MLB 2013: Trade Deadline Updates
(originally written 8/23/13)
The annual July 31 Major League Baseball trade deadline carries the potential to reverse franchise fortunes in the short and long term.
It can alter pennant races like no other date on the calendar. It can signal the end of some dynasties or usher in others. It can mean teams shedding the payroll of stars in exchange for something before the stars can leave their teams at season's end in exchange for nothing.
Often times, purging the salary of an expensive veteran carries more value than any actual bodies added to the roster, especially when the team is underachieving or just plain bad.
Star players to be swapped at or near the trade deadline in recent years include Mark Teixeira (twice), CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee (twice), Carlos Beltran, Adrian Gonzalez, Hunter Pence and a host of others. Many times the traded player (with all proper deference to the great Paul Molitor) does indeed become his new club's ignitor and ends up leading it into October (see: 2008 Sabathia, 1998 Randy Johnson, 1993 Fred McGriff).
This year featured the usual surplus of conjecture, myriad wild predictions and the customary list of names expected, rumored or even guaranteed to be moved—barely exceeded in length by the list of names in the Mitchell Report.
However, with the ninth and 10th playoff spots now in their second year of play, it appears fewer clubs are prepared to part with these commodities (2013 is quite possibly the most overhyped, diluted trade deadline in my 24 years following MLB).
Though no blockbusters went down and only about a quarter of the "likely" candidates ESPN, MLB Network, Grantland and others nominated for uniform swaps came to pass, there were some notable moves.
This slideshow reflects upon those trades and how the players and clubs involved have fared since their acquisitions. I'll also examine a handful of MLB vets rescued from the minors by playoff hopefuls as well as traded prospects receiving big league run down the stretch.
Jose Iglesias, Red Sox to Tigers
One of the league's pleasant surprises in 2013, Jose Iglesias was acquired from Boston by the Tigers in a three-way deal with the White Sox that sent young outfielder Avisail Garcia from Detroit to Chicago and veteran pitcher Jake Peavy from Chicago to Boston.
Aware that incumbent shortstop Jhonny Peralta's days on the roster were likely numbered due to his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal, the Tigers wasted little time importing the 23-year-old Cuban as a replacement.
Iglesias endeared himself immediately to his new home fans, singling home a run in his second Tigers at-bat (which proved crucial in an eventual one-run win), then homering the next night (just his second of 2013) while filling in at third base for the achy Miguel Cabrera.
Overall, Iglesias is hitting .299 in 20 games as a Tiger and has gone 10-for-19 over his past five games (through Aug. 22).
Ian Kennedy, Diamondbacks to Padres
You don't typically see intra-division trades at this time of year unless one team is light years from contention. You really don't see the star player going to the team out of contention from the team that still has a shot (albeit faint).
But that's exactly what happened when the second-place Diamondbacks, who led the NL West much of 2013 before the white-hot Dodgers surged ahead, sent ace starter Ian Kennedy to the fourth-place Padres in exchange for lefty reliever Joe Thatcher.
Something about this trade doesn't sit well with me. Contending teams don't just deal their ace—struggling or not—for what amounts to be pennies on the dollar, especially when he's two years away from free agency and is supposedly healthy.
Kennedy was this close to winning the Cy Young in 2011 (21 wins) and won 15 more games last year. It wasn't as if Arizona wanted to audition a kid; Brandon McCarthy came off the DL to fill Kennedy's rotation spot.
Could you imagine the 2010 Giants trading Tim Lincecum to the Dodgers in exchange for Hong-Chih Kuo and a prospect?
Yet all Josh Byrnes—the San Diego general manager who brought Kennedy to Arizona as its general manager four years ago—had to cough up was a middle reliever (good as he may be) and a 2011 33rd-round pick?
I'd have loved to have been in the war room for that one. There has to be more to the story.
Just 3-8 with a 5.23 ERA as a Diamondback in 2013, Kennedy is 2-1 with a 3.20 ERA in four starts with the Padres through Aug. 22. San Diego was 50-59 pre-trade and is 7-11 since.
Francisco Rodriguez, Brewers to Orioles
We remember the 2002 World Series, the goggles, the record-breaking save season and, of course, the maniacal Fei Long-esque yelling upon nailing down a victory.
