Trade Deadline Winners and Losers

With the trade deadline behind us, it’s worth looking back at which teams improved themselves the most with mid-season acquisitions, which clubs found value without surrendering much of their future, and which organizations may regret missing an opportunity to upgrade their talent base. Each club had different goals and different needs, so any review of this sort is going to be subjective in nature, but there are some clubs that made moves that certainly have the appearance of improving their overall organization either in the short term or in the long term.

The Winners

Los Angeles Dodgers — added Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino, Brandon League, and Randy Choate

While I defended the Marlins side of the Ramirez deal, this was a trade that made sense for Los Angeles as well, as the new ownership group has money burning a hole in their pocket and the marginal value of a win for the Dodgers is extremely high. They had a gaping hole on the left side of the infield, and even the less productive version of Ramirez represented a significant upgrade for the Dodgers. The Victorino deal is the real big winner here, though. The Dodgers got a quality outfielder who improves both their offense and their defense without taking on any future payroll commitments or giving up much in the way of long term talent. League essentially replaces Lindblom as the righty specialist in the bullpen (and, again, he didn’t cost them much), while Choate gives them an effective LOOGY for the stretch run.

Between Ramirez and Victorino, the Dodgers probably added +2 to +3 wins to their roster down the stretch, and League and Choate give them match-up weapons if they get to the playoffs. They were in a position where trading future value for present value made sense, but Ned Colletti and his staff figured out a way to upgrade their 2012 roster without even surrendering all that much future value to begin with. As a high revenue team that can easily absorb Hanley Ramirez’s contract, the Dodgers essentially maximized what they could do to help their team win now, and they won’t suffer in the future for making these moves. Hard to do much better than that.

Chicago White Sox — added Kevin Youkilis, Francisco Liriano, and Brett Myers

The pieces that Kenny Williams added might be just a bit less effective than what Ned Colletti added, but he also got them at an even steeper discount. As we noted on Monday, Williams picked up a couple of valuable pieces for just being willing to take them off the other team’s hands, and in all, the White Sox made three upgrades to their roster without surrendering any real talent or taking on any significant future payroll obligations.

I find it especially interesting how the White Sox were able to add pieces at the three positions that were in the highest demand — third base, starting pitcher, and reliever — while other teams were scrambling to decide whether they wanted to pay premium prices to get guys at those very positions. Besides Victorino, Youkilis and Liriano were probably the two best value buys that any team made in July, and the White Sox got them both. If they manage to hold off the Tigers to win the AL Central, the moves that they made to upgrade the team will probably be one of the main reasons why.

Houston Astros — added every living player known to man.

Seriously, the list of guys that Jeff Luhnow acquired in the last month is 15 names long, and that doesn’t even include the two PTBNLs in he got in various deals. Sure, some of those names are the likes of Francisco Cordero, who is neither good nor part of the Astros future, but their quantity approach to buying talent is the right one for the franchise. Houston didn’t really have anything of significant value to sell, and so getting a premium prospect for the likes of Carlos Lee, Brett Myers, Chris Johnson, or Brandon Lyon wasn’t going to happen, so the organization decided to throw as much spaghetti against the wall as they could find and dig through what sticks over the next year.

This type of move already landed them Jed Lowrie over the off-season, and while there probably aren’t any kids in this recent haul that will turn into that kind of player, the Astros managed to bring in enough interesting young players that they’ll probably find a good one or two just through the sheer scope of the acquisitions. Prospect evaluation is a tricky thing, and the more semi-interesting guys you have in the system, the better your chances of finding a guy who slipped through the cracks. The Astros managed to flip a bunch of marginally valuable players into a basket of prospects, and while most of them will probably fail, just finding one or two hidden gems out of the whole lot will make the exercise worth it.

The Losers

Washington Nationals — “No Transactions Were Found That Match Your Query”

As we discussed 10 days ago, the difference between winning your division and settling for one of the two wild card spots is enormous. The changing playoff structure has greatly incentivized winning your division, but the Nationals have watched the Braves turn the NL East into a legitimate race and still decided not to make a single move to upgrade their roster for the final two months of the year.

