MLB Trade News: Grading the Moves of All 30 Teams This Summer
"Baseball is a business."
How many times have we heard that statement echoed across the game over the last two months or so? As trades of all shapes and sizes go down, players of all talent levels are forced to pack everything they own into a couple of travel bags, leave their friends and teammates behind and take on a new adventure.
While the process is easier for some, like Jarred Cosart, who was traded to the Houston Astros at the non-waiver trade deadline and now plays his home games in his home state, others, like Hunter Pence, who played the majority of his baseball in the state of Texas now has to play in front of the rowdy fans of the Philadelphia Phillies, may or may not be able to adjust enough to produce.
But that's just one factor. It just goes to show the number of intangibles that go into making a trade. While some fans like to think (or choose to believe), that making a trade is based off of numbers and statistics alone, it's the intangibles that often distinguish the move as a "win" or a "loss."
Now that the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline is almost a full month behind us and the August 31st waiver deadline looms in just a few days, we can take a look back and see which teams made the best moves. Taking a look at all aspects of the trade and using a simple grading system (as explained below), we'll attempt to see which teams took a step forward, and which took a step back, either in hopes of building for the future or bolstering their roster for a pennant race.
In order to grade each trade, we'll use a simple system of five letter grades.
A - Well above average trade.
B - Above average trade.
C - Average trade.
D - Below average trade.
F - Failed trade.
So without further a do, let's break down every trade made over the summer, and see just who came out on top.
D'backs Acquire Jason Marquis
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As it turns out, we can only gauge this trade based off of a couple of starts after Marquis went down with a fractured right fibula. However, in those three starts, Marquis was absolutely dreadful, lasting for a total of 11.1 innings and allowing 16 runs (12 earned runs.)
Needless to say, the D'backs probably knew what they were getting into when they acquired the big right handed starter. Because of his track record against the San Francisco Giants, they were willing to take a chance on his other track record—the one that labels him as an inconsistent, below average starter—in hopes of catching lightning in a bottle—something other teams were unwilling to do.
That said, I was afraid that any team that acquired Marquis was going to overpay for him, and while the D'backs did give up a talented middle infielder in the midst of a strong season in A-ball in Walters, it could have been much worse.
Still, a loss in my opinion. Aside from Ubaldo Jimenez, there weren't any starting pitchers available on the market that could have made a difference. You wonder if they'd have been better off taking their chances with in-house options.
D'backs Acquire Brad Ziegler
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The Trade: Arizona Diamondbacks acquire RP Brad Ziegler from Oakland Athletics in exchange for 1B Brandon Allen and RP Jordan Norberto.
This was one of the most underrated trades of the July 31st trade deadline, in my opinion. As evidenced by his work with the San Diego Padres, Kevin Towers has a knack for building strong bullpens with relatively unheard of arms, and that has certainly been the case in Arizona. He's helped turn a struggling, young bullpen into a strength down the stretch.
He would bolster that strength at the deadline by acquiring Ziegler. A right hander with a funky delivery, he doesn't throw hard or strike many guys out, but he has good control and keeps runs off of the board. Since joining the Snakes, he's logged 11 innings and allowed just three earned runs, good for an ERA of 2.45.
Even more impressively, the D'backs were able to land the reliever, who is still under team control for three more years, for spare parts. The arrival of slugging first baseman Paul Goldschmidt made Allen expendable, and with a bevy of young arms, the D'backs could part with Norberto easily.
D'backs Acquire Aaron Hill, John McDonald
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The Trade: Arizona Diamondbacks acquire 2B Aaron Hill and SS John McDonald from the Toronto Blue Jays for 2B Kelly Johnson.
At first glance, it seems as though the D'backs and Jays are doing nothing more than swapping a pair of talented, but struggling, second basemen. On each side of the trade, both teams' general managers, Kevin Towers and Alex Anthopolous, are trying to bolster their teams for not only the stretch run, but moving forward.
I'll break down the D'backs perspective of the trade on this slide, and the Jays' on another.
In his press conference to announce the trade, Towers mentioned that two of his goals would be to cut down on strikeouts and alleviate some of the pressure that increased playing time has had on utility man Willie Bloomquist.
While Hill isn't exactly hitting the cover off of the ball (12.4% K/9), he certainly makes more contact than Johnson (27.2%.) Hill's unique contract also gives the D'backs options moving forward. While they won't be cheap, the Diamondbacks will have club options on their new second baseman for each season from 2012-14.
They're also bringing in another utility man in McDonald. With a ton of versatility defensively, they'll be able to find him playing time all over the diamond, and in return, be able to rest guys who've been playing a lot lately, including Bloomquist and Ryan Roberts. For a young team vying for a playoff berth, a veteran middle infielder could pay dividends.
Rockies Acquire Brad Emaus
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The Trade: Colorado Rockies acquire 2B Brad Emaus from Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for RP Chris Malone and a player to be named later or cash considerations.
Drafted by the New York Mets in the 2011 Rule Five Draft, teams were able to get somewhat of an extended look at Emaus throughout the spring before the Mets decided that he wasn't going to win their second base job. They offered him back to the Blue Jays, who accepted him, but only briefly. Just a day later, the Jays would trade him to the Rockies, who had second base problems of their own.
Hoping to find a little organizational depth up the middle, the Rockies sent a filler prospect (Malone) to the Jays, who clearly never had a place for Emaus. Spending the entirety of this season with the Rockies' AAA-affiliate, Emaus has played well, posting an OPS of .954.
Considering what it took to acquire him and the lack of available middle infield options across baseball, this was a solid trade for the Rockies. However, only time will tell just how productive Emaus can actually be at the Major League level.
Just a quick note about Malone here—I won't be going over him in his own slide because, well, there isn't much to go over. It is worth noting, however, that the Jays had the flexibility to move Emaus because of other middle infield options. Therefore, they weren't asking for much in return for the second baseman, and acquired a pitcher with little upside in Malone.
Rockies Acquire Mark Ellis
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The Trade: Colorado Rockies acquire 2B Mark Ellis from Oakland Athletics for RP Bruce Billings and a player to be named later or cash considerations.
When the deal was made, I didn't quite understand the Rockies' desire to add Ellis. He was struggling mightily with the A's and while some deduced that a change of scenery would be good for him, were the Rockies truly a good fit? Struggling in their own right, while they hoped that a veteran like Ellis would be good for the team, in all reality, it was known that his impact would be minimal.
With that said, Ellis has been solid since joining the Rockies. He has posted a slash line of .285 / .320 / .407, with three home runs, playing solid defense at second base. While that kind of production looks good on paper, it certainly won't get your team back into a playoff race.
In order to bring Ellis aboard, the Rockies moved a right handed reliever named Bruce Billings. He's struggled in a few appearances with the A's this season, but fits much better into their plans for the future, with the emergence of Jemile Weeks pushing Ellis out the door.
Rockies Acquire Drew Pomeranz, Alex White, Matt McBride and Joseph Gardner
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The Trade: Colorado Rockies acquire SP Drew Pomeranz, SP Alex White, 1B / OF Matt McBride, and SP Joe Gardner from Cleveland Indians in exchange for SP Ubaldo Jimenez.
Trading Jimenez was not easy for the Rockies. He was quickly becoming the face of the franchise, along with Troy Tulowtizki, Todd Helton, and Carlos Gonzalez, becoming the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter in the history of the franchise, and even in a down year, he was easily the best starting pitcher on that staff.
The signs were there though. Jimenez lost a couple of miles an hour on his fastball, and since the second half of the 2010 season, he has not been nearly as dominant as his record breaking first half of that same year. The Rockies had a tough decision to make, and in the end, they moved him for a king's ransom.
In fact, they received a couple of players that may soon help erase Jimenez from the memory of Rockies' fans. In White, Pomeranz, and Gardner, the Rockies are receiving the Indians' second, fourth and eighth best prospects, respectively. For a system that was starved for pitching depth, the Rockies did an excellent job of securing top talent.
