The MLB trade deadline has come and gone, and there was plenty of intrigue and even more dealing to go along with it. Of course, with every trade deadline, there are winners, losers and teams that stayed quiet. These are the stories of the winners and losers of baseball’s trade deadline. There will be three of each type of team, and there will be explanations as to why they are in their respective categories.
So let’s get this started: here are the MLB trade deadline’s winners and losers.
Loser: Houston Astros
If you’re trying to find positives for the Astros at the trade deadline, consider this: they didn’t do anything. On the other hand, if you want to try to find a negative for the Astros this year, it would be that….. they didn’t do anything.
While that’s not necessarily a bad thing considering the results of last year’s trades, the Astros’ inaction runs counter to what the Texas Rangers, the team Houston is trying to catch to win the AL West, did on Monday. Texas acquired outfielder/designated hitter (but really designated hitter) Carlos Beltran from the Yankees and catcher Jonathan Lucroy from the Milwaukee Brewers; more on them later. The Astros did absolutely nothing, unless you consider trading away Scott Feldman and Josh Fields to be earth-shattering, landscape-changing moves in the AL West.
Those moves are most certainly not that, and the Astros did not acquire any pieces that will help them reach the playoffs this year. If you consider GM Jeff Luhnow’s nonintervention a positive thing, you probably don’t agree with Houston’s placement on this list. But I, like many others, see it as a negative, so the Astros are definitely a loser here.
Winner: New York Mets
Okay, Jay Bruce is certainly not Yoenis Céspedes. Céspedes, the Mets’ prime deadline acquisition last season, hit 17 home runs for the team in just 57 games. He’s back this year, but has been hobbled with various injuries for most of the season. Hence, the result of Céspedes’ health mixed with the collective failure of the rest of the Mets’ lineup is a team that is currently batting .205 with runners in scoring position on the season. Yes, .205. That’s historically godawful.
The acquisition of Bruce, though, may alleviate some of those struggles. Bruce is hitting .360 with runners in scoring position on the season; the problem is that he has been inconsistent in past years with runners on base. It’s hard to predict how Bruce will do in the Mets’ lineup, but this much is true: he leads the league in RBI and is having the best season of his career.
The trade for Bruce is far from a perfect acquisition for the Mets. The team now has four corner outfielders, no healthy center fielders, and is still dealing with injuries up and down the roster. However, Bruce will provide an immediate lift for the offense, even if he isn’t going to come close to Céspedes’ production from the second half of last season.
The Mets will gladly take Bruce’s offense and worry about positional fit later.
Loser: Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pittsburgh Pirates easily had the most confusing trade deadline of any team in baseball. First, GM Neal Huntington decided to ship Mark Melancon to the Nationals in exchange for left-hander Felipe Rivero and prospect Taylor Hearn. Then, Huntington flipped struggling starter Francisco Liriano and two prospects for Toronto’s best AAA pitcher, Drew Hutchison. So basically, the Pirates traded a known commodity in Liriano and two promising commodities (prospects Reese McGuire and Harold Ramirez) for an unknown commodity in Hutchison. This would come as a surprise to you if you didn’t know that Huntington was the same person who traded starting second baseman Neil Walker to the Mets before last season for fifth-starter and perennially mediocre lefty Jon Niese.
But wait, there’s more! The Pirates then traded a player to be named later to the Yankees for Ivan Nova. Okay, that’s cool, but why would the Pirates need another starting pitcher when they already had enough to begin with? That’s because the team traded Niese back to the Mets in exchange for Antonio Bastardo in the ultimate junk-in-exchange–for-total-garbage deadline trade.
So yeah, things went really strangely for the Pirates at the deadline. They’re throwing in the towel on this season (we think) but it’s kind of hard to tell what they’re doing when almost all of their moves contradicted each other within the course of just 48 hours. But other than that, everything’s just fine.
Winner: Texas Rangers
This one is almost a no-brainer. Texas made its team appreciably better on Monday by way of two separate trades for Carlos Beltran and Jonathan Lucroy. These moves plug obvious holes in the lineup that were previously filled by Robinson Chirinos and Prince Fielder; Fielder is out for the season after finding out last week that he would need a second neck surgery. So the Rangers were able to fill those holes in the lineup, but that’s not all they did on Monday.