A 2 1/2 game lead is simply not a big enough cushion to rest on, and the Nationals roster is hardly perfect. Their catchers have been a disaster since Wilson Ramos tore his ACL, and even a guy like George Kottaras could have been a useful part-time guy to help upgrade their offense against right-handed pitching. Or even just make a move to upgrade the bench, which is currently housing the barely-breathing remains of Mark DeRosa. But, perhaps the biggest surprise is that they didn’t acquire a single pitcher, while Mike Rizzo has been insistent that they are going to shut Stephen Strasburg down at some point before the season ends. If they’re sticking to that plan while simultaneously relying on John Lannan or Chien-Ming Wang to fill the void it will create in the rotation, that seems like a pretty big mistake.

Meanwhile the Braves got better, adding useful pieces like Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson, and the division looks to be a real dogfight for the last two months. The Nationals didn’t have to mortgage the farm in order to make a big splash, but this was a roster that could have really used a couple of solid role players in order to hold on to the division title. If they end up as one of the wild card entries having to play their way into the playoffs instead, they’ll probably regret standing pat in July.

Colorado Rockies – added Jonathan Sanchez and Charlie Culberson

It’s not really about the players who the Rockies brought in that puts them on this part of the list — it’s the guys they decided not to trade to begin with. At 37-64, only the Astros have a worse record than the Rockies this year, and the organization doesn’t exactly look poised for a huge bounce back season in 2013. And yet, with the team losing and the fan’s losing interest — Minnesota and Houston are the only two franchises with larger per game attendance declines this year — the Rockies decided to hold onto a group of players that could have brought them real talent and financial flexibility in return.

Michael Cuddyer is already proving that his three year, $30 million contract was a mistake, but there weren’t many bats on the market, and there were a lot of teams looking for an outfielder who could hit a little bit. Even if they just shed the remaining two years left on the deal without getting a huge prospect in return, dumping Cuddyer would have been worth it, and given the seller’s market for hitters, they may very well have gotten legitimate talent in return had they not announced that he was untouchable a month ago.

But, that’s not the real problem here. The real issue is not even attempting to cash in on the significant value that Rafael Betancourt and Matt Belisle have right now. Both are high quality relievers signed to below market deals for 2013, and both come with a team option for 2014 at reasonable prices as well. Both guys could have been marketed as difference maker relievers with 2+ years of team control remaining, and as Pittsburgh showed, you could get some interesting young talent with that kind of trade chip.

The Rockies are a bad baseball team. Bad baseball teams don’t need veteran relievers. Bad baseball teams should trade veteran relievers for younger talent at positions with longer shelf lives. Betancourt and Belisle are high risk assets who can easily go from valuable commodity this year to worthless next year. The Mariners made this same decision with Brandon League a year ago, and they ended up essentially giving him away to the Dodgers. Relievers are inconsistent and should not be counted on as significant building blocks for your future. The Rockies simply whiffed on an opportunity to turn two good trade assets into something that could have helped the team get back to where they need to be. 2012 is a lost season in Colorado, but they could have at least salvaged something by selling high on their relievers when they had the chance.

The Did Enoughs

There were a bunch of teams that made solid moves, about what you’d expect from a team in their position, and either sold off present talent for prospects or vice versa. Teams like the Giants, Angels, Rangers, and Pirates did just fine as buyers, but they didn’t exceed expectations in a a real way. They paid market price for some useful players as they should have. Good for them.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.


79 Responses to “Trade Deadline Winners and Losers”

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  1. hscer says:

    I knew you’d have the Nats as a loser! But the only one (basically)?

    Which starter would they have gotten without mortgaging the farm? What would he have been worth over Lannan or Wang in the 5 or so starts after Strasburg’s season ends? Maybe half a win? They still have an ace, a near ace, and two average guys for the playoff rotation.

    They probably should have gotten a catcher, yes. Even if they guy would have gotten hurt within 2 days.

    With Chad Tracy and Jayson Werth coming back, the bench isn’t a massive issue. DeRosa’s near-corpse won’t be around long. Probably didn’t lose any wins there.

