Major League Baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline has come and gone. In its dust is a flurry of moves in the past several weeks, notably picking up very strongly in the past 24 hours. Since it’s a knee-jerk world and we’re only living in it, let’s go through the winners and losers of the past, oh, month or so in terms of how the franchises look now compared to then.
Los Angeles Dodgers : They were actually almost a relative loser, but the last-minute flurry of deals show that Andrew Friedman and his front office stayed the course and ended up winning big. The Dodgers needed left-handed relief help and while Tony Watson and Tony Cingrani don’t exactly blow you away, there’s enough there to believe that one of them will have settled in by the playoffs.
Then the whopper came with the Dodgers getting Yu Darvish from the Texas Rangers before the buzzer. Further, the consensus is that the top prospect on the move was Willie Calhoun and that he was only the Dodgers’ fourth-best prospect.
Look at the timing of the move and it’s obvious Friedman never relented on not giving up more than that until Jon Daniels and the Rangers brass had to take the deal.
Darvish wasn’t the type of deal the Dodgers had to make. They are going to end up with the best record in baseball. The move was about leaving as little as possible in the crapshoot of the postseason to chance — a point we’ll revisit with our biggest loser.
Now the Dodgers can potentially run out a playoff rotation of Clayton Kershaw , Yu Darvish, Alex Wood and Rich Hill . If all are pitching up to their potential, that’s a tall order for anyone in the playoffs, especially against a team that’s loaded with position players and has Kenley Jansen at closer.
Oh, and they entered the Monday’s deadline 74-31. They win pretty much every day anyway, why would Monday be any different?
New York Yankees : General manager Brian Cashman used some of the prospect currency he built up last season to add relievers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle along with third baseman Todd Frazier and then Monday added starting pitcher Sonny Gray . The team is still far from perfect, but Cashman went out and greatly supplemented his ballclub that currently leads the AL East. It even caused the Boston Red Sox boss to call the Yankees the Golden State Warriors .
Chicago Cubs : Two games under .500 at the All-Star break, the Cubs went out and landed starting pitcher Jose Quintana . Now the red-hot Cubs have also added a late-inning, shutdown lefty in Justin Wilson along with a quality veteran catcher in Alex Avila to tandem with Willson Contreras (who can also play left field) behind the plate. Some might point to the Cubs having emptied a lot of their farm system in the past few years, but they have a World Series ring and seven big-league position players age-25-or-younger and under team control through at least 2022 (this includes Kris Bryant ). Would those people feel better if guys like Contreras, Albert Almora , Ian Happ and Addison Russell were in the minors so the Cubs would have a few good prospects in the rankings? Please. The Cubs’ window is wide open, like it has never been before.
Chicago White Sox : On the flip-side, the White Sox’s farm system back before last winter was supposedly barren, but after trading Chris Sale , Quintana, Robertson, Kahnle, Frazier, Melky Cabrera and Adam Eaton , among a few others, general manager Rick Hahn has stocked his prospect cache with an unreal amount of talent. That’s how you rebuild. Just unload and go with upside. Great month for Hahn, capitalizing on his good offseason. Many now rank the White Sox’s system as one of the best — or the best — in all of baseball.
Washington Nationals bullpen: Heading into July, the Nationals had great starting pitching and an offense with four of the best hitters in the NL. The bullpen, however, was a mess. General manager Mike Rizzo went out and got late-inning relievers Ryan Madson , Sean Doolittle and Brandon Kintzler .
The Nats still have concerns with Trea Turner and Jayson Werth being hurt while Adam Eaton has long since been lost for the season. Howie Kendrick was added for help with the outfield, but Matt Wieters is having a bad season behind the plate and maybe some catching help would’ve been nice. Further, Stephen Strasburg has been recently dealing with arm troubles — not to mention having lost Joe Ross for the season. If Strasburg’s arm issues continue, Edwin Jackson is the fourth starter.
There’s only so much Rizzo can do at some point, but we can’t call the Nats winners from this month in trade activity. We can say their bullpen has been greatly improved, however, and that was probably the biggest problem.
Arizona Diamondbacks offense: They didn’t give up a lot to get J.D. Martinez’s bat into the middle of that lineup and that’ll play huge down the stretch. Especially in a wild-card game situation, one swing of the bat could change everything.
Houston Astros : They are in line to win the AL West with ease and end up with the best record in the AL. Apparently that was enough for general manager Jeff Luhnow and his front office to nearly sit on their hands — or at least not offer up enough to win the bidding for a game-changer.
The Astros acquired lefty Francisco Liriano (5.88 ERA this season) and will use him out of the bullpen.
There should be zero concerns about the position players, so long as Carlos Correa and George Springer are full strength come October. But what about the playoff rotation?
Dallas Keuchel is a clear-cut postseason ace. He’s also been on the disabled list twice this year.
Lance McCullers had a 9.64 ERA in four July starts and is now on the disabled list for the second time this year.
Behind them, the options to start playoff games are Charlie Morton , Brad Peacock , Collin McHugh and Mike Fiers .
Meantime, the Astros failed to secure deals for the likes of Quintana, Darvish and Gray.
Look, the Astros could still win the World Series. It’s possible Keuchel comes through like an ace every time out and even goes on short rest a few times a la Corey Kluber last year. McCullers could return to form while Peacock and Fiers could get hot. It’s all possible.
As noted above in the Dodgers portion, the postseason is a crapshoot anyway. Teams in a position like the Astros and Dodgers should leave as little as possible to chance and stock up on as much top-echelon talent as possible, hoping this is the year. The Astros have never won the World Series. Who is to say this might not be their best chance with this group? If it is, go for it.
What a let down.
Again, though, they could still win it all. I never would suggest otherwise.
Red Sox: The Yankees got way better while the Red Sox added Eduardo Nunez and Addison Reed . The Red Sox didn’t even address the rotation while David Price deals with elbow issues for the second time this season. They’ve also lost six of their last eight while Price is in the middle of feuding with TV color man Dennis Eckersley. Things could turn around, but it wasn’t a great few weeks in Boston.
San Diego Padres : Teams all around baseball were coveting left-handed relievers and players under team control for several seasons. Brad Hand is a lefty reliever under team control through 2019. He has a 2.00 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 70 strikeouts in 54 innings. His stock will never be higher while the Padres aren’t close to being competitive. And yet, general manager A.J. Preller didn’t get a deal done. In fact, reports indicate that never even came close and that Preller’s asking price was so laughably high that it drove teams away from him early.
Baltimore Orioles : They bought? But barely?
The Orioles traded for starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson and shortstop Tim Beckham .
The Orioles entered Monday 6 1/2 games out in the AL East, sitting fourth. They were 5 1/2 games out of the second AL wild card, but there are three teams between that spot and they are tied with still two others. SportsLine gives the O’s a 4.9 percent chance of making the playoffs and projects them for 75.7 wins.
If they are going for it, they didn’t buy enough. If they aren’t, why the hell did they trade for Hellickson, who is a free agent after the season?
Even if they were looking ahead to next season with the Beckham move, Seth Smith is a free agent after this year and could have been moved. And, again, why, then, the Hellickson move?
My best guess is they wanted someone to eat innings for the rest of the season and didn’t feel like they gave anything up. It’s just a weird way to tread water before next season with what appears to be a flawed roster.