There were a lot of moves, as always, leading up to the MLB’s trade deadline. Every trade can be viewed as a win if you look through the lens of that teams fan base, but when you look objectively, sometimes it just ain’t so. While I understand the need for GM’s to make moves to appeal to rabid fan bases, most of time these moves are meaningless.
Charlie Clarke — who has now been contributing quality MLB related content to this blog for about a month now and knows just as much baseball as anyone — and I will be grading just how well your team actually did for itself.
Only teams who made significant moves will be discussed
BUYERS – This means your team is good and tried to get better! Or at least your team is pretending it’s good so you keep buying tickets.
Charlie Clarke – Baltimore Orioles
Baltimore has loosely gripped the AL East division lead since April. With an MLB-premier lineup, they needed some pitching. They went out and bought Wade Miley, a lefty from Seattle. For a righty-heavy rotation, I like the intentions, but Miley owns a 4.98 ERA (4.75 FIP) and he’s been playing in Seattle all year. In the bandbox that is Camden Yards, Miley may get lit up by AL righty bats. An acquisition I love is Steve Pearce, who they acquired from Tampa. A platoon righty who hits for power and average, Pearce destroys lefties, becoming a 5 win player in 2014 in just 102 games. The Orioles get a B. Not great, but pretty under the radar deadline from the East’s leaders.
Charles Nichelson – Blue Jays
The Blue Jays got Mike Bolsinger and Scott Feldman, both pretty nonchalant additions. Makes sense for a team that’s in the hunt, but not certain of its future. Then they added Francisco Liriano! Which would have sounded a lot cooler a decade ago. The Jays basically added above-average talent to their average pitching staff. They did not give up a whole lot and added a few minor leaguers, but they did not make any strong moves and they were not good enough to win the World Series before these moves. The trades are a C+, nothing to get upset about, but also nothing to ride home about either.
Charlie Clarke – Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox added Drew Pomeranz, a breakout lefty pitcher from the Padres. From the Pomeranz side, I like this deal a lot. The young southpaw will regress, as he owns a .255 BABIP and moves from a pitcher’s park to a hitter’s park, but it gives Boston a solid back-end of the rotation guy, who belongs in the middle of one. However, they gave up highly touted pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza, who was arguably a top 20 prospect in all of baseball. Whether they overpaid is up in the air, but this seems like a decent short-term deal for Boston. I’ll give them a B.
Charles Nichelson – Chicago Cubs
The Cubs made probably the most notable pitching move this summer by acquiring Aroldis Chapman. Add the most talented pitcher in baseball to a World Series contender, home run right? Well on the field it might be, but this deal made more social issue-headlines than baseball ones. Many Chicago fans were content with the roster they had and thought if they Cubs were going to add a reliever it would not be the one who was suspended for 30 games by the MLB for a domestic dispute with his girlfriend. It was an uncomfortable situation for all and then his first interview with Chicago media members went even worse when the Cubs did not get a professional translator to help the Cuban-born Chapman. It lead to this ugly interview:
that made it seem as though he nor the Cubs’ front office was that worried about his past, although many claim it is a translation mishap and I am inclined to believe them since I am not a foreign language expert. Either way, Chicago was probably the best NL team without him and unless they win a World Series I view this trade as a net loss when you consider the context of the situation. There were other relievers they could have acquired that would ruffle a lot less feathers, but winning solves everything… right? The Cubs made a great baseball move, but the best grade I can give them is a B- cause this is just uncomfortable.
Charlie Clarke – Cleveland Indians
Cleveland came into the deadline with the Mets and Rangers as leaders in the Lucroy discussion. They came out of the deadline with arguably the best reliever in baseball, Andrew Miller, but no catcher. The Indians whiffed here, and gave up some of their best prospects (Justus Sheffield, Clint Frazier) for Miller. They also acquired Brandon Guyer from Tampa, who kills lefty pitching but is merely hopeless against right handers. Indians manager Terry Francona says he wasn’t shook up about not getting Lucroy, but I am. D+ deadline for the Tribe.
Charles Nichelson – Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers, well the Dodgers won in the sense that they added quality baseball players in Josh Reddick and Rich Hill to their team. It was the old-fashioned mid-tier prospects for veterans with expiring contracts trade. All parties win because the buyer gets better and the seller improves their future. The issue is the Dodgers probably should not have been buying. Their team is significantly worse than the team they had last year, the NL is notably better than it was the year before and Clayton Kershaw (aka THE FRANCHISE) is out with a back injury. This team had no real reason to be “buyers” and I feel bad for their fans. The Dodgers get a C- cause they didn’t necessarily do bad, but it was not smart moves.
