THE USB Baseball Report: Trade Deadline Edition

Hi, hello & welcome to a special edition of THE USB Baseball Report! I’m Steve Cook, and the Major League Baseball Trade Deadline has come & gone. I figure the best way to cover this is to go down the list, team by team, and see what each team did to make themselves better for the present or the future. Lots of things happened…honestly, most of them didn’t make headlines or turn heads, but sometimes it’s the deals that fly under the radar that make the biggest impact. We’ll go division by division & start with the Senior Circuit.

The records listed next to the teams are their win-loss record as of August 1, the trade deadline date.

NL East

Washington (61-44): Traded for Pirates closer Mark Melancon. This is so Nationals, they trade for closers every single year at the deadline and ignore any other issues they might have. Last year it was Jonathan Papelbon because Drew Storen wasn’t good enough, this year it’s Melancon because Papelbon wasn’t good enough. Last year they folded down the stretch in part because of their inability to address other needs. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen agai-oh wait Dusty Baker’s managing, it’s absolutely going to happen again.

Miami (57-48): Traded Jarred Cosart & other pitchers to San Diego for Andrew Cashner & Colin Rea. Cashner’s been pretty solid lately & should be a good arm for the Marlins down the stretch. Rea got hurt in his very first Marlins game, and the relationship between these teams is so good that the Padres agreed to take Rea back & send prospect Luis Castillo back to Miami. That’s nice. Miami got what they wanted here anyway, and Cashner is my new favorite player because he beat St. Louis on Sunday & mocked the “Cardinal Way” of hitting opposing teams’ players afterwards.

NY Mets (54-50): Got Jonathon Niese from the Pirates for Antonio Bastardo & some cash. Niese was traded to the Pirates by the Mets last off-season for Neil Walker and wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire with his 5.15 ERA in Pittsburgh. If you want to be even more confused, Bastardo was a Pirate last year before leaving via free agency. You could have not watched baseball for the first few months of this season, turn on a game or read a box score tonight, and not know that these guys ever left their teams from last year. I’m not even sure what to make of this, quite honestly.

I can comment on the other trade the Mets made, acquiring Jay Bruce from the Reds for second baseman Dilson Herrera & pitching prospect Max Wotell. But I think I’ll save that for a little bit. Overall I think the Mets made a great addition to their lineup and got a slight upgrade in pitching depth. They should be good to make a run.

Philadelphia (48-59): Didn’t do a damn thing. They’re rebuilding and seem happy with the prospects they currently have. And it’s not like anybody’s going to trade them anything for Ryan Howard anyway.

Atlanta (37-68): They got Matt Kemp from the Padres in a deal with two teams going nowhere. Yay, I guess? Dude has arthritis in both hips, which can’t be a good thing. Then they sent the Rangers some pitchers for Travis Demeritte, who hasn’t hit well for most of his minor league career, but can hit some home runs. It’s worth a shot.

NL Central

CHI Cubs (63-41): The Cubs’ main need appears to be relief pitching, and they did a lot to address that. We talked about Aroldis Chapman last week, and before that they acquired Mike Montgomery & pitching prospect Jordan Pries from the Mariners. Montgomery had been a starter in Seattle, but went to the bullpen this year & has been more effective in this role. They even got Joe Smith from the Angels, who I only recognize as the guy that’s married to Allie LaForce. Why do the pretty & smart ones always have to go for the successful athletes? Us unpaid writers with no TV skills need some love too. Anyway, the Cubs know they’re close and they have enough future pieces to get themselves closer. When you haven’t won a title since 1908, you go for it every chance you get.

St. Louis (56-49): The Cardinals got Zach Duke from the White Sox for an outfield prospect. They have plenty of outfielders so trading a prospect for a good reliever makes sense. Apparently Duke was with the Reds for a half-season 2013, which I have no recollection of because 2013 was a pretty shitty year all around. This makes more sense than when they traded for Jonathon Broxton at the trade deadline a couple of years after he was useful.

Pittsburgh (52-51): The Pirates are in an awkward middle ground. They’re not contending this year, but it’s not like they’re completely terrible. So they do things like the previously mentioned Bastardo trade, get Ivan Nova from the selling Yankees for TWO players to be named later (Two? Seriously?), and send their closer to the Nationals for Felipe Rivero & pitching prospect Taylor Hearn. They at least look like they’re trying, so that’s nice.

Milwaukee (47-56): The Brewers tried to trade Jonathan Lucroy to the Indians, but Lucroy put the kibosh on that one. So he went to the Rangers instead. Hopefully the pitching prospects work out there. They also traded Will Smith to the Giants for two pitching prospects, including one ranked #1 among the Giants’ pitching prospects. Loading up on pitching prospects isn’t the worst thing for a baseball franchise to do.

