Trade deadline winners and losers
The Texas Rangers were the big winners for significantly improving their bullpen
The Braves, Giants, Phillies, Cardinals, Rockies and Indians are also winners
The Nationals, Red Sox, Cubs, Yankees, Royals, Reds and Twins lead the losers
It's a funny trade deadline day when it's almost as much about who didn't get traded as who did. Padres continuing closer Heath Bell, who told the world there was a "99 percent chance'' he'd be traded (and frankly, all of us in the media nodded along), stayed in San Diego, only to see his bullpen colleague Mike Adams go to Texas in the very trade to Texas that was supposed to be for Bell. B.J. Upton stayed in Tampa Bay. And Wandy Rodriguez stayed in Houston. And Denard Span and Drew Storen stayed with the Twins and Nationals, respectively.
But of course, some big players did move, and some contenders did strengthen themselves. Here is a look at all the winners, and a few losers, of the trade deadline.
1. Rangers. Their one weakness was the bullpen, and they turned it into a terrific strength with the addition of Koji Uehara and especially Adams. A case could be made that Adams is even better than Bell, and his contractual situation certainly is since he can't be a free agent until after 2012, unlike Bell, whose deal expires this year. The Rangers gave up the very two prospects -- Double-A pitchers Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland -- that San Diego originally sought for Bell. Adams (5.44) and Uehara (7.75 with Baltimore) both have incredible strikeout-to-walk ratios and should instantly transform the Rangers' bullpen into one of the better ones in the game. The Rangers also avoided a closer controversy by not acquiring Bell. Struggling closer Neftali Feliz remains on that spot, but should he falter, they have Adams to take over. They also made a spirited attempt for Carlos Beltran, but he preferred staying in the National League and going to the Giants.
2. Braves. The Braves needed speed and a centerfielder, and they got both in Michael Bourn, a terrific young man who should also enhance the clubhouse. Atlanta gave up four prospects, including three pitchers, but they managed to improve the team without touching the vaunted "big four'' of Julio Teheran, Mike Minor, Randall Delgado and Arodys Vizcaino.
3. Giants. Carlos Beltran is exactly the middle-of-the-order bat the reigning World Series champions had to have. They gave up a big pitching prospect in Zack Wheeler. But they have pitchers. And Beltran is perfect for a lineup that needed some punch and consistency. They stayed with a defensive catching duo, as they didn't especially want to chance derailing their vaunted pitching staff. So that made sense. The shortstop market was weak beyond Rafael Furcal, and it would have been something if they could have pried Furcal away from their rival Dodgers. Orlando Cabrera, a winner, will help though.
4. Phillies. Hunter Pence received a hero's welcome in the Philadelphia clubhouse, and why shouldn't he? He is exactly the righthanded hitter and right fielder the World Series favorite needed. Domonic Brown is expected to become an excellent player, but he didn't look ready in his callup, especially defensively. Another drawback: he is lefthanded, like most of the big bats in the Philly lineup. Pence is the player the Phillies most wanted (though they did make a late run at Beltran) because he's righthanded, accomplished and under team control for two more years.
5. Cardinals. Surrendering the multitalented Colby Rasmus comes with a big risk. The move was widely criticized but it did net them talented starter Edwin Jackson and useful bullpen pieces Mark Rzepczynski and Octavio Dotel. Rzepczynski will be a big help in retiring lefthanders, a weakness for this club. As long as Kyle Lohse's finger is OK, Kyle McClellan can stay in the bullpen, giving them more help vs. lefties and yet a third closing option to go with Fernando Salas and Dotel. Rafael Furcal is a better shortstop than Ryan Theriot, who's really a good-hitting second baseman.
6. Rockies. They weren't kidding about trading Ubaldo Jimenez, as it turns out. And while that obviously is a gamble since he showed the ability to be a No. 1 starter last year, they did acquire two big-time pitching prospects and two others from Cleveland for him, making it worthwhile. Drew Pomeranz in particular has the potential to become a top-of-the-rotation starter. Alex White is another highly-rated one. Their brilliantly cheap contract with Jimenez allowed them to make such a trade. They couldn't find deals for Ty Wigginton, Rafael Betancourt, Ian Stewart or anyone else, but the one they did make was worthwhile.
