Saturday, August 1, 2015

Recap of a Busy Trading Deadline

A total of 31 trades were made in the final 8 days before this year's trading deadline involving 20 former and current All Stars. Ace pitchers David Price, Johnny Cueto, and Cole Hamels all have changed addresses during this time. After years of rumors, Troy Tulowitzki was traded by the Rockies to the Blue Jays. Carlos Gomez was almost traded to the Mets, then traded to the Astros a day later. Below is a division by division review of the action.

NL East

The last place Phillies made the most noise at the deadline. Embattled GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has came under fire for refusing to rebuild, and some felt that Amaro wouldn't be allowed to make any moves. New team President Andy MacPhail likely had more say than Amaro did with these trades. Philadelphia unloaded unhappy closer Jonathon Papelbon to Washington, and later traded away center fielder Ben Revere to Toronto. However, their biggest piece was lefty Cole Hamels.

Hamels was sent to Texas along with reliever Jake Diekman in a 8 player trade that brought back Matt Harrison and five prospects. The biggest piece is catcher Jorge Alfaro, who is at Double A. The trade also included outfielder Nick Williams, and 3 pitching prospects. The Revere trade brought back two pitching prospects, and the Papelbon trade brought back prospect Nick Pivetta. In total, the Phillies acquired 6 pitching prospects for the future.

The Mets had a very strange week at the deadline. They acquired Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson from the Braves for two prospects, but neither player is going to turn around a putrid offense. They then had a pending deal with Milwaukee for Carlos Gomez for Zack Wheeler (who is recovering from Tommy John surgery) and Wilmer Flores. Terry Collins left in a upset Flores in the game after he had been traded, only for it to be rejected by the Mets about concerns on Gomez' hip. Instead, the Mets acquired Yoenis Cespedes from the Tigers for two pitching prospects. The Mets are hoping that Cespedes can improve an offense that struggles to score. If so, the pitching rich Mets could find themselves in October.

The Nats major move was to acquire Papelbon from the Phillies to shore up their bullpen. Washington already has a very good closer in Drew Storen, but Papelbon won't accept a set up role. So, Storen has been demoted in favor of Papelbon. The Nationals haven't been quite as good as expected, but have several injured players like Jayson Werth and Anthony Rendon returning. Both the Braves and Marlins were sellers, trading away veterans for prospects. It looks to be a battle between the Nats and the Mets in an otherwise weak divison.

NL Central

The Cardinals possess the majors best record, despite numerous injuries to key players such as Adam Wainwright and Matt Holliday. The rotation has been very strong in Wainwright's absence, with Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez stepping up. There has been some injuries to a couple of bullpen arms, and fears of overworking star relievers Kevin Siegrist and Trevor Rosenthal. John Mozeliak went out an acquired Steve Cishek from the Marlins and Jonathon Broxton from the Brewers. Both pitchers got off to rough starts, but both have closing experience. Cishek has pitched better in recent months, and has a similar delivery to former Cardinal Pat Neshek.

The other move the Cardinals made was acquiring outfielder/first baseman Brandon Moss from the Indians for minor league starter Rob Kaminsky. Kaminsky was drafted two years ago, and has good upside. Unlike with the Cishek and Broxton deals, the Cardinals gave up a good prospect. Moss is a left handed power bat that strikes out a lot, similar to Mark Reynolds. Moss has hit only .217 this year, but has 15 home runs. He was an All Star with Oakland last year, and hit 30 homers in 2013. The Cardinals are unsure about Holliday's status, so they will go with a mix of Reynolds, Moss, and Stephen Piscotty at first base and left field.

The Pirates made a few minor moves at the deadline. The biggest move was trading for Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez to fill in for Josh Harrison while he is hurt. Ramirez has said he will retire at the end of the season, and returns to the team he started with. Unlike his first go around, the Pirates are a contender now. Pittsburgh swooped up Michael Morse, who was traded from the Marlins to Dodgers, and then to the Pirates. The Cubs added starter Dan Haren and reliever Tommy Hunter. There were rumors that they were shopping Starlin Castro, but they held on to him for now. The Cubs are out of the division race, but still have a shot at a wild card spot. Theo Epstein decided not to make any major moves and held on to his prospects, which is a realistic approach for where the Cubs stand now.

The Reds traded away their two top pitchers at the deadline. Johnny Cueto is up for free agency at season's end, and with the Reds out of contention, it's no surprise he was traded. Cueto brought back Brandon Finnegan and two other pitching prospects from the Royals. The Reds also traded away Mike Leake to the Giants for two prospects, including slugging prospect Adam Duvall. Milwaukee dealt away Carlos Gomez to the Astros after a trade with the Mets was rejected. Mike Fiers was dealt along with Gomez for a four player prospect package headlined by oufielder Domingo Santana. The Brewers also dealt away Gerardo Parra to the Orioles for pitching prospect Zach Davies.

NL West

The Rockies trade of Troy Tulowitzki was the biggest move of the deadline. Tulo was traded along with reliever LaTroy Hawkins to Blue Jays for shortstop Jose Reyes and three pitching prospects headlined by Miguel Castro. There were also rumors surrounding Carlos Gonzalez, but he stayed put. Reyes is also a possibility to be dealt, but maybe not until the offseason. The Diamondbacks kicked the tires on Aroldis Chapman and Cole Hamels, but decided not to trade away the farm in their longshot chance at the playoffs. The Padres were rumored to be shopping several players, but also stayed pat.

