MLB Trade Deadline: Winners and Losers
There are many teams that were active at the trade deadline this year. With teams on the brink of the playoffs, adding one or two players to contribute to the team’s playoff run is vital. Let’s take a look at those who took advantage of the opportunity and those who failed to do so:
New York Mets:
The Mets had a lot of needs entering the trade deadline period and walked out very successful. With a weak bullpen and a below-average offense, the Mets proved to be serious about their playoff run, acquiring Tyler Clippard, Kelly Johnson, Juan Uribe, and Yoenis Cespedes.
Clippard will be the set-up man for the Mets unless Jeurys Familia continues his struggles of three straight blown saves. Clippard has experience as a closer, as he accumulated 17 saves with the Oakland Athletics until he was traded. Clippard and Familia will be relied on heavily down the stretch with Jenrry Mejia being suspended 162 games for another PED violation. The team finally has a solid group of players that can close the door on opponents late in the game.
Johnson and Uribe were acquired from the Mets first, as the team hoped adding the utility players would give a boost to the offense – which it has. The Mets’ offense has picked up as of late and even won three straight to pull within one game of the National League East-leading Washington Nationals. Johnson will be the team’s second baseman for the foreseeable future – until David Wright returns – while Uribe fills in off-the-bench.
The last minute trade deadline acquisition that is arguably the biggest for the Mets is Cespedes. The power hitting outfielder will be expected to rejuvenate the Mets offense and push them towards the playoffs. He will likely become the starting center fielder, playing alongside Michael Cuddyer and Curtis Granderson.
Toronto Blue Jays:
The biggest splash this trade deadline was by Toronto, who surprised many and are gearing up for a playoff run. The team first surprised many by trading for shortstop Troy Tulowitzki of the Colorado Rockies. Just a few days later, they acquired ace David Price from the Detroit Tigers. As the deadline wound down, the team also acquired outfielder Ben Revere and reliever Mark Lowe.
Solidifying the bullpen, acquiring a real ace, and improving an already scary offense makes the Blue Jays obvious winners this deadline. Though the team gave up a ton of prospects in the process, they decided to go ‘all-in’ and are firm believers that they could very well win the World Series. Tulowitzki is a huge upgrade over Jose Reyes – as he is under contract longer and arguably more talented – while Revere brings a solid bat and a threat on the bases.
Price is nothing short of dominant. The Blue Jays did not have a true ace and can finally shape the pitching rotation around one. Sending a reliable pitcher out game one of the playoffs – or in the Wild Card game – is incredibly important and the Blue Jays have finally found someone that they can do this with. The team also followed the path of the Kansas City Royals, acquiring Lowe, who is having one of the best season among relief pitchers in baseball. In 34 games, Lowe has a 1.00 ERA and an 11.8 strikeout-per-nine ratio. He’s no Wade Davis, but he’s a dominant and reliable option to keep the lead intact.
The Astros are another very active team is among the winners of the trade deadline. The Astros sit at first place in the American League West and will look to pull away from the Los Angeles Angels, who are two games back. The Astros made a huge acquisition early on in ace Scott Kazmir. To cap it off, they acquired outfielder Carlos Gomez and starter Mike Fiers. The Astros finally made the jump this past season, as they were among the league’s worst for a long time. Now, they are contenders.
Kazmir joins Dallas Keuchel as one of the top 1-2 punches in the majors. To have two reliable aces going back-to-back in a rotation will be very helpful if the playoff series get to six or seven games. Also joining the rotation is Fiers, who has a 3.89 ERA this year. He’s still striking out a ton of batters and a new change of scenery could bring him back to 2014 form, where he posted a 2.13 ERA in 14 games and 10 starts.
The Astros are clear winners just by solidifying their rotation, but by acquiring Carlos Gomez as well, it puts them among the top winners this trade deadline. Gomez is a talented outfielder that has a strong bat and even faster pair of legs. Over the past two years, Gomez hit over 20 homers and stole 40 and 34 bases respectively. Though this year he has not been as solid. He has a .262 average with eight home runs and seven steals. A new change of scenery and playing in games that are crucial each night may give him that extra push to return to All-Star form.