In White, they are receiving a tall right hander with excellent stuff, despite the fact that he made a less than impressive debut at Coors Field. Pomeranz will compliment him nicely as a left handed starter as early as 2012, and Gardner could be in the running for a rotation spot next season as well.
Dodgers Acquire Juan Rivera
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The Trade: Los Angeles Dodgers acquire OF Juan Rivera from Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for a player to be named later.
Outside of Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw, not much has gone right for the Dodgers this season. So with that in mind, it's hard to imagine that Rivera could have gone right in any way, shape, or form, even if they did acquire him for next to nothing. In spite of that, the only reason I am even mentioning him in this slide show is because he's actually been a solid addition since arriving in Los Angeles.
Even more surprisingly, Rivera has been solid despite the fact that Don Mattingly has frequently played him against right handed pitching. While he continues to mash lefties, Rivera has held his own against those right handers as well, posting an overall OPS of .713 with nine home runs.
He isn't a starter anymore, but he could still be a solid addition to a team's bench in the off-season.
Dodgers Acquire Alex Castellanos
The Trade: Los Angeles Dodgers acquire OF Alex Castellanos from St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for SS Rafael Furcal.
With their financial situation putting the team in jeopardy, there was some speculation that the Dodgers could move some of their bigger fish, including Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. Obviously, that never happened, but the Dodgers did make a couple of smaller moves.
One of those moves was to unload Furcal's contract, sending him to the Cardinals who, at the time, were still in the thick of things in the NL Central. The Cards sent Castellanos west. He has shown glimpses of being a five tool outfielder, especially this season after blasting 19 home runs before the trade (and three since.)
Castellanos' minor league numbers show an affinity for getting on base, and once there, he has the ability to swipe a bag. If you had to find something to knock about this deal, I suppose you could point out the fact that he's now 25 years old and has not played above AA.
Dodgers Acquire Tim Federowicz, Stephen Fife, and Juan Rodriguez
To be honest, I don't quite understand this trade, and part of me wants to believe that the Dodgers were secretly plotting to get involved at the trade deadline to turn the media away from it's financial situation. Hey, we all love a good conspiracy theory.
On a serious note, the the Dodgers are adding some quantity in this trade, but not a whole lot of quality. Both of the pitchers they've acquire, Fife and Rodriguez, are projected to have minimal, if any impact at the Major League level, and while scouts love his energy and grit, probably a back-up catcher in Federowicz.
While Rodriguez probably has the most upside of the three, Robinson has the most upside of the entire group, and he's with the Mariners now. I just don't quite understand trading a potential five-tool outfielder for three so-so prospects. Color me confused.
Padres Acquire Joe Weiland, Robbie Erlin
The Trade: San Diego Padres acquire SP Joe Weiland and SP Robbie Erlin from Texas Rangers in exchange for RP Mike Adams.
The Padres did an excellent job of cashing in on a strong farm system here. After the Rangers' closer Neftali Feliz struggled through the early portion of the season, the Rangers felt obligated to go out and bolster their bullpen, bringing aboard Koji Uehara, formerly of the Baltimore Orioles, and the relief market's biggest fish, Adams.
While Weiland and Erlin were not featured in the Rangers' top 10, both are great prospects and give you an example of just how deep the Texas system is. Now with the Padres' organization, they are ranked nine and three, respectively.
Weiland, a right hander, is the owner of a minor league no-hitter. He doesn't rely on strikeouts to get hitters out, and has one of the system's best breaking balls, as well as a fastball and change-up, and he can throw all three pitches for strikes.
Erlin, a left hander, has more upside. Like Weiland, he won't rely on striking guys out to get outs, but instead, has learned at an early age how to use his pitches effectively in the strike zone to induce a mix of ground-outs and fly-outs.
By trading Adams and Adrian Gonzalez alone, the Padres have added five of the system's top 10 prospects, and that should speak of Jed Hoyer's plan for turning this team around. While Adams still had another year of team control, any time you can add two top 10 prospects for a set-up man, you've made a great deal.
Giants Acquire Orlando Cabrera
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The Trade: San Francisco Giants acquire SS Orlando Cabrera from Cleveland Indians in exchange for OF Thomas Neal.
Reports out of Cleveland suggested that Cabrera was growing frustrated with manager Manny Acta over a lack of playing time, and while all parties involved would deny it, the truth was that the Indians had give up on him and no longer saw a need for him. Why the Giants decided that they needed to take a chance on him is beyond me, even using the excuse of an injury riddled team looking for an adequate defender.
At this stage of his career, Cabrera does nothing well. He absolutely can not hit anymore, as evidenced by his minuscule .506 OPS with the Giants and has no range as a shortstop. Playing him anywhere else on the field depletes his value even further, unless of course you want to add "on the bench" to the scope of on the field, and eve that is debatable.
Add to that the fact that they moved Neal to get him, and this one leaves me bewildered.
Giants Acquire Jeff Keppinger
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The Trade: San Francisco Giants acquire INF Jeff Keppinger from Houston Astros in exchange for SP Henry Sosa and RP Jason Stoffel.
The Giants' needed to bring in some offense, but not the kind that Keppinger supplies. It would be more accurate to say that they needed to make this trade to shore up the middle infield when Freddy Sanchez hit the shelf, and Keppinger has at least done that well.
Though he's posted an OPS of just .675, a seemingly common occurrence up and down the Giants' lineup, he has played a solid second base and wears really cool socks from time to time, if you consider that a positive.
All in all, I think the Giants overpaid for his services, despite the fact that he'll be under team control next season. He may have been a starter for the Astros, but on any decent team is best served as a utility player.
Giants Acquire Carlos Beltran
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The Trade: San Francisco Giants acquire OF Carlos Beltran from New York Mets in exchange for SP Zack Wheeler.
The Giants absolutely had to make a move for some offense, and they went out and got arguably the best bat on the market in Beltran. On that front, it's hard not to like this move. They story would have went over much smoother had Beltran been healthy and productive, and the Giants didn't have to move their top pitching prospect to get him.
Since joining the Giants, Beltran has posted an OPS of just .681 and has hit a grand total of one home run. Not quite the middle of the order bat that Brian Sabean had envisioned when he sent Wheeler east for his services.
To compound matters even further, because the Giants cannot offer him arbitration following the season, they've lost their top pitching prospect for half a season of Beltran with no viable way of receiving draft pick compensation when he leaves town for the biggest offer on the table.
Braves Acquire Ryan Butcher
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Yes, that is a picture of Rodrigo Lopez wearing a Braves' uniform—something that never came to fruition during the regular season. At first, I wasn't going to include this trade because it's impact was minimal, especially from a Braves' perspective. After I thought about it for a bit though, I had to wonder: Could the Brave have gotten more?
He certainly isn't a front of the rotation starter, but when the Cubs acquired the journeyman right hander, he was 6-1 with an ERA of 2.59 for the Braves' AAA affiliate. If he were able to maintain that minor league success, would he have been worth more at the trade deadline?
Braves Acquire Jack Wilson
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The Trade: Atlanta Braves acquire SS Jack Wilson from Seattle Mariners in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
At this point in his career, Wilson is little more than depth for the Braves. He'll play throughout September and battle for a spot on the post-season roster, and I'm sure that he'll be quite rejuvenated by a leap from the cellar of the AL West to the heat of the NL East's pennant chase.
That said, he'll need to do something offensively (just a .577 OPS this season) and play solid defense, and that just may not be in the cards.
Braves Acquire Matt Diaz
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The Trade: Atlanta Braves acquire OF Matt Diaz from Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
Frankly, I was kind of surprised that the Braves let him go over the off-season, so watching him return to Atlanta isn't much of a surprise at all. At the bottom of the pecking order in regards to when they can make a waiver claim, the pickings are slim for National League contenders looking to upgrade the bench, so this is a solid deal.
Diaz hasn't had a great season for the Buccos, but the one thing he has always done well and continues to do well is mash left handed pitching. While he isn't exactly "mashing" anything this season, his .704 OPS against lefties could give the Braves the late innings threat they've been looking for.