The NL West race will come down to the Giants and Dodgers again this year. The Giants decided they needed to add a arm to a rotation that has question marks after Madison Bumgarner. They picked up Mike Leake from the Reds to add some stability to a rotation that has injury and performance concerns. The Dodgers are also worried about the back end of their rotation. Some thought they might add a third ace to go with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, but decided not to. The Dodgers picked up Mat Latos, Alex Wood, Luis Avilan, and Jim Johnson for pitching depth in two separate trades.

AL East

When you haven't made the postseason in 22 years, it's justifiable to take risks. That's exactly what the Blue Jays did when the acquired Troy Tulowitki and David Price for the stretch run. Tulowitki is signed through 2021, and has some injury concerns (especially playing his home games on the artificial turf in Toronto), but is the best shortstop in the league. They traded away Jose Reyes, who isn't known for his durability either. They also traded away three pitching prospects in the same deal. Tulowitzki joins a powerful lineup that already has Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion, and Russell Martin. Toronto later traded for speedy center fielder Ben Revere from the Phillies to be the table setter for the big boppers.

Offense wasn't a weakness for the Blue Jays, but pitching is. Price gives the team a legitimate ace in what was a pretty mediocre rotation outside of Mark Buehrle. LaTroy Hawkins came along in the Tulo deal, and should help out a struggling bullpen. Toronto traded away 8 pitching prospects in three separate deals, so they went all in for a playoff push. Time will tell if they can overtake the Yankees for the division crown, and return to the postseason for the first time since Joe Carter hit a walk off World Series winner in 1993.

The rest of the division was pretty quiet. The Yankees uncharacteristically held on to their prospects, and only traded for Dustin Ackley from Seattle in a minor move. The Orioles made a move to pick up Gerardo Parra from the Brewers. Parra was batting .328 this year, and is a very good defensive outfielder. The Red Sox traded away Shane Victorino to open up room for Rusney Castillo. The Rays made a couple of minor moves, trading away David DeJesus to the Angels and Kevin Jepsen to the Twins.

AL Central

The Royals have proved that last year's World Series appearance was no fluke. After falling a game short of winning the World Series, the Royals are making another push for a championship this year. They acquired Johnny Cueto from the Reds for two pitching prospects and 22 year old lefty Brandon Finnegan. Cueto gives the team the ace it sorely lacked. The Royals later traded for super utility player Ben Zobrist from Oakland for two pitching prospects. Zobrist will fill in for injured Alex Gordon in left field, and then could take Omar Infante's second base job.

The Tigers have fell out of contention, which coincided with the injury to Miguel Cabrera. Detroit decided to part with pending free agents David Price and Yoenis Cespedes in what seems like a lost season. Price netted left handed pitcher Daniel Norris and two other pitching prospects. Norris is major league ready and should take Price's spot in the rotation. Cespedes was traded to the Mets in exchange for two pitching prospects. With pitching being the Tigers weakness this year, they have added some youth and depth for the future. This team still has a good offense, and these deals could pay off next year.

The White Sox were expected to be sellers, possibly moving Jeff Samardzija. A recent winning streak put them back in the wild card hunt, so they decided to do nothing. The Indians parted ways with Brandon Moss, which brought back a pitching prospect from the Cardinals. The Twins made a move to shore up their bullpen, acquiring Kevin Jepsen from the Rays.

AL West

Not many people thought that the Astros would enter August leading their division. An improved bullpen and the rise of several young players has catapulted Houston into contention. The Astros have the AL's second best offense that leads the league in home runs, stolen bases, and strikeouts. Second baseman Jose Altuve and left handed pitcher Dallas Keuchel both were All Star starters this year, while right handed starter Lance McCullers and shortstop Carlos Correa are both Rookie of the Year candidates. Still, GM Jeff Luhnow decided the team needed more help to avoid a late season collapse.

The first move the Astros made was acquiring Scott Kazmir from Oakland for two prospects. Kazmir joins a rotation that includes Keuchel, McCullers, and Colin McHugh. That would be a pretty solid playoff rotation. The Astros also looked for bullpen help, including Padres closer Craig Kimbrel, but decided the price was too high. Instead, they acquired Carlos Gomez in a six player deal with Milwaukee. Gomez joins a crowded outfield that already includes Colby Rasmus, Preston Tucker, Jake Marisnick, George Springer(currently on the DL), and sometimes Evan Gattis(who plays DH and 1B). Just two seasons off a 111 loss season, the Astros are a potential World Series team.

The Angels are also in the running for the division crown, after finishing last season with the majors best record. The Halos traded away troubled left fielder Josh Hamilton to the Rangers, and Matt Joyce has really struggled as his replacement. The Angels acquired three outfielders at the deadline, Shane Victorino from Boston, David Murphy from Cleveland, and David DeJesus from Tampa Bay.

The Rangers are on the outside edge of the playoff picture, but made one of the biggest moves at the deadline picking up Cole Hamels. The Rangers traded away Matt Harrrison and four prospects, including top catching prospect Jorge Alfaro. The Hamels trade was made with an eye to the future, with Hamels being signed through 2018. The Rangers envision Hamels teaming up with Yu Darvish at the top of the rotation.

Oakland has had a forgettable year, and Billy Beane decided to pawn off his assets for prospects. Both Kazmir and Ben Zobrist were pending free agents, and with the Athletics out of contention; it made little sense to hold on to them. In exchange, Oakland received four prospects. The Mariners are also out of contention, but made no moves with the exception of trading away Dustin Ackley, who never lived up to the hype.

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