Kansas City Royals:
Kansas City made trades early on, but were relatively quiet as the trade deadline approached. However, the two acquisitions will be huge contributors in the Royals’ quest for the World Series. The team, similar to the Blue Jays, finally acquired their much-needed ace. The Royals do have Edinson Volquez who is having a solid season, but they did not have that ‘ace’ that is needed to start off the playoff series strong and for clutch performances.
Johnny Cueto is as reliable as it gets. He is 7-6 with a 2.62 ERA on a weak Cincinnati team. Now, he is on the best team – record wise – in the American League. Cueto can pitch deep into games and possesses a great command over hitters.
The Royals also acquired utility man Ben Zobrist, who is currently playing outfield while Alex Gordon is rehabbing back to full health. He will likely shift to second base when Gordon is activated. Zobrist is a solid hitter and will be a constant contributor to a reliable Royals offense. He is batting .264 with 20 doubles on the year.
Los Angeles Dodgers:
Though they only made one, very large trade, the Dodgers are clear-cut winners this trade deadline. In a 13-player deal, the Dodgers acquired starting pitchers Mat Latos and Alex Wood, relief pitchers Jim Johnson and Luis Avilan, Atlanta’s top prospect Jose Peraza, Bronson Arroyo (DFA’d) and Michael Morse (who was DFA’d and traded to Pittsburgh for Jose Tabata). The Dodgers had to give up Hector Olivera, who was recently signed to a large contract to bring the middle infielder over from Cuba, among other prospects.
The Dodgers are in first place in the National League West, 0.5 games ahead of the San Francisco Giants. The Giants are second in the Wild Card, two games ahead of the Chicago Cubs. They revitalized their pitching rotation and acquired two solid relievers to help close out the game. Not only that, but they acquired one of the top prospects in Peraza, who was ranked #38 among all prospects by MLB.com.
Wood and Latos will join Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Brett Anderson in the starting rotation. The rotation was veering off and struggling as of late and bolstering it with two solid pitchers was much-needed. Wood is the better of the two and has the most potential to develop into a top tier pitcher in the future.
Adding Johnson, who was closing in Atlanta at the time of the trade, will help keep the lead intact for closer Kenley Jansen. The right-hander has a 2.25 ERA on the year, finally looking like his dominant 2012 season, where he had 51 saves. The Dodgers, among other teams, are creating a mega-bullpen to limit the chances of a blown lead; adding Johnson and Avilan help do so.
The Reds are out of contention and though they did not unload Aroldis Chapman or Jay Bruce, they ended up getting a handful of prospects for Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake. These prospects are solid and could make their debuts in the majors over the next few years. Brandon Finnegan will be a great addition to the bullpen as well. Yay Farm System!
This is no surprise. In a 13-player trade, the Braves made arguably one of the most mind-boggling moves; the team traded Alex Wood, Luis Avilan, Jim Johnson, and top prospect Jose Peraza to the Dodgers. In return, they would receive Cuban prospect Hector Olivera, Zack Bird, Paco Rodriguez, and the Miami Marlins’ compensation draft pick. To trade one of the team’s future top pitchers in Wood – who is not a free agent anytime soon – and Peraza and receive Olivera and two other prospects who may not have a huge impact in the majors does not make sense. The team is out of the playoff run, but trading two pieces of the future for Olivera makes the Braves obvious losers.
San Diego Padres:
The Padres are a long-shot of making the playoffs this year, and instead of dumping expiring contracts, they stood pat and did little trading. They still have Justin Upton, Craig Kimbrel, and Tyson Ross, all of which were in trade talks throughout the past week. The Padres did not receive any solid prospects yet instead will have to pay off the rest of Upton’s contract. Rebuild plan failed.
The Tigers gave up on a season in which they were 3.5 games out of the Wild Card. Instead of attempting to cut the lead down and wait for Miguel Cabrera to lead the team to the promise land, the Tigers dumped David Price and Yoenis Cespedes. The team does rebuild their farm system in the process, but have given up this year in the process.
New York Yankees:
Yes, the Yankees are sitting nice and cozy six games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays in the American League East. But not making any moves while the Blue Jays upgraded significantly may be the beginning of the end for New York. The Yankees still have to play a solid amount of games against their division rivals and may fall behind because they did not take advantage of the deadline. Dustin Ackley counts for something, right? Nope!