    So maybe they lost one win by not making any trades; half of one on the pitching end and half of one on the catching end? I feel some nitpicking was involved in naming the Nats THE loser of the deadline among contenders.

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    • 23553 says:

      Werth or Tracy isn’t going to replace DeRosa. They need a new middle infielder.

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    • Well-Beered Englishman says:

      Catcher is what you might call a black hole of suck right now. A Kottaras or even a Torrealba (who may still be traded I believe?) would be a significant help at the position. Chad Tracy is limited to 1B and Jayson Werth is an OF, so Mark DeRosa is more or less their only backup infielder until Desmond returns from the DL. While Lombardozzi and Espinosa are filling in splendidly, you don’t want to be completely absent a back-up plan. The Nationals failed on these two counts.

      I agree the pitching issue is overrated. TJ recovery entails command issues and a drop-off at the end of the year anyway, so we are not seeing Strasburg nearly at his best. Moreover, Ross Detwiler is no worse a playoff rotation option than, say, Jurrjens, Minor, Zito, Porcello, or Humber.

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      • hscer says:

        Tracy can play third, but sure the MIF is weaker without Desmond. It does essentially amount to a backup plan though as you note.

        They probably could come up with a waiver trade for a catcher. It really has been awful. Still not sure you’re talking about more than a fraction of a win.

        Dave might argue that the playoff rotation -Strasburg isn’t so much the issue because the Nats are risking losing a one-game play-in instead. Nevertheless, you’re talking about 5 starts in the regular season, not 15, and the available pitchers for a price they would pay are not going to be an major upgrade. (I’m not arguing with you WBE so I don’t know why I’m rambling.)

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    • Johnnynewguy says:

      That one win for the Nats could be the difference in the division. The Braves have the 2nd best offense in the NL right now next to the Cards and their rotation just got better. The Braves are only 2.5 back and are really rolling right now. It also isn’t correct to assume that Werth and Tracy are going to hit immediately.

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      • hscer says:

        The trick will be to get Chipper Jones off of Twitter.

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      • hscer says:

        Since you can argue they did lose wins, that’s why I limited myself to arguing that they weren’t the only loser.

        For instance what did the Reds do? They got Broxton. How much is he going to be worth in two months, half a win? And the Reds happen to have worse odds at winning their division than the Nats do at the moment.

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      • vivalajeter says:

        But that one win might be meaningless. That’s what makes it such a difficult decision for the GM. Do you give up a piece of the future for a win that might not mean anything? If they miss the playoffs by a game I’m sure they’ll regret it – but if they win the division by 3 games I’m sure they’ll be glad they didn’t give up a decent prospect.

        A year ago, one win could have been the difference between the Giants making the playoffs or playing golf. The Mets are thankful they didn’t take the Nats’ route.

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      • Jason says:

        What did the Reds do? The Reds didn’t merit a mention apparently.

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    • Sean says:

      I think the Nats should have made a move to get a backup middle infielder (while Tracy returns soon, Lombardozzi is the only long-term backup MI…it’s best to have 2 guys on the bench that can play up the middle). Still could see them make a move for a guy like Stephen Drew after the deadline, though, but they need one now with Desmond out. Catcher is a big issue as well but there are no options that don’t have their own issues…Shoppach/Jaso will get claimed before they get to Nats on waivers, Yorvit/Ramon Hernandez are declining (-0.1 WAR/-0.5 WAR this year, respectively) and the former attacks umpires, etc. The Flores/Solano/Leon/Maldonado/Hill show is what the Nats are likely stuck with for better or for worse.

      The Braves should have done more to improve as well…they’re the ones that are actually behind in the standings. I don’t really get why the Braves adding Maholm and Reed Johnson is a big deal to anyone. Maholm is a mediocre pitcher who is currently on a hot streak (and when pitching normally, he is John Lannan with a tad better control and a few more K’s…4th/5th starter material) and Reed Johnson is a platoon OF.