Braves Acquire Michael Bourn
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The Trade: Braves acquire OF Michael Bourn from Houston Astros for OF Jordan Schafer, RP Juan Abreu, SP Paul Clemens, and SP Brett Oberholtzer.
Easily one of the biggest deals of the summer, it's hard not to see how much better Michael Bourn has made the Braves. Offensively, his contact-first approach has stabilized the top of the order, and on the base paths, his speed has made the Braves a more dynamic team. Defensively, he covers more ground in spacious turner field than anyone who's played the position since Andruw Jones.
The fact that they were able to acquire him for just pennies on the dollar makes the trade even more spectacular, from a Braves' perspective. While some scouts believe that Schafer will one day be able to fulfill some of that lofty potential he had in Atlanta, some scouts believe that it's Oberholtzer who could have the most impact in Houston, and he has an ERA of 3.92 in four starts with the Astros' AA-affiliate.
The biggest downside to this deal may be the fact that Bourn is a Scott Boras client. A free agent following the 2012 season, he'll be due a pretty penny in arbitration before his agent takes him to the market as one of the game's premier center fielders.
The Braves, however, can worry about crossing that bridge when they get there.
Marlins Acqurie Mike Cameron
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The Trade: Florida Marlins acquire OF Mike Cameron from Boston Red Sox for player to be named later or cash considerations.
When the season began in April, I don't think anyone predicted that the Marlins would win the National League East, but certainly, no one expected them to be this bad. They've tried to turn things around in a number of different ways, including bringing back former skipper Jack McKeon, but even he couldn't stop the Fish from flopping.
Another move they made with hopes of competing earlier in the season was to bring Mike Cameron to town. After slumping his way right out of Boston, the Marlins hoped that he could provide some veteran leadership to a young club and hit left handed pitchers.
While I can't speak for his veteran leadership, I know for certain that his .553 OPS against left handed pitchers certainly isn't going to cut it. Was not even worth the cash sent to Boston.
Mets Acquire Zack Wheeler
The Trade: New York Mets acquire SP Zack Wheeler from San Francisco Giants in exchange for OF Carlos Beltran.
Mets' fans got the guy they wanted over the off-season when their team went out and hired Sandy Alderson to be the general manager. In my opinion, this was a move that showed why he is the right man for the job of getting this team back on track.
With a full no-trade clause, Beltran was rumored to have a very narrow list of teams that he'd like to play for, and with a different clause in his contract that states a team can not offer him salary arbitration (and by proxy, can not gain draft pick compensation,) many people around the game were skeptical that Alderson could actually get anything of value for Beltran, despite the fact that he was one of the best bats on the market.
So all he did was go out and get one of the best pitching prospects in baseball.
Once again, the Giants showed just how desperate they were for offense by giving up Wheeler, the best arm in their system, for half a season of Beltran. According to Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com, Wheeler is the 10th best right handed pitching prospect in baseball, and the best prospect in the Mets' system. He has an outstanding, sinking fastball, and should anchor the Mets' rotation in the future.
A classic case of quality bests quantity.
Nationals Acquire Zach Walters
The Trade: Washington Nationals acquire SS Zach Walters from Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for SP Jason Marquis.
Normally, people wouldn't bat an eye at a deal like this. An average pitcher moving to a new team for a minor league player. That said, any time you can acquire a decent middle infielder, I think a trade deserves a mention, and in this case, when you can acquire some potential up the middle for Marquis, I think the trade is definitely worth a mention.
Walters, while not an elite prospect by any means, is the type of guy that teams like to have in the system. He's very versatile and athletic, and in a brief minor league career, has put up some solid numbers in the D'backs organization.
Maybe he turns into a guy to keep an eye on, maybe not. Certainly a quality haul for the likes of Marquis, however.
Nationals Acquire Jonny Gomes
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The Trade: Washington Nationals acquire OF Jonny Gomes from Cincinnati Reds in exchange for RP Chris Manno and 1B / OF Bill Rhinehart.
A lot of trades are made at the deadline and the weeks leading into it, and few times am I left scratching my head, but I've been scratching my head for quite a while over this one. Here we have Gomes, who was non-tendered and re-signed on the cheap over the off-season by the Reds, slumping his way out of playing time. The Reds are clearly trying to unload him.
Enter the Nationals, who not only acquire Gomes for a bench role (and then give him far too many plate appearances as a semi-regular), but send a couple of quality pieces back to the Reds in Manno and Rhinehart.
Needless to say, Gomes has been flat out bad since heading to the nation's capital, popping just three home runs and posting an OPS of .696. I don't think you need me to point out that it just wasn't worth it.
Phillies Acquire John Bowker
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The Trade: Philadelphia Phillies acquire 1B / OF John Bowker from Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
With Ross Gload's hip ready to spontaneously combust at any given moment (seriously, he has been battling a serious hip ailment throughout the regular season), the Phillies were getting kind of desperate in their search for a left handed bat to come out and pinch hit. After giving up on Jack Cust, who has been dreadful as a pinch hitter over the course of his career, and unable to land obvious targets like Jason Giambi and Jim Thome, the Phils settled for Bowker.
While they aren't expecting anything out of this world from Bowker, they certainly are interested in seeing what he can do off of the bench. In his career as a pinch hitter, the lefty has a slash line of .301 / .378 / .452, so if he is able to produce, he'll give the Phillies a healthy alternative to Gload.
A solid pick-up, but nothing outstanding.
Phillies Acquire Hunter Pence
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The Trade: Philadelphia Phillies acquire OF Hunter Pence from Houston Astros in exchange for 1B Jonathan Singleton, SP Jarred Cosart, RP Josh Zeid, and OF Domingo Santana.
The Phillies gave up a lot of talent and a lot of potential to land Pence, but he's been just what the doctor ordered for a veteran team vying to steer clear of complacency. They said his right handed presence would bring balance to a left handed heavy order, and it has. They said he'd bring a certain energy and style that couldn't completely described in words, and they were right.
Maybe most importantly in the hearts of Phillies fans—he's played the gritty style of baseball that the city of Philadelphia loves, and that has made him a fan favorite.
Will the premium package of talent the Phillies sent to Houston be worth it for a guy that is about to get very expensive in free agency? Well, only time can give us that answer, but the Phils couldn't wait to find out. Pence, who has posted an OPS of .944 with five home runs since joining the Phils, is a much better fit now, and as far as we can tell, into the future.
Pirates Acquire Ryan Ludwick
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The Trade: Pittsburgh Pirates acquire OF Ryan Ludwick from the San Diego Padres in exchange for a player to be named later.
It's almost funny to be writing this now, but at the time of this trade, the Pirates were actually still in contention in the NL Central with hopes of being (one of, along with the Arizona Diamondbacks) this year's Cinderella team. Now they're 18.5 games out of first, and the trade was thoroughly useless.
That said, at the time, I thought this was a solid deal for the Buccos. He spent some time on the disabled list so there isn't much to go off of, but Ludwick was supposed to be one of the better bats on the market, and the Pirates absolutely had to do something to keep a returning fan base coming to the ballpark.
Ludwick, in his brief stint, wasn't terrible for the Pirates, posting an OPS of .722 with a home run, but he wasn't great either. As long as the player to be named later isn't a prospect of any value, which he is not expected to be, the Pirates should be able to recoup their minor league player by offering Ludwick, a Type B free agent following the season, salary arbitration.
Pirates Acquire Derrek Lee
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The Trade: Pittsburgh Pirates acquire 1B Derrek Lee from Baltimore Orioles in exchange for 1B Aaron Baker.
Very seldom are they praised for much, but I think the Pirates' front office, led by general manager Neal Huntington, did a solid job at the trade deadline. Technically, they were still in contention, and with a surging fan base, needed to make some kind of trade. The worst thing they could have done was sent some of their top prospects packing for a star, and instead, did the right thing by acquiring a couple of solid veterans.
One of said veterans was Lee, who although is definitely at the back end of his career, can still be a solid player. A bad wrist has limited him to just five games and 19 plate appearances with the Pirates, but the thought process behind the deal was solid. The team needed a veteran leader and Lee knows the NL Central well.