But for the past few seasons, Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez has been largely obscure—perhaps even forgotten—as he downgraded from star closer for the Angels and Mets to setup man for the Brewers to opening 2013 in the minor leagues, his first such foray since becoming a major leaguer in 2002.
This season, Rodriguez, who is unbelievably just 31 years old, shared stopping duties with career minor leaguer Jim Henderson. His performance opened the eyes of Baltimore's front office, which sent 2011 sixth-rounder Nick Delmonico west to nab the four-time All-Star.
Again in a setup role, Rodriguez got off to an inauspicious start for the O's. He allowed solo homers in two of his first three appearances (though both were long-decided blowout losses).
He next surrendered home runs to two of three hitters in what was eventually an 11-8 Orioles win versus Seattle but settled down with five consecutive scoreless outings—until surrendering yet another home run to Colorado's Charlie Blackmon Aug. 16.
Overall, K-Rod owned a 1.03 WHIP in his first 10 games as an Oriole (which belied a whopping five homers allowed in 9.2 innings). But he suffered a groin strain Aug. 16 and has made just one (forgettable) appearance in the week since.
CBS Sports' Jeff Lippman reported Rodriguez hopes and expects to avoid the disabled list.
Alfonso Soriano, Cubs to Yankees
Alfonso Soriano, long one of baseball's most talented players who's never sustained extended periods of excellence despite oft-impressive stats, rejoined his original team July 26. The Yanks, decimated by a disabled list full of All-Stars all season long, needed offense—and the 37-year-old hasn't failed to deliver.
In fact, Sori added his name to the history books by becoming just the third man to post back-to-back games with six-plus RBI (Rusty Greer and Geoff Jenkins founded the club). The second baseman-turned-outfielder ripped 17 homers in 93 games with Chicago this year and has nine in only 25 with New York.
Soriano's overall 2013 Yankees numbers: .276 average, .589 slugging, nine homers, 28 RBI. And to think, not only was 2012 fourth-rounder Corey Black—currently a middling Single-A pitcher—the only player surrendered by New York, but the Cubs agreed to pay most of the final year-plus of Soriano's enormous contract!
Joe Girardi's team hasn't been able to immediately capitalize on the heroics of its "new" star. Even with a 14-10 post-trade record—win No. 13 a product of Soriano's eighth-inning two-run homer off former teammate (now Blue Jay) R.A. Dickey Aug. 21—the Yankees have trimmed only a game off what was a seven-game AL East deficit.
The Cubs have gone 8-18 without Soriano, for the record.
Matt Thornton, White Sox to Red Sox
Hard-throwing Matt Thornton (the 22nd overall pick in the 1998 draft) has been an important member of Ozzie Guillen's and (later) Robin Ventura's bullpens over the past nine seasons.
That said, on teams in total freefall like the 2013 White Sox, hard-throwing lefties are often more valuable in trades than protecting non-existent leads—and Thornton was no different.
On July 12, the soon-to-be 37-year-old became the first of several White Sox to be purged (Jake Peavy, Jesse Crain and Alex Rios would soon follow) as the club began to restructure for 2014.
The Red Sox gave up Double-A outfielder Brandon Jacobs to acquire Thornton, who replaces injured Andrew Miller (foot; out for the year).
Though walks helped saddle Thornton with a loss in his Sox debut, he didn't walk another hitter over his next nine games and owned a 2.16 ERA over 10 games—despite a 1.68 WHIP—before hitting the DL himself on Aug. 5 (oblique).
Ricky Nolasco, Marlins to Dodgers
Older MLB fans can recall the Padres' fire sale of 1993, in which any veteran of value was sent packing with the exception of star outfielder Tony Gwynn and No. 1 starter Andy Benes.
Twenty years later, the Miami Marlins followed suit, purging their underachieving roster of nearly all established talent, save for star outfielder Mike Stanton and No. 1 starter Ricky Nolasco—the latter of whom was their Opening Day starter for the third time in 2013.
With free agency looming, trade rumors swirled around the big right-hander from the time camp broke; on July 6, he was finally sent to the Dodgers in exchange for three prospects. It was a homecoming of sorts for Nolasco, who attended high school just about an hour away from Dodger Stadium.