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      • Jason says:

        They fill holes for the Braves. Not the only holes, but important ones that they could fill with one hot prospect from an area of depth that has significant issues that limit his potential impact with the Braves. To do more would have cost more, and they’ve been burned going down that route in the past.

        All they wanted to do was spend enough to reward the fans’ renewed optimism with a real race this year without sacrificing much of the future. I think they did enough to solidify a wildcard spot and legitimately challenge for the division. I think that makes their moves a short-term benefit and a long term winner.

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      • NatsFan73 says:

        Hey look, PHI just put Mike Fontenot on waivers. A handy MIF backup just sitting there for the taking …

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    • Colin says:

      When your team needs are 6th starter, backup backup MI, and backup catcher, I think that standing pat is a fine strategy.
      The problem with upgrading the pitching was that they needed to find someone who was better than Lannan while not giving up anything more valuable than Lannan.
      Yes, DeRosa has been bad, and the current back up infield plan is a mess. (Ryan Zimmerman moving to short if Lombo or Espy get injured before Desmond returns? Really?) But I’d guess that at some point, Chris Marrero will be recalled to replace DeRosa as a bat off of the bench.
      I think this season is being viewed more as “bonus” year, as 2013 was the real target year to be competitive. While settling for a WC would be disappointing given their season to date, I don’t think that a WC should be counted as a disappointing season.

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      • TKDC says:

        No need to replace your starting catcher with his wRC+ at 53 (75 career)?

        I’m pretty sure the Nats have “touchable” pieces to get, say, Ryan Doumit (111 wRC+ in 2012, 105 career).

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      • Colin says:

        Sure. But Ramos should be back next year, so this is strictly for a rental catcher. And if you look at the catchers who were actually traded (Soto and Kottaras), they are marginal upgrades over Flores, if even that. Flores is supposed to be a good receiver, and this is a team built around pitching. I don’t know how best to quantify the value of the rapport between pitchers and catchers, but I can’t imagine that it is valueless.

        I concede that Doumit would be an upgrade on the offensive end. But with his questionable glove, would he start over Flores? How valuable is a backup catcher, given their limited availability as PHs? Also, with the Minn “Josh Willingham is untouchable” Twins owning Doumit, was he even available?

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  2. Matt says:

    how about the padres holding onto Quentin, Street and Headley, where they have a ready-now backup waiting in AAA.

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    • Jason says:

      Pads fans need *some* reason to keep on watching games.

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      • Marver says:

        The Padres are barely even on TV anymore in San Diego. They aren’t where I live — Carlsbad — nor in a large portion of the city of San Diego itself.

        The Padres deadline strategy basically said “we’re satisfied being the fourth worst team in baseball”. Losers.

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      • Jason says:

        Maybe they’re gearing up to move the team? Don’t do anything that would generate undue interest?

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    • David says:

      The Quentin contract was stupid, but they absolutely should have held out for a huge package for Headley. In the absence of getting one, they can gladly head to the winter with a still highly-valuable trade chip. And frankly, if they don’t like what they’re offered for him this winter, they can spend a year putting up with Gyorko’s shoddy defense at 2B, offer Headley a one-year qualifying deal in the winter of 2013-14, and take a comp pick for him.
      Unless he gets run over by a steamroller in the next 60 days, Headley’s trade value will be absolutely no lower, and quite likely higher, this winter. If you have some clear evidence they were offered a great package and turned it down, then there’s reason to be upset. But otherwise, there’s ZERO reason they had to make a move with him.

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      • David says:

        And not for nothing, but if they had traded any of those three guys mid-season without taking on comparable salary, they’d have been mighty damn close to losing their revenue sharing next season.

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  3. J6takish says:

    The Rockies have a lot of players they neglected to sell. They don’t seem too high on Dexter Fowler. Hell a lot of teams would have liked Giambi

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    • Michael Scarn says:

      Does anyone else consistently forget that Giambi is still even in the league?