As a side note, I've become quite impressed while doing research on Baker, the first baseman sent to Baltimore. I'm not sure why, but I have an odd, gut feeling that he can be somewhat of a productive player.
Cardinals Acquire Ed Jackson, Octavio Dotel, Marc Rzepczynski, Corey Patterson
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The Trade: St. Louis Cardinals acquire SP Edwin Jackson, RP Octavio Dotel, RP Marc Rzepczynski, and OF Corey Patterson from Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for OF Colby Rasmus, RP Brian Tallet, RP Trever Miller, and RP PJ Walters.
Outside of Rasmus, the Cardinals really didn't give up anything of substance in this deal, but that's enough for me to say that they were absolutely fleeced by the Blue Jays. When you factor in the performance of the players that came to St. Louis in the deal and, well, it's just flat out ugly.
Still in contention at the time of the trade, the Cards acquired Jackson with the hope that he'd be able to bolster their rotation and fill some of the void that Adam Wainwright's injury left behind. Needless to say, that hasn't quite happened, as he's posted a 5.23 FIP and career low strikeout rate.
On the other side of the coin, Dotel has been great out of the bullpen. He has thrown 12.1 innings for the Cardinals, allowing just four earned runs and striking out more than 11 batters per nine innings. Rzepczynski has also been very good, allowing just a single earned run while striking out 10. Patterson, the final player in the deal, has been nowhere near as good, posting an OPS of .445 and playing sporadically.
Overall, just a terrible deal for the Cardinals.
Cubs Acquire Carlton Smith, Abner Abreu
The Trade: Chicago Cubs acquire RP Carlton Smith and OF Abner Abreu from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for OF Kosuke Fukudome.
The Cubs were expected to be big sellers at the trade deadline, but as it turns out, hardly made any moves at all. One of the biggest was moving Kosuke Fukudome to the Indians for a haul that was less than impressive.
In Smith, the Cubs are getting a relief pitcher with average "stuff" that has struggled at the AAA level. Abreu (pictured) has not played above A+ ball, and the prospects of him being even an average Major League player are slim to none.
Fukudome was not having a great season (or career, for that matter), but you would assume that the Cubs could have milked a weak trade market for hitters for at least a single prospect fans could get their hopes up for.
Cubs Acquire Rodrigo Lopez
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The Trade: Chicago Cubs acquire SP Rodrigo Lopez from Atlanta Braves in exchange for RP Ryan Butcher.
On the Braves slide, I posed the question of whether or not they could have gotten more of a return for Lopez closer to the trade deadline, and the obvious answer is "probably not." Since joining the Cubs, Lopez has posted a record of 4-5 with an ERA of 4.80, throwing 69.1 innings.
Could he have built up some minor league numbers and found a team desperate enough to overpay for his services in a weak starting pitching market at the deadline? Maybe, but at the very least, he has been able to play a versatile role and eat some innings for a non-contending team.
Reds Acquire Chris Manno, Bill Rhinehart
The Trade: Cincinnati Reds acquire RP Chris Manno and 1B / OF Bill Rhinehart from Washington Nationals in exchange for OF Jonny Gomes.
Looking at this deal from the Reds' perspective, it's not a bad trade. After being criticized for even bringing Jonny Gomes back into the fold over the winter, it is almost surprising that general manager Walt Jocketty was able to get a single prospect back for his services. After posting an average OPS of .735 and combined with the emergence of Chris Heisey, Gomes became expendable.
The Reds were able to land a pair of prospects that, although are not of the top tier, could become productive Major League players in some way, shape, or form. The first of those two is left handed reliever Chris Manno, who projects as a left handed specialist and has never posted a FIP above 1.81 in three minor league seasons.
Bill Rhinehart, the second prospect, is a slugging first baseman / corner outfielder with some pop. He has made some major strides in cutting down on his strikeouts and increasing his plate vision. Swinging from the left side, he blasted 21 home runs before being traded to Cincinnati, and has popped six more since.
Getting anything of value for Gomes was a win for the Reds.
Astros Acquire Henry Sosa, Jason Stoffel
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The Trade: Houston Astros acquire SP Henry Sosa and RP Jason Stoffel from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for INF Jeff Keppinger.
The Astros did a solid job here of turning Keppinger, who had zero impact on the future of the team, into a couple of young, controllable pitchers with a bit of upside. Moreover, Ed Wade was able to get a return of multiple prospects for the contact hitter (who has a near-career low in OBP), and while quantity is usually never bet than quality, for the Astros, it is.
Of the two prospects acquired, Sosa has certainly been more interesting. After struggling with the Giants' AAA-affiliate, the Astros assigned him to their AA club where he was absolutely dominant. Called up just recently, he's made four starts and overall, has been solid. Looking for cheap, controllable starting pitching during a rebuilding phase, Sosa could be very useful to the Astros.
Stoffel, the other prospect coming back to Houston, may be equally as interesting. Since joining Houston's organization he has struggled with control, something that has plagued him in the past, but he also has the potential for big strikeout numbers and could be a solid guy for the manager to call out of the bullpen in the future.
Overall, it's not the most glamorous trade, but the Astros did a solid job getting a couple of arms for a player who didn't have much trade value.
Astros Acquire Jordan Schafer, Juan Abreu, Paul Clemens, and Brett Oberholtzer
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The Trade: Houston Astros acquire OF Jordan Schafer, RP Juan Abreu, SP Paul Clemens, and SP Brett Oberholtzer from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for OF Michael Bourn.
This is the trade that I feel the Astros really dropped the ball on. There is certainly some talent coming back to Houston, so it's not a total wash, but when you look at the player the shipped out, the feeling is that they should have gotten more talent than they did.
Here you have one of the game's premier center fielders in Bourn, under team control until after the 2012 season, and you can't land at least one "can't miss" prospect? The trade is even more baffling when you consider the fact that the Braves have four stellar pitching prospects and may have been a bit pressed to make a deal after the Philadelphia Phillies acquired Hunter Pence, but as it turns out, they nabbed Bourn on the cheap.
Schafer still has the potential to be a solid, everyday center fielder, but he's filling big shoes out there in Houston and may be best served as a fourth outfielder. On the other hand, a lot of scouts believe that Oberholtzer is the best prospect Houston received in the deal. A left handed starter, he has above average control and at least two pitches (fastball and change-up) that are above Major League average.
Other scouts believe that Clemens is the best player coming back. He is a right handed power pitcher that has the most upside, but is the least polished. Of course, on the other side of the coin, he has the potential to become an impact starter for the Astros in the future, but in a pitching-rich Atlanta farm system, was expendable.
The only player that leaves me scratching my head in this deal is Abreu. He is old for a prospect at 26, and while his stuff is okay, there seems to be little future for him in the Astros' organization, especially considering their rebuilding phase. Sure, he may be a controllable bullpen arm for the distant future, but if I'm trading one of the best center fielders in baseball, I expect a huge talent in return.
The Astros did bring some talent back into their system, so the deal is not a total failure, but they didn't bring nearly enough talent back to justify trading Bourn.
Astros Acquire Jon Singleton, Jarred Cosart, Josh Zeid, and Domingo Santana
The Trade: Houston Astros acquire 1B Jonathan Singleton, SP Jarred Cosart, RP Josh Zeid, and OF Domingo Santana from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for OF Hunter Pence.
As a Featured Columnist for the Phillies, I've written about and covered a lot of the prospects, if not all of the prospects, involved in this deal to a great extent. There is a boatload of raw talent and potential heading back to Houston in this deal, but even then, not a single prospect included in this deal is a sure thing.
In my opinion, the Astros were backed into a corner with Pence and absolutely had to move him at the deadline. Some thought that waiting until the winter would increase their chances at a better package of prospects, but his value has peaked and they still got a good haul.
