The 2014 MLB trade deadline has come and gone with a bang instead of the fizzle that was expected. Some teams gambled, some conceded defeat, and some swung for the fences. In the end, the landscape has been drastically changed in the American League with some powerhouses emerging, while the National League saw less of an impact made in the 11th hour. Here are my picks for the winners and loser of this year’s trade deadline scramble.
St. Louis Cardinals
By adding John Lackey and his 3.60 ERA, the Cards instantly add a 2nd No. 1 starter to their rotation to complement Adam Wainwright, and they do so without giving up much in Allen Craig. Craig has had a down season, hitting .237 this season. St. Louis sits in 2nd place in the NL Central behind the Brewers, who added Gerardo Parra from Arizona, and the addition of Lackey should ensure that they stay close enough to make the race interesting until the end.
Arizona essentially wins because of the players and contracts they were able to unload. The D-Backs spent a tremendous amount of money this season in an attempt to win the NL West, but after injuries and the worst start in franchise history the plans quickly changed for this team. They were able to move Gerardo Parra to Milwaukee for two minor league prospects, and they were also able to send Martin Prado to the Yankees for another minor league prospect.
Although many people will argue that this is a move signaling the end of the season for the D-Backs, they were able to effectively get out from the contract of Parra and Prado without too much damage. They can use the young prospects they received to begin their rebuilding process without the necessity of a fire sale like the defending champs, and, at least in the case of two-time Gold Glove winner Parra, they avoid the additional future cost of a player with diminishing skills.
The Tigers have won the David Price sweepstakes. In a three team trade with Seattle and Tampa Bay, Detroit acquires the crown jewel of the trade deadline. They now have a starting pitching rotation that includes three former Cy Young winners, but Detroit needed the help with pitching considering the team is ranked 23rd overall in team ERA (4.05) and 25th overall in BAA (.262).
Price currently leads the AL in strikeouts (189) and innings pitched (170.2 IP) , and he will bring his 3.11 ERA to a team who will now have one of the most formidable rotations in all of baseball. No team will want to face Verlander, Scherzer, and Price in a playoff series. Even though they already sit in 1st in the AL Central, this move prepares the Tigers for the future and inevitable battle they will have with the Oakland A’s in the ALCS.
Oh, Billy Beane. The Green Collar crew from Oakland went all-in this year at the deadline, trading one of the team’s biggest stars in Yoenis Cespedes to the Boston Red Sox for Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes. In Cespedes, Oakland loses their power hitting home run derby champ who is a big reason why the A’s lead the league in runs scored. Unlike the Tigers, the Athletics have had minor issues with their starting pitching.
They’re 6th in MLB in quality starts, 4th overall in ERA at 3.19, and 2nd in both WHIP (1.16) and BAA (.232). So the trade for Lester is less of a necessity and more of a confirmation that Oakland is going for it all this year. The trade is a gamble, but receiving LHP Jon Lester from Boston was a tremendous move. Lester and Gomes were both intregal parts to the Red Sox winning the World Series last season. Lester, who went 10-7 with a 2.52 ERA for a struggling Boston team, brings his playoff experience to a talented team that lacks exactly that.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants are in a similar place as the D-Backs were last season. Although they held the lead in the NL West for the majority of the season, they have now seen the Dodgers charge past them and take the top spot as they continue a downward spiral. The addition of Uggla hasn’t worked out to say the least, and San Francisco made no moves at the trade deadline to help this floundering team who now sits at 58-50 after once having the best record in the league. The only plus for this team is that L.A. made no blockbuster moves either, so there is still hope in the Bay area.
New York Yankees
The Yankees weren’t very Yankee like at the trade deadline. They made moves to bring in INF Stephen Drew from Boston and INF/OF Martin Prado, a versatile player who hit .270 for Arizona and was a big part of the Diamondbacks’ locker room. Even though we’re still waiting patiently though to see how his dirt baths go over in the Bronx, Prado isn’t that catalyst that the Yankees need to get them out of 3rd place in the AL East.
Once again lose another top prospect within their organization in Peter O’Brien. The move for Drew makes less sense after the addition of Prado, as he is having a down year currently hitting.176. Drew will presumably backup 3B and SS, as well as take over for Jeter after the season is over. But he is no upgrade.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays weren’t out of the race yet, but the loss of David Price signals Tampa Bay has conceded defeat. They sit six games out of the Wild Card, yet they just gave up one of the best starting pitchers in the league and a player who has carried this rotation through despite the loss of so many of its key pieces. And on top of all that, they have to play in THAT stadium.