A star first baseman stands a few steps right of the bag. His name has been in trade rumors all over the internet. Some say he won't even finish this game. Suddenly, the manager beckons and an unproven rookie trots out to first base. The star infielder heads into the dugout to be told what he knew all along. He was being traded to a contender. He gives his teammates hugs and leaves the clubhouse for the final time.
Every year we watch this scene as dozens of players are moved from bottom dwellers to contenders at the trading deadline. Let's take a look at who got a good deal in all 19 trades that happened less than a week before the deadline.
Nationals get: OF Jonny Gomes
Reds get: OF Bill Rhinehart and LHP Chris Manno
Winner: Cincinnati Reds
Loser: Washington Nationals
In this trade, the Nationals get an average hitting corner outfielder who is already 30 years old. By the time Washington is ready to compete, Gomes will be 32 and likely with a different team via free agency. Considering that the Nationals have Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper to man the corner outfield positions for years to come, this shapes up to be a very interesting deal for Washington.
Cincinnati on the other hand managed to dump Gomes, who had become disposable after Chris Heisey proved he can be a starter in the big leagues. In return the Reds received Bill Rhinehart, who has been hitting fairly well in AA, and Chris Manno, who has been lights out in A+ ball. Although Manno is likely only a LOOGY down the road, that's still more valuable than half a year of Gomes and a probable sandwich round compensation pick.
Cardinals get: RHP Edwin Jackson (CWS), RHP Octavio Dotel (TOR), LHP Marc Rzepczynski (TOR), OF Corey Patterson (TOR), three players to be named later or cash (TOR)
Blue Jays get: 3B Mark Teahen (CWS), OF Colby Rasmus (STL), LHP Brian Tallet (STL), LHP Trever Miller (STL), RHP P.J. Walters (STL)
White Sox get: RHP Jason Frasor (TOR), RHP Zach Stewart (TOR)
Winners: St. Louis Cardinals, Toronto Blue Jays
Losers: Chicago White Sox
Pretty complicated, huh? Let's try to make this simple.
The Cardinals got four players who can all contribute now to assist them in their playoff run. The group is highlighted by Edwin Jackson, a quality starter.
The Blue Jays got three veterans, a fringe major leaguer, and Colby Rasmus. Rasmus is considered an elite prospect but did not get along very well with Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa.
The White Sox got a veteran reliever and an average pitching prospect.
Giants get: OF Carlos Beltran
Mets get: RHP Zack Wheeler
Winners: San Francisco Giants and New York Mets
Both the Giants and Mets got a good deal in this one. The Giants are ready to win now, and while they have great pitching, they lack the offense to be serious contenders this year. Meanwhile, the Mets are the Mets, and need players who will be able to contribute down the stretch.
The Giants got a much needed bat in Carlos Beltran, who is a phenomenal hitter when not injured. If Beltran is a healthy part of a deep playoff run, they may be able to resign him during the off-season to a reasonable deal. Thanks to the Giants deep pitching, losing Wheeler isn't that much of a sacrifice.
The Mets have no use for an aging star with an expiring contract. By dumping Beltran for Zack Wheeler, they've gained a 21-year-old righty who is projected to be a good number two starter three or four years down the road.
Indians get: OF Kosuke Fukudome
Cubs get: RHP Carlton Smith, OF Abner Abreu
Winner: Chicago Cubs
Loser: Cleveland Indians
The Cubs managed to rid themselves of Kosuke Fukodome, and picked up Carlton Smith and Abner Abreu in the process. Smith has been struggling in AAA, although he isn't as bad as his 4.50 ERA suggests. At most Smith will be a marginal MLB reliever, but the real prize here is Abreu.
Abner Abreu is an athletic center fielder with good power and great baserunning abilities, even with average speed. He is a very good defensive outfielder, but is too aggressive at the plate and strikes out a lot. If he can improve his plate discipline, he could be an impact player for years.
The Indians got Kosuke Fukudome, who can get on base pretty well with an .366 OBP, but is a terrible fielder and a weak baserunner. The Japanese outfielder is is also 34 years old, and won't contribute to the Indians division title run. He is a bit of an upgrade over Austin Kearns, but the Indians had to give up two prospects for Fukudome.
Phillies get: OF Hunter Pence, $2 million
Astros get: 1B Jonathan Singleton, RHP Jarred Cosart, RHP Josh Zeid, a player to be named later.
Winners: Philadelphia Phillies, Houston Astros
Philadelphia got the corner outfielder they were missing in Hunter Pence. The Phillies are ready to win now and made the right move to add another good player to the team. Pence has a solid .355 OBP and is slugging a healthy .468. He will be able to add to the Phillies average offense.
Despite acquiring a quality fielder for their pennant run, I still think the Phillies over-paid for Pence. He's good, but he did not deserve an all-star selection. The Phillies gave up a good hitter who is only 19 in Singleton, a future closer with amazing arm strength in Cosart, and possibly a major league reliever in Zeid.
The Astros got more for Pence than he was worth, but it was a move that made sense for Philadelphia.