Miami's wretched offense left the 30-year-old with an unimpressive 5-8 record despite a 3.85 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. He has gone 4-1 with a 2.98 ERA as a Dodger, however, including wins in three straight starts to begin August.
Don Mattingly has exercised a quick hook with the veteran; Nolasco has only exceeded 100 pitches once in eight starts. L.A. is 34-7 since the trade, and a 4.5-game NL West deficit is now a 9.5-game lead through Aug. 22.
Bud Norris, Astros to Orioles
Hard-throwing Bud Norris, thrust into the role of Astros ace by default but no slouch on the mound, has been a hot commodity since this past winter. Houston, which drafted Norris in 2006's sixth round, continues making as many sandwiches from the leftover Thanksgiving turkey as humanly possible.
Overall, David Stefan Norris was never close to winning a Cy Young or even making an All-Star team. Still, he was leading the 'Stros in innings this season and was their K leader in 2011 and 2012.
Dealt to Baltimore in exchange for outfielder L.J. Hoes and prospects, Norris seems to be more comfortable slotted behind veterans such as Scott Feldman and Chris Tillman, along with the talented Miguel Gonzalez and Wei-Yin Chen.
He beat his former Houston teammates and the San Diego Padres in his first two Orioles starts. He probably would have earned another W at San Francisco if the DH rule applied at AT&T Park (manager Buck Showalter pinch hit for him shortly before the Orioles went ahead to stay).
Three days later, he was thrust into emergency 14th-inning duty and surrendered a walk-off hit to Arizona's Aaron Hill.
Overall, Norris is 3-1 with a 3.91 ERA as an Oriole (despite an unsightly 1.57 WHIP). Baltimore is 9-9 since the trade but has neither lost nor gained ground on first-place Boston, which is still up by 5.5 games on the O's.
Jake Peavy, White Sox to Red Sox
Jake Peavy's four-year stint in Chicago came to an end July 31 when he joined Boston in a three-team trade (with the Tigers as team No. 3).
Long one of baseball's best starting pitchers when healthy, the 32-year-old joined the White Sox in July 2009 under similar but not matching circumstances; he was on the disabled list at the time of that trade and didn't come off until September. The White Sox watched the Twins win the AL Central.
In 2013, however, the former Cy Young winner was imported to pay immediate dividends for the first-place Red Sox. He easily took care of the Diamondbacks in his Aug. 3 Boston debut with a little help from outfielder Shane Victorino, a teammate when both were fledgling Padres a decade ago. Late rallies by Toronto and San Francisco ruined fine outings on Aug. 15 and 20, respectively.
Through Aug. 22, Peavy is 1-1 with a 4.18 ERA as a member of the Red Sox. The team is 10-10 since acquiring him and struggling to fend off second-place Tampa.
Jesse Crain, White Sox to Rays
Unsung veteran Jesse Crain has been a nemesis of AL Central batters for the better part of a decade now, even though he has but four career saves and no starts on his ledger.
Still, he was never better than in 2013, registering an 0.38 ERA for the White Sox before hitting the disabled list in late June with a shoulder strain, robbing him of the opportunity to pitch in his first All-Star Game.
In spite of his injury, the Rays sent the trite "player(s) to be named" to Chicago to nab Crain on July 29, hoping he could eventually bridge the gap to closer Fernando Rodney in the wake of Kyle Farnsworth's slump (and eventual release).
As of Aug. 22, the 32-year-old Canadian has yet to take the mound for Tampa. According to Rotoworld, Crain has been moved to the 60-day disabled list, freeing up a 40-man roster spot.
Scott Feldman, Cubs to Orioles
Scott Feldman, an eight-year member of the Texas Rangers (including the back-to-back pennant winners of 2010-2011), bounced back in 2013 after a three-year stretch of injuries and mediocrity.
One of the biggest surprises of 2009 (he began the year 5-0, later won seven straight decisions over eight starts and was 16-4 before a 1-4 finish), the 6'7" right-hander was let go after the '12 season and joined the Cubs.
Off to a 7-6, 3.46 ERA start with Chicago that included a 4-1, 2.25 ERA month of May, Feldman caught the eye of the Baltimore Orioles. They swapped the promising but inconsistent Jake Arrieta, who made 63 starts for Baltimore since 2010, and hard-throwing reliever Pedro Strop to get him on July 2.