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    • J6takish says:

      Also the Twins holding on to Willingham, Doumit and a plethora of relievers should be a loser

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      • d_i says:

        Agreed. A 33 year old having a career year signed for two more at a team friendly rate – where are the reinforcements coming from that is going to make him worth anything to the Twins in the next two years? They’re more than just a guy or two away and basically need a whole new rotation next year yet they won’t part with anything of actual value. A. Gleeman had an interesting thought – when was the last time one of the worst teams in the league two years in a row failed to aquire a single meaningful prospect at the deadline. I get that they don’t have much to sell, but that makes it all the more important that they should sell what they do have because heaven knows where this “rebuild” is coming from when (save Gibson) there isn’t an arm with a ceiling above a 3 in the system.

        Let alone the fact a qualifying offer and comp pick (or even better if he took it) for Liriano would have been preferable to the scraps they got for him.

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      • Skob says:

        I agree on the Twins, but about different players. I still don’t know why people want them to trade Willingham! Great value for 2 more years… they can trade him next year for the same return if they can’t put together a contender. They’re not rebuilding for 3 years later here, they can try again fairly soon!

        Morneau and Span and the real names here. How they didn’t trade Span for something of value is really confusing. How many speedy, high average OF’s can you have, and since Revere is better, get rid of the guy nearing the end of team control.

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      • d_i says:

        How can they try again fairly soon? They have one viable major league starter and nothing imediate to improve the horrible MIF situation. This is a long term process. Just hoping they’ll be contending again by the end of Mauer’s contract.

        As far as being able to can trade Willingham next year for the same return. The guy is playing his first fill season in ever and beating his career OPS by more than 100 pts, to assume that he’s going to maintain that and stay healthy in his age 34 season is pretty optimistic in my opinion.

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      • O says:

        How is Revere in any way better than Span?

        I agree that the Twins probably should have tried to trade Willingham but without knowing what, if anything, they were offered I wouldn’t call them losers.

        I don’t see any reason they had to make a trade, especially in the Central, which doesn’t look to have any teams getting much better any time soon. The Twins could, pretty easily in my opinion, compete for the Central title as early as next year. I’m not saying they’re a great (or even good) team, I’m saying the Central is bad and getting worse over the next couple years as I see it.

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  4. Mac says:

    I’m a bit baffled by the A’s non-moves. As surprise contenders they could have really used another bat – there are several “auto-out” position players in an otherwise decent lineup. And they had some good prospects to bargain with.

    They were outbid by the Dodgers on Hanley Ramirez – was that really just about the Marlins wanting all $40 million off the books? And the Diamondbacks could probably have gotten a pretty good B/B+ prospect for Stephen Drew but perhaps Drew was never really on the market?

    I dunno, maybe the right combination of asking price and availability just wasn’t out there. Was Beane too stingy or were other GM’s asking too much?

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    • JayT says:

      I think more then anything the A’s realized that even with their super hot July, they probably aren’t going to catch the Rangers and Angels. Even if they did, they probably aren’t in a position to go too far in the playoffs. So there just wasn’t a real good reason to give up future talent for a season that they weren’t planning on competing in anyways.

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      • Tim_the_Beaver says:

        Agree with JayT, and for “wasn’t a real good reason to give up future talent” I’d add “and financial flexibility (of which the A’s have little)” to address the Hanley trade specifically

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    • Spike says:

      yeah, I really thought that Daniel Murphy was a good fit for the A’s and also that the teams match up pretty well. Mets would have liked to take a chance on the upside of Michael Taylor but should have settled for a couple of high upside RPs that the A’s seem to have a stockpile of.

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    • BX says:

      I’d argue that Hanley was an overpay by the Dodgers. One which a team with the new ownership and payroll capabilities of the Dodgers should make, but notsomuch anyone else.

      Hanley’s almost definitely :
      1- not a shortstop
      2- a shoddy defensive 3B

      Giving up a back end of top 100 prospect and eating all the salary, or giving up two top 50-75 prospects (e.g. Straily and Choice) and taking on 20MM for a fringe SS isn’t really a good idea for the A’s.

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    • John says:

      I think part of that has to do with the A’s expecting Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson back before the end of the year. Why sell the farm for another SP when you have 2 good ones already in rehab?