7. Indians. GM Chris Antonetti has to get credit for his moxie and guts in giving up a big prospect like Pomeranz. He's going to take a lot of hits from fans who love prospects. But that Jimenez contract -- he's due just $4.2 million next year and has a club option for 2013 at $5.75 million -- makes him much more valuable than you'd think. And while the Indians don't really look like a World Series threat from here, they have already injected unexpected life into the city. And you never know. If Jimenez can recapture his 2010 magic, this could be an interesting ride for the Tribe.
8. Pirates. They added two professional hitters in Derrek Lee and Ryan Ludwick without surrendering anything of note to either the Orioles or Padres. Neither player is having a great year, but Lee might be better back in the National League, and Ludwick will be better away from Petco Park.
9. Brewers. Francisco Rodriguez fortified the back of their bullpen, giving them a second very good closer. The incumbent John Axford continues to do an excellent job, as Milwaukee looks like a very slight favorite over St. Louis in a tight NL Central. Jerry Hairston provides infield-outfield depth.
10. Mariners. They needed to trade Erik Bedard, and he didn't help them with his brief and wild showcase on Friday. But GM Jack Zduriencik managed to unload him, anyway, in a deal that netted them talented outfielder Trayvon Robinson and excellent hitter Chih-Hsien Chiang. Bedard loves Seattle so he may just be on a stopover in Boston. The M's also got top third-base prospect Francisco Martinez, lefty Charlie Furbush, outfielder Casper Wells and what was said to be a significant player to be named later (a high draft choice from last year) in the deal that sent Doug Fister and David Pauley to Detroit.
11. Blue Jays. Toronto landed Rasmus, who should become a star, in a three-team deal with the Cardinals and White Sox, mostly for relievers and the money it took on with Mark Teahen. Whether or not the trade turns into a home run, it furthered the legend of Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos.
12. Diamondbacks. The surprising Diamondbacks enhanced their already improved pitching staff by adding solid starter Jason Marquis and effective reliever Brad Ziegler.
13. Mets. Prying Zack Wheeler, a big-time arm, from the Giants made the sale worthwhile for them. With Matt Harvey already in their system, the Mets now have two of the better righthanded pitching prospects in baseball. They felt they needed to unload Francisco Rodriguez in a hurry, before new agent Scott Boras discovered his no-trade clause, which included Milwaukee and wasn't submitted.
14. Orioles. Chris Davis, who came from Texas for Uehara, has a chance to become a solid everyday player with a full-time chance in Baltimore. He looks like another Mark Reynolds, with big power and good defensive ability; he will play first base, though he's capable of playing third. Righthander Tommy Hunter has a chance to help their dreadful pitching situation.
15. Tigers. Fister helps the back end of the rotation and Pauley gives them nice bullpen depth. Wilson Betemit was an offensive upgrade over the struggling Brandon Inge.
16. Dodgers. They were pleased to acquire catching prospect Joe Federowicz in the three-way Bedard deal and also added two more nice pieces, outfielder Alex Castellanos and pitcher Stephen Fife, over the weekend. The Dodgers didn't trade to shed money, but their rare days of selling were attributable to previous payroll shedding, which put them in an unwanted position. The best acquisition, of course, would be a new owner. But that may take awhile.
17. White Sox. They saved a lot of money (about $9 million) by finding someone to take disappointing Mark Teahen in the trade where they got righthanded reliever Jason Frasor, who should take a lot of pressure off the oft-used Jesse Crain.
18. Padres. They did get the two prospects they sought, Erlin and Wieland, but had to give up Adams to do so. They should get some nice draft choices for Bell if they don't re-sign him to an undermarket deal. Pitchers Aaron Harang and Chad Qualls didn't get many hits.
19. A's. They got Brandon Allen in the Ziegler trade, another young powerful bat. But it seems odd they are still holding outfielders Josh Willingham and Coco Crisp, free agents after the year.
1. Nationals. They never got the centerfielder they sought, though they tried hard for Denard Span and at least two others (B.J. Upton and Bourn were on the market). As in past years, they mostly eschewed selling even though they are a non-contender. This one wasn't quite as bad since they weren't holding Adam Dunn or Alfonso Soriano (who at the time were good players when Washington chose not to deal them). But the Nats kept Todd Coffey, a useful middle reliever this time, and bizarrely even traded minor leaguers for Jonny Gomes. They did deal solid starter Jason Marquis. So at least that made sense.