Feldman has been up (eight innings of two-run ball against Kansas City July 22) and down (his former Rangers teammates dropped a seven-spot on him July 8) as an Oriole. Overall, he's 3-3 with a 4.84 ERA in eight starts since his acquisition as of Aug. 22.
Matt Garza, Cubs to Rangers
Matt Garza, who'd been out of action for 10 months with elbow/lat injuries, didn't make his season debut until late May. Still, he was in a four-way tie for second place on the Cubs in wins when he was sent to the Rangers July 22.
Texas needed him sooner rather than later with four starting pitchers sidelined and the Oakland A's—at that point in time—giving indications of running off and hiding in the AL West. One of the game's most competitive hurlers over the past half-decade, Garza joined his fourth major league club (Twins, Rays).
The 29-year-old veteran—swapped for rookie starter Justin Grimm and prospects—beat the Yankees in his Texas debut with just an unearned run over 7.1 innings. In fact, he went at least seven innings in each of his next three starts, including a win at Houston (and another potential W coughed up by the 'pen).
Garza was also memorably frustrated by a bunt-heavy loss to Oakland.
He is 3-1 with a 4.32 ERA in six Rangers starts; five of those starts have been won by the Rangers, who are 19-9 overall since acquiring him. Their three-game AL West deficit is now a 2.5-game lead over the Athletics as of Aug. 22.
Scott Downs, Angels to Braves
The Arte Moreno Angels have a recent history of throwing stacks of cash at free-agent middle/setup relievers (see: Scot Shields, Justin Speier, Darren Oliver, etc.). Scott Downs was one of the latest to benefit from Moreno's deep pockets, netting a three-year, $15 million deal after the 2010 season.
Downs posted good-to-excellent numbers in multiple roles for Los Angeles, but the team went nowhere. Suddenly, having a $5 million middle man made little sense.
Atlanta, with two prime lefty relievers lost to surgery, went after Downs and got him July 29 for the low price of Cory Rasmus, brother of Colby, who, seven years after Atlanta drafted him No. 38 overall in '06, finally made his MLB debut this year.
Downs earned a tough win at Colorado in his Atlanta debut, snaring a bases-loaded liner off the bat of Todd Helton to end the ninth and pitching around a leadoff single in the 10th.
The 37-year-old has since made 10 more appearances—nine of which were scoreless—for the Braves, who have gone 16-5 since the trade and added five games to their NL East lead (now at 14 over second-place Washington).
Alberto Callaspo, Angels to Athletics
Alberto Callaspo, a former Chone Figgins-type who had since settled in as the everyday Angels third baseman, came to Oakland in exchange for former first-round pick Grant Green.
A switch-hitter with pop who puts the ball in play, the former Diamondbacks prospect has eclipsed 500 plate appearances each of the past four years and is on course to do so again in '13.
Hitless in his first 11 Athletics at-bats, the 30-year-old won back-to-back games with two-run doubles (the latter especially sweet, as it atoned for a costly error) the following week.
Despite his efforts, the A's are only 8-11 since Callaspo's acquisition and have fallen from five games up in the AL West to 2.5 games back through Aug. 22.
Jose Veras, Astros to Tigers
No, Jose. He's been one of baseball's most reliable middle relievers for several seasons now.
After compiling all of five saves for the Yankees, Indians, Marlins, Pirates and Brewers over his first seven seasons, he stepped in as closer for Bo Porter's Astros in 2013. Veras saved 19 of the Astros' 35 wins before being (mercifully) acquired by the Tigers July 29.
He was the guy Milwaukee got from Pittsburgh when the Brewers finally gave up on Casey McGehee.
Signed as a 17-year-old by the then-Devil Rays out of the Dominican Republic in 1998, the 6'6" right-hander joined defending AL champion Detroit in exchange for prospect Danry Vasquez at the deadline—but not to close, as the Tigers had finally stabled their unsteady closer's role with veteran Joaquin Benoit.
After six straight scoreless appearances to begin his Tigers career, Veras has allowed runs in three of his past five contests, including a walk-off home run surrendered to former Yankees teammate Brett Gardner Aug. 11. But he did nail down a two-inning save in a 7-1 win over Minnesota Aug. 21 (the score was 4-1 when Veras entered).
