Notice the title here does not include the term “Trade Deadline” for two reasons that are fairly obvious if you know MLB well; the July 31st deadline marks the end only for “non-waiver trades,” meaning there could very well still be moves made after Thursday, and there were a number of key deals executed prior to July 31 that are important in this context. With that said, let’s take a look at some of the teams that have made deals, the players involved, and more:
- Who knows what things will be like in the future, but if I had to surmise a guess, I’d say that when we look back on the dealings of 2014 we will think of Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics. Historically, when we think of Billy Beane’s style as a GM, we think of a guy who looks at his most talented guys and says, “We’re not gonna win the World Series this year, and so-and-so is not gonna be here long-term. I’ll trade him for more players/potential/prospects.” The other thing that comes to mind when thinking of the A’s is how much of a dump their stadium is, and that (most) every year they seem to be in some level of contention. This year, the Oakland A’s are one of the best teams in baseball, and on July 4 – often a benchmark for many teams – the Athletics had the best record in baseball. The next day, we all received the sign that Beane was going for it this year, which, again, is fairly unprecedented. If we weren’t sure that was what was happening, all of the necessary confirmation came Thursday. Since July 5, the A’s have sent away six players, a competitive balance draft pick, and cash considerations. Those no longer with the A’s include Addison Russell and Billy McKinney, both first round picks and top prospects, Dan Straily, Jeff Francis, and one bigtime slugger in Yoenis Cespedes. Obviously the most significant losses are the two prospects – uncharacteristic for the A’s – and the 28-year old Cuban slugger who as won the Home Run Derby two years in a row and was an all-star this season. In return? Woof. Jason Hammel is the afterthought of the guys they’ve acquired, and he posted a 2.6 fWAR two years ago. The A’s added two ace-quality starters in Jeff Samardzija and Jon Lester, and two solid outfielders in Sam Fuld and Jonny Gomes. The A’s rotation now? Pick five of these six: Samardzija, Lester, Hammel, Scott Kazmir, Sonny Gray, and Jesse Chavez. They may not have lost too much offense, and they now probably have the best pitching staff in the American League.
- There’s one team, however, that can now challenge the contention that the A’s have the best staff in the AL. A little over one week ago, the Tigers acquired Joakim Soria from the Rangers in exchange for a couple of arms of lesser quality, in a move to bolster their bullpen. Thursday? Thursday they gave up southpaw Drew Smyly, CF Austin Jackson, and top prospect Willy Adames and brought in David Price. The Tigers can now boast their own formidable rotation with the likes of Max Scherzer, Price, Anibal Sanchez, Rick Porcello, and Justin Verlander. Detroit’s roster now also each of the last three AL MVPs and AL Cy Young award winners. So yes, count me among those who are hoping for a potential Oakland-Detroit ALCS matchup.
- The New York Yankees have not been an amazing baseball team this season, but then again, if you thought at the start of the year they would be amazing then I’d say you’re nuts. In the last month, the Yankees have made a series of moves to add pitching depth and give them an infield that is closer to serviceable than it was before. On the infield front — gone now are Dean Anna, Brian Roberts, Kelly Johnson, Yangervis Solarte, and Scott Sizemore. Who is now a Bronx Bomber? Chase Headley was acquired more than a week ago, and Thursday saw the additions of Martin Prado and Stephen Drew. With those three added to the mix of Derek Jeter and Brendan Ryan, I’d say the Yankees and their fans have far less question marks to deal with in the infield than before. On the pitching depth/turnover front, the Yanks have replaced Vidal Nuno with Brandon McCarthy, Jeff Francis, Chris Capuano, Rich Hill, and Esmil Rogers. The 2014 New York Yankees are still very much in playoff contention and were able to plug some holes and add depth without giving up very much. Kudos to Brian Cashman and his staff.
- There are a few different approaches to take toward the crafting of a roster when you realize that your team is not going to be great in the current season. Let’s look at two teams who I think are taking a positive approach, and one that is not. We’ll start with the Boston Red Sox and the phrase you’ll hear repeated a million times over “worst-to-first-to-worst.” The Red Sox are 48-60 right now, in last place in the AL East. Ben Cherington decided he would not stand pat. Since June 18, the Bo-Sox have seen the departures of Grady Sizemore, Rich Hill, Chris Capuano, Chris Resop, A.J. Pierzynski, Jake Peavy, Felix Doubront, and on Thursday Jonny Gomes, Jon Lester, Stephen Drew, John Lackey, Corey Littrell, and Andrew Miller. That’s a lot of bodies. In return, the Red Sox roster has seen the addition of prospects like Edwin Escobar, Heath Hembree, Eduardo Rodriguez, and a 2015 competitive balance draft pick, as well as major league talent like Yoenis Cespedes, Kelly Johnson, Joe Kelly, and Allen Craig. Chalk this one as “re-tooling” and not “re-building.”
