MLB Trade Deadline: Winners and Losers
August 1, 2012 by Andrew Jones • Print Story •
Part one of the Major League Baseball trade deadline saw some interesting activity and as always interesting rumors. It's never easy to tell if deadline trades will pan out, but historically, no is generally the answer. Trading multiple prospects for a two-month rental (three-month if you make a run in the playoffs) hardly seems worth it. Only two things can amount to the trade being a victory for the buyer: a World Series championship, or signing the rental player to a long-term deal.
In today's game of big market teams, small market buyers have little chance of signing rentals in the offseason. It's probably no surprise; however, that the buyers are more often than not big market teams. But let's take a look at a few of the recent deals.
Ryan Dempster from the Cubs to the Rangers
The Dodgers had been courting Dempster for weeks, but in the end, a deal couldn't get done and Dempster found himself on the way to Texas. This was most interesting news as the Rangers were one of the few big market teams to not make any major moves near the deadline. Their AL West rivals, the Los Angeles Angels, landed their own starting pitcher days earlier in Zach Greinke. The Rangers had been rumored to be after the Phillies' Cliff Lee and some speculated as to the Rangers picking up the Red Sox Josh Beckett, but in the end it was Dempster, a far better pitcher this season than either Lee or Beckett. This is good news for the Rangers as Roy Oswalt is playing poorly and Colby Lewis is out for the season. A three-man playoff rotation of Dempster, Yu Darvish, and Matt Harrison could be a formidable one.
Winner: Texas Rangers
Loser: Los Angeles Angels
Zach Greinke from the Brewers to the Angels for three prospects including shortstop Jean Segura
The Angels pulled their best New York Yankees impression in signing Greinke, letting go of Segura who was considered their top position player prospect. Greinke is obviously a solid pitcher as the 2009 Cy Young Award attests to. And the price tag of $5.5 million dollars for the remainder of the season is quite reasonable. But the sacrifice of three prospects to get him? I'm not in love with this trade. However, the Angels have proven they are the least shy team in baseball recently with the offseason signings of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, so signing Greinke in the offseason is a real possibility.
Mostly on this trade, I just feel bad for Segura. He gets called up to play one game with the Angels, a place where he could probably have a lot of success and could have likely replaced Maicer Izturis as early as next season. Instead, he's now in the Milwaukee system where he's behind Cesar Izturis — Maicer's half brother! Not only are the Brewers worse than the Angels, they're also severely lacking discipline right now. Did you see Martin Maldonado get picked off at third by Cliff Lee? Does he have narcolepsy? And did you see Carlos Gomez's touch 'em all on his foul ball? This team is not a healthy place to be right now. Sorry Segura. You don't get to play with fellow Dominican Albert Pujols, but you do get to play with fellow Dominican Carlos Gomez.
The Angels also have a powerful top three for a playoff run in Jered Weaver, Wilson, and Greinke. Oh, and there's that Dan Haren guy, too. A playoff showdown with the Rangers could see numerous amazing pitching duels.
Winner: Los Angeles Angels
Loser: Jean Segura
Francisco Liriano from the Twins to the White Sox for Eduardo Escabar and Pedro Hernandez
Liriano's statistics in 2012 look bad, but the truth is he's been very good … and very bad. He's still one of the most inconsistent starters in baseball, but when he is on, he is on. Liriano has been known to be a mentally weak player, which could prove a bad thing for a White Sox team that is looking to win their division, make a playoff run, and don't forget plays in Chicago. Liriano was stressed while playing in small market Minnesota. Granted, in Minnesota, he was expected to be the ace or at least the number two, in Chicago, he's more of a number four, which might alleviate some pressure.
All in all, this was a good trade for both sides. The White Sox didn't give up much and got some help at a position that has been plagued by injuries this season. We'll see where Liriano winds up next year based on his performance in the final months of the season. If he is mediocre to average, I expect him to be in a Twins uniform again next season. If he's good, I expect the Rangers to take a look at him over the winter.
Winner: Minnesota Twins
Loser: Eduardo Escabar
Shane Victorino from the Phillies to the Dodgers
The Phillies were bound to do something on deadline day. Cliff Lee's name was floating around, but Victorino will join the Dodgers outfield which is now pretty stacked with Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier already there. The deal includes two pitchers and on option for a third player to be named or cash headed toward Philadelphia at some point.
It's unclear at this point if it will be Kemp or Victorino who moves to center field. It will also be interesting to see where he bats in the lineup. He's had significant at bats in the two, three, and five spots. The three spot is Kemp's, and four is generally Ethier. There is also Hanley Ramirez to consider, so Victorino and Ramirez batting second and fifth is a magnificent four in a row.
