It’s time for the baseball world to take a deep breath and get ready for the stretch run.
July is one of the most important — and often wildest — months on the Major League Baseball calendar, and 2017 was no different.
We saw a flurry of moves in the days and weeks leading up to Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline, as some of the sport’s best teams got even better with some head-turning deals.
Here are the 10 most important trades of the last month.
10. Arizona acquires OF JD Martinez from Detroit for 3B Dawel Lugo, SS Jose King and SS Sergio Alcantara
The Diamondbacks didn’t necessarily need to upgrade their lineup; they currently rank in the top half of baseball in most offensive categories. But they’re quite literally playing for second place. Acquiring one of the best right-handed hitters for next to nothing for a few months will help and will make that lineup even tougher in a potential wild-card game.
T9. Dodgers acquire LHP Tony Watson from Pittsburgh for RHP Angel German and INF Oneil Cruz
Dodgers acquire LHP Tony Cingrani from Cincinnati for OF Scott Van Slyke and C Hendrik Clementina
The Dodgers, of course, have one of the best bullpens in either league — because they have the best everything. So, this is a case of the rich getting richer and an indication that Andrew Friedman and Co. are pushing in their chips. Looking ahead to the National League Championship Series, the Dodgers might meet up with the Cubs or Nationals, two teams with loads of left-handed bats.
8. Cubs acquire LHP Justin Wilson, C Alex Avila from Detroit for 3B Jeimer Candelario, SS Isaac Paredes, PTBNL and cash considerations
In Wilson, the Cubs get a left-handed pitcher who’s actually tougher on right-handed bats than lefties. Add him to a bullpen that ranks just behind the Dodgers in the National League, and you’ve got another ‘pen built for October success.
7. Houston acquires LHP Francisco Liriano from Toronto for OF Nori Aoki and OF Teoscar Hernandez
We’re cheating, but this trade is important because it was Houston’s only real move, and is thus important for what it represents: the Astros’ inactivity. Houston is a virtual lock for the playoffs but has suffered a seemingly never-ending rash of injuries. Making an impact move could have revitalized the club and set it up for a postseason run.
6. Boston acquires RHP Addison Reed from Mets for RHP Jamie Callahan, RHP Gerson Bautista and RHP Stephen Nogosek
Statistically, the Red Sox have one of the best bullpens in the American League, but they’ve hit a wall in recent weeks. Adding Reed, arguably the top reliever on the trade market, will help Boston bridge the gap to Craig Kimbrel. If/when Joe Kelly and Carson Smith get healthy, John Farrell will have no shortage of weapons. It’s also a nice return for the Mets, who acquired three pitchers who could be in their major league bullpen before too long.
T5. Washington acquires RHP Ryan Madson and RP Sean Doolittle from Oakland for RHP Blake Treinen, LHP Jesus Luzardo and 3B Sheldon Neuse
Washington acquires RHP Brandon Kintzler from Minnesota for LHP Tyler Watson and international pool money
The Nationals’ bullpen has been a tire fire all season, causing Dusty Baker to lean hard on his starters. Nats relievers have thrown the fewest innings in baseball by a wide margin, and the addition of stabilizing veterans with track records of success should alleviate some of the workload on a starting rotation that’s currently without Stephen Strasburg.
4. Cubs acquire LHP Jose Quintana from White Sox for RHP Dylan Cease, LF Eloy Jimenez and 1B Matt Rose
It’s been nearly three weeks since this trade went down, so there’s the benefit of hindsight when we say Quintana has been tremendous — three starts, 19 innings, 25 strikeouts and 2.37 ERA. The Cubs are 13-3 since the trade. The White Sox, meanwhile, continued their fantastic rebuilding efforts by nabbing Jimenez, who’s viewed as their No. 2 prospect behind Yoan Moncada and considered one of the best offensive prospects in the entire sport. Cease, who sits in the mid-90s and was the No. 6 pick in 2014, is also a top-10 organizational prospect.
3. Yankees acquire 3B Todd Frazier, RHP David Robertson and RHP Tommy Kahnle from White Sox for RHP Tyler Clippard, LHP Ian Clarkin, OF Blake Rutherford and OF Tito Polo
The Yankees, as we’ve already discussed, made themselves legitimate World Series contenders in the last month. It started with this trade, as they solidified the corner infield while also adding two impact arms to a bullpen with an already-high ceiling. Speaking of high ceilings, Rutherford slides into the No. 5 slot on MLB.com’s list of Chicago’s top prospects, as now seven of the club’s top 10 prospects have been acquired in the last eight months.
2. Yankees acquire RHP Sonny Gray from Oakland for RHP James Kaprielian, OF Dustin Fowler and INF Jorge Mate
Gray isn’t the best pitcher acquired before the deadline, but he’s got plenty of potential and he’s controllable. The Gray deal is even more important, though, because of the Yankees’ prior move. It signals New York’s “rebuild” is just about complete, and that the Bronx Bombers are ready to contend — not to mention Gray fills a big gap left by the injury to Michael Pineda. Billy Beane wasn’t able to pry Clint Frazier or Gleyber Torres from Brian Cashman, but the A’s did get three prospects whom MLB.com has slotted into the top 11. Fowler’s knee injury is a concern, though.
1. Dodgers acquire RHP Yu Darvish from Texas for OF/2B Willie Calhoun, RHP A.J. Alexy and INF Brendon Davis
The biggest deal of deadline day came just before the clock hit 4 p.m. ET. The Dodgers far and away are the best team in baseball, and they are the prohibitive favorites to win their first World Series since 1988. But weird things happen in the playoffs, especially if you run into a pitching buzzsaw. With Darvish in the fold, the best team not only gets better, but also can be that club with the pitching buzzsaw. The bullpen, as mentioned, is loaded, and now L.A. can run out a rotation consisting of (the presumably healthy) Clayton Kershaw, Darvish, Alex Wood, Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda. Pretty decent.
Thumbnail photo via David Banks/USA TODAY Sports Images
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