Chris Moore| BKD TV Insiders
What A. Day! The trade deadline is always an exciting time, some teams give up on the season and look forward to the upcoming years while other teams sacrifice the upcoming years to win this year. This year we saw one of the most exciting trade deadline days in the history of Major League Baseball. It started early in the morning when Jon Lester was dealt by the Red Sox to the Oakland Athletics. This didn’t come as a surprise to many. Sources had reported Lester was going to be dealt in the days leading to the deadline but it was just a matter of where. The surprise? The Athletics gave up their most talented player in Yoenis Cespedes. But if you know Billy Beane, he always has a plan. He acquired Johnny Gomes in the deal to replace Cespedes in left field when Oakland faces left handed pitchers. They then in a later deal, acquired Sam Fuld to play left field against right handers. The A’s platoon a lot of positions depending on the opposing pitcher and now left field will become another platoon spot for the A’s. Meanwhile, Boston acquires one of the games biggest talents and a guy that will likely thrive offensively in Fenway Park. A lot of Yoenis’ fly ball outs at the Coliseum in Oakland will turn into doubles off the wall or homeruns in Fenway. The A’s meanwhile turned their pitching rotation into a gauntlet that nobody in their right mind would want to face. With the deal to get Jeff Samrdzija earlier this month, the Athletics postseason rotation goes Lester, Gray, Samardzija, and Kazmir in no particular order. That’s four guys that would be aces on almost half of the teams in baseball.
The day was not over. With about an hour and a half to two hours left before the 4 PM deadline, Joel Sherman reported on MLB Network that David Price WOULD be dealt, no questions asked. Teams like the Pirates, Mariners, Tigers, and Dodgers took note to what the Athletics did and knew they had to counter punch. The big winner ended up being the Detroit Tigers at around 3:50 PM who landed David Price. What’d they give up? Drew Smyly, Austin Jackson, and a minor league prospect. I’d sign up for that trade any day. Credit to the Tigers for getting it done. The Mariners also got in on the three team deal. They gave up Nick Franklin (a young prospect who is still looking for a position to play defensively) and got Austin Jackson in return. So who lost on this deal? The Rays. They gave up David Price, who’s contract expires after next season, for Drew Smyly, and two prospects. They had this deadline, this offseason, and next years deadline to trade David Price and they jumped the gun and gave him up for far too little in my opinion.
In between the blockbuster deals there were plenty of other deals to go down with teams to help turn there playoff team into a World Series team. The Nationals acquired Asrdubal Cabrera to play second base from the Indians. The Cardinals added John Lackey to their rotation, but gave a young arm in Joe Kelly and Allen Craig, a big time clutch hitter to make the deal. The Yankees added Stephen Drew and Martin Prado to sure up second base and right field. The Orioles added maybe the best left hander on the market to their already great bullpen by getting Andrew Miller from the Red Sox.
Winners: (Besides Oakland and Detroit because that’d be too easy)
Red Sox: The Red Sox made moves that are going to make this lineup extremely difficult to deal with. They added Allen Craig and Yoenis Cespedes to play the corners in the outfield to David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Mike Napoli. If there young guys like Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogaerts pan out as big league ball players, this lineup will be deadly. Yes, they have rotation issues to fix for next year, but Jon Lester, James Shields, and Max Scherzer are all set to be free agents this year which gives Boston a shot to see prospects the rest of this year and acquire what they need in the offseason.
Mariners: The Mariners added two outfielders in order to help an offense that desperately needed a boost. Chris Denorfia has a .301 career average against left handers and plays a very good left field. Austin Jackson is an everyday centerfielder who can bat leadoff and get on base for the likes of Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager. They didn’t get David Price like they wanted, but they added two players who are going to improve in offense that needed an upgrade.
Phillies: This might be one of the biggest question marks in deadline history. How on Earth did the Phillies do nothing on deadline day. They have arguably nine guys that could help contenders and they dealt NONE. Marlon Byrd, had multiple teams interested and the Phillies couldn’t come up with a deal for any. Cole Hamels could’ve been the third blockbuster lefty to go and instead the Phillies kept him too. The Phillies are a bad team with old players and bad contracts. Instead of dumping the load and at least giving themselves a chance in the future, they kept their cards close and stayed quiet. I understand there is the waiver deals that can happen in August, but this was a chance to begin the unloading and the Phillies did nothing. Ruben Amaro Jr. has to be on his way out as the Phillies GM and maybe the next one will at least give this organization a direction because right now, I don’t think Ruben Amaro knows where this team is going.
Rays: The Tampa Bay Rays were my preseason pick to win the World Series and then injuries happened. They looked dead in the water and without hope. But Joe Maddon sprinkled his magic dust and this team came to life. They were playoff contenders again and in the hunt. But I understood getting rid of David Price because they probably can’t keep up with Oakland or Detroit or the Angels. But what they got in return is nowhere near enough. David Price is a Cy Young winner in his 20’s and was wanted by many teams. They could’ve held onto him, made a run this year, and dealt him in the winter meetings. Instead, they made a deal that I believe they are already regretting. I don’t get it, but I have learned to trust the Rays ability to develop young prospects so maybe they’ll prove me wrong with these two prospects.
So that’s it. The non-waiver trade deadline has past and boy was it exciting. The Athletics and Tigers made themselves the clear favorites in the AL while other teams made minor upgrades to try and keep up. All in all there were 12 deadline day deals between 18 teams. 37 players (minors and majors) were moved including 7 current or former All-Stars. In a time where baseball’s popularity is dying because it moves too slow, July 31st was as fast and furious as any day you’ll find in sports.