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  5. Curtis says:

    I think the Twins and Mets are losers also. The Mets have this “if we don’t get a blue chipper back for our part time player we’ll hold on” theory. They did this with Capuano and Reyes last year and lost them for 2 draft picks.

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    • vivalajeter says:

      I don’t know who they tried to trade, nor do I know who was offered – but if a team is just going to give you organizational depth, what’s the point in making the trade? Why help a team out by giving them Hairston, if you’re just going to get back a career minor leaguer?

      Reyes is a different caliber player, obviously. A healthy Reyes could net a legit prospect way beyond Hairston/Capuano. But he got hurt before the trading deadline last year, which must have scared off potential suitors. Add in that they were hoping to re-sign him, and I could see why they stood pat.

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    • Franco says:

      They thought they were going to resign Reyes until the Wilpons announced they had even worse financial problems.

      For Capuano and Hairston, I wonder what they were getting offered. I can’t imagine that Sandy Alderson is delusional enough to think they’re worth a top prospect. But if they couldn’t even get a second tier prospect why bother making your mediocre team even worse?

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      • jpg says:

        I agree about the Mets being deadline losers. I think what upsets Mets fans is the timing. They were as high as seven games over. 500 around the AS break even though the bullpen was blowing games left and right. They could have gotten a few mediocre arms without mortgaging the future. Instead they stood pat and decided to see how things played out as the deadline approached. Naturally, the wheels started falling off shortly there after. I can forgive them for that because they probably figured from the get go that the team was playing over it’s head and that the team would come back to Earth. What I can’t forgive is the fact that they didn’t sell anyone at the deadline because they are barely within shouting distance of the WC. Guys like Hairston, Murphy, Thole and Duda are all useful pieces for contenders looking patch some minor holes. They could have netted us, at the very least, a few lottery tickets.

        Bottom line is they should have either added a few arms when it was apparent that the team was winning in spite of bullpen suckitude or if they were going to go with “We’ll see where we are on the 31st” approach then they should sold some guys off. Doing nothing was the worst thing they could have and that’s exactly what they did.

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      • vivalajeter says:

        jpg, I disagree. As for improving the bullpen at the AS break, it’s probably a good thing that they didn’t do that. Adding 1-2 mediocre arms wouldn’t have prevented them from $hitting the bed over the last two weeks. Maybe it would’ve helped win 1-2 games, but they’d still be out of the WC race – and they’d have given up prospects for the relief help.

        As for the deadline deal, they must view Duda/Thole/Murphy as pieces of their future. If they traded Duda, for instance, are they really going to get someone with the potential to be better than Duda? He’s underperforming expectations right now – what team would give a high-upside player to get Duda on the team for the stretch run?

        They don’t have any great players in a contract year, like 2011 Beltran – so why bother trading mediocre players for minor league filler?

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    • jpg says:

      @viva I hear what your saying but I think you are short changing the value of the pieces the Mets have. None of the guys I mentioned are stars but they are all very solid role player types. The big difference is the fact that none of these guys are true rentals. All of them are either dirt cheap, have multiple years of team control left or, in almost every case, both. These just aren’t as valuable as to a team on the part of the win curve the Mets are on as they would be to a contender. There weren’t getting Profar or Bundy for these guys but I have to believe they could have gotten more than just organzational filler types.

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  6. cubbluie says:

    Thoughts on the Cubs’ moves? Thanks.

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  7. Jason says:

    How about the mariners as winners since they got rid of Ichiro?

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    • Simon says:

      If the suggestion is actually that they got out of having to make a difficult choice in whether to bring him back, then yes.

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  8. Paul says:

    I will disagree on two of the winners. First, I think you are dramatically underestimating the two starting pitchers they gave up. For some reason, despite improved performances and indications from scouts that they are improving their secondary offerings, some folks keep slapping the reliever tag on both Eovaldi and Ethan Martin. Having said that, I like the moves for the Dodgers because I’m always in favor of going for it since the short-term and medium-term financial implications make it a no-brainer. But still, those two guys were arguably the best two young pitchers changing teams during the deadline period.

