The 2013 Major League Baseball trade deadline came and went and left much of the landscape intact. Twitter was silent, players and coaches went about their business, and fans in many cities around the country shrugged. Sean Meyers, along with guest contributors John Riggs and Zack Chakan, discuss the ramifications of what transpired.
1. What was the biggest move of the trade deadline?
Sean Meyers: Jake Peavy to the Red Sox in a three-team deal qualifies as the biggest deal, which should give some insight into how uneventful this trade deadline was. Boston was tied for the most wins in baseball as of the deadline, but the Red Sox had some serious issues in their rotation with the injury to Clay Buchholz and the recent struggles of Jon Lester. A former Cy Young winner with the Padres, Peavy likely will pencil into the No. 2 or 3 slot with Boston. Still, he was arguably the best pitcher moved this year, and certainly the most accomplished. In the same move, Detroit added slick fielding rookie Jose Iglesias, while the White Sox added several prospects in building towards the future.
In addition, Texas’ acquisition of Matt Garza from the Cubs was a big move. Garza has been solid in his first two starts for the Rangers, and he will likely need to continue this performance if Texas wants to stay in the pennant race with Oakland.
John Riggs: The biggest moves were in the AL, and specifically the East. Boston made the biggest move by adding veteran pitcher Jake Peavy to their already quality staff. Peavy looks ready for the stretch run in the competitive AL East after coming off the DL late in July. His extended time on the disabled list should leave plenty of innings in his arm, which may be a blessing to a Red Sox bullpen that has been battling injuries the entire year.
In another AL East move, the third place Baltimore Orioles, who sit behind Boston and the first place Tampa Rays, acquired the apparently much sought after Bud Norris. Where are the Mark Teixeira and Cliff Lee deals? What is happening when acquiring Bud Norris is a big deal and might be just what the Orioles need to keep pace with Boston and Tampa Bay?
Zack Chakan: As sad as it is to say, the first big move of the deadline was the most important. Matt Garza fits in perfectly with Texas’ young staff as a number of cogs are out with injuries and may not return until September like Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis. Placing Garza near the top of a rotation with Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Alexei Ogando and Martin Perez should greatly help the Rangers in their quest for the AL West crown or a wild card spot, although that battle is extremely heated with Tampa, Baltimore, Cleveland and now even Kansas City playing well.
2. What team improved itself the most?
Sean Meyers: Detroit made two moves that really bolstered its chances to win a World Series. First, the Tigers added Houston Astros closer Jose Veras. Detroit’s bullpen was probably its weakest link, and the Tigers have struggled all season to find a reliable closer. Joaquin Benoit leads the team with just 10 saves, while Jose Valverde, Phil Coke and Bruce Rondon have all struggled out of the pen. Veras, in his first year as a closer, compiled very impressive numbers, and at the very least, will add a solid, reliable arm for late-inning situations.
The Tigers acquired Jose Iglesias for the Red Sox in the aforementioned Peavy trade. Iglesias, a 23-year-old rookie, has exceeded all expectations this season. In just over 60 games, he batted .330 for Boston. His bat has never been considered a strength, though, and his average will likely drop off drastically. Iglesias has already opened eyes with his defense, though, drawing comparisons to Omar Vizquel. With Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta likely to be suspended soon in the Biogenesis case, Iglesias will likely play down the stretch for the Tigers. Detroit traded some very talented prospects in these deals, but since none of the players dealt were contributors at the Major League level, the Tigers definitely improved the most.
John Riggs: Boston, for the reasons I mentioned when discussing Peavy. That move increased their chances going into the stretch run.
Zack Chakan: I almost want to say none, as many teams made marginal moves, if any moves at all. Texas probably wins by default, since Garza was by far the most talented player moved. Boston should get a shot in the arm if Jake Peavy can remain healthy for the rest of the year, and Atlanta shored up its left-handed relief problem by acquiring Scott Downs from the Angels. But I still say Texas, and I bet that they’ll go after more offense up to the waiver trading deadline at the end of August.
3. What team needed to do more?
Sean Meyers: I think at least half a dozen teams needed to do more. National League Central teams were unusually quiet, as the Pirates, Reds, and Cardinals all practically stood pat. The Buccos definitely needed to add another bat, at the very least to upgrade their bench. Right field and shortstop will likely remain lingering problems for the Pirates as the playoffs approach. Cincinnati has some notable injuries, including starting pitcher Johnny Cueto, that needed addressed. St. Louis may be in the best shape of the three teams, as the Cardinals have some high-end talent in the minor leagues they could promote to improve the team. Still, the Cards might have missed their chance to bolster their squad enough to pull away from the rest of the teams in the NL.