Cincinnati (42-62): After much speculation over who the Reds would cut loose at the trade deadline to get prospects, the Reds only made one deal. There wasn’t much emotional sting in the Jay Bruce deal for me…he’d been on the trading block for nearly two years so it was just a matter of when, and for what. And of course there was some drama involved. The first report was that the Mets were sending the Reds a couple of minor leaguers & Brandon Nimmo, a high-rated outfielder with a fun name. Apparently somebody involved in the original deal failed the physical, so we ended up with this:

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Dilson Herrera, previously the Mets’ second baseman of the future and the reason why they were ok with Daniel Murphy leaving. That changed pretty quick. They also got pitching prospect Max Wotell, and by my count that’s one less player than the Reds would have originally gotten. Maybe Jay Bruce failed the physical? That’s doubtful, Bruce has been on fire all season, especially lately. He leads the NL in RBI, is tied for fourth in home runs and has generally had a great season. The one worry for the Mets is that Bruce hasn’t had his big slump yet. He has at least one per year and it hasn’t happened yet. Sure would be bad timing if it happened now.

I hope not, I like Jay. If nothing else, we’ll always have 2010.

As for the people the Reds got…we’ll find out in a few years. That’s the great thing about trading for prospects. Front offices get a lot of leeway out of that.

NL West

San Francisco (61-44): The second half of the season hasn’t been kind to the Giants at all. Not only are they no longer the winningest team in the NL, but the Dodgers are only two games back in the West. So they needed to make some moves. They got All-Star Eduardo Nunez from the Twins for a pitching prospect, which will give them some infield depth. They got Will Smith from the Brewers to bolster the bullpen. They got Matt Moore from the Rays for Matt Duffy, Michael Santos & Lucius Fox. I don’t really love any of these trades. The Reds fleeced these guys last year in the Mike Leake trade. But short-term, it might make sense, and if they win a title this year it’d obviously be worth it. That being said, I don’t see any of these trades making that kind of difference.

LA Dodgers (59-46): The Dodgers are missing Clayton Kershaw right now but are still right in the thick of things. They got more pitching…Jesse Chavez from the Blue Jays & Josh Fields from the Astros, but the big deal might be getting Josh Reddick & Rich Hill from the A’s. Both contracts expire at the end of the this season, but the Dodgers seem to be going all in now. Unfortunately, they seem to have pissed off Yasiel Puig in the process without managing to trade him. Could be an issue.

Colorado (52-53): They did absolutely nothing. Which is fine, they didn’t need to. They won’t contend this year, but there’s some good pieces here for the future. No need to mess with it.

San Diego (45-60): The Padres went into sell mode after the All-Star Game just like Cincinnati did last season. Matt Kemp went to the Braves for a guy they planned to cut. They even sent 10,000,000 to the Braves as part of the deal. There was the Marlins deal, and they also sent Melvin Upton Jr. & some cash to the Blue Jays for pitching prospect Hansel Rodriguez. I wish they’d send some cash my way, I could use it a lot more than the Braves or Blue Jays could. The sneaky good trade here might be sending Drew Pomeranz to Boston for Anderson Espinoza, one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. Of course, that might just be Boston hype because everybody they produce is apparently the greatest thing ever. But we’ll see.

Arizona (43-62): This team is an absolute failure this season. They traded Tyler Clippard to the Yankees for pitching prospect Vicente Campos. I can’t analyze this fairly because they ruined my predictions for this season. Screw em.

AL East

Baltimore (59-45): The Orioles got Steve Pearce back into the fold from the Rays for a catching prospect. Letting him go in the off-season was probably a mistake, but Pearce’s bat should help them now. They also got Wade Miley from the Mariners to try and boost their starting pitching, which would be the main thing holding them back in the playoffs. Is Miley enough of a boost? I wouldn’t think so.

Toronto (59-46): The Blue Jays owned last year’s trade deadline and seemed on course to win it all. They got fairly close. This year? They got a ton of pitchers. Francisco Liriano & two prospects from the Pirates for Drew Hutchison. Lirano has struggled this year, but his numbers in Pittsburgh with current Blue Jay catcher Russell Martin catching were a lot better than his numbers with other catchers. Sneaky. They got Scott Feldman from the Astros, which kind of blew up in their faces the same day when Feldman gave up the winning run in a game against the Astros. They also got Joaquin Benoit from the Mariners, and their offensive acquisition was Melvin Upton Jr., who’s been having a good year in San Diego. Lots of moves here, nothing I’m in love with, but it might be enough to push them to the top of the East for good.

Boston (57-46): The Sawx got Fernando Abad from the Twins & Drew Pomeranz from the Dodgers for pitching prospects. Pomeranz especially is a nice pickup, but this trade deadline will be more known for what the Red Sox weren’t able to do, complete a trade with the White Sox for Chris Sale. They’re pretty well-off offensively but the pitching could use a little help. Sale would have put them over the top but this is ok.