The Phillies had hoped that Singleton would be able to learn to play left field this season because he is blocked by Ryan Howard at the Major League level. As it turns out, it wasn't meant to be. A nagging foot injury combined with offensive inconsistency forced them to move him back to his natural position of first base. Some scouts have some concerns about his swing, but he'll be just fine. Singleton has the potential to hit for average and power at the Major League level, and should be a concern for opponents in the middle of the Astros' order.
Now, a lot of people assume that Cosart has the most potential in this deal, but not to me. He has the big, live fastball that sits in the upper 90s, but his secondary pitches are still a work in progress, and he throws across his body—a delivery that has caused pitchers arm troubles in the past. That said, he could be the ace of the Astros in a couple of seasons.
Santana has gone on an absolute tear since joining the Astros' organization, and he has incredible raw power at just 19 years old. He has the potential to become a five-tool outfielder, and with little competition in the Astros' system, should crack their top 10 prospect list with ease in the coming seasons.
Out of all of the prospects going to Houston in this deal, the easiest to project is Zeid. He'll be coming out of the bullpen in Houston and has the least upside, but there's no reason he can't be a solid right handed arm in the future.
This trade, at the very least, gives Astros fans something to be excited about for the future, and while all four of these players should appear at the Major League level in the future, not a single one will be guaranteed success.
Brewers Acquire Jerry Hairston Jr.
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The Trade: Milwaukee Brewers acquire INF / OF Jerry Hairston Jr. from Washington Nationals in exchange for OF Erik Komatsu.
One of the most unheralded traded of the deadline, Hairston has played several pivotal roles for the surging Brewers. Quite honestly, after acquiring Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, and Francisco Rodriguez, I was surprised that the Brew Crew even had guys to deal, but they sent Komatsu packing and brought Hairston aboard.
He isn't hitting a ton, but Hairston has held down the fort during several injuries, playing second base, left field and center field for the Brewers this season at different points during the season. Like I've said more than once during this slide show, it's moves like this that put good teams over the top.
Brewers Acquire Francisco Rodriguez
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The Trade: Milwaukee Brewers acquire RP Francisco Rodriguez from New York Mets in exchange for two players to be named later.
Well, I'm not quite sure how I feel about this trade. For any other team, it may have been a disaster, but if the Brewers have shown one thing this season, it's that they are committed to winning this season. For that reason alone, they were willing to take on the mammoth contract of Rodriguez (and later, re-worked the vesting option) and sent two players to be named later to New York.
Obviously, until we know who those players are, I can't talk about their value, but Rodriguez's value to the Brewers, on the other hand, has not gone unnoticed. Along with John Axford and LaTroy Hawkins, among others, Rodriguez has been shutting down opponents late in games in his new set-up role.
If a team is going to pay a reliever to be a set-up man, he better be lights out, and that's exactly what Rodriguez has been for the Brewers.
Red Sox Acquire Franklin Morales
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The Trade: Boston Red Sox acquire RP Franklin Morales from Colorado Rockies for player to be named later or cash considerations.
Early in the season, the Red Sox were a disaster. Deemed the best team in the American League before the season began by the baseball pundits, they struggled getting things together out of the game and as the season progressed, took on a number of injuries, especially to the bullpen.
When the Rockies designated Morales for assignment, the Sox decided to take a chance on him. Even after struggling in the National League, there will always be a place in baseball for left handed pitchers who throw hard.
That said, Morales has actually been very solid for the Red Sox. In 23 innings, he has posted a FIP of just 2.97 and opponents are hitting just .217 against him. He's been a solid addition to a depleted bullpen.
Red Sox Acquire Erik Bedard, Josh Fields
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The Trade: Boston Red Sox acquire SP Erik Bedard and RP Josh Fields from Seattle Mariners for C Tim Federowicz, RP Juan Rodriguez, and SP Stephen Fife as part of three team trade (Los Angeles Dodgers also involved.)
The Red Sox had to do something at the deadline. The pitching staff was taking an absolute beating, and the disabled list looked more like the starting rotation than the actual starting rotation did. With the price for Ubaldo Jimenez simply too high, Theo Epstein turned to the Mariners for what he considered the next best option: Erik Bedard.
When he's healthy and at the top of his game, he's tough to hit. The biggest problem is that's not often the case. However, as the deadline passed, the Sox were confident enough (or desperate enough) to make a move for the left hander.
Despite some of his peripheral stats, Bedard has been strong in four starts for the Red Sox. He has posted a FIP of 2.97 in 22 innings, giving the pitching staff a much needed boost.
Because the Dodgers got involved, the price for Bedard was not too steep. In Federowicz, the team moved a dynamic catcher with some offensive potential. Rodriguez and Fife, both pitchers, were not considered top prospects.
All in all, the Red Sox had to make a move for a pitcher, and though they took a chance on a guy who is somewhat of a health risk, so far so good for a price easy on the farm system.
Orioles Acquire Aaron Baker
The Trade: Baltimore Orioles acquire 1B Aaron Baker from Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for 1B Derrek Lee.
The Orioles signed Lee to a free agent contract over the off-season for one reason: To trade him for prospects at the trade deadline. With that in mind, general manager Andy MacPhail did a solid recouping any value at all for the aging first baseman, who spent most of the first half of the season either struggling at the plate or collecting a paycheck on the disabled list.
They were able to go out and get a fringe prospect in Aaron Baker, but it's hard not to like this guy's prospects of becoming a legitimate power threat. He has a huge frame at six-foot-two, 220 lbs., and despite that large frame, is a solid defensive player. He has the potential to generate a lot of runs for a ball club, with a little luck.
Photo Courtesy of www.orioles-nation.com
Orioles Acquire Pedro Strop
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The Trade: Baltimore Orioles acquire RP Pedro Strop from Texas Rangers in exchange for RP Mike Gonzalez.
Plagued by injuries and inconsistency, Gonzalez has to be one of the most painful signing in recent memory for Orioles fans, considering the success he had with the Atlanta Braves in 2009. By shipping him to Texas, they'll be able to recoup at least a portion of the lost value by adding a new reliever to the bullpen mix.
That new reliever, according to several reports, will be Strop. The hard throwing right hander has made appearances for the Rangers over each of the last three seasons, and over the course of his minor league career, has been very solid. If he can hone in his control at the Major League level, he could be a decent addition.
Orioles Acquire Tommy Hunter, Chris Davis
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The Trade: Baltimore Orioles acquire SP Tommy Hunter and 1B Chris Davis from Texas Rangers in exchange for RP Koji Uehara.
Throughout the game, there are a lot of professionals who dislike this deal for the O's. With one of the best relief pitchers on the trade market in the palm of their hand, they should have been able to land some solid prospects for his services.
I don't quite agree.
As evidenced by the haul that the San Diego Padres received for the best relief pitcher on the market, Mike Adams, those solid prospects weren't quite available, and instead, the Orioles went the route of acquiring players for positions of need.
Desperate for starting pitching, they went out and got Hunter. While he's been shaky in five starts for the Orioles, he is not eligible for free agency until after the 2015 season, and provides stability to a young, inexperienced rotation.
Davis, who is battling a shoulder issue, is a much more interesting case. Throughout his minor league career, he has shown that he has the potential to become an explosive Major League player, that is, if he can put it all together at the big league level, which he has not been able to do yet. At the very least, he'll be given every opportunity to do so with the Orioles, which may not have been the case in the Rangers' organization.
Blue Jays Acquire Colby Rasmus, Brian Tallet, Trever Miller, and PJ Walters
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The Trade: Toronto Blue Jays acquire OF Colby Rasmus, RP Brian Tallet, RP Trever Miller, and RP PJ Walters from St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for SP Edwin Jackson, RP Octavio Dotel, RP Marc Rzepczynski, OF Corey Patterson, and three players to be named later.
This was a mammoth deal, and as the situation between Rasmus and Tony La Russa worsened in St. Louis, I kind of just got the feeling that Alex Anthopoulos was just lurking on the periphery. After months upon months of speculation and the kind of gigantic deal of top prospects that it would take to pry Rasmus away from the Cards, the Jays landed him for next to nothing.
