Winners and Losers, MLB Trade Deadline Edition

Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

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-exchangefor-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:

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.

MLB Season Preview

NL East

Team W L
Washington Nationals 96 66
Miami Marlins 86 76
New York Mets 84 78
Atlanta Braves 78 84
Philadelphia Phillies 64 98


Discussion: The Nats win this division easily due to the ridiculous starting rotation and their above-average line-up.  The Marlins take a leap forward as Jose Fernandez returns from his Tommy John surgery to put forth a solid second-half of the season.  The Mets improve over last year with the solid addition of Michael Cuddyer and improvements to the bullpen as well.  The Braves stay around the same as they finished last year because their key gains match their key losses.  They are very similar to how they were last year.  And the Phillies are just going to be really, really bad and that’s that.  Their rotation, lineup, and bullpen are all terrible.  They will be the worst team in baseball.

NL Central

Team W L
Pittsburgh Pirates 89 73
St. Louis Cardinals 87 75
Chicago Cubs 81 81
Milwaukee Brewers 81 81
Cincinnati Reds 69 93


Discussion: The Pirates bring back many of the same players from last year, but the addition of Francisco Cervelli behind the plate will help its pitching staff take the next step.  Pedro Alvarez rebounds from a poor season in 2014, leading the Bucs to their first division title since 1992.  The Cardinals will be there; they always are.  They haven’t gotten much better, however, and the division around them has.  They will fall slightly.  The Cubs had a very solid offseason, and look for prospects Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant (when he comes up) to have good campaigns.  The Brewers stay where they were last season, and Jonathan Lucroy has an MVP-caliber season.  Finally, the Reds have a poor season, suffering as the division pushes forward around them.

NL West

Team W L
San Diego Padres 88 74
Los Angeles Dodgers 84 78
San Francisco Giants 81 81
Colorado Rockies 72 90
Arizona Diamondbacks 69 93


Discussion:  The Padres take a leap forward this season, as the additions of Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Myers, James Shields and others catapult the Pods to the division pennant.  The Dodgers take a step back with the losses of Hanley Ramirez and Dan Haren.  The Giants, in an odd-numbered year, take a step back as they lose Pablo Sandoval and, for the beginning of the season, Hunter Pence.  The Rockies and Diamondbacks, two rebuilding teams, round out the division basement, each losing at least 90 games.

AL East

Team W L
Baltimore Orioles 85 77
New York Yankees 82 80
Toronto Blue Jays 81 81
Boston Red Sox 80 82
Tampa Bay Rays 69 93


Discussion: This division only features one sure-fire basement team (the Rays).  The Red Sox improve off of last year, but weaknesses at pitcher and catcher will serve to hold them back.  The Blue Jays, besides the addition of Russell Martin, are not as strong as last year with the losses of Juan Francisco and Melky Cabrera.  The Yankees; who knows?  They could be anywhere from 60 to 90 wins, but on paper, they are an around .500 team.  And the Orioles, this year’s weakest division winner, will have just enough to win the division, along with the comeback of Manny Machado.

AL Central

Team W L
Cleveland Indians 89 73
Detroit Tigers 87 75
Kansas City Royals 83 79
Chicago White Sox 81 81
Minnesota Twins 69 93


Discussion: The Twins carry the bottom of this division, as they are still awaiting the development of Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton, who are starting the season at class AA.  The White Sox improve off of last year’s showing with additions of Melky Cabrera, David Robertson and Jeff Samardzija help improve the team, but they are still weak at second base, right field and in the bullpen.  The Royals lose pieces from last year’s team, namely DH Billy Butler and ace James Shields; they take a small step back.  Finally, the Indians take a leap of faith to the top of the division, needing all-around solid seasons from Michael Brantley and Michael Bourn to do so.  The Tigers finish second, and have to be concerned over the plight of Justin Verlander.

AL West

Team W L
Seattle Mariners 95 67
Oakland A’s 86 76
Los Angeles Angels 84 78
Houston Astros 83 79
Texas Rangers 67 95


Discussion: The Mariners lead this division, as the addition of Nelson Cruz helps alleviate the pressure of Robinson Cano to produce.  Also, Felix Hernandez wins his second Cy Young leading one of baseball’s best pitching staffs.  The A’s are a mystery, but they will most likely be good enough for second in this division.  The Angels are also a mystery, but I have them behind the A’s because it remains to be seen if Josh Hamilton can figure himself out and if Albert Pujols can have another good season.  The Astros will be a surprise; they take a leap forward this year with the additions of Jed Lowrie and Evan Gattis.  Finally, the Rangers will easily finish last in the division after the season-ending injury to Yu Darvish.






Wild Card Game: Cardinals over Marlins





Wild Card Game: Tigers over A’s


(2)Pirates vs (3)Padres: Pirates in 5

(1)Nationals vs (4)Cardinals: Nationals in 4

(1)Nationals) vs (2)Pirates: Pirates in 7

Explanation: The Nationals easily dispose of the Cardinals in the first round, and the Pirates and Padres play a tightly contested series that goes the distance.  In a  7-game series, the pitching of the Pirates catches up to that of the Nats.  Also, their outfield (Marte, Polanco, and McCutchen) will be this year’s version of the Royals’ outfield last year.  The Pirates win the NL.


(1)Mariners vs (4)Tigers: Mariners in 4

(2)Indians vs (3)Orioles: Orioles in 5

(1)Mariners vs (3)Orioles: Mariners in 6

Explanation: The Mariners’ pitching coupled with enough offense gets them past the experienced Tigers.  The experience of the Orioles, along with the return of Manny Machado, leads them past the Indians.  Then, the Mariners defeat the Orioles in a solid championship series.  They take the pennant.

World Series: (2)Pirates vs (1)Mariners: This series will be tight.  However, the Mariners’ pitching, especially in a three or four-man rotation, allows few runs.  Also, Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano have sold series, and the talent on each side in too much for the Bucs.  Mariners win in 6.

Most importantly, this season will be fun.  Your guess is as good as mine as to who wins.