In one of the sneakier, more underrated moves of deadline day, the Rangers were also able to acquire relief pitcher Jeremy Jeffress from the Brewers in the Lucroy deal. Jeffress has saved 27 games for Milwaukee this year and has quietly been one of the best closers in the game as of late. The Rangers had an obvious need for a closer after Shawn Tolleson’s season-long implosion and subsequent demotion to AAA. Jeffress fills that void, and his acquisition is huge for a team that has been looking for a closer since practically the beginning of the season.
The Rangers were one of the big winners at the trade deadline, making moves to improve their weaknesses while keeping the rest of the big-league roster intact. While Texas gave up several good prospects (Dillon Tate, Lewis Brinson, Luis Ortiz) to accrue these assets, they’re going for it all right now.
And if you had the best record in the American League, why wouldn’t you push all of your chips to the center of the table?
Loser: Miami Marlins
For as bad as the trade deadlines of Pittsburgh and Houston were, the Marlins’ one has to take the cake. And it’s not even close.
Last week, GM Michael Hill, the replacement for the since-departed Dan Jennings (who happens to be the same person as former manager Dan Jennings), traded pitcher Jarred Cosart, minor-league pitchers Tayron Guerrero, Luis Castillo (not that Luis Castillo), and injured reliever Carter Capps to the Padres. In return for this hefty price tag, the Padres sent pitchers Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea to Miami. While neither pitcher is having a great season, both would theoretically help a Marlins staff that has struggled somewhat behind ace José Fernandez.
The problem is that only one of those pitchers was fully healthy.
Rea made his first start for the Marlins on Saturday, going 3 1/3 scoreless innings before leaving the game with arm soreness. Rea’s first Miami start would also be his last; after the team placed him on the 15-day DL, it traded him back to San Diego in exchange for Luis Castillo, the prospect who has originally traded for Rea and Cashner. The Marlins have reasoning for doing this, according to Yahoo!’s Jeff Passan and FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal:
Marlins were absolutely livid. Felt like they’d been dealt damaged goods. Apparently there will be recourse for it. https://t.co/AJviNX6O5W
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) August 1, 2016
While it’s fair for Miami to be upset with the Padres for giving them damaged goods, couldn’t they have done a little more research before acquiring Rea? Also, the Fish made a trade with San Diego earlier in the summer to acquire Fernando Rodney. In that trade, Miami sent pitcher Chris Paddack, a 20-year-old prospect, to San Diego. Paddack recently found out that he needs Tommy John Surgery; the Padres aren’t crying foul about this. They were aware of the risk in trading players and understood that acquiring a player from another organization wouldn’t be a guaranteed success.
This is a lesson that the Marlins can learn from. But knowing their organizational history, it’s highly unlikely that they will.
Winner: New York Yankees
The Yankees finally did the right thing this year and distanced themselves from mediocrity to build a bright future for years to come. I suggested they do this about 2 1/2 weeks ago, and to the approval of fans and baseball observers, the great rebuild has finally come to fruition. In conceding failure for this season, the Yankees are building a potential future dynasty for years to come, as ESPN’s Andrew Marchand writes:
In acquiring not one, not two, not three … but 12 prospects by trading Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Carlos Beltran and Ivan Nova, Cashman has transformed a Yankees farm system that was once an eyesore into one envied in the game.
Cashman’s plan is somewhat akin to Riley’s plan with the Heat six years ago, when he shaved off salary-cap space to add James and Chris Bosh to form his super team, which reached the NBA Finals four straight years and won two titles. The Yankees have now created a prospect pool which allows them to not only offer gobs of money to free agents, but also gives them the possibility of more glory.
As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, the Yankees could go in several different directions here. They could use their prospects to clear cap space and sign free agents (as Marchand suggests), they could use the prospects as trade chips for present or future stars, or they could keep their prospects and hope most if not all of them pan out. They really could go anywhere from here, and GM Brian Cashman and owner Hal Steinbrenner should be applauded for building a bright future for the Yankees’ organization.
Watching the Yankees sell is something many of us never thought we would see. But now that they have, it’s easy to see that they made the right decision for the future and betterment of their franchise.