The trade deadline brought more activity than normal because of the elimination of the waiver deadline on August 31st. Evaluating winners and losers takes time, but that won’t stop us from giving our immediate opinions on the night of the deadline. Of course, there are buyers and sellers and in many instances the sellers actually win the deadline. We won’t really focus on them this time around. If you are a buyer you have two primary objectives. First, you want to solifiy your roster to make it to the postseason. Secondly, you want to swing some sort of deal that will change the landscape once you get to October. Hopefully, you can pull off both. We will try to focus on one winner per division and one loser per division.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays didn’t make any knock out moves, but teams in their financial situation rarely ever do. They did add a couple of interesting relievers in Trevor Richards and Nick Anderson. Both have some considerable upside that could provide some matchup problems in October. The biggest prize just might be Jesus Aguilar. He was a force last season in Milwaukee, but has struggled so far this season. If he can rediscover his stroke he could be the game changer the Rays need to advance in October. They also acquired Eric Sogard earlier in the week. Like the relievers, he isn’t a game changer, but gives them more quality depth.
The Red Sox won’t make the losers list, but they have to come away disappointed. Andrew Cashner is a nice addition, but they really needed some bullpen help to make a serious run. They have enough offense to possibly muscle their way through October, but they needed more pitching to solidify their chances.
Trading away your best established pitcher is usually not a good strategy for a contender, but they added Franmil Reyes and Yasiel Puig in the process. The Indians simply didn’t have the offense to make a deep October run. They were poised to make a run at the division with what they had, but they weren’t going to go far in October. They still might not, but if Danny Salazar rediscovers his previous magic and if Corey Kluber comes back they could have enough offense to have a punchers chance.
The Astros had an eight game lead before the deadline, so none of their deals were needed to get to the playoffs. Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole gave them the best one two punch in baseball already. Adding Zack Greinke makes them the prohibitive favorite to win the World Series. Adding Joe Biagini and Aaron Sanchez gives their pitching staff some interesting depth as well. The various deals effectively made their farm system a lot thinner. Yes, they didn’t give up Kyle Tucker or Forrest Whitley, but those might be the last two good prospects left. As they say at the poker table, the Astros are going all in.
New York Yankees
With all apologies to Terrence Gore, the Yankees did nothing. I don’t think their starting pitching will be nearly as bad as it has been in the last week. After all, you can possibly get by with a three man rotation in a short series. Yet, they don’t have a single front line starter capable of beating what the Astros, Rays, or Twins can throw out there. Sure, the Yankees will be dangerous when they get Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez back. Throwing those guys in with Luke Voit, Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, and D.J. Lemahieu make the Yankees one of the deeper lineups in baseball. Wednesday was their chance to stem the tide on the mound. They didn’t.
Sometimes a team can lose out on a moment. The Twins are a surprise team this year and they had an opportunity to capitalize on their strong start. They didn’t make any bad deals. Sergio Romo and Sam Dyson will help their pen, but they could have added a frontline starter or a closer. They have a number of good relievers, but they don’t have a hammer for the ninth inning. Outside of Jose Berrios they don’t have a frontline starter.
I don’t think the Athletics did bad themselves in and around the deadline. All of their moves made sense and they make them marginally better, but none of them are game changers. The Athletics aren’t catching the Astros, but they could make some noise as a wild card. Even if they make it the playoffs at this point they are probably one and done.