Well, that was fun.
The Major League Baseball trade deadline can be hit or miss, as the implementation of a second wild card spot in each league has made it more difficult to identify buyers and sellers in the weeks and days leading up to the non-waiver cutoff. More teams typically remain in contention longer, which inherently impacts the trade market, in some cases lessening the amount of available talent.
The 2017 deadline featured several notable moves, though, with multiple big-market teams making noise. It should make for an interesting stretch run and an even more interesting October, but why wait that long to react or, in some cases, overreact?
Here are some random thoughts, takeaways and opinions as the dust settles following the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
— The New York Yankees are the deadline’s biggest winners.
One could make a case for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who added Yu Darvish and a pair of lefty relievers, but let’s face it: L.A. already was the best team in baseball. The Yankees, on the other hand, needed to make moves, and they addressed all of their needs while simultaneously plucking from a couple of markets — corner infield and bullpen — the Boston Red Sox also shopped in.
Not only that, but the Yankees’ moves will help them beyond this season. Sonny Gray is under team control for two more years after this season and has the potential to be New York’s ace in 2018 and 2019. Relievers David Robertson (under contract through 2018) and Tommy Kahnle (under team control through 2020) will stick around beyond 2017 as well.
This is huge seeing as how New York’s window to contend didn’t figure to open until at least 2018, anyway. This season has been somewhat surprising, and the Yankees capitalized on their sudden success by making deals that will help them both in the short- and long-term (as NESN.com’s Mike Cole highlighted right here).
And oh yeah, the Yankees, who have done an excellent job of replenishing their farm system recently, didn’t relinquish either of their most coveted prospects, Gleyber Torres or Clint Frazier.
— The Houston Astros are the deadline’s biggest losers.
It’s hard to call someone a “loser” when they’re 33 games over .500 and 11 1/2 games better than the second-best team in the American League. But Houston could have — and should have — done more before the deadline, especially with some injuries cropping up.
The ‘Stros are going to limp into October without having played a meaningful game in months given how far ahead they are in the AL West standings. Adding an impact starter (Gray?) or a shutdown reliever (Zach Britton?) would have addressed a need and perhaps provided a midseason shot in the arm.
The window is wide open for the Astros given the mediocrity of the American League. It would have been nice if they made a move to suggest they’re really going for it. Trading for Francisco Liriano, who will shift to the bullpen, just isn’t enough.
— What the hell are the Baltimore Orioles doing?
The O’s traded for pitcher Jeremy Hellickson and infielder Tim Beckham when all indications were that Baltimore could trade away some of its pieces, most notably Britton, who was one of the best relievers in baseball over the last few years before dealing with elbow issues this season.
If the Orioles make a late push or contend in 2018 with some of their tradeable assets in tow, I’ll eat crow. But I just don’t see either of those scenarios playing out. The O’s should have sold.
— Watch out for the Kansas City Royals.
Just a few weeks ago, it looked like the Royals might be sellers. They have several impending free agents — third baseman Mike Moustakas, first baseman Eric Hosmer, center fielder Lorenzo Cain and shortstop Alcides Escobar — and weren’t showing much life. Kansas City suddenly is one of the hottest teams in baseball, though, forcing general manager Dayton Moore to go out and acquire old friend Melky Cabrera from the Chicago White Sox and right-handers Trevor Cahill, Ryan Buchter and Brandon Maurer from the San Diego Padres.
The Royals are eyeing one last run before their nucleus changes, and they’re going to be a real pain in the you-kn0w-what to play against down the stretch.
— Adrian Beltre is awesome.
This has nothing to do with the trade deadline, but he picked up his 3,000th career hit over the weekend, so it’s worth giving him a shout-out.
— The Dodgers are scary good.
It’s reasonable to have some concerns about Darvish, whose next start will be his 23rd, the most he’s had in a season since 2013. Injuries have long been an issue for the talented right-hander, and he could be asked to navigate uncharted waters with regards to his workload if the Dodgers advance deep into the postseason as expected. Plus, Darvish isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire, evidenced by his 4.01 ERA, 3.98 FIP and 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings, all of which would represent career-worst marks.
He’s a worthwhile gamble given his upside, however, and the Dodgers took advantage of a limited market for the rental’s services to nab him without surrendering any of their top prospects.
The additions of a couple of left-handed Tony’s — Tony Watson and Tony Cingrani — should help, too, as the Dodgers look to create a strong path to Kenley Jansen, who’s the best closer in the National League.
— The Chicago Cubs are the biggest threat to the Dodgers in the National League.
The Washington Nationals, Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies all boast better records than the defending World Series champions, but Chicago is finding its stride and Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein augmented an already talented roster by acquiring starter Jose Quintana, reliever Justin Wilson and catcher Alex Avila leading up to the deadline.
The acquisition of Quintana could be the single biggest move made this season. The left-hander already has looked sharp in a Cubs uniform, and he solidifies a rotation that has underperformed for a big chunk of 2017.
— That said, the D-Backs and Rockies both had very underrated deadlines, although it hardly matters because they’re inevitably going to play each other in the NL wild card game for the right to get steamrolled by the Dodgers.
Outfielder J.D. Martinez adds instant pop to Arizona’s offense. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy and reliever Pat Neshek, meanwhile, give Colorado a nice battery addition, with the former coming at a reasonable price from the Texas Rangers based on his lackluster season and the latter being a good fit for Coors Field — as good a pitcher can be — following his arrival from the Philadelphia Phillies.
— The Milwaukee Brewers sat on their hands. But whatever. They’ve stuck around long enough. There’s no sense mortgaging their future, only to be left in the dust by the Cubs.
— The New York Mets basically swapped Addison Reed (traded to the Red Sox) for AJ Ramos (acquired from the Miami Marlins). It makes some sense if the Mets intend to contend in 2018, as Ramos is under contract through next season. Still, it’s just weird that those were the moves the Mets made.
I suspect the Mets will continue to come up over the next few weeks, as they have several veteran bats — Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson, Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera — who might pass through waivers and subsequently land elsewhere.
— The San Francisco Giants have the worst record in baseball yet couldn’t do anything to improve their future. Not ideal, although would anyone be surprised if San Fran returned to contention next season with a similar core intact?
Keep an eye on starters Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija in the coming weeks.
— Talk about bad timing for a few injuries.
The Cincinnati Reds, who have the third-worst record in the NL, probably would have liked to have aggressively shopped pitcher Scott Feldman and shortstop Zack Cozart, two players set to hit free agency after this season. Yet both are on the disabled list, which threw a wrench into those plans.
The Angels might feel the Reds’ pain. Outfielder Cameron Maybin — another trade candidate given his impending free agency — recently hit the DL in Anaheim.
— There really wasn’t a market for position players, huh?
The Diamondbacks struck early by landing J.D. Martinez, but it was fairly obvious from the somewhat underwhelming package the Tigers received for a former All-Star with an OPS north of 1.000 that the market wasn’t going to be favorable for teams looking to sell off position players. As such, guys like Yonder Alonso, Justin Upton, Ian Kinsler, Carlos Gomez and a collection of Mets stayed put.
— All in all, this year’s trade market was incredibly buyer friendly. The price for rentals was very reasonable, and a few teams were able to make major moves without depleting their farm systems.
Thumbnail photo via Neville E. Guard/USA TODAY Sports Images
Powered by WordPress.com VIP