Tigers get: RHP Doug Fister, RHP David Pauley
Mariners get: OF Casper Wells, 3B Francisco Martinez, LHP Charlie Furbush
Winner: Detroit Tigers
Loser: Seattle Mariners
In this deal the Tigers got a legit number two starter to pitch behind Justin Verlander. Doug Fister has great control, only walking 1.97 batters per nine innings. He will give the Tigers the starting depth they need down the stretch. David Pauley, on the other hand, is not as great as his 2.15 ERA suggests. Pauley has a .229 BABIP even though it should be more in the .300 range, showing he has been lucky.
The Mariners got three prospects, but all three have question marks. Wells does not have nearly enough plate discipline to be successful, Martinez is an average hitter, and Furbush does not have a real go to pitch that he can use to get out of a jam and projects to be a back of the rotation starter at best.
Brewers get: UT Jerry Hairston Jr.
Nationals get: OF Erik Komatsu
This trade doesn't even get a winner of or a loser. The Brewers got a sub-par hitter who has played seven positions, but is 35. The Nationals got a prospect who projects to be a fourth outfielder and may occasionally start as a leadoff hitter because of his speed.
Red Sox get: INF Mike Aviles
Royals get: INF Yamaico Navarro and RHP Bill Volz
Winner: Kansas City Royals
Loser: Boston Red Sox
With needs in right field and at starting pitching, the Red Sox decided to acquire an infielder. Drew Sutton has been playing well and Jed Lowrie is due to start rehabbing soon, so it would seem that Boston doesn't need infield help right now.
The Red Sox gave up Yamaico Navarro, a 23-year-old infielder who has the potential to be very good down the line and can contribute at the major league level. They also gave up Bill Volz, who has an 88-91 MPH fastball and a 77-81 MPH slider. He projects to be a middle relief pitcher.
Indians get: RHP Ubaldo Jimenez
Rockies get: RHP Alex White, RHP Joseph Gardner, C/1B/OF Matt McBride, a player to be named later (most likely LHP Drew Pomeranz, who is ineligible to be traded yet because he hasn't been professional for a full year)
Winner: Colorado Rockies
Loser: Cleveland Indians
The Indians failed to keep their eyes on the prize and went out and over-paid for an overrated starter. Besides his historic start to the 2010 season, what has Ubaldo Jimenez ever done? Not including the first half of the 2010 season, Jimenez is 41-45 with a 4.16 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP. All of that is a shade below average.
And what did Colorado get in return? Alex White and Drew Pomeranz, who were projected by Baseball America to be the Indians number one and two starters down the road, Joseph Gardner, who could become a good inning-eater if he can improve on his control, and Matt McBride, who may be a backup, or may wind up being an organizational player.
The Indians are a great up-and-coming team. The last thing they should have done is mortgage that future for an overrated starter.
Giants get: SS Orlando Cabrera
Indians get: OF Thomas Neal
Winners: San Francisco Giants, Cleveland Indians
The Giants grabbed veteran Orlando Cabrera to anchor their infield and even provide an offensive upgrade over the Mike Fontenot and Brandon Crawford platoon.
The Indians receive a near-ready outfield prospect with some good power, although he is a defensive liability. Cabrera's exit has seen top prospect Jason Kipnis promoted to a full-time starter. Kipnis is probably an upgrade over Cabrera and Neal may be able to help the team in the future.
Pirates get: 1B Derrek Lee
Orioles get: 1B Aaron Baker
Winner: Pittsburgh Pirates
Loser: Baltimore Orioles
When a team trades away an expiring contract to a contender, they should at least get a real prospect in return. Aaron Baker is 23 and still in high-A ball. He strikes out one out of every five plate appearances and is likely just an organizational prospect.
While the O's may just be getting rid of salary to help sign draft picks, they should have at least gotten a possible major leaguer.
The Pirates on the other hand proved that they are in it to win it and upgraded at first base for practically nothing.
Diamondbacks get: RHP Jason Marquis
Nationals get: SS Zachary Walters
Winners: Arizona Diamondbacks, Washington Nationals
Both teams got what they wanted. Marquis, who is having the best season of his career, is another quality starter to help the Diamondbacks down the stretch. This will give Arizona a fourth proven starter to match up against the defending champion Giants.
The Nationals recently dropped into last place in the NL East and it is clear they aren't ready to compete yet. They added Walters, who can play all over the infield, and hope he can provide future depth to their infield.
Rangers get: RHP Mike Adams
Padres get: LHP Robbie Erlin, RHP Joe Wieland
Winners: Texas Rangers and San Diego Padres
The Padres gave up Mike Adams, a 32-year-old righty on a one-year deal with San Diego. He has a minuscule 1.13 ERA, although he hasn't pitched quite as well as his ERA shows. Nevertheless, he is a quality set-up man and could push the Rangers over the top.
In return, San Diego got Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland. Erlin plays very maturely for his age. He has had some trouble in AA, but has also had some promising starts. He is a little small and lacks an elite arsenal, but with very good mechanics he could either become a solid starter or a bust. Erlin is a fly ball pitcher, so moving from the AL West to the NL West and Petco Park is great news for him. Wieland can be a number 3 or 4 starter who throws a decent fastball, slider and change-up.