    Second, as Carson showed in his analysis of deadline deals, a collection of decent looking players is UNlikely to yield one useful player due to randomness applied to a bigger net. What you’re more likely to wind up with is a whole bunch of suck. Hate to say it, but Ed Wade did a much better job acquiring high upside talent in past deadlines than Lunhow just did.

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    • J6takish says:

      Lunhow basically had nothing of value to sell off. When your biggest trade chip is agreeing to pay Wandy Rodriguezs salary, you take what you can get

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      • Paul says:

        So why not grab a couple complex/A ball guys who are a ways off but actually have upside? Here’s an example, so I don’t look like I’m sticking up for Ed Wade: Anthony Gose. I know one of the pitchers they got for Wandy was a low A guy, but I shudder when people comment that they did good by grabbing a fourth outfielder.

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    • chuckb says:

      Did you really just compare trading Oswalt, Bourn, and Pence, to Wandy, Myers, and Lyon? Apples and Tuesday.

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    • chuckb says:

      Also, I’ll see your Pence trade and raise you a Miguel Tejada trade.

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    • BX says:

      Luhnow’s most valuable asset (Jed Lowrie) got hurt. Beyond his control, yes yes.

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    • Christian says:

      For one thing, you’re underrating what Luhnow got back. He actually got more for the combination of J.A. Happ and Brandon Lyon than Ed Wade got from Michael Bourn’s last two arbitration years. Crazy.

      Some of the prospects returned range from mediocre to “suck”, yes. However, there are a few of them that I really like; particularly Robbie Grossman, but to a lesser extent guys like Carlos Perez and Joe Musgrove (both of whom are guys with legit upside).

      Even the mediocre prospects are still guys who, has a conglomerate, should return comparable value to the terrible MLBers Luhnow gave up. Take Rudy Owens, for example; he’s not a sexy prospect and he’ll never anchor a rotation, but can he become as good as Happ? Absolutely. In fact, I’d say that’s a pretty reasonable outcome for him, and he has a chance (a small chance) to be better.

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  9. Aaron (UK) says:

    Calling the Nationals out because they only have a 2 1/2 game lead is a bit disingenuous since that lead was 3 1/2 games at the deadline.

    I still reckon they should have gone all out for Greinke (or Hamels) with an extension, though that may never have been on the table: otherwise I agree with hscer/WBE above.

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    • TKDC says:

      I was going to say this but I didn’t because I was afraid it would seem overly snarky and nitpicky, but I feel like fangraphs should be above jigging the numbers to fit a narrative (I’m assuming this was an intentional choice, maybe it wasn’t). And there is nothing wrong with calling the Nats out for doing nothing (especially since they at least one gapping hole to fill at catcher) just because they were in fact 3.5 out.

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      • chuckb says:

        Yeah, that 1 game totally means the Nats shouldn’t have added anyone.

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      • KDL says:

        1) The fact was wrong. I agree with TKDC, it’s fair to point this out.
        2) When a large portion of the argument FOR making some moves is the value of 1 (marginal) win…I would argue that, yeah, 1 win does impact decision-making – which is where the claim of being disingenuous seems fair.

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  10. Will H. says:

    Because Maholm is likely to be so much better than Lannan over five starts?

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    • Jason says:

      Momentum plays, at least a little. That and he’s going to be backed by a stronger offense.

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      • Jason says:

        And, it’s more of a depth move for the Braves, as they didn’t have a whole lot to back up their rotation. Already needed with Hanson on the DL.

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      • hscer says:

        “he’s going to be backed by a stronger offense.”

        Objection! Relevance?

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      • TKDC says:

        I think you could give the same objection to the original comment:

        “Because Maholm is likely to be so much better than Lannan over five starts?”

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      • Jason says:

        @hscer: The Braves don’t need Maholm to be better than Lannan to extract more value out of Maholm than the Nats can out of Lannan.

        If you’re operating under the assumption that they’ll be near equal in limiting runs (for the sake of argument; I believe Maholm will be better than that but I’m a homer), then the Braves are more likely to get a W out of Maholm than the Nats are to get one out of Lannan simply because (on average this season) they are likely to provide more run support.