Aside from maybe Stewart, who went to Chicago, the Jays traded a bunch of spare parts and underachieving players to land a center fielder with the chance to be a star. While he's been less than impressive and has spent time on the disabled list during his short tenure with the Jays, Rasmus has all of the tools—power, average, fielding, arm, baserunning...you name it. Now that he's with a team that wants him, he should develop much more rapidly than under La Russa.
The rest of the deal is almost not worth mentioning, but well worth it. Tallet, who had previously spent five years with the Blue Jays, is a known commodity. Walters, on the other hand, may have a chance to crack the bullpen in the future, but is more of a middle innings-type guy, and Miller has already been designated for assignment.
That said, the deal could have been Rasmus straight up and it still would have been a win for the Jays.
Grade as a Deal Between the Blue Jays and Cardinals: A
Grade as Part of a Three Team Trade: A
*Note: All grades are incomplete until the three players to be named later are named in this deal.
Blue Jays Acquire Edwin Jackson, Mark Teahen
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The Trade: Toronto Blue Jays acquire SP Edwin Jackson and 3B Mark Teahen from Chicago White Sox in exchange for SP Zach Stewart and RP Jason Frasor.
This one was particularly tough to categorize for me, so I decided to break it down a bit differently. As we know, Jackson would never don a Blue Jays uniform. Just a short while after acquiring him, the Jays would send him to the St. Louis Cardinals as part of a different package. While this has been called a three team trade, it was technically two separate deals, and I'll break them down as such. However, when you consider what the Jays would eventually get in return, it's almost unfair to grade this as anything but a three team deal, so I'll do that as well.
While Jackson has never worn a Jays' uniform, the guy that did stay with the team, Teahen, has hardly put one on himself. Well, we haven't seen him wearing it on the field much, anyway. Since being acquired, he has made just 18 plate appearances and has just a single hit to his name. He just hasn't been good.
When you consider the talent going to Chicago in this deal, the trade was an absolute failure for the Jays. While Frasor has been sub-par for the White Sox, Stewart is now ranked as the fourth best prospect (in a weak system.)
It isn't hard to see where the upside is in this deal, as the only two players that are certain to remain with their respective organizations are Teahen and Stewart. The former has become a sparingly used reserve player being paid $5.5 million in 2012, and the latter is still considered a top prospect.
Grade as Deal Between Blue Jays and White Sox: F
Grade as Part of Three Team Deal: B
Blue Jays Acquire Kelly Johnson
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The Trade: Toronto Blue Jays acquire 2B Kelly Johnson from Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for 2B Aaron Hill and INF John McDonald.
You could say that both of these second basemen needed a change of scenery, but I'm not quite sure how accurate that is. On one hand, you have Hill, who has shown that he can hit for power and has been a bit unlucky over the last couple of seasons (and really, really unlucky in 2010,) and on the other, you have Johnson, who many people, believe had a career year in 2010 aided by a home run friendly ball park.
Are they just as talented, looking for a change of scenery? I'm not sold. I think there is going to be an obvious decline in Johnson's power (though, hitting home runs hasn't necessarily been a problem for the Jays over the last couple of seasons) and Hill's power will surge.
The most obvious reasoning behind the Jays' pursuit of Johnson is that he projects as a Type A free agent following the season, but even that is not a sure thing.
Indians Acquire Thomas Neal
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The Trade: Cleveland Indians acquire OF Thomas Neal from San Francisco Giants in exchange for SS Orlando Cabrera.
This trade was one of the biggest coups of the summer. When the Indians signed Cabrera over the winter, there were a couple of interesting different reactions. From the perspective of the Indians' front office, Cabrera was nothing more than a place holder at second base until top prospects Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall arrived. From Cabrera's perspective, he simply couldn't find a better deal.
So while the Indians began surprising baseball, Cabrera's role changed into something more of a mentor—a role he wasn't quite pleased with. The Tribe quickly decided that moving him for something of value would be the best bet, but where could they get something of value for an aging shortstop who was posting an OPS of .598 at the time of the trade?
Enter the Giants.
The team by the bay was desperate for reinforcements after a flux of injuries, and not only were they willing to make a move for Cabrera, the shortstop who could no longer play shortstop, but they were willing to give up something of value: Thomas Neal, ranked the seventh best prospect in their system by Baseball America.
Though he's struggled with injuries since the trade, Neal, who has shown glimpses of becoming a five tool outfielder, will certainly factor much more favorably into the future of the Indians than Cabrera ever could.
Indians Acquire Kosuke Fukudome
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The Trade: Cleveland Indians acquire OF Kosuke Fukudome from Chicago Cubs in exchange for RP Carlton Smith and OF Abner Abreu.
On a much smaller scale, the Indians were in a similar situation as the San Francisco Giants were heading into the trade deadline in that they absolutely needed to add some offense. I'm not sure that Fukudome really fits that bill, but I will admit, I was one of those people who thought that a change of scenery and a pennant race would do the outfielder some good.
Needless to say, I was wrong.
While Fukudome has been solid for the Indians, his OPS of .734 is actually a few points south of the .742 OPS he posted with the Cubs, while his power outage continues—just one home run for the Tribe, bringing his season total to four.
Granted, the Indians didn't give up anywhere near the level of talent that the Giants did to acquire their stick, and Fukudome does bring a bit of veteran leadership to a young club.
Indians Acquire Jim Thome
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The Trade: Cleveland Indians acquire 1B / DH Jim Thome from Minnesota Twins in exchange for player to be named later or cash considerations.
It just seems right. Years after he left Cleveland and 600 total home runs later, Thome goes home.
Obviously, there isn't much about Thome that you haven't already over the last few weeks, but the Indians could definitely use the offensive boost he'll provide. Along with the 13 home runs he has already slugged, the big designated hitter has posted an OPS of .819.
As history shows, veteran guys with post-season experience can often do wonders for young teams with World Series aspirations, and no one fits that bill better than Thome.
Indians Acquire Ubaldo Jimenez
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The Trade: Cleveland Indians acquire SP Ubaldo Jimenez from Colorado Rockies in exchange for SP Drew Pomeranz, SP Alex White, 1B / OF Matt McBride, and SP Joe Gardner.
This was easily the hardest trade to put a grade on. Considering the deal as a whole, there is so much talent still under team control going to both sides that it's hard to imagine that over the long haul, both teams won't come out okay. On the other hand, however, Jimenez's recent decline has us wondering whether or not he'll ever be the same guy he was for half of the 2010 season.
Since joining the Indians, those struggles have continued. In spite of his winning record, Jimenez has an ERA of 5.79 (FIP of 4.01) and the highest WHIP of his career. Hitters have teed off on him, hitting .303 against Jimenez in an Indians' uniform.
One of the selling points for the Indians was that Jimenez would still be under team control for a couple of seasons, and while I understand that they were in dire need of that "ace" figure at the top of the rotation, you wonder if they would have been better, over the long haul, by sticking with White and Pomeranz, both of whom could be in the Rockies' 2012 rotation.
The Indians gave up two very good starting pitching prospects, plus two more quality prospects, for Jimenez and frankly, I'm just not convinced it was worth it.
Tigers Acquire David Purcey
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The Trade: Detroit Tigers acquire RP David Purcey from Oakland Athletics in exchange for 2B Scott Sizemore.
Purcey sure has been on the move a lot this season. After struggling early with the Toronto Blue Jays, he was dealt to Oakland where he seemed to find somewhat of a niche. He barely had a chance to unpack his bag, however, before he was on the move again, this time, dealt to the Tigers.
The Tigers hoped that they were getting a potential left handed specialist that would be a good match out of the bullpen for tough left handed hitters, but that has not been the case. Purcey has been dreadful against left handed hitters who are hitting a remarkable .320 against him.
On the other hand, as we'll get into in just a little bit, Scott Sizemore has been a productive middle infielder for the A's.
Tigers Acquire Wilson Betemit
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The Trade: Detroit Tigers acquire 3B Wilson Betemit from Kansas City Royals in exchange for LHP Antonio Cruz and C Julio Rodriguez.