The Rangers shored up their bullpen to compete now, and the Padres got two guys who could be starters down the road.
Pirates get: OF Ryan Ludwick
Padres get: Player to be named later or cash considerations
Winner: Pittsburgh Pirates
TBD: San Diego Padres
The Pirates added proven commodity Ryan Ludwick to their push for the NL Central crown. He has declined in recent years, but is still a decent hitter and has a plus glove.
It is unknown who (or how much) the Padres will receive, so I will reserve judgment on their end of the trade. That said, I must mention that very few 'players to be named later' make any real impact at the major league level.
Diamondbacks get: RHP Brad Ziegler
Athletics get: 1B Brandon Allen, LHP Jordan Norberto
Winner: Oakland Athletics
Loser: Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Diamondbacks added a quality arm in breakout reliever Brad Ziegler to go in front of closer J.J. Putz. Ziegler is 30, but still has two more years of being under team control before he can become a free agent.
Oakland will get Brandon Allen, a power hitting first baseman who is near major league ready and could find himself on Oakland's opening day roster next year. If he can iron out a mechanical issue, he could be very good. Norberto is already in the majors as a lefty reliever who has an electric fastball and a decent curve, although he hasn't pitched well in the bigs so far.
Overall, I think Arizona gave up too much for a set-up man.
Cardinals get: SS Rafael Furcal, cash considerations
Dodgers get: OF Alex Castellanos
Winner: Los Angeles Dodgers
Loser: St. Louis Cardinals
When a contending team makes a deadline deal, they usually try to upgrade at a position of need. Instead, the Cardinals aded Rafael Furcal, who is well past his prime, even though Ryan Theroit and Skip Schumaker are both more capable middle infielders already with St. Louis.
In return for unloading Furcal, the Dodgers received Alex Castellanos, who would be a very good hitter if he learned to cut back on his 3.9 K/BB.
Braves get: OF Michael Bourn
Astros get: OF Jordan Schafer, RHP Juan Abreu, RHP Paul Clemens, LHP Brett Oberholtzer
Winners: Atlanta Braves, Houston Astros
The Braves got the other desirable piece of the Astros outfield. Although Bourn is not an all-star, he is better than former teammate Hunter Pence because of his far superior baserunning and comparable bat, Bourn also plays a tougher position.
In return, the Braves gave up Jordan Schafer, who is already in the majors but is having a hard time hitting as well as he did in the minors. The Astros also got Juan Abreu, who is a typical "great stuff but no command" relief prospect who can hit 98 mph on his fastball and has a great curve, Paul Clemens, a righty who has been pitching decently in AA, and Brett Oberholtzer, who has similar stats to Clemens while playing in the same league.
Red Sox get: LHP Erik Bedard (SEA), RHP Josh Fields (SEA)
Mariners get: OF Trayvon Robinson (LAD), OF Chih-Hsien Chiang (BOS)
Dodgers get: C Tim Federowicz (BOS), RHP Juan Rodriguez (BOS), RHP Stephen Fife (BOS)
Winners: Boston Red Sox, Seattle Mariners
Losers: Los Angeles Dodgers
All three teams got what they were looking for in this deal. The Red Sox got another starter in Erik Bedard. If Bedard can avoid injuries, he can still be a good starter. They also added Josh Fields, a prospect who walks too many betters despite a great fastball and curve. He projects to be a quality reliever if he ever learns to control his pitches.
The Mariners picked up a couple of prospects, while giving up an expiring contract and an iffy relief prospect. Robinson has a good skill set, but he strikes out too much. He is already in AAA and could be ready for the majors soon. Chih-Hsien Chiang has a sweet swing, but that's about it. He has poor plate discipline and is not a very good fielder.
The Dodgers turned Robinson, a quality prospect, into three different prospects, none of whom have good chances of being good in the majors. They got Tim Federowicz, a defensive-oriented catcher who needs to work on his hitting if he wants to make the bigs, Juan Rodriguez, a hard thrower with good upside but no control, and Stephen Fife, who will probably wind up being a number five starter at best and will probably be more of a mop-up man.
Rangers get: RHP Koji Uehara
Orioles get: 1B Chris Davis, RHP Tommy Hunter
Winners: Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles
Koji Uehara has been lights out for Baltimore so far this year, and with Texas needing bullpen help, this is a great fit. Uehara has a 1.69 ERA this year with 12.0 K/9 compared to only 1.5 BB/9. With Neftali Feliz's struggles this year, Uehara may even find himself closing.
Chris Davis, 25, was once thought to be a future power-hitting first baseman, but time seems to be running out on that prediction. He could still be a solid first baseman, but not the all-star he was once projected to be. Tommy Hunter came up with Texas in June and had a decent showing for the Rangers. He's not not nearly as good as his 13-4 record and 3.73 ERA suggest, and projects to be a back of the rotation starter or a reliever.