.

    The Tigers got good, cheap value while not giving up part of their foreseeable future.

     

    Tigers Grade: B+

    Mariners Grade: C-

Big Three Team Deal Involving White Sox, Blue Jays, and Cardinals

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    Blue Jays Trade: Jason Frasor, Zach Stewart, Marc Rzepczynski, Corey Patterson, Octavio Dotel

    Blue Jays Acquire: Colby Rasmus, Trever Miller, Brian Tallet, P.J. Walters, Mark Teahen

    White Sox Trade: Edwin Jackson, Mark Teahen

    White Sox Receive: Zach Stewart, Jason Frasor

    Cardinals Trade: Colby Rasmus, Trever Miller, Brian Tallet, P.J. Walters

    Cardinals Receive: Corey Patterson, Marc Rzepczynski, Octavio Dotel, Edwin Jackson

     

    The main pieces in the deal are Colby Rasmus, Edwin Jackson and Zach Stewart. Rasmus' apparent clashes Tony La Russa are finally over. Formerly one of the top prospects in baseball, Rasmus has had a decent start to his young career, accumulating 8.3 fWAR since his 2009 debut. Turning 25 in August, there's still room for more improvement as he enters his prime. Even better, he's still under cheap, team control through 2014. In attaining Rasmus, the most significant piece they had to part with was Zach Stewart.

    Stewart, 24, was generally considered among the Blue Jays' top five prospects before the season. While he's never posted gaudy strikeout or control numbers, he showed terrific ability inducing ground balls earlier in his minor league career. However, that ability has diminished this year. In three major league starts this year, he posted a 4.14 SIERA. He didn't show terrific velocity with an average fastball just under 91 MPH or ability to get swinging-strikes(4.1%). 

    Frasor is a nice bullpen arm for the White Sox, who still have an outside shot at the playoffs.

    In addition to Stewart, the Blue Jays had to eat another year of Mark Teahen, who is due $5.5 million next year. Accumulating -1.8 fWAR since 2008, $5.5 million is about $5.5 million too much.

    Dealing Corey Patterson, Marc Rzepczynski, Octavio Dotel and Jason Frasor didn't make much difference. With the exception of Rzepczynski, each of them are free agents after the season. Patterson does provide the Cardinals with a nice backup option.

    For the Cardinals, Dotel is an upgrade in the bullpen, while Edwin Jackson is an upgrade over Westbrook and Lohse. His 3.69 SIERA this year is good and leaving U.S. Cellular Field should help. He's a free agent after the season, but I'd assume the Cardinals will offer him arbitration and either have him another year or receive free agent compensation.

    Giving up Rasmus is a steep price but having Jon Jay step in and provide nice value helps ease it. 

     

    Cardinals Grade: B-

    Blue Jays Grade: B+

    White Sox Grade: B