Charles Nichelson – New York Mets
In the short-term, the Mets and Rangers made the biggest additions at the deadline. The Mets added the NL RBI leader (though that’s a context driven stat) and he’s more than a three-month rental, so that’s a quality acquisition in most books. The issue being, they already had about five corner outfielders and two first basemen on the roster. Upgrades were needed in the middle of the field (C, SS, and CF), now the Mets will be forced to bench one of their better bats to play good defense or sacrifice defense for an extra quality-hitter. Not really what you want to give up a top-prospect for, but a win nonetheless. I’ll give the Mets a B.
Charles Nichelson – Texas Rangers
The Rangers added two all-stars in Carlos Beltran and Jonathan Lucroy, and did not have to give up their best young talent. Huge win from a GM standpoint, but it did not address the actual needs of the team. The offense was the one good thing about this team. The bullpen ERA is atrocious and the starting pitching has been poor since the losses of Colby Lewis and Derek Holland. Now if those two come back healthy and pitch well then this team is an instant World Series favorite, but that’s asking a lot of guys who regularly find themselves on the shelf and Lucas Harrell cannot exactly be expected to save the season. The Rangers get a B+, the best of the buyers.
SELLERS – your team is bad and it knows it, but that can be good!
Charlie Clarke – Milwaukee Brewers
Milwaukee Brewers general manager David Stearns is a genius. Stearns has given up on mediocrity and completely shifted this ball club into a future powerhouse, while putting a watchable product out on the field. Stearns bolstered his system again at the deadline. The headliner, dealing Lucroy to Texas for the Rangers’ number two and three prospects was impressive. But Stearns robbed the Giants, sending reliever Will Smith to San Fran for their top prospect, Phil Bickford, and catcher Andrew Susac. The Brewers continue to rebuild in an efficient way, A-.
Charlie Clarke – New York Yankees
This one is simple. The Yankees sold, and sold really well. Beltran, Nova, Miller, and Chapman all left town for highly rated prospects. They probably have the best farm system in baseball at this point, and may be in line to contend next year, A+.
Charles Nichelson – Oakland A’s
The Athletics traded two of their best players, so in terms of selling they did alright. Unfortunately they were both on expiring contracts so they did not get a ton for them. In other bad news for the A’s, Sonny Gray has totally imploded, but that’s nothing new. I feel bad for the A’s, but they did a good job for what they could. Oakland get’s an A-.
Charlie Clarke – San Diego Padres
The Padres are in complete tear-down-mode. They gave away Drew Pomeranz, James Shields, and Andrew Cashner from the rotation and Matt Kemp from their outfield. Many non-competitive teams (Arizona, Philadelphia) didn’t want to sell, not the Padres. Give San Diego credit, their future looks bright, B+.
Charles Nichelson – Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays, notable for being awful, actually did some pretty good things before the break. They got several prospects and young players, but also acquired Matt Duffy, a veteran who fills a need, but is not a huge salary. They also got rid of Brandon Guyer, Matt Moore, and Steve Pearce in the process. It was logical selling time and Tampa Bay did it well. Nothing special, but sometimes doing the best thing is not flashy. The rare A for Tampa Bay, enjoy it.
What were the Cardinals, Pirates and Marlins doing?
Charlie Clarke – Cardinals
If ever the Cardinals have flown under the baseball radar, it’s been in 2016. With the Cubs grabbing every NL Central story-line, the Cards have quietly put together a decent season. They have a nice, young crop of hitters (Hazelbaker, Diaz, Piscotty), but needed some extra relief pitching after the explosion of Trevor Rosenthal. Zach Duke from the Sox will do, but will it push them into the playoffs? I’m not entirely convinced. They could have gone for more, C.
Charles Nichelson – Marlins
In one of the more interesting deadline moves of the year, the Marlins gave Colin Rea back to the Padres. Has to be weird to be “sold”, twice, for the young pitcher. Acquiring Andrew Cashner and Tayron Guerrero were decent additions for the playoff contender, but they were not really a championship contender and did not really add anything special. If their plan is to hold off the Mets, then I am inclined to say they failed and get a D+, but maybe they were just moving around pieces and are not really concerned with the postseason this year. If that is truly their prerogative (and you never know with Miami), then I will give them a C-, but it’s the Marlins so who knows.
Charlie Clarke – Pirates
The Pirates got rid of one unwanted (Jon Niese) and acquired another (Ivan Nova). I’d assume they are sellers, as they dealt their closer (Mark Melancon) and Francisco Liriano. They were just swept by Milwaukee, which is less than impressive, and pose as mediocrity’s National League advocate at this point. They didn’t fully commit to buying or selling, but they didn’t make any awful moves. Again, C.