It's not often that you see a player with "10 and 5 rights" designated for assignment, but throughout the first half of the season, incumbent Tigers' third baseman Brandon Inge was so bad at the plate that he left the team no other choice. With a gaping hole in the lineup, the team went out and got an offensive upgrade, bringing in Betemit.
While he hasn't been very good in the field or on the bases for the Tigers, Betemit has certainly provided a bit of an offensive spark, posting an OPS of .825 with the Tigers since joining the team around the trade deadline.
What makes the trade even more favorable for the Tigers is that they didn't have to give up quality prospects to land a player from a division rival. In Cruz and Rodriguez, the Tigers moves a pair of non-prospect types that have little to no future at the Major League level. Cruz is the safer bet, as it seems as though there is always a need for left handed pitching.
Tigers Acquire Delmon Young
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The Trade: Detroit Tigers acquire OF Delmon Young from Minnesota Twins in exchange for LHP Cole Nelson and RHP Lester Oliveros.
I think this is a trade that surprised a lot of people. Sure, he was having a down year, but just last season, Young was having a tremendous impact for the Twins and many people considered him to be an MVP candidate. Their place in the standings for the 2011 campaign didn't help his cause, but many believe the Twins sold low on Young, and should have traded more obvious candidates like Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer.
Regardless, what's done is done. Young is now a member of the Tigers and has played well for them since coming over. In 12 games, he has posted an OPS of .814 and slugged a pair of home runs. Because they gave up a pair of fringe relief prospects, if the Tigers can get the Young that was nearly a serious MVP choice in 2010, this deal would have been a coup, stealing a solid player from a division rival.
Tigers Acquire Doug Fister, David Pauley
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The Trade: Detroit Tigers acquire SP Doug Fister and RP David Pauely from Seattle Mariners in exchange for OF Casper Wells, 3B Francisco Martinez, LHP Charlie Furbush, and RP Chance Ruffin.
Heading into the trade deadline, the Tigers knew exactly what they needed. Outside of Justin Verlander, who has been arguably the best pitcher in all of baseball this season, the starting rotation has been average to below average, and any guy that has taken the mound as the fifth starter has been dreadful. They needed a solid starting pitcher and some help in the bullpen.
The Mariners had both.
Enter Fister and Pauley who were now moving out of the cellar of the AL West and right into a pennant race in the AL Central. While Pauley has been less than spectacular out of the bullpen for the Tigers, Fister has given the starting rotation a much needed shot in the arm, posting a 3-1 record and a 3.45 ERA.
Looking at the package sent to Seattle, however, the Tigers may have overpaid by quite a bit. Without letting Wells' performance in Seattle mislead you, know that some scouts project Martinez to be a solid third baseman who was ranked as the fourth best prospect in the Tigers' system and Ruffin, ranked as the seventh best prospect, also joins him in that deal. Tigers fans shouldn't be enamored with the reality of sending two top ten prospects, a quality fourth outfielder and a solid left handed starter (or reliever) to Seattle.
Royals Acquire Antonio Cruz, Julio Rodriguez
The Trade: Kansas City Royals acquire LHP Antonio Cruz and C Julio Rodriguez from Detroit Tigers in exchange for 3B Wilson Betemit.
The Royals did a nice job getting a couple of interesting prospects in return for a player who, on most teams, would be a utility man. There isn't much upside in this deal, but when the Royals look to compete as early as next season, both Cruz and Rodriguez could be role players.
Cruz is a deceptive left handed pitcher who has been toyed with as a starter, but has a real niche in the bullpen. He could see some time as a left handed specialist, though, maybe not the first option out of the bullpen.
Rodriguez, on the other hand, is a solid defensive catcher. His bat leaves something to be desired and his future may be as a back-up catcher to Salvador Perez, but cheap, controllable talent is never a bad thing, and both guys certainly are a smoother fit for the future of the Royals than Betemit. No stars involved in this deal, but players that could be important parts to a successful club.
Royals Acquire Yamaico Navarro, Kendal Volz
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The Trade: Kansas City Royals acquire INF Yamaico Navarro and RP Kendal Volz from Boston Red Sox in exchange for INF Mike Aviles.
Classic case of a team selling high on a player, especially consider the dreadful start that Aviles got off to for the Royals. Once again, the Royals farm system is stocked to the brim with talent, but adding role players will prove to be a crucial situation for any team, and that's exactly what they addressed with this trade.
Once upon a time, there was a hope that Navarro could become a premier shortstop in for the Red Sox. As he progressed through the system, however, those hopes began to dwindle, and it appears now more than ever that he is destined for a career as a utility player.
Volz, on the other hand, is much harder to project. He seems to have a feel for pitching and good control for someone pitching in the lower levels of the minor league system, but just how quickly he progresses through the system is hard to determine. He is not a huge strikeout guy, and relies on contact to get hitters out. Probably a middle innings type reliever in the future.
Twins Acquire Cole Nelson, Lester Oliveros
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The Trade: Minnesota Twins acquire RP Lester Oliveros and RP Cole Nelson from Detroit Tigers in exchange for OF Delmon Young.
I'm still not quite sure why the Twins actually traded Young. One of the most popular rules of thumb in baseball is that you don't trade a player when his value is at it's lowest, and that's exactly what the Twins did with Young. Had they explored this option over the off-season, after he put up MVP-like numbers in 2010, they may have been able to land at least one solid prospect.
Instead, they're pinned with a couple of relievers. Oliveros, who has pitched for the Twins this season, is a middle innings guy, at best (and he's been shelled in his brief role this season.) Nelson probably has the edge value-wise because he is left handed, and word out of the Twins' organization is that they see him as a left handed specialist.
You can try and justify the trade by saying that Young was about to get expensive in arbitration, but personally, I don't see that as a reason to trade him for a pair of bullpen arms, especially when you're trading him to a division rival, when he can come back and hurt you in 2012.
White Sox Acquire Jason Frasor, Zach Stewart
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The Trade: Chicago White Sox acquire RP Jason Frasor and SP Zach Stewart from Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for SP Edwin Jackson and 3B Mark Teahen.
Kenny Williams didn't pull of the stunning trade that he seems to make annually this season, but it's hard not to like this trade for the White Sox. With the emergence of Phil Humber, they had moved to a six man rotation and it was certainly no secret that Jackson was expendable. Not only were they able to move Jackson, but the Jays were willing to take on Teahen's contract.
The return was impressive. In Frasor the Jays thought they were getting a solid late innings bullpen arm. Though that hasn't been the case, and Frasor has been less than impressive during his Chicago tenure, allowing six earned runs in just nine innings.
On the other hand, the White Sox brought Stewart to town. A top prospect in the Jays' organization for what seems like years, Stewart becomes the fourth best prospect in the White Sox' organization and the second best pitcher, according to MLB.com.
It may not have been a "steal," but this was an above average trade for the White Sox.
Athletics Acquire Bruce Billings
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The Trade: Oakland Athletics acquire RP Bruce Billings and a player to be named later from Colorado Rockies in exchange for 2B Mark Ellis.
In all fairness, with Jemile Weeks banging on the door, the A's thought they were doing Ellis a favor by sending him a team with a chance at being involved heavily in a playoff race by sending him to the Rockies instead of sending him to the bench.
The Rockies may have fallen flat on their faces as far as playoff hopes go, but in regards to the trade, did the A's do any better? Billings has some versatility as a starter or a long man, but his purpose is probably better served as the latter, where like the other new Athletic, Jordan Norberto, he can eat up some innings.
There is some value in this trade for the A's, but not much.
Athletics Acquire Scott Sizemore
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The Trade: Oakland Athletics acquire 2B Scott Sizemore from Detroit Tigers in exchange for RP David Purcey.
David Purcey simply wasn't going to fit into the A's plans, that's not a surprise. The biggest shocker in this deal, in my opinion, is that the Tigers were willing to let Sizemore go for so little. Middle infielders aren't exactly a dime a dozen, and Sizemore still has some upside. He's worth much more than a reliever the likes of Purcey, who do come cheaply and frequently. He may have been outplayed in Spring Training and through the first couple of weeks of the season, but there is always room in an organization for potential.
