On Deadline Day, a lot of trades make sense. We hear people say, "This is a great deal for both teams." But let’s be honest. Deals rarely are great for both teams. As with the games themselves, there are winners and losers. And so here is our annual ledger of those who traded well, traded poorly, or traded not at all.
- Jon Paul Morosi
LOSER: Washington Nationals
If the Nationals are serious about shutting down Stephen Strasburg (pictured) this fall, one would have expected them to acquire a starting pitcher as insurance. Instead, GM Mike Rizzo had a quiet deadline. The Nationals also declined to add an infielder despite shortstop Ian Desmond’s stay on the disabled list with an oblique injury. I realize the Nationals have one of the best records in baseball. But with such a young roster, some additional experience on the roster would have been an added benefit.
LOSER: Baltimore Orioles
As you probably know by now, the Orioles spent a substantial amount of time this week trying to acquire Joe Blanton (pictured) from the Phillies. When that deal crumbled, the deadline came and went without the Orioles making a significant move. And that was a shame, considering the Orioles’ need for pitching and the unexpectedly positive tone surrounding their season overall. Baltimore needed more significant July upgrades than Jim Thome and Omar Quintanilla in order to make a serious playoff push.
LOSER: Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays were one of baseball’s most active teams at the deadline, including a 10-player trade with the Astros in which they acquired J.A. Happ, Brandon Lyon and David Carpenter. But I have two issues with Alex Anthopoulos’ approach. One is that, despite making three notable trades, he didn’t acquire the No. 2 starter his rotation desperately needs. The other is that he dealt Travis Snider (pictured) – a potential everyday player – to Pittsburgh for a relief pitcher, Brad Lincoln.
LOSER: Cleveland Indians
I don’t know exactly what the Indians were offered for Shin-Soo Choo (pictured) – or by whom. But this seemed like the right time to move him, with the Indians’ playoff hopes fading fast and only one season left before Choo becomes a free agent. Instead, the Indians kept Choo and made a small deal for first baseman Lars Anderson, a Red Sox prospect who has fallen well short of expectations. Rather than find a bat for the future – or make a serious run at the wild card – the Indians effectively stood pat.
LOSER: Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox would have been wise to take advantage of a seller’s market by trading one of their disappointing starters, Josh Beckett (pictured) or Jon Lester. They didn’t. The time also seemed ripe to shuffle what has been an underwhelming everyday lineup. That didn’t happen, either. The Red Sox made one major-league move, acquiring left-handed reliever Craig Breslow from Arizona for Matt Albers and Scott Podsednik.
WINNER: Atlanta Braves
The Braves did their work before Tuesday’s frenzy, acquiring Paul Maholm (pictured) and Reed Johnson from the Chicago Cubs on Monday night. Maholm isn’t a big name like Ryan Dempster or Zack Greinke, but he has been one of the best starters in baseball the past month. And Johnson is an ideal right-handed outfield bat for a contender. Maholm and Johnson are precisely the type of players who should help the Braves avoid the second-half swoon that sullied their 2011 season.
WINNER: Philadelphia Phillies
Tuesday couldn’t have been easy for Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. After five division titles in a row, Amaro was a deadline seller for the first time as the team’s baseball operations chief. And he handled it well, getting right-handers Josh Lindblom and Ethan Martin from the Dodgers for Shane Victorino (left), then three players (including highly regarded catching prospect Tommy Joseph) from the Giants for Hunter Pence (right). The Phillies needed to pare payroll and restock their farm system. They’re finally doing it.
WINNER: Los Angeles Angels
If you believe Zack Greinke (pictured) was the most valuable player traded in July – at least, in terms of his performance over the rest of this season – then it’s hard to view the Angels as anything but a winner. GM Jerry Dipoto landed a premier No. 2 starter without surrendering promising center fielder Peter Bourjos, and the Angels have reason to feel confident in their ability to re-sign Greinke after this season. One flaw: The Angels were unable to upgrade their bullpen.
WINNER: Texas Rangers
The Rangers may not feel like winners after losing two starting pitchers to season-ending elbow surgeries this month (Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz). But Jon Daniels & Co. deserve credit here because they (a) kept the severity of Feliz’s injury quiet until after the deadline and (b) mustered their considerable resources to acquire Ryan Dempster (pictured) from the Cubs as a replacement. I’m not convinced this team will return to the World Series. But the Rangers have given themselves a reasonable chance at their third consecutive pennant
WINNER: Los Angeles Dodgers
They didn’t get Ryan Dempster, a setback that could fester for a team that had been banking on a rotation upgrade. But the Dodgers’ need for a starter could be addressed in August, if an expensive pitcher (Cliff Lee?) clears waivers. Apart from that, the Dodgers added two former All-Stars to the everyday lineup in Hanley Ramirez (pictured) and Shane Victorino, and fortified the bullpen (Brandon League and Randy Choate) without surrendering an elite prospect. The team’s new ownership has shown players and fans that it is serious about winning. That is laudable on its own.