After several weeks of build up to the July 31st MLB trade deadline, yesterday passed rather quietly, with the biggest deal either being Bud Norris going to Baltimore or Ian Kennedy heading to San Diego. The biggest trade of the deadline occurred late Tuesday evening, when the Red Sox agreed to trade shortstop Jose Iglesias to Detroit and three prospects to the White Sox in return for Jake Peavy, with Avisail Garcia going from the Tigers to Chicago to complete the three team deal.
In general, like most trade deadlines, this year passed with a great amount of rumors and trade discussion, but with the feeling of not much actually happening. Sure Matt Garza, Jake Peavy, and Ian Kennedy were traded in the past few days, but potential blockbuster trades for Philadelphia starter Cliff Lee, Miami outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, or Toronto outfielder Jose Bautista ended up as nothing more than internet gossip. Nevertheless there was enough activity during the month of July to declare some clear Winners and Losers of the 2013 MLB Trade Deadline.
1) Chicago Cubs
The Cubs continued their rebuild during July, making a total of five trades and parting with Alfonso Soriano and Matt Garza as they attempted to get younger and overhaul their roster. In these trades, Chicago received five prospects including third baseman Mike Olt, two intriguing reclamation projects in Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop, and Players To Be Named Later. Not too shabby considering the team did not want to extend Garza for major dollars and wanted to clear any amount of Soriano’s salary off their future payroll. While Chicago parted with plenty of talent this month, they definitely received the most prospect talent in return, and have further added to their rapidly improving farm system.
2) Houston Astros
Without major trade pieces to part with, the Astros must again be commended for understanding where they are in their overall rebuild and taking productive major league players such as Jose Veras, Justin Maxwell, and Bud Norris and turning them into two outfield prospects, two pitching prospects, a Player To Be Named Later, and a top-40 selection in the 2014 MLB Draft. In particular, I like the haul Houston received for Norris, a solid but flawed starting pitcher, who returned a possible everyday left fielder in Washington D.C. native L.J Hoes, blossoming left-handed starter Josh Hader, and a top draft pick next year. Houston has quickly transformed one of the shallowest farm systems in baseball into one of the deepest, and shrewd trades like these are a major reason for this.
3) San Diego Padres
I know Ian Kennedy has struggled mightily this season, but he is only one season removed from winning 15 games and only two seasons removed from 21 victories and finishing 4th in the National League Cy Young voting, and the Padres were wise to trade for him while parting with only reliever Joe Thatcher, prospect Matt Stites, and a 2014 draft pick. Kennedy is under contract through 2015, and the shift to a pitcher’s park in San Diego for this fly ball pitcher could rejuvenate his career. Thatcher is an excellent reliever and Stites should develop into a dynamic late-inning reliever, but the opportunity to buy-low on a potential mid-rotation starter like Kennedy was too good to pass up. I understand and can view the merits to Arizona’s side of this trade, but I expect a major bounce back for Kennedy in San Diego and consider this my favorite deadline move of 2013.
Although only a small trade, I thought the Atlanta Braves did well to acquire left-handed reliever Scott Downs from Anaheim for only Triple-A reliever Cory Rasmus. Downs is strictly a lefty specialist at this point in his career, but he should more than adequately fill the holes left from injuries to relievers Eric O’Flaherty and Jonny Venters earlier this season. Nice job by Atlanta to fill a clear need without giving up anything the Braves will miss in the future.
The Baltimore Orioles did give up some nice prospects from their farm system this month in L.J. Hoes, Nick Delmonico, and Josh Hader, but give them credit for recognizing their weaknesses both in the starting rotation and the bullpen and going out and getting two solid starters in Scott Feldman and Bud Norris, and an established veteran reliever in Francisco Rodriguez. The Orioles still lack a dominant starting pitcher, but credit the front office for filling many of the remaining holes on their roster this month, without parting with top prospects Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, or Jonathan Schoop.
1) Pittsburgh Pirates
Rumors had the Pirates as one of the most aggressive teams at the deadline looking to add another pitcher and another hitter to their roster, but Pittsburgh was able to make only two minor deals in July, one for journeyman Russ Canzler and the other for utility infielder Ronny Cedeno. The Pirates have a strong farm system with excellent depth, which makes it even more surprising they were unable to find a way to truly improve their team in July. Often the best trades are the ones teams do not make, but with an obvious weakness in right field and a need for pitching depth, the Pirates and their fans must be disappointed they did not buy at the deadline.
2) Seattle Mariners
Although Seattle did not have the strongest trade chips, they did have hitters Mike Morse, Kendrys Morales, and Raul Ibanez, and left-handed reliever Oliver Perez as impending free agents with little chance of helping the Mariners in 2014. With the sheer number of teams looking for a hitter (Baltimore, Texas, Pittsburgh), and every team looking for another lefty reliever, it mystifies me why Seattle did not make one single trade to free up some payroll and add prospects to their farm system. Certainly I do not know the quality of the offers they received, but virtually anything would have been better than complete inactivity for a team with no hope for the playoffs.
3) Philadelphia Phillies
If rumors are true, the Phillies had offers for impending veteran free agents Michael Young and Carlos Ruiz, who both should have been traded to clear some payroll and free up playing time for youngsters like Cody Asche, along with adding valuable prospects to a mediocre farm system. Also, the Phillies might have had a golden opportunity to trade Cliff Lee and or Jonathan Papelbon to quickly rejuvenate their prospect pipeline and inject some youth to an aging roster. That said the Phillies appear on this list simply for not trading Young to the Red Sox, Yankees, Rangers, or Pirates for a middling prospect and some payroll savings.
The Washington Nationals only made one move, trading prospect Ivan Pineyro and a player to be named later to Chicago for outfielder Scott Hairston and a player to be named later. I am a big fan of Pineyro and think the Nationals did not need to part with such a promising arm while taking on Hairston’s salary in 2014.
Although the New York Mets did not have many pieces to deal, I think they made a mistake not dealing outfielder Marlon Byrd to one of the many hitting deficient teams in a pennant chase, even if all they could receive was a mediocre prospect.