Well, the trade deadline has come and gone and some big names will now be playing in different uniforms. Jonathan Lucroy won’t be a Brewer anymore, Aroldis Chapman isn’t in pinstripes, and Jay Bruce has gone from red to blue.
The baseball trade deadline is often when the contenders separate from the pretenders. The Royals may not have won last year if they hadn't traded for Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist. The Giants may not have done it the year before without Jake Peavy. The best teams do it, and this year was no exception.
There weren’t many shocking trades this year, as most of the movements had been speculated for weeks. The biggest moves revolved around the closers that were changing teams. There were no surprise buyers and few surprise sellers (Pittsburgh), but the day still managed to remain exciting. Every year some trades work and some don’t. Last year the Astros picked up Carlos Gomez in a trade that was supposed to ignite their offence, but Gomez barely played in the second half of the season and the Astros ended up as a wild card instead of division winners.
So who were the winners and losers of this year? Here’s our speculation of the 10 winner and 5 losers of the 2016 MLB trade deadline.
30 New York Yankees
The Yankees completely changed everything that wasn’t working about their franchise. The Bronx Bombers are currently sitting at 4th in the division standings playing near .500 ball. In past season, they would continue to fight to win, and go out and trade for a big name like Matt Kemp. Not this year though. For the first time in what seems like a lifetime, the Yankees recognized that it’s time to rebuild. Many of their horrible contracts will be ending in the next year or two and the farm system has been depleted for a while, so management recognized it was time to adjust. In what seemed like a string of very anti-Yankee moves, the team sold off everything they could. Aroldis Chapman was sent to the Cubs for their best prospect, Gleyber Torres. Andrew Miller was shipped to the Indians for a handful of minor leaguers with a lot of upside. And the Carlos Beltran was unloaded on the Rangers for the #4 overall pick from 2015, Dillon Tate. As is true with any prospect, there are a lot of questions about their ability to play at an MLB level, but to win you have to take some risks. The Yankees waving a white flag for this year is the smartest move the franchise has made in a while and should get fans excited about the team’s future after 2016.
28 LA Dodgers
With all the internal complaints about Yasiel Puig and the Dodger’s high profile failure to move the troubled outfielder, it would be easy to call them a loser at the trade deadline. It’s true that the team is going to have to take a close look at any option to move their one time-superstar, including sending him to AAA, but don’t let that cloud the fact that the Dodgers made one of the most underrated moves at the deadline. The trade for Rich Hill and Josh Reddick is a high risk-high reward move that the team needed to make to stay competitive with the Giants in division. With the uncertain timeline on if Clayton Kershaw would return, LA needed to go out and get the best pitcher available. Hill has had some injury concerns through the season, but if he’s healthy he will be the most effective starter moved at the deadline. Reddick on the other hand is as much of a sure thing as anyone. So far in 2016 he has hit .296 with 28 RBIs and 33 runs scored in 68 games playing for an anemic offense in Oakland. The move to LA will allow for Reddick to be more patient at the plate and stop trying to play hero. This move may not work out because of Hill’s injury concerns and Reddick’s traditionally average nymbers, but the Dodgers didn’t have to give too much for them and they could definitely turn the season around in Los Angeles.
26 Tony Watson
People were caught off guard when the Pirates moved All-Star closer Mark Melancon to the Nationals. Many people immediately started to question the management in Pittsburgh, demanding answers as to why they felt it was a good idea to deal an All-Star closer while they still were three games above .500. The question was answered with one name, Tony Watson. Melancon has been one of the best closers in the since taking over the position in 2014. He’s gotten 30 saves a year (including 2016) and led the majors in 2015 with 51 saves. Melancon’s value could not have been higher after Chapman was sent to Chicago, and the Pirates capatilzed, knowing they had more than enough talent. About Tony Watson, well Melancon said it best; “Tony’s a stud. The Pirates have no worries with Tony out there. He’s an absolute beast out there. He’s a competitor and he’s a student of the game. A guy that, he’s going to war with you and he’s going to be right by your side.” Watson was an All-Star in 2014 and has dominated the 8th inning and sat patiently for years waiting for his time to take over the 9th. The Buckos also have ex-World Series closer Naftali Feliz to take over the 8th and have a young fireball pitcher in Felipe Rivero to anchor the 7th. Rivero is being groomed to take the closer role in the next couple of years, but this move gives Watson the opportunity to audition as a closer and a big contract for when he’s a free agent in 2 seasons.
