The second trade deadline is usually fairly boring, as most of the interesting players don’t clear waivers and teams are unwilling to surrender much in value for a one month rental. This year, however, two NL west clubs made three deals at the final hour, and all of them are kind of interesting.
First off, the Dodgers acquired Jon Garland from the D’Backs. After a disastrous start to the season, Garland has rebounded to put up a season right in line with the rest of his career – not many walks, strikeouts, or home runs allowed, living and dying with the results of his balls in play in any given start. Lately, the results have been great, and the Dodgers are willing to pay a premium for a guy who should be able to eat innings at the back of their rotation down the stretch. He’s basically insurance for Hiroki Kuroda in case his recovery from a concussion doesn’t go so well. Dodger fans should be hoping he doesn’t start any playoff games this winter.
LA wasn’t done, however, also adding Jim Thome to provide some punch off the bench. If this deal were made five years ago, James Loney would have to fear for his job, but Thome’s been strictly a DH for a few years now and would seem to be nothing more than a pinch-hitter for the Dodgers. He’ll improve LA’s bench in October, and because of the reduced need for pitchers in the playoffs, they should be able to carry a pure bench bat.
Finally, the Rockies got into the trade fun by acquiring Jose Contreras to help patch their pitching staff. Contreras is a tough guy to get a read on, because his stuff is still good, his peripherals are strong, but he remains awful when men are on base, so his absurdly low strand rates lead to less value than his FIP would suggest. Usually, we chalk stuff like that up to random variation, but Contreras has been underachieving in LOB% for so long that its getting hard to ignore. If the Rockies can figure out how to fix his problems with leaving runners on, they could have a nice addition, but that seems like a tough task to pull off in four weeks time.
None of these moves are likely to have a huge impact on the playoff races. The Dodgers are still huge favorites to win the NL West, and the Rockies acquisition of Contreras is just an attempt to balance out the Giants addition of Brad Penny. However, given the usual boredom August 31st brings, it’s interesting to see three fairly big name guys moved this late in the trade season.