1. New York Yankees
The Yankees were incredibly active this week, as GM Brian Cashman put forth yet another example of why he’s one of the best in the business. New York would have loved to have landed a legitimate number one starter, like the Mets’ Jacob deGrom, but that was never really all that realistic. Instead, Cashman was able to add J.A. Happ from Toronto to bring stability to a rotation that is the weakest part of the Bombers roster, while also acquiring arguably the top relief arm available, Baltimore’s Zach Britton, to help shorten the game and take pressure off the starters. Right handed hitting first baseman Tyler Austin was traded to the Twins for Lance Lynn, who will bring a versatile veteran arm to the pitching staff, and while Austin was a valuable depth piece for this team, the Bombers traded for essentially the same player, St. Louis’ Luke Voit, to offset his departure. Most impressively, the Yankees were able to do all this without moving any of their highly touted minor league talents.
2. Philadelphia Phillies
Philadelphia enters the stretch run in a tooth and nail fight with Atlanta for the NL East lead, and while they were not expected to be in this position in March, you have to give their front office credit for trying to capitalize on their situation. The Phillies made a heck of a run at the crown jewel of trade season, Orioles’ infielder Manny Machado, and while their pursuit ultimately fell short, they quickly pivoted to plan B. Philly landed infielder Asdrubal Cabrera from the Mets and catcher Wilson Ramos from Tampa Bay, two moves that will add length to an offensive attack which has struggled at times and also fortified their bullpen with southpaw Aaron Loup.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers would have been considered winners solely after acquiring Machado, whose presence alone makes them likely the favorites to repeat as National League champions. On deadline day though, LA further added to their depth, acquiring second baseman Brian Dozier from Minnesota and reliever John Axford from Toronto. Neither player represents a massive haul, but Dozier had been one of the better right handed before a down 2018, but Los Angeles hopes a change of scenery and being injected into a pennant race can help reignite him.
4. Atlanta Braves
I was intially critical of Atlanta’s inactivity in the days leading up to the deadline, particuarly with their competition for the division and wild card bulking up, but they changed that narrative with a flurry of late moves. The Braves first landed reliever Brad Brach from Baltimore, and while the righty has struggled for much of this season, he’s long been one of the better set-up men in the game, and getting out of the AL East and into a pennant race makes him a candidate for a turnaround. Atlanta then traded some of their peripheral depth, righties Lucas Sims and Matt Wisler, as well as outfielder Preston Tucker to Cincinnati for power, hitting outfielder Adam Duvall. While Duvall’s numbers in 2018 are quite a bit behind the pace that watched him blast 30 homeruns in each of the two prior seasons, he still boasts a plus glove and serious power, and he should end up starting every time Atlanta faces a southpaw. The Braves power move though was another swap with the Orioles, this time landing controllable starter Kevin Gausman (as well as injured reliever Darren O’Day.) In Gausman, the Braves are adding a right hander with a career 4.22 ERA, and while he isn’t a star he should slot into the middle of this rotation for the next few years.
5. Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles are currently a woeful 32-75, easily the worst record in the game, and quite obviously needed to seriously tear this thing down in an attempt to rebuild. And boy did they ever do that. Baltimore traded Machado, Britton, Gausman, Brach, O’Day, and second baseman Jonathan Schoop, and by most accounts, they did pretty well in the transactions. Outfielder Yusniel Diaz was the main piece to come back in the Machado deal, and he quickly becomes the best prospect in this system. For Britton, Baltimore was able to add righty Dillon Tate from the rivals in the Bronx, who had checked in as the Yankees’ 6th best prospect prior to the swap. In exchange for Gausman and O’Day they were able to add four young players (Two of which checked in on the Braves’ top 30 list) but more importantly, the O’s shed significant salary, particuarly in the injured O’Day. The return from Milwaukee for Schoop was even more inspiring, as while second baseman Jonathan Villar has failed to back up his ’16 season that watched him hit .285 with 19 homers and 62 stolen bases, he is unquestionaly a talented Major League asset that is under contract next year. In almost every one of their trades, the Orioles were also able to add significant bonus pool money to spend in international free-agency, which is valuable for a rebuild that promises to take some time.
1. Colorado Rockies
The Rockies enter play today in a three-way tie for the final wild card spot, and only a half game behind Arizona in a heated three team NL West race, but they did next to nothing to add reinforcements to their roster. Colorado was linked to several of the bigger names that were traded, but the only meaningful deal they were able to close brought right handed reliever Seunghwan Oh to Denver. They did add veterans Santiago Casilla and Matt Holliday on free-agent pacts, and while Holliday, in particular, could become a nice story after spending most of his career with the Rockies, there was a reason the pair was previously unemployed.
2. Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers were active, and thus is feels strange calling them losers here, but it just feels like a lot of the moves they made were like trying to fit square pegs in round holes. The biggest move Milwaukee made was trading for veteran third baseman Mike Moustakas, and while the former Royal is a legitimate Major League bat, this trade made little to no sense to me. The Brewers shipped outfielder Brett Phillips and pitcher Jorge Lopez to KC, both of whom were once highly touted prospects and still possess great potential, and their departure makes this trade look like a drastic overpay. Particuarly since Moustakas was not really needed here. The left handed slugger is currently hitting .248 with 20 homers and 62 RBI’s. Milwaukee’s current third baseman, Travis Shaw, is currently hitting an identical .248, also with 20 home runs, and 61 RBI’s, all while getting on-base with much more regularity. Upon making the deal the Brew Crew expressed Shaw will be moving to second base, a position he had never played in the big leagues, but then went out and added Schoop from Baltimore to fortify position number four defensively. So what exactly is going on here? Bringing in Joakim Soria will definitely help their relief corps, but the Brewers desperately needed a starting pitcher, and despite being linked to every single available arm, they failed to land any.
3. Houston Astros
The defending champions may be the biggest loser of all, and it actually has very little to do with on the field developments. Houston did add valuable set-up man Ryan Pressly from Minnesota and catcher Martin Maldonado from their rivals in Anaheim, but their entire deadline was tained by the acquisition of controversial Blue Jays’ closer Roberto Osuna. The 23-year-old has been one of the better relievers in the game since making his debut in 2015, but he’s currently on the restricted list following serious domestic violence allegations, something that could ultimately result in jail time. The Astros had plenty of talent as constructed to win the whole thing again this October, and certainly did not need all of the drama and critisicm Osuna will bring.
4. Boston Red Sox
The best team in baseball had very few serious needs this July, and while they added depth starter Nathan Eovaldi and second baseman Ian Kinsler, they neglected to upgrade arguably their biggest weakness. Late inning relief. Closer Craig Kimbrel has once again been great, but he could have used some help, and I felt Pressly, Keone Kela, or Jeurys Familia would have been perfect fits.
5. Oakland Athletics
The A’s were not expected to seriously compete for a postseason berth this season, yet here they are just a game behind Seattle for the last wild card spot in the American League. Oakland was feverishly looking to add a starting pitcher to bolster their rotation, an effort that ultimately proved futile. The Athletics to possess a dominant bullpen that they further added to with their only significant acquisition, Familia, but I still maintain their starting staff could have used reinforcements if they hope to surpass the Mariners and wreck some havoc in what promises to be a tremendously competitive AL postseason.
Baseline Times Contributor