24 San Diego Padres
The Padres made a Gob-level huge mistake during the 2015 offseason. It started off normal, the Padres increased some interest when they gave contracts to the likes of Brett Wallace and Everth Cabrera; good players with potential, but not guaranteed starters. Then December 18th hit and suddenly the lackluster Padres went into “win now” mode. They traded for a declining Matt Kemp (and his disgusting contract), and then emptied their entire farm system to get Wil Myers, Justin Upton, Derrick Norris, and Will Middlebrooks. They kept making headlines by signing James Sheilds, and capped it off by trading expiring contracts for Craig Kimbrel and Melvin Upton. The Padres ended the season 23 games out of the wild card, 18 games behind the Dodgers for the division lead, and 8 games under .500. The Padres have done everything they could this year to hit the reboot button. They stuck everyone on the trade block except for Myers and took anything they could to rebuild their depleted farm system and get rid of the contracts that would cripple the team financially. Fernando Rodney was sent to Miami, and then Andrew Cashner, Tayron Guerrero, and Colin Rea were as well (then Colin Rea was sent back). Drew Pomeranz is now in Boston, Melvin Upton was sent to Toronto, and Matt Kemp went to Atlanta, all within the last month. The Padres are starting to look nothing like the team they were in 2015 (outside of Myers and Norris), which is good. They are slowing building the farm teams they stupidly trashed. They have little chance at winning for the next 2 years, so it’s in their best interest to hoard every prospect they can and build around Wil Myers.
22 Matt Kemp
Of all the players that were scattered off of the Padres, Matt Kemp finds himself in arguably the best situation. Yes, Pomeranz, Rodney, Upton, and Cashner were sent to playoff contenders, but Kemp’s situation is still better. Pomeranz fared well in Petco Park, one of the deepest outfields in the game, but may struggle in Fenway, which has the shortest left and right field porch. Rodney and Cashner are playing in Miami who are famous for mistreating players and tossing them as soon as they ask for a contract. Upton will struggle to even pinch hit over the rest of the guys on the Blue Jays roster. Kemp will immediately get to start in the outfield, has a potent lineup around him with guys like Freddie Freeman, and may help make the team competitive by 2018. The Braves have 11 players on the DL right now and find themselves with the worst record in the MLB. However, they do have a lot of talent on the team and Kemp may be able to ignite an offense that is in desperate need for a lift. Honestly, Kemp would be a trade deadline winner almost anywhere he goes, because it means a team is willing to pay him $21.5 million a year until 2020. Kemp is hitting .262 with 23 homers and 69 RBIs, so he has a lot he can provide for a team, and Braves fans are much more passionate about their team than they are in San Diego. This is a great spot for Kemp to reinvent his career.
20 Jay Bruce
Going to the Mets is the best-case scenario for Jay Bruce, and Jay Bruce was best-case scenario for the Mets. Fans may be peeved that they were not able to get a trade complete with the Brewers to get Lucroy, but Bruce is a better fit. Travis d'Arnaud is not an All-Star level catcher, but he’s good, familiar with the pitching staff, comes up big in clutch situations, and has playoff/World Series experience. The Mets should be comfortable starting Travis and should feel good that they didn’t have to give up their top prospects for Lucroy. Jay Bruce fills a huge hole in the Met’s outfield as they had Brandon Nimmo starting. Bruce is leading the NL with 80 RBIs, despite playing on a pedestrian Reds team and now he’ll be playing for a real contender. This move has shades of the Yoenis Cespedes trade from last season that put the Mets over the top and made them the eventual National League champions. The team could have also used a pitcher to replace Matt Harvey, but a clutch hitter in the outfield was a much better need. The trade only got better for New York when Cincinnati had to restructure the deal and allowed New York to keep Nimmo. The defense in the outfield is going to be atrocious in Queens, but sometimes the best defense is a great offense.
18 Texas Rangers
The Rangers World Series hopes went up exponentially in the span of 2 hours. First the Carlos Beltran trade went down, which initially put the Rangers in our loser column. Beltran is a great player, who has some of the best post-season numbers of all time. However the Rangers gave up Dillon Tate, their best pitching prospect, for one year out of the 39-year-old outfielder. Tate is not a guaranteed talent, Beltran is, but the Rangers had 2 huge holes on the team (starting pitching and catcher) and Beltran doesn’t fill either of them. Then the second trade went down and it all made sense. The Rangers sent Lewis Brinson, a top prospect, to the Brewers for solid reliever Jeremy Jeffress and catcher Jonathan Lucroy. The catcher position has been an issue for the Rangers since Mike Napoli left in 2013. They’ve been starting career-backup Rob Chronis for much of the season, but he has had numerous injury concerns and hasn’t played well when healthy, batting below .200. The trade for Lucroy not only solves the issue this season, but next as well as, and unless Lucroy declines rapidly, the Rangers will be picking up his option in 2017. Adding both Lucroy and Beltran gives the Rangers one of the best offensive lineups in the AL and they didn’t even have to give up their top prospect Joey Gallo (who will probably take over Beltran’s role in 2017).