Winner: Dodgers 2012
Loser: Dodgers 2015
Hunter Pence from the Phillies to the Giants for Nate Schierholtz and two prospects
And the Phillies outfield continued to get smaller as Pence jumped to the west coast shortly after Victorino and landed six hours north and the two are now rivals. I really didn't think a Pence deal would get done because the Phillies asking price was said to be high and it certainly was. I don't know what the Giants were thinking on this one. Pence is certainly an upgrade to Schierholtz, but is he worth two prospects, as well, at this point in the season? I think the Dodgers move to get Victorino pressured the Giants into making a poor trade in the long wrong. It might help the Giants stay in the hunt for the division title against the Dodgers in the NL West, but I think the Giants gave away far too much.
Winner: Phillies 2014
Loser: Giants 2014
Chris Johnson from the Astros to the Diamondbacks for two prospects
I think the Astros might be trying Dave Ramsey's "The Total Money Makeover." Seriously, they started the season with the third lowest payroll with an average (mean) salary of $2.33 million dollars. Now, their highest paid player is making half of what the average was to start the season! Jed Lowrie is the highest paid player for the Astros, earning a staggering $1.15 million dollars.
Johnson is serviceable at third base, but the Diamondbacks are .500 and fifth in a wild card race for two spots. I don't think Johnson is going to put them over the edge.
Winner: Chris Johnson
Loser: Arizona Diamondbacks
Hanley Ramirez from the Marlins to the Dodgers
Everybody else in this trade seems irrelevant to me. And I honestly can't believe Hanley lasted in Miami as long as he did. The Dodgers need some more pop in their lineup. Despite having Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, the Dodgers are ranked 28th in slugging percentage in all of baseball with a minuscule .367. We'll see if Ramirez finds a home in Los Angeles. If not, he only has two years left on his contract before somebody will over pay him in the spring of 2015.
Winner: Los Angeles Dodgers
Loser: Miami Marlins ... other than their wallet
Ichiro Suzuki from the Mariners to the Yankees for RHP D.J. Mitchell and RHP Danny Farquhar
What, you've never heard of two of those three players? This is one of those trades that is surprising simply because it didn't happen sooner. Ichiro has been with the Marlins since he came to the USA. He won a Rookie of the Year Award, and MVP, had over 200 hits in 10 consecutive seasons, was part of the Mariners 116 win season in 2001 — Ichiro's rookie season. It's been all downhill from there for the Japanese superstar. The Mariners failed to seal their epic season with a World Series victory and haven't even made the playoffs since 2001. I'm surprised Ichiro didn't land in New York in 2005.
I don't think this trade can be judged objectively by the actual value of the players involved. I don't like the trade because it means I have to choose between cheering on Ichiro and the Yankees to a World Series so Ichiro can have a bit of redemption and booing the Yankees because they are made of so much money that they are buying a guy they don't even really want on their team.
Winner: Ichiro Suzuki's career
Loser: Ichiro Suzuki's soul
And now on to some of the wild rumors we heard.
The Red Sox had been shopping Josh Beckett around and nobody was apparently taking the bait. It's no surprise why. Beckett was once an elite playoff pitcher, but his last four playoff starts have been pretty rough. He has gone 1-1 with an ERA of 7.71 while giving up 7 home runs in only 21 innings. Despite a decent showing for the majority of the 2011 regular season, I'm calling it: Josh Beckett is washed up. Either way, the Red Sox took Beckett off the trading block early on Tuesday and no deals went down.
Cliff Lee was another interesting name on the trade block, but if rumors are true, the asking price for Lee was significant despite his having an off year. And after trades for Victorino and Pence were taking shape, Lee got taken off the trading block. In the end, the Rangers did very well to get Dempster instead of Beckett or Lee.
The Cubs and Dodgers were talking for weeks about Ryan Dempster, Alfonso Soriano, and even Garza. The Dodgers might not have had a farm system if any those had happened considering what they gave up for Victorino and Ramirez, but getting just Dempster, would have launched them to be the favorite in a National League filled with inexperienced teams such as the Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates near the top of the standings.
In the waning hours of deadline day, Dempster came out and said he'd be willing to go to the Yankees or Rangers if the Dodgers didn't work out. Dempster laded with the Rangers, but imagine Dempster with the Yankees or the Dodgers. I think that would put/keep both of those teams at the top of their leagues without any question.
We'll see if any other deals go down in August with the waiver loophole. Despite not getting Dempster, I see Dodgers to be the obvious main winners in the trade deadline sweepstakes, at least for 2012. The Angels and the Rangers also did well, but the Dodgers are the true winners in my book.