NY Yankees (52-52): The Yanks seemed like they were trying to make some noise in the AL East, but getting swept by the Rays convinced management that they weren’t. So they sent Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs for four top prospects, Andrew Miller to the Indians for four top prospects & Carlos Beltran to the Rangers for three top prospects. They even dumped Ivan Nova off on the Pirates for two players to be named later. They also got Tyler Clippard from the Diamondbacks since they need somebody in the bullpen, but the Yankees were all about selling here and did a damn good job of it. Why do teams let them do this? When the Yankees are really good again in five years these fools gonna be sorry.

Tampa Bay (42-61): The Rays went into sell mode on the 1st and it seemed to work out for them. They unloaded Matt Moore to the Giants for three prospects, Brandon Guyer to the Indians for two prospects, and Steve Pearce to the Rays for a catching prospect. No reason not to do it.

AL Central

Cleveland (60-42): It’s the Year of Cleveland, and the Indians are trying to keep the good times rolling. They didn’t get Jonathan Lucroy, but they did get Andrew Miller from the Yankees for four prospects & Brandon Guyer from the Rays for two prospects. Guyer has been top notch against left handed pitching this season, and Miller will shore up the Indians’ bullpen. Times like these are why you have prospects…the Indians used what they had to upgrade their team and further establish themselves as a team to beat this season.

Detroit (57-48): Nothing. Which is kind of surprising considering they’re in contention, but perhaps J.D. Martinez coming off the DL will be the boost they need.

CHI White Sox (51-54): They traded Zach Duke to the Cardinals. But the big story here is that they didn’t trade Chris Sale, the great pitcher/psychopath. Apparently nobody was able to give them what they wanted. So it should be a great couple of months in Chicago while the Cubs try to win a World Series & Sale makes life miserable for White Sox management.

Kansas City (49-55): So I don’t pay attention to the AL for a month or so and this is what happens? The Royals, everybody’s favorite for AL Champion, fall on their ass and out of contention unless they make a big run? Pretty crazy. So what did they do at the deadline? They traded outfielder Brett Eibner to the A’s for outfielder Billy Burns. Burns was pretty darn good last year but hit a serious wall in 2016, getting sent down to AAA before being traded to KC. Maybe the change of scenery is what he needs, but this certainly isn’t the KC trade deadline haul of last year. Probably time to give up on these guys repeating.

Minnesota (40-64): The Twins don’t have a heck of a lot to sell right now. They sent some pitchers to the Angels in what seemed like an even trade, and sent Fernando Abad to the Red Sox for prospect Pat Light in what seemed like an even trade. Nothing to see here, really.

AL West

Texas (62-44): The Rangers have the most wins in the American League right now & have every single reason to go for it this year. On the 27th they got Lucas Harrell & Dario Alvarez, some pitching depth, for Travis Demeritte. The 1st was when their big moves happened…they gave the Yankees three prospects for Carlos Beltran & got Jonathan Lucroy & pitcher Jeremy Jeffress from the Brewers for two prospects. These deals might hurt the Randers in the long run, but if they win a ring this season thanks to two new solid hitters in the lineup, that won’t matter. World Series championships are cool. It’s about winning now in Texas, and you gotta give them credit for that.

Houston (55-49): While the Rangers went crazy trading for talent, the Astros…not so much. They traded Scott Feldman to the Blue Jays for a prospect, and Josh Fields to the Dodgers for Yordan Alverez, a minor leaguer signed out of Cuba on June 15. They’re obviously thinking next year, not this year. Which isn’t great for my World Series prediction of Cubs vs. Astros.

Seattle (52-51): The Mariners didn’t get Zack Cozart from the Reds, as had been rumored, but they did get some other deals. Wade Miley was sent to the Orioles for Ariel Miranda, a minor league left-hander. Joaquin Benoit went to the Blue Jays in exchange for Drew Storen, who has been on more teams than I can keep track of. That trade seems like a wash. Before all that they sent Mike Montgomery & a prospect to the Cubs for a couple of prospects. Looks like Seattle is setting up for the future, which seems smart. They’re young & have time to contend. This year isn’t it.

LA Angels (47-58): The Angels have been nowhere near contention this year, and their two deals at the deadline seem like shifting chairs on the Titanic. They got a young prospect out of the Cubs for Joe Smith, which is worth a shot, and their trade with the Twins seemed like a wash. Doing stuff to do stuff.

Oakland (47-58): The A’s were selling. They have been selling for awhile. They got some good prospects from the Dodgers in exchange for Josh Reddick & Rich Hill. Brett Eibner is younger than Billy Burns. These moves make sense for them.

Who won? I’d say the Cubs & Rangers did the most to improve themselves now. The Yankees put themselves in a great place for the future. The Indians also took a big step forward. Who lost? Houston, Detroit, San Francisco probably didn’t do enough to take the next step. St. Louis could have done more if they think they can do something this year. The Reds always lose in my mind. The Nationals lost.

Keep in mind that all of these teams can still execute trades. The hangup is that the players involved in the trade have to clear waivers. If they don’t, the team giving up the player can only trade the player to the team that claimed him. It’s a lot more complicated so you usually don’t see any blockbusters in August & September.

Until next time…

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