2. Red Sox. It's hard to put one of the smartest teams in baseball on the loser board because they needed to add to their starting pitching depth with the lingering back trouble of Clay Buchholz and they were disallowed by their doctor from taking Rich Harden due to his medicals. But Bedard has nearly as much of an injury history as Harden, and it's hard to imagine him fitting comfortably in Boston, a baseball and media hotbed. Reports out of his previous stops suggested issues with the media, so this ought to be interesting. Two caveats: He is extremely talented, and it is a short-term try as he's a free agent at year's end.
3. Cubs. They were in a bad spot with untradeable contracts (Carlos Zambrano, Alfonso Soriano) and no-trade clauses (Aramis Ramirez, Kerry Wood). But it's hard to explain why they didn't actively seek to trade Marlon Byrd or especially Carlos Peña, who is a free agent at year's end. The Pirates would have been happy to taken Peña, although they probably wouldn't have given much beyond salary relief. The Braves could have been a spot for Byrd. It seems like one big happy family on the North Side of Chicago, with players wanting to stay and the front office wanting to keep everyone. But this is two straight underachieving seasons.
4. Yankees. They were handicapped by the worst starting pitching market in years, but they came up with no one for the first time since 1998, when their team was already close to perfect. They rebuffed Colorado's request of Dellin Betances, Jesus Montero, Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes by offering Hughes in a much, much lesser package, which either reflected their lack of real interest in Jimenez or their annoyance at Colorado for declining their request to examine Jimenez. They offered the Astros to pay $21 million of the $38 million remaining on Wandy Rodriguez's contract but were rebuffed. One piece of positive news: Freddy Garcia continues to fool 'em. They don't seem anxious to get back in on Rodriguez after he presumably clears waivers and appear to be hoping for top prospect Manuel Banuelos to maybe make an impact this year.
5. Royals. They have a lot of terrific young players coming. But nobody explained why they felt they needed to keep both Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur. Both outfielders have had nice years in K.C., but neither is a star. There wasn't much interest in pitchers Jeff Francis or Bruce Chen. Betemit brought back something, at least.
6. Reds. They were caught in an odd spot, with terrific prospects but only on the cusp of the playoff race after a hugely disappointing first half. At times, they appeared to be looking at leadoff hitters. But other times, it looked like a bigger bat they sought. They tried a bit on Jimenez but also looked at the Padres relievers. No harm, no foul, no gain.
7. Twins. Another limbo team. They engaged in a several-day stare-down with the Nationals over the Span-Storen trade but did nothing else of note.
8. Astros. The Astros did the right thing trading Pence and Bourn, using them to rebuild their core. First base prospect Jonathan Singleton is praised for his plate discipline, pitcher Jarred Cosart is seen as very talented and most of the players they received from the Braves should also play in the majors. It would have been better had they been able to trade starting pitchers Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers. The issue with Rodriguez was a contract that had $38 million remaining on it. The Yankees offered to pay $21 million of it, but the Astros said no. Had they not extended Rodriguez in the winter, they could have traded him easily. They may be stuck, too, as the Yankees don't seem to want to try again after he clears waivers (the Indians and Jays were only interested as part of three-ways). Embattled general manager Ed Wade also would have been better off not issuing comments to Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle blaming the previous regime for their tough spot. While some may be nodding in Houston, it is very poor form to blame the previous guys.
9. Angels. They did nothing again at the deadline. But lucky for them, they do a lot better on the field than the phones.
10. Marlins. They decided they need to be overwhelmed for any of their many useful pieces, as they want to bring their young talent into their new stadium next year. Can't really blame them for that. But it made for a dull deadline day.
11. Rays. They are still holding a lot of nice young pieces due to their overall terrific job. But Upton didn't turn out to be all that coveted as a trade-deadline piece. He should work better as a winter target. There apparently was no market for DH Johnny Damon. And their attempts for Rasmus didn't work. Credit GM Andrew Friedman for working through an appendectomy the night before the deadline, though. That's amazing.
How can Kansas overcome the injury to Joel Embiid?
Boomer: When it comes to NFL free agents, buyer beware