In the AL, Detroit, Boston, Baltimore and Texas all addressed pressing needs. Tampa and New York also made moves, but Jesse Crain and Alfonso Soriano will probably not be difference-makers. Meanwhile, Oakland’s only move was to acquire Alberto Callaspo, and the A’s definitely needed to add more punch to their lineup than the soft-hitting second baseman.
John Riggs: It’s hard to believe teams not doing more, but from all reports, or rumors, it was a seller’s market this year, and prices were high. Can organizations be blamed for standing pat and riding this thing out?
Sure, Arizona could improve itself, but is maybe making the playoffs worth the cost of maybe winning championships down the line if asking prices really are what everyone claims? Pittsburgh was in a similar position the past couple seasons, sort of on the brink and sort of in no man’s land. Huntington stayed cool, and now they have the best record in baseball.
Zack Chakan: I’ll go with a tie between the Yankees and Diamondbacks. New York has fallen to fourth in the AL East and while Alfonso Soriano certainly will aid the offense, they needed plenty of more Elmer’s glue for that lineup, even though Curtis Granderson is due back soon. Alex Rodriguez may not play at all, and Derek Jeter needs to stay on the field.
Meanwhile, I have no idea what Arizona was thinking. The Diamondbacks do have loads of talented young pitching (Patrick Corbin, Tyler Skaggs, Randall Delgado to name a few), but all they did was get relief help in Joe Thatcher and prospects from San Diego? On top of that, for Ian Kennedy? Kennedy is having a down year, no doubt about it, but they sold incredibly low on an asset who nearly won the Cy Young in 2011. Arizona is just about out of the Wild Card race and the Dodgers are lightning hot, so if they wanted to hang with Puigmania and company they needed more than just a LOOGY while losing a starter.
4. What player benefited most from a trade?
Sean Meyers: Every Astros’ player traded certainly went to a better situation, but Veras and Norris in particular stand out. Veras could potentially be the closer for the World Series frontrunner, while Norris has a good chance to be the second-best pitcher on the Orioles. I’ll give the nod to Norris, as he now has an opportunity to spend the prime of his career pitching for one of the game’s best up-and-coming teams in Baltimore.
John Riggs: Bud Norris, and hey, good for you. It’s probably hot in Texas, right? And Houston is on pace to lose something like all of their games. There are worse places to be than in a division race, in Baltimore.
Zack Chakan: Kennedy probably wins out here, since he’s going from a hitter’s ballpark in Arizona to the cozy pitching confines of Petco Park in San Diego. San Diego’s going nowhere this year, but they have a bunch of young talent and could be quite good as soon as next season. Kennedy can be kept through arbitration through 2016, and I bet his performance will see a huge boost as well. He was a prime change-of-scenery candidate. Bud Norris is the other main candidate here, since he was practically begging out of Houston and now he joins the playoff chase as an Oriole.
5. Did any moves or non-moves surprise you?
Sean Meyers: Alex Rios remaining in Chicago is the biggest surprise for me. Although there is still a chance Rios gets moved within the next month in a waiver deal, he was constantly rumored to be headed to a handful of teams over the past month. For the White Sox, clearly out of contention this season, to hold onto their most valuable trade piece was quite unexpected.
Likewise, Arizona sending Ian Kennedy to the Padres is a perplexing move. In 2011, Kennedy was one of the best pitchers in the game. His stock has plummeted since then, however, and Arizona dealt him for reliever and a minor-leaguer. Despite his struggles, Kennedy was still a mainstay in the Diamondbacks rotation as they contend for a playoff spot, so it’s hard to figure out this move from their perspective.
John Riggs: The Pirates not making a move is surprising. It made sense (though not to all fans) to not give away pieces the last few years just for the chance of the playoffs. Some of that stockpiled young talent is on the field today. However, now with the playoffs keenly in sight, with one of the best pitching staffs in the game, the championship goal may be in reach but platooning Garrett Jones with Gaby Sanchez, and Alex Presley with Jose Tabata, does not sound like the kind of lineup that can compete with teams like Boston, or Detroit, or Tampa Bay.
Zack Chakan: I wish I could say that the Pirates not making a move surprised me, but with the incredible lack of action at this year’s deadline, I’m not at all. None of the NL Central contenders made a move involving major league players. I would’ve preferred the Pirates attempt an upgrade of right field or first base, but the market wouldn’t come together for them. There’s still time by the waiver deadline to see if Jose Tabata, Alex Presley or even Andrew Lambo can get the job done (since Travis Snider is hurt) and if not, then they might have to make another play for Alex Rios, David DeJesus, Michael Morse or Justin Morneau. All of those guys aren’t huge upgrades overall, but they likely wouldn’t completely tank either.
As for deals that actually happened, The Angels-Athletics within-the-divsion swap of Grant Green for Alberto Callaspo didn’t make sense to me. Callaspo is probably a decent bench player, but he would become Oakland’s starting second baseman and Green has much more upside. It seems like a very un-Billly Beane like move.