Jobu reviews the most important MLB trade deadline deals, and who were the big winners in 2012.
Late July is probably the most exciting time of the year when it comes to baseball. As the league hurtles towards the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline (any player traded after July 31st must first pass through waivers), general managers, like the Dodgers’ Ned Colletti (pictured above), have to quickly decide if they are buying or selling, and then the influx of trades begins. From role players on the bench to superstar pitchers and mashers, no one is really fully safe from being dealt. It’s great! There are usually trades sprinkled throughout July, but the action definitely ramps up as the deadline approaches.
This season, there have been a slew of deals involving lots of everyday players, so which one will have the most impact on the standings? In no particular order, here are the top five deadline deals. These are the guys who will help their teams the most moving forward. Enjoy!
The Dodgers Get Hanley Ramirez
Marlins fans really should feel duped. They fell for it again, huh? Fancy new stadium, fancy new players… and a total sell job at the deadline. I mean, at least the last two times they had a disgusting fire sale, they had shiny new World Series rings to ease the pain. It seems that this season, they gave up very early. Granted, They basically admitted the mistake that was their expensive off-season by trading lots of players away, including the once cornerstone of their franchise, Hanley Ramirez.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think trading Hanley Ramirez is the worst thing anyone has ever done. First of all Hanley has been an absolute cancer in their clubhouse for the last two seasons. He’s not happy in Miami, and he really showed it. That would be fine, but he’s also been hitting like crap for two years. As Ozzie Guillen said, he would have taken a bad attitude and good production any day. Hanley was hitting just .246 with 14 homers and 48 RBI when he was traded, which followed a 2011 season where he hit .243. That’s a far cry from the guy who hit .342 in 2009.
This trade is a great one for the Dodgers. First of all, they get Hanley, who has the talent to really be one of the best players in the league if he can rediscover his motivation (he’s hitting just .238 in eleven games since the deal). Even if Hanley keeps up his current pace, he’s going to be way better than anyone the Dodgers have had over there this season.Second of all, they didn’t have to give up any top prospects to get Hanley. The Marlins walked away with just a decent pitching prospect in Nathan Eovaldi, and a possible future middle reliever in Scott mcGough. Granted, the Dodgers are taking on $31.5 MM over the next two seasons, but it’s still a good deal with great upside for them.
When you group this trade in with the Dodgers’ other deadline deals, they’ve put together a nice little team for the stretch run, no? Especially for a team only a half game out of first place!
Wandy Rodríguez to the Pirates
I’m not sure if this deal is on the list because I think it’s such a great deal for the Pirates, or just because I’m excited that the Pirates are actually buyers at the deadline. I like that they’re committing to making their first real run at anything meaningful since Sid Bream ended their World Series dreams in 1992. Is this trade going to take them from a possible Wild Card to a World Series champion? Not directly, but motivation is a hell of a drug, and the unprecedented commitment to winning being shown by the ownership could be a key to their second half push.
Wandy is not a world beater, but there’s a reason he’s been linked to basically every team in contention over the last couple of seasons. He’s solid. He’s an innings eater whose ERA has been in the threes every year since 2008. He was also the last guy left over from Houston’s 2005 World Series run, as they have systematically decimated their roster over the last two seasons. You’d think they were going out of business and not just moving to the American League.
The Pirates paid a bit of a high price for Wandy, although the trade came with a lot of financial relief too, as the Astros will be paying $17.1 MM of his salary over the next two seasons. The rebuilding Astros got back a AAA All-Star in 24 year old lefty Rudy Owens, another young lefty in Colton Cain and an outfielder named Robbie Grossman. Those players should help the Astros lose 130 games next year, but they might eventually help them win some games in the future.
SInce the trade, Wandy has made two starts for Pittsburgh. He’s gone at least six innings and given up three runs in each of them, so he’s given the Pirates two quality starts. Because of some bad luck, Wandy is 0-1, but he’s pitching well, and that’s going to help the Pirates make a run at the Reds.
Francisco Liriano to the White Sox
Like the Wandy deal, this was a trade between division rivals who are heading in completely different directions in the standings. The White Sox sent IF Eduardo Escobar and a left-handed pitcher named Pedro Hernandez to the Twins in the deal.