16 Aroldis Chapman
Closers this season really are the true “winners” at the deadline. Melancon, Miller, and Chapman all find themselves on playoff contenders with eyes on the World Series. By going to the Cubs, Chapman finds him self in the best situation. The Indians seemingly came out of nowhere this season after missing the playoffs for 7 of the past 8 seasons, and still have to fend off the Tigers and Royals to make it to October. Melancon supplanted Jonathan Papelbon, a guy who is known as a hot-head who once choked Bryce Harper in his own dugout. How do you think he’ll respond if Melancon blows a save? Chapman is now on the Cubs, a team that is expected to at least go deep into the playoffs. Chapman has had a… rough offseason. He was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend and was suspended by the MLB. A lot of the chatter around his short suspension and lack of arrest died down as he played well in New York, but it’s heated up since the trade. As terrible as it is, winning makes fans forget about the awful parts of a player’s personal life (think Ben Roethlisberger in the Super Bowl, Michael Vick on the Eagles). If Chapman is on the mound when the Cubs finally break the Billy Goat curse, the world will forget about his legal issues and he will always be remembered in Chicago as a “hero.” Just another reason to root against the Cubs in 2016.
14 Cleveland Indians
Getting Andrew Miller was a huge move for Cleveland as now they finally have a legitimate closer. They have already been boasting the best starting pitchers in the American league, but putting a dominant arm at the back end of the Bullpen was a huge need for the tribe. They may have given some good prospects to New York to get the trade done, but Miller is worth it. Getting one of the top 5 relievers in the game for half a season is good, but Miller has 2 years left on his contract and now will be playing it out in Cleveland. The offseason was almost much better. When it was announced that Jonathan Lucroy was traded to them the AL started to shiver in fear, then exhaled a huge sigh of relief when he vetoed the trade. Lucroy has every right to veto the move and play where he feels is best for his career, but the Indians had to be disappointed in the move. The Tribe has no established starters at the backstop after Yan Gomez was placed on the DL. Gomez will be back, but Lucroy would have been a better addition. Either way the Indians made a move that makes them much better and helps their chances at getting to and winning a World Series, but they’ll have to go through Lucroy and the Rangers to do it.
12 Tampa Bay Rays
Tampa could have been way more active at the trade deadline. There were rumors that they could trade their three top pitchers, Matt Moore, Chris Archer, and Jake Odorizzi. In hindsight they were smart to keep Archer as he is only 27 and still has 5 more years on his team-friendly contract. Odorizzi may still be moved on a waiver deal, but that’s only speculation. Archer has the material to be a stud pitcher in the league for the next few years and the Rays can attempt to build around him a bit. Part of their building blocks will be coming from the Matt Moore trade that they completed with the Giants at the deadline. Moore is a solid pickup for the NL West leading Giants, but the Rays definitely got the better of the deal. Matt Duffy will have to be moved to shortstop or corner outfield, but he was a rookie of the year candidate last year in the midst of a sophomore slump. Perhaps the true prize of the trade was 18-year-old shortstop Lucius Fox. Besides sharing the name as a Batman character, Fox has the ability to be a Gold Glove fielder, but he needs a few years in the minors to work on his hitting. It’s a project, but the Rays aren’t going to be winning much anytime soon, so it’s a good fit for them. Remember the name because he will be a top prospect very soon and a solid MLB player in the next 5 years.
9 Houston Astros
The Astros stumbled out of the gate early on in the season, but have been one of the MLB’s best teams since June. However, if the season were to have ended at the trade deadline, they would be 2.5 games out of a Wild Card spot and 6 behind the Rangers for the division lead. They really could have used an additional bat on the team, or an arm, or maybe someone with veteran experience for the playoff push. What they ended up doing was nothing. The front office didn’t even seem all that active in looking as the team was being swept in Detroit. Most of the teams they should be competing with for a playoff spot bulked up this off-season as well. The Rangers, Red Sox, Indians, Orioles, and Blue Jays all made significant additions to their teams and are looking at Houston in their rear views right now. It may help out Houston in the long run that they didn’t give up any of their coveted young players, but it may just mean that they’ll have to wait until next year to see any playoff action.