Needless to say, that is what makes this a great trade for the A's. I'm going to go out on a limb and call this a well above average deal because the A's were able to turn a right handed reliever with minimal upside into a middle infielder who can help a club at the Major League level. As simple as that.
Athletics Acquire Brandon Allen, Jordan Norberto
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The Trade: Oakland Athletics acquire 1B Brandon Allen and RP Jordan Norberto from Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for RP Brad Ziegler.
This is the type of deal that just works out for both sides. After backing out of a deal with the Boston Red Sox that included first base prospect Lars Anderson, it was clear that the A's were interested in adding that type of player. The D'backs, who had that type of player in Allen, needed some help in the bullpen and were willing to move Ziegler.
A trade was born.
There aren't any budding stars in this trade, but each player involved has the potential to do his job well. For the A's, they're acquiring a slugger with monstrous power, but he'll need to make more contact with the ball before that power equates to runs. He'll play solid defense, and though he won't be spectacular at any part of the game, can be a solid player.
Norberto, on the other hand, is an interesting reliever. He has good stuff, but not good enough for the D'backs to trust handing him the ball out of their own bullpen. Norberto is better than he showed in his brief stint with the A's, but not by much. His ceiling is as a middle innings / innings eater type.
Because the A's are able to churn out pitching with such frequency, adding Allen and Norberto for a piece (Ziegler) that they can do without is a solid trade.
Mariners Acquire Trayvon Robinson, Chih-Hsien Chiang
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The Trade: Seattle Mariners acquire OF Trayvon Robinson and 2B / OF Chih-Hsien Chiang from Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox, respectively, as part of three team deal that sent SP Erik Bedard and RP Josh Fields to Red Sox.
The Mariners may not have gotten numerous prospects in this deal, but they received at least one that could have a decent amount of impact on the future of this club. Knowing that they'd never be able to recoup the level of talent that they put out to get Bedard and realizing that it was finally time to part ways, Jack Zduriencik and company did a nice job bringing in some talent for the oft-injured lefty.
As I said on the Dodgers' slide, I'm not quite sure why the team was willing to part with Robinson for so little. He has shown a glimpse of all five of the "tools" we often here talented outfielders praised with, and in his short tenure with the M's, has held his own. He could be a quality corner outfielder in a very athletic outfield.
Chiang is a bit tougher to project, but looking over some of his minor league numbers, he too has that he can play with a couple of different tools, including average, power and defense.
Considering the fact that Bedard made just two starts before he was traded, after being on the DL with a knee injury, I was surprised that the M's were able to get anything for him. This is a solid haul.
Mariners Acquire Casper Wells, Francisco Martinez, Charlie Furbush,Chance Ruffin
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The Trade: Seattle Mariners acquire OF Casper Wells, 3B Francisco Martinez, LHP Charlie Furbush, and RHP Chance Ruffin from Detroit Tigers in exchange for SP Doug Fister and RP David Pauley.
I may be in the minority here, but I think that the Mariners did an excellent job with this trade. Because of the weak market for starting pitching and the Tigers level of desperation to add a starter, they were able to cash in an average pitcher for a couple of top prospects and a couple of role players. Throwing in Pauley, who was having a very good season, was probably the hardest part to swallow, but even then they were cashing in on a reliever having an extremely lucky year.
Martinez is a solid defensive third baseman who is very athletic, especially considering the fact that most third baseman nowadays are big and clunky. As he develops, he'll hit for power, though, that power may be sapped by Safeco Field, should he remain in Seattle. He has gap-to-gap power, but whether or not that approach will pan out at the Major League level is yet to be seen.
Ruffin is a solid right handed pitcher, probably better suited for a role in the bullpen where teams have played him exclusively. Scouts believe that he has the pitches to start games, but without experience starting at any level, will more than likely continue to be used exclusively in a relief role. Regardless of where he pitches, he has a good feel for pitching and average command.
They'll take over as the sixth and seventh best prospects in the Mariners system, respectively.
For some reason or another, I really like Casper Wells. Maybe it's the name, but I just like this guy. He has the potential to hit for average, but probably won't, and doesn't have a single tool that stands out above the rest. He'll be a quality fourth outfielder on a team that has a lot of quality fourth outfield-types.
Finally, Furbush is also a new member of the Mariners. The owner of yet another great name, they've used him out of the bullpen and have also toyed with him as a starting pitcher. I'm not sure whether or not it's because he hadn't been stretched out as a starter, but he's struggled a bit in that role with the M's. As he progresses, however, I see no reason he can't be, at least, as productive as Fister.
Solid trade for the Mariners.
Rangers Acquire Mike Gonzalez
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The Trade: Texas Rangers acquire RP Mike Gonzalez from Baltimore Orioles in exchange for RP Pedro Strop.
Assuming that Gonzalez will be used strictly as a left handed specialist and/or in low leverage situations out of Ron Washington's bullpen, this could be an extremely valuable trade for the Rangers.
Despite all of the injuries, when he's healthy, Gonzalez can still be tough to hit, especially against left handed hitters, who have posted an average of just .211 against him this season. In low leverage situations, the opposition is batting .239 against him.
Assuming that his new manager can learn to use him the right way, he'll join a Rangers bullpen that now features Mike Adams and Koji Uehara, as well as Neftali Feliz, to compose a cast of relievers that will be very tough to hit late in games come October.
Rangers Acquire Koji Uehara
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The Trade: Texas Rangers acquire RP Koji Uehara from Baltimore Orioles in exchange for 1B Chris Davis and SP Tommy Hunter.
Yet another great trade orchestrated by the Rangers. Once again, Jon Daniels and company were able to acquire top talent by not only refusing to deplete the upper echelon of the farm system, but by dealing spare parts that didn't factor into the future of the organization.
Though he hasn't been the same guy he's been in Baltimore over the last couple of seasons in his brief time with the Rangers, come October, the Rangers know that they have a legitimate, shut-down reliever coming out of the bullpen in Uehara.
So far this season, Uehara has thrown 56.2 innings. Of the 214 total batters he's faced, Uehara has struck out 72 and walked just 10—one of which, was intentional. Not a bad deal for a dominant reliever, considering that you're sending a first baseman who couldn't hack it at the Major League level in his brief tenure and an average starting pitcher the other way.
Rangers Acquire Mike Adams
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The Trade: Texas Rangers acquire RP Mike Adams from the San Diego Padres in exchange for SP Joe Weiland and SP Robbie Erlin.
Normally, I would absolutely harp on a team for moving two (potentially) top 10 prospects for a set-up man, but in the case of the Rangers, though Erlin and Weiland are now both ranked within the Padres top ten, neither were ranked in the Rangers' top 10, which once again, speaks for the depth of the system. They needed a lock-down bullpen arm and went out and got the best on the market without moving any of their top tier prospects.
When you consider the fact that the Rangers and Padres were discussing the same players in a deal for Padres' closer Heath Bell, the trade becomes even more favorable for the Rangers, simply because they have a closer for the distant future (Neftali Feliz) and were able to add a proven set-up man in Adams who is under control for another season.
Outside of a few sketchy innings, Adams has been absolutely solid for the Rangers, allowing just three earned runs in 13.1 innings, striking out 14 along the way.
Rarely do we say that both teams made out extremely well in a trade, but this is one instance where I'm comfortable saying that both the Rangers and Padres got exactly what they needed.
Minor Deals Not Mentioned in Depth
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- Texas Rangers acquire C Matt Treanor from Kansas City Royals for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
- Washington Nationals acquire OF Erik Komatsu from Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for INF / OF Jerry Hairston Jr.
- Pittsburgh Pirates acquire C Mike McKenry from Boston Red Sox in exchange for a player to be named later.
- Washington Nationals acquire OF Gregor Blanco from Kansas City Royals in exchange for a player to be named later.
- Toronto Blue Jays acquire RP Daniel Farquhar from Oakland Athletics in exchange for RP David Purcey.