MLB Trade Deadline Winners
Winner, winner, chicken dinner! Yes, with the MLB trade deadline officially expired, a number of teams have earned the right to chant that age-old mantra. Read below to find out which clubs came out on top this year.
Although Ruben Amaro had to surrender two talented farm hands in right-hander Jarred Cosart (9-8 with a 3.92 ERA in Single-A Clearwater) and first baseman Jonathan Singleton (batting .282 with nine HRs and 47 RBIs), Philadelphia’s 25-man roster has been riddled with injuries in 2011 and isn’t getting any younger. Even with a star-studded rotation and All-Star-laden lineup, their legitimate window to win is likely no longer than a three-year period, so in that regard this was definitely a steal.
San Francisco Giants: Carlos Beltran may not be the Gold Glove outfielder or Silver Slugger he was four or five years ago, but in the 34-year-old, Brian Sabean and the Giants got the man they so desperately needed.
It’s safe to say that the defending World Series champions have been futile when it comes to scoring runs in 2011 (third worst in all of baseball). While their world-class rotation (led by All-Stars Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong) and lights out, late-inning relief (Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo and Brian Wilson) have essentially created some breathing room from the rest of the mediocre NL West field (San Francisco leads the division by three games over the Diamondbacks heading into Sunday’s game vs. Reds), the addition of Beltran’s bat instantly masks the loss of Buster Posey and the lack of production from the likes of Aaron Rowand (batting .246 with 21 RBIs), Cody Ross (batting .248 with 30 RBIs) and clean-up hitter Aubrey Huff (who leads the team with 48 RBIs but is hitting .242 and has a slugging percentage of .264).
The one caveat to this deal is that unlike the Pence acquisition, Sabean was forced to give up the organization’s top pitching prospect (Zach Wheeler) in exchange for a $2 million rental player (with no compensation picks in return if he flees for free agency). In spite of this, the move was made for the short-term, and in that sense alone you have to applaud the organization for not resting on its laurels after a magic run in 2010.
Despite losing Cliff Lee in the offseason, the Rangers’ staff has put up an eye-popping 3.73 ERA (11th best in baseball) in arguably the best hitters’ park in the AL. In with their surprising success on the mound this season, 33-year-old Jon Daniels proved once again why he is one of the shrewdest talent evaluators in the game (yes, even in spite of trading away minor league pitchers Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland).
Although veterans Darren Oliver (three wins, 11 holds and an ERA of 2.23) and Mark Lowe (two wins, nine holds and an ERA of 3.86) have illustrated that they are more than serviceable in getting the ball to closer Neftali Feliz (who has 21 saves and an ERA of 3.26, but whose passion has been called into question recently), Daniels managed to solidify the bridge from the sixth through ninth innings with not one, but two dynamic arms in Orioles’ setup man Koji Uehara (1.72 ERA and 11.9 K/9) and Padres’ setup man Mike Adams(three wins, 0.73 WHIP and 1.12 ERA).
At 14 games above .500, the Rangers (who hold a two-game lead in the AL West) have gone overnight from a team with an underrated rotation to a team that holds the most importance piece come October: pitching in all facets of the game.
Cleveland Indians: One thing is evident in 2011: Mark Shapiro is no longer the Indians’ general manager. While Shapiro is still the team’s president, first-year general manager Chris Antonetti’s bold trade for Rockies’ ace Ubaldo Jimenez (who finished 3rd in Cy Young voting in 2010 with 19 wins) certainly signals a changing of the guard in Cleveland.
For an organization that in recent years has become rather notorious for sending off big-name stars (C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez), Saturday’s acquisition of the 2010 All-Star right-hander definitely sends a clear message to not only the Indians' AL Central counterparts (the Tribe trails the 1st place Tigers by 1.5 games heading into Sunday’s action), but to the entire American League, that they intend to be anything but a one-hit wonder.
While his electric arm and experience in October will be a much-welcomed addition to Cleveland’s young, up-and-coming rotation (led by 20-somethings Justin Masterson, Josh Tomlin and Carlos Carrasco), the cost (former 5th overall pick in 2010 and top pitching prospect Drew Pomeranz, their second best pitching prospect Alex White and talented Triple-A 1B/OF Matt McBride) coupled with his decline in numbers this season (6-9, 4.20 ERA and 116 strikeouts), makes the procurement of Jimenez (56-45 with a 3.66 ERA in six years pitching in hitting-friendly Coors Field) a big-risk, big-reward move.
With the man formerly known as Nate McClouth (the onetime All-Star is hitting just .228 with 16 RBIs this season) hitting the disabled list last week, and highly touted Jordan Schafer still struggling to find himself at the big league level (career .223 batting average and 15 RBIs in 102 games), the decision was a simple one: B.J. Upton or Michael Bourn.
Although Upton has postseason pedigree and the potential to still be an elite player in the league, the Braves’ front office hit the nail on the head in choosing Bourn.
Instantly, the former All-Star boosts a lineup that has been lacking game-changing speed and the ability to get on base (26th in both steals and on-base percentage) at the top of the order all season long.
Heading into Sunday the Braves’ have stolen a measly 42 bases. By himself, Bourn has already swiped a league-leading 39. Combine that with the fact that he holds the 7th best fielding percentage (.992) among all major league center fielders, and Atlanta arguably acquired the best two-way player available at the deadline.
Honorable Mentions: Detroit Tigers (added two bargain pieces in Doug Fister and David Pauley that provide support for the starting rotation and middle relief), New York Mets (received long-term value out of Beltran in the aforementioned Wheeler, Baseball America’s No.55 prospect in 2011), Houston Astros (Ed Wade knew his current roster was going nowhere fast, so he made two trades and stockpiled six prospects and still unproven big leaguer Jordan Schafer for the year 2015), Pittsburgh Pirates (the Bucs hope to “Raise the Jolly Roger” when it counts in October, but the acquisitions of seasoned vets Derrek Lee and Ryan Ludwick came without breaking the bank), Arizona Diamondbacks (didn’t make a huge splash at the deadline, but the two moves Kevin Towers made were upgrades for a pitching staff that began to wear thin at the back end after a strong May and June) and St. Louis Cardinals (addressed areas of concern at shortstop, in the starting rotation and in the bullpen with Rafael Furcal, Edwin Jackson and Octavio Dotel).