- Another team who is not in contention this year and has made a lot of moves is the Chicago Cubs, who are run by former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein. Chicago are in not too unfamiliar circumstances as one of the worst teams in baseball, 44-62 and last in the AL Central. Over the last six weeks or so, the Cubbies have seen the departures of Casper Wells, Jonathan Sanchez, Jason Hammel, Jeff Samardzija, Yorvit Torrealba, Darwin Barney, James Russell, and Emilio Bonifacio. Not too many of these guys, if any, really factored into the long-term future of the Cubs, and Samardzija is really the only stud of the bunch. In return, Chicago has added top prospects in Addison Russell and Billy McKinney, a still-under-team-control-for-a-number-of-years Felix Doubront, as well as Jonathan Martinez, Dan Straily, and Victor Caratini. So basically, if you’re not going to be winning playoff series in the immediate future, get rid of guys who are not going to be part of your long-term success, and replace them with guys who could be part of that success. It is – generally speaking – a great way to do thing in all of the major U.S. pro sports.
Here, Ruben Amaro attempts to explain why he and the Phillies did nothing at the Trade Deadline.
- But you see, that plan was completely turned on its head by Ruben Amaro Jr, the Senior VP & GM of the Philadelphia Phillies. You see, the Phillies roster features seven players who will be paid at least $8 million next season, and none of them other than Cole Hamels are likely to be part of the Phillies long-term plans. So, following the examples and logic I’ve previously outlined, you would expect that the Phillies made some moves, right? Yeah, not so much. Ruben Amaro is left complaining that other executives were not aggressive enough, and that he and the Phillies were willing to chip in money to cover some of their players’ salaries. The glaring problem with that argument, however, is that Jon Lester, David Price, John Lackey, and Yoenis Cespedes were all traded Thursday, meaning there were plenty of GMs who were willing to be aggressive. Now, yes, the Phillies can still make moves in August via waivers, and there’s always the offseason. But Mr. Amaro, it really seems like there were deals out there to be had. You were going to have to eat some money, yes, but I think it’s time to move on to the next era in Phillies baseball. But hey, what do I know.
- Lot of butts in that last bullet.
- The Blue Jays also didn’t do anything, but when I think Blue Jays I think offense, and they still have that so I think they might be okay sort of. They also still have John Gibbons which makes no sense to me, but hey who knows. But yeah I mean I guess if I really cared, I’d say the Blue Jays should have done something.
- Good job by the Cardinals, who felt they needed starting pitching help with Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia still on the 60-day DL. The Cards added Justin Masterson on Wednesday and John Lackey on Thursday, meaning the contenders in the AL Central now have a very respectable pitching staff led by Adam Wainwright.
- Oh, and finally for my Mariners. Everyone in creation could see that the Mariners needed offensive help, specifically from the right side of the plate. I still feel like the Mariners should have tried to add a starting pitcher, because there’s been a hole at the end of the rotation all year – and by “hole,” I mean revolving door – not to mention Chris Young is more than likely to regress at some point. But an optimist will tell you that the return of James Paxton is the shot in the arm pitching-wise that the M’s were looking for. So, back to right handed bats. The Mariners have made three moves since July 24 to improve the offense, and in the process lost only Stephen Pryor (a one-time stud reliever who suffered through injuries and had yet to rebound fully), Nick Franklin (a one-time top hitting prospect who was blocked at the middle infield positions for the Mariners, and hadn’t hit well lately), Abraham Almonte (the Mariners opening day centerfielder and a recovering alcoholic who frankly projects as a fourth outfielder at best), and minor league reliever Stephen Kohlscheen. In exchange, the Mariners have seen the return of a familiar face (1B/DH Kendrys Morales) and two unfamiliar ones (CF Austin Jackson and OF Chris Denorfia). They aren’t big names by any stretch, but they’re relatively inexpensive, and Seattle is hoping they’ll provide the offensive punch they’ve been looking for, while not sacrificing too much defensively.
August could still see some trades made through the waiver wire. Otherwise, this is more or less the end of any significant player transactions until the offseason.