The Twins have somehow basically been in last place the last two seasons in the AL Central (I know they’re up on the Royals right now, but does that really count?). I really don’t understand how a team that was so fundamentally sound completely collapsed in just a couple of short years. They essentially have the same players, they just plain stink. I know Morneau got hurt, but sheesh!
The White Sox, on the other hand, currently hold a slim lead over the Detroit Tigers (who were pretty busy at the deadline themselves). Although Liriano has been inconsistent this season, he was on a great run leading up to the deadline, which is a great strategy if you want to get traded to a contender. If he continues his run, which so far he has (he did leave his second start with a contusion, but he has pitched well in both of his White Sox outings), he could really solidify their rotation for the stretch run. The Twins, meanwhile, get rid of a headache and an expensive player, which is always good, even if they only got back a couple of role type players in the deal.
Zack Grienke to the Angels
The Angels basically sent a message to the Rangers with this deal. They are not going to be settling for one of those Wild Card spots. They’re going for the jugular, and at a perfect time too, with the Rangers struggling a little bit of late. They sent one of their better prospects, IF Jean Segura, along with pitchers Ariel Peña and John Hellwig, to the Brew-Crew in the deal. Grienke, who is a free agent at the end of the year, did not come cheaply.
I’m grading this trade based on how Grienke has pitched in Milwaukee and Kansas City throughout his career. While he does have headcase potential, Grienke has pitched in one pennant race (last year with the Brewers), and he pitched pretty well, so we’re going to ignore his history of anxiety and fear of big markets (I was a little relieved the Yankees didn’t trade for him, flashbacks of the opening scene of “The Scout” come to mind).
Anyway… On paper, the Angels are adding one of the most talented pitchers in all of baseball to a rotation that already includes Dan Haren, Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson. This could be the piece the Angels need to finally put them over the Rangers in the standings (especially if Texas’ main trade, Ryan Dempster, continues to wilt in the Texas heat).
Like the others, Grienke has had two starts as an Angel. He pitched lights out in a tough loss in his first game, and got knocked around in his second start, so it hasn’t been great for him in sunny Los Angeles. It will be interesting to see how he does as the Angels get deeper into their playoff run (they currently own the second Wild Card and sit a half game behind the A’s and six behind the Angels for the division lead), but I think he’ll be ok… Although Los Angeles is a pretty big market.
Hunter Pence to the Giants
Let’s face it, whatever games the Giants win, they win because of their pitching. No one is out there kidding themselves and thinking that they’re going to get out-slugged by the Giants. They are carried by names like Cain, Lincecum, Vogelsong, etc etc. They desperately needed offense, and they picked up a bunch at the deadline when they nabbed Hunter Pence from the downward spiraling Phillies.
The Giants sent minor leaguers Seth Rosin (relief pitcher) and Tommy Joseph (C/1B/DH), and outfielder Nate Schierholtz to the Phillies in the deal. They didn’t exactly break their minor league bank and they got one of the better young right-fielders in baseball, so I think they did OK here. Pence basically just needs to continue what he was doing in Philly (.271 17 HR 59 RBI) and he will pay for himself.
The Giants are currently a half game up on the Dodgers in the NL West, as the boys in blue have really struggled of late, so any leg up that they can get in this race will be great. They successfully addressed their biggest need at the deadline, and that’s all fans can really ask, right? While Pence has struggled a bit since the deal (.182/.208/.318), he does have five RBI in the five games, and that’s what the Giants need to help Buster Posey in that lineup.
- New York Yankees get Ichiro Suzuki from the Mariners for DJ Mitchell and Danny Farquhar
- Texas Rangers get Ryan Dempster from the Cubs for Christian Villanueva and Kyle Hendricks
- Los Angeles Dodgers get Shane Victorino from the Phillies for Ethan Martin and Josh Lindblom
- Cincinnati Reds get Johnathan Broxton from the Royals for Donnie Joseph and JC Sulbaran
Featured image courtesy of: Hannah Foslein/Getty Images
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