7 Chicago White Sox
We understand that they were reluctant to trade away Chris Sale considering he is one of the top 5 pitchers in the game and on a very team-friendly deal, but to trade only one reliever just is not what should have happened. The team got off to a very hot start; so many people seemed to forget that they’re a ragtag group of players and a few studs that need a couple years. Players like Jose Qunitana and Alex Avila could have gotten good returns, and the haul from Chris Sale could have changed the entire franchise. We don’t know what kind of offers the Whit Sox got, but by doing so little it makes us think that they may still believe they can compete in the division. The front office needs to wake up and move on. They keep reloading instead of retooling around players like Jose Abreu, and getting a haul of young talent would have been a huge boost to that rebuilding process. Now White Sox fans are going to watch more mediocre, uncompetitive seasons for the foreseeable future.
5 Cincinatti Reds
The Reds have had a poor trading season. The Jay Bruce trade was alright; Dilson Herrera will probably get a chance to start in 2017. However, the fact that it was their one move was not good. They were rumored to be in talks about moving Dan Straily, Tony Cingrani, and Anthony DeSclafani, but teams either didn’t see enough value. Zack Cozart was almost dealt to Seattle, but it ended up falling through. The Reds are one of the worst teams in the league, bottoming out their division only 42 wins. They should have gone on a fire sale like the Padres and work on starting from scratch. We understand what Joey Votto means to the franchise, and that he loves it in Cincinnati, but if you believe teams like the Mets, Rangers, and Marlins were not calling about him then you’re crazy. And a player like Votto could have changed the entire future of the team. When a star player moves it’s because the other team can offer 3 potential stars to get him. Votto could have gotten the team everything the Mets gave up for Jay Bruce, and then some, while allowing the Reds to flip Bruce for even more. Brandon Phillips could have even drawn interest from the right team, so it’s hard to understand why the Reds would blow past the deadline making only one mediocre trade.
3 Francisco Liriano
On paper this trade seems like a good move for Liriano and the Blue Jays. The Jays get an established starter who can dominate at times. Liriano gets a change of scenery and is playing for a team with a much stronger rotation, taking the pressure of being an Ace off his shoulders. However we don’t see this deal benefiting Lirano particularly well. He has been struggling this season in Pittsburgh, going 6-11 with a 5.46 ERA and 19 homers given up. At PNC Park, a notable “pitcher’s” park, Lirano’s ERA has been significantly lower than his ERA on the road, partly because he gives up double the amount of homers. Toronto’s Roger Centre is one of the most dangerous parks for pitchers as it has a short porch in left field and has artificial turf resulting in more extra base hits off errant bounces. Liriano won’t be able to rely on having one of the best outfields defensively any more, and will have to deal with pitching on turf, something he has yet to do this season. Liriano has also struggled against AL teams. He’s gone 1-3 against them this season giving up 5 or more runs in all but one of the starts. Despite his rocky season pitching, Liriano has quietly been one of the best hitting pitchers in the league. He’s batting nearly .300 and has knocked in some key runs throughout the season. He will completely lose that facet of his game once he joins an AL team. He’s a 10-year veteran with playoff experience, so it’s not like the trade makes no sense, we just don’t see it working for Liriano.
1 Boston Red Sox
They didn’t do enough. Don’t get us wrong, the Red Sox will be in the post season race come September with the potent offense they already have, but they didn’t do enough to compete with some of the other big guns in the AL. We’ve talked a lot about how the Rangers and Indians have added pieces to compete, but the Red Sox just fell flat. They did take Drew Pomeranz early on from the Padres, but he had an extremely poor showing in his 3 games with the Sox. It’s not as if Drew is the ace that can fix all the holes on their pitching staff. They added some pieces to the Bullpen, but still need a starting pitcher and an ace to help take some weight off David Price. Rumors said that they were extremely active while looking into trading for Chris Sale, but they failed to get the trade done. They still haven’t given up on getting Chris Archer, but even if they do it may be too late. The Blue Jays and Orioles both are looking down at the Red Sox from the division lead, so a Wild Card berth seems to be the best route for Boston to make the playoffs. They have a lot of teams to beat out, but they are the Red Sox so we won’t count them out. The team has to be kicking itself now when they look around at how much better the competition is than it was 2 weeks ago.
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