The Mariners, A's, and Nationals pulled off a three-way trade, one that likely improves just one of the three teams this year, and potentially makes one team worse, both now and in the future.
Seattle dealt catcher John Jaso, acquiring first baseman/corner outfielder/DH Michael Morse from the Nats. Oakland picked up Jaso, sending pitching prospects A.J. Cole and Blake Treinen, along with a player to be named later, to Washington.
The Mariners nominally get top billing in the trade, since the 30-year-old Morse is the most famous player of the five. In 2011, Morse hit a stellar .303/.360/.550, smacking 31 homers. Injuries cost him 60 games in 2012, but he still whacked 18 home runs, albeit with a diminished line of .291/.321/.470. Despite his good-to-very-good power, Morse is a fairly limited player, because he has few other tangible skills. His career walk rate of 5.9 percent means he's heavily reliant on batting average to prop up his on-base output, something that failed to materialize last season, when his walk, strikeout, and ground-ball rates all went in the wrong direction. Morse is one of the slowest and least effective base runners in the league and is a terrible outfielder who probably belongs in full-time DH duty, even though he's said he has no interest in filling that role. His 2011 output of 146 games played was a career high, and durability is a concern.
The Texas Rangers acquired Ryan Dempster from the Chicago Cubs for Single-A right-hander Kyle Hendricks and Single-A third baseman Christian Villanueva. And suddenly a Rangers-Braves World Series becomes a tantalizing prospect.
Last week, the Braves thought they had a deal for Dempster, with talented, young righty Randall Delgado headed to Chicago. But Dempster exercised his veto rights as a 10-year veteran with five years on the same team, saying he didn't want to go to Atlanta, and that his first choice was to go to the Dodgers. When L.A. balked at the rumored offer of dynamic Double-A right-hander Allen Webster, the Cubs audibled and struck a deal with Texas, just a few minutes before the 4 p.m. ET deadline. The Braves' loss is the Rangers' gain, and Texas might've given up less talent to make it happen.
The Phillies' trade of Shane Victorino to the Dodgers for Josh Lindblom and Ethan Martin helps the Dodgers in their quest to win the NL West, and carves out a bit of badly needed payroll flexibility for the tapped Phillies. In a broader sense, the trade can be summed up in two words: chain reaction.
It starts with Philly's half decade of dominance. After 14 years in the wilderness, the 2007 Phillies finally won a division title, wresting the crown from the Mets, who'd finally toppled the dynastic Braves a year earlier. Five of the Phillies' eight best regulars that year (Ryan Howard, 27; Chase Utley, 28; Jimmy Rollins, 28; Pat Burrell, 30; Carlos Ruiz, 28), as well as their best starting pitcher (a 23-year-old Cole Hamels) and closer (26-year-old Brett Myers), were homegrown. The team's Opening Day payroll was $89.4 million, $6 million less than than the Phillies had carried two years earlier, and miles away from top-spending clubs like the Yankees. Several of the team's top stars were signed to below-market contracts (including Utley at seven years, $85 million and Rollins five years, $40 million), portending good things as the team marched forward.
In acquiring Zack Greinke from the Brewers for three prospects, the Angels now have an argument for the best rotation in baseball. Better still, even if his first start ended in a 2-0 loss to the Rays, the Angels outfoxed their archrivals and improved their chances at a deep playoff run.
Fortunately for those teams still shopping with four days left until the trade deadline, there are plenty of valuable players still out there. You'll get plenty of analysis of Zack Greinke and other top talent elsewhere. We wanted to cover the second-tier players who could prove to be surprise contributors for contending teams.
Here are a few of those bargain-bin trade targets, and the teams best suited to pursue them.
It's not Cole Hamels or Zack Greinke or a good hitter. But the Pittsburgh Pirates traded prospects to land a quality veteran starting pitcher in late July. That, in itself, is a great sign.
The Bucs struck a deal with the Astros late Tuesday, sending outfield prospect Robbie Grossman and lefty pitching prospects Colton Cain and Rudy Owens to Houston for Wandy Rodriguez. The Astros also pick up $12 million of the remaining hefty commitment to Rodriguez, with the Pirates on the hook for just under $18 million — $1.7 million this year, $8.5 million in 2013, and $7.5 million in 2014 now that Rodriguez's option has been activated with the trade.
"We have certain veterans who we thought would carry us in Hanley [Ramirez] and [Jose] Reyes, and that the kids would take that next step. [Giancarlo] Stanton, to his credit, is for the most part taking that step, but [Logan Morrison] has not, and the veterans have crapped all over themselves." — Michael Hill, Miami Marlins general manager on Showtime's The Franchise: A Season With the Miami Marlins
And like that the dream of a championship season in the Marlins' new, taxpayer-funded, $634 million stadium was gone.
The latest amputation from the Marlins' roster came last night, when Miami traded Hanley Ramirez and Randy Choate to the Dodgers for Nate Eovaldi and Scott McGough. Ignoring the broad strokes of the Marlins' grand offseason plan for a moment, how you feel about this trade should hinge on how you feel about present-day Hanley Ramirez.
Every five years, the Marlins realize they're not contenders, call up their old boss Dave Dombrowski, and trade established veteran players for a bunch of prospects. The last time this happened, they gave away Miguel Cabrera and got back six players, none of whom has or ever will provide significant value in Miami. Things will almost certainly work out better this time.
The Tigers addressed their two biggest needs in the trade, acquiring Anibal Sanchez to add depth to their starting rotation, and Omar Infante to upgrade from the horror show that was Detroit's second-base situation.
After 11 years in Seattle, Ichiro Suzuki's Mariners career came to an end Monday, when he was traded to the Yankees for minor leaguers D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar, plus cash. Here are 10 things you need to know about one of baseball's most iconic players, and the deal that brought him to New York.
It's probably not a healthy habit, but it's tough to look at baseball trades, especially deadline trades, and not immediately flip over to one detail: Who are the general managers that made them?
Such is the case for Friday's 10-player swap between the Blue Jays and Astros. Alex Anthopoulos has earned a reputation as a darling of analytical circles for some of the moves he's pulled off. He's inked several key Jays players to team-friendly, long-term contracts (most notably the five-year, $65 million deal he gave Jose Bautista after Joey Bats's huge 2011 breakout that now looks like a colossal bargain); swiped Colby Rasmus from the Cardinals in a shrewd buy-low move; and pulled off one of the best dump trades in recent baseball history, dropping $86 million worth of busted Vernon Wells into the Angels' laps. Meanwhile, the Astros are run by a group of decision-makers with sparkling reputations: Jeff Luhnow, who played an integral role in the Cardinals' success of the past few years, is the general manager; Sig Mejdal, who's had chunks of a whole damn book written about his bookish wisdom, is Luhnow's top lieutenant; and Mike Fast, a PITCHf/x guru who authored some of the most influential studies in the field of baseball analysis, was snatched away to do Houston's bidding behind closed doors. When these kinds of people make a big move, the tendency is to search for some brilliant, hidden motive beyond the obvious. That's either giving people credit for past work, or an appeal to authority. Neither's all that fair.