The Tigers own a 15-8 record since acquiring the veteran righty and have raised their AL Central lead from three to five games as of Aug. 22.
Jake Arrieta, Carlos Marmol, Joe Thatcher and More
July 31 and the weeks leading up to it isn't just about "name" players changing addresses. Deadline day also creates an opportunity for young players blocked by veterans that they have no shot of displacing.
Older players who find themselves languishing on the farm after years in the bigs can be granted respites. Guys who simply need to escape town before being strung up by their team's fanbase certainly cannot be forgotten...
Jake Arrieta, Orioles to Cubs
He went to Chicago in the Feldman trade and threw very well in his initial pair of NL starts (one ER over 13 innings) before struggling in a loss to Washington Aug. 21.
Avisail Garcia, Tigers to White Sox
Garcia got extended run in the 2012 postseason for the Tigers and made one of the best defensive plays of October. Still, the AL champions signed Torii Hunter to hold down right field, forcing Garcia back to the minors for most of the year.
The White Sox nabbed him in the three-team Jake Peavy swap and made him a starter upon Alex Rios' departure. Since that date, Garcia has but one hitless game and is riding a nine-game hit streak as of Aug. 22.
Grant Green, Athletics to Angels
The 13th overall pick in the 2009 draft started out as a shortstop and then moved to the outfield, but by 2012, he was without a true position of his own—except the batter's box. Green, a top prospect almost from the moment he was drafted, went to the Angels in exchange for veteran third baseman Alberto Callaspo at the deadline.
Soon installed as the starter at second base, Green, who is an alum of nearby USC, played well before a 1-for-16 slump. In fact, he had five multi-hit games in his first eight Angels starts.
Matt Guerrier, Dodgers to Cubs
Guerrier was one of many Dodgers relievers who found himself demoted or shipped out due to ineffectiveness this season. The 35-year-old had coughed up runs in four of his final five Dodgers appearances before being designated for assignment and traded to the Cubs for Carlos Marmol July 2.
Sadly, Guerrier succumbed to flexor surgery a month later and won't pitch again this year. He had been unscored upon in his final eight Cubs appearances.
Scott Hairston, Cubs to Nationals
In the span of an offseason, Hairston went from one of the league's best role players to one of its worst. His playing time significantly down, the 10-year vet was dealt to Washington for prospects.
Hairston's first homer as a Nat was a three-run shot off ex- teammate James Russell that sunk the Cubs Aug. 21.
L.J. Hoes, Orioles to Astros
Acquired in the Bud Norris deal July 30, Hoes has gotten the bulk of right field starts for his new team and batted .319 with four steals. He also enjoyed an 8-for-13 stretch. The 23-year-old Washington native was named Baltimore's top minor league position player of 2012.
Carlos Marmol, Cubs to Dodgers
In short: If the Cubs hadn't traded Marmol when they did, he might have been safer crashing into Wrigley's outfield wall than walking the streets of Chicago.
The beleaguered ex-closer, who was often an adventure even when at his best, is riding a streak of seven scoreless appearances as a Dodger through Aug. 22, almost all non-pressure situations by design.
Guillermo Moscoso, Cubs to Giants
Two years ago, Moscoso was a pretty decent starter for the A's, but the Giants mark his fifth organization since the 2012 World Series.
The Giants basically bought him from the Cubs (who had him stashed at Triple-A all year) to use in long relief. Despite serious command issues, Moscoso has chewed up innings.
Marc Rzepczynski, Cardinals to Indians
"Scrabble," who appeared in 141 games for the Jays and Cards over the past two years, got off to a wretched start in his '13 season and was demoted back to Triple-A after four big league seasons.
With St. Louis showing no signs of wanting/needing his services in the foreseeable future, Cleveland came knocking. The soon-to-be 29-year-old has allowed but one (unearned) run in nine games with the Indians.
Joe Thatcher, Padres to Diamondbacks
Thatcher's seven-year Padres stint came to an end when he was surrendered in the Ian Kennedy deal July 31. The lefty specialist (career lefty batting average against: .216) hasn't adjusted yet—his WHIP as a Snake is a whopping 2.2 as of Aug. 22.