        The Nats needed a better pitcher to give them equal chance at a W every 5th day. So, yes, I expect Maholm’s starts to result in more wins for the Braves than Lannan’s starts for the Nats, assuming an equal display of skill.

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  11. Baltar says:

    I don’t see how you could have left the Giants off the list of losers, let alone praised them. I had first read that they gave Tommy Joseph for Pence and thought that was a very bad deal.
    Instead they essentially traded Schierholtz for a half-win improvement per ZIPS ROS and threw in Joseph, Rosin and $9M. How you can see this as a good trade is beyond me.
    The only other acquisition was Marco Scutaro (an additional half a win at best) for Charlie Culbertson and $2M, roughly a neutral trade.

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    • Baltar says:

      Sorry, I meant to type $3M instead of $9M, and I have since seen that the Phillies are paying the difference.
      I still think the balance of the 2 trades are a negative for the Giants, but only to a small degree.

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  12. Sean says:

    I love the last paragraph, which basically amount to a little league participation trophy.

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  13. shibboleth says:

    I’d call the Orioles losers, too. They’re hanging in there but even the die hard fans see them as more pretender than contender. If they weren’t going to ante up I think they should have at least looked to gain some depth. Assuming they had pieces to move, which I’m not certain of…

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    • Spike says:

      O’s looked like a good landing spot for Scott Hairston’s RHed bat to play some LF or DH. I think Hairston for Brian Matusz was probably good fit for both teams…

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    • chuckb says:

      They seemed to have really dropped the ball in not adding Blanton. They could really use him, he wouldn’t cost that much, and won’t clear waivers. Really looks like the same old O’s.

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  14. Spike says:

    and spot on with the Rox analysis. I can’t believe they didn’t turn 2 mid 30s RPs into prospects. unreal.

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  15. Robbie G. says:

    I still can’t get past the fact that Carlos Ruiz is having a career year, turns 34 in January, and will most likely no longer be a useful player by the time the Phillies are relevant again. Ruben Amaro, Jr. seriously could not get a good haul for this guy? And why not just take what you can get for all sorts of expendable veterans, e.g., Placido Polanco, Joe Blanton, Kyle Kendrick, Juan Pierre, Laynce Nix? And why wait until the very last minute to throw in the towel? Surely three months’ worth of Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence would’ve been worth more than two months’ worth. I also question the decision to re-sign Cole Hamels.

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    • Baltar says:

      You are correct in stating that 3 months of these players is worth more than 2.
      However, buyer GM’s generally will not pull the trigger on a trade until the deadline is very close, and then they probably pay more than they would have a month earlier.
      That’s how geniuses think.

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  16. Polka says:

    I’m not sold on what my Tigers did either, if Ilitch wants his Ring he should have went for Pence to liven up the 3 man batting line-up (A-Jax, Cabby and Prince).
    We’ll see that’s why they play them!

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  17. monkey business says:

    Nationals? Your criticizing the front office of a team that leads the NL east on $80M/year?

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  18. swyck says:

    The Phillies trade two thirds of their OF and don’t make the list? I’m still looking for evals of their returns.

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  19. mark gruenberg says:

    Well, as it turns out, the criticisms of the Nationals’ front office for standing pat at the non-waiver deadline were…correct but premature. But they just grabbed a serviceable defense-oriented catcher (Suzuki) and needed backup infielder (Izturis) off waivers. Both are still eligible for the playoffs. I was a little surprised that (a) Oakland, which is in a good position due to the Rangers’ troubles, let Suzuki go (b) other teams passed on him.

    As for the starting staff, Greinke didn’t want to come here, so why get him? Hamels would fit well but may be unneccessary. Lannan — and I’ve seen all of the Nats’ regular starting pitchers, him included, since 2005 — is much better than people realize. A consistent groundball pitcher needs an excellent defense, especially in the infield, which is what the Nats have. Lannan’s a nice solid #5 (now) starter, behind Gio, Zimmermann, Jackson and Detwiler. And lest anyone forget, there’s a former starter (Gorzelanny) in the bullpen, too.

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