Tuesday, August 1, 2017

On Deck Circle 8/1/17: MLB Trade Deadline

By Pat Luhta, @PLuhta

MLB's trade deadline has come and gone, with some big pieces moving to title contenders along with some smaller moves made that could turn out to be just as important to teams.

The big news of the day centered around 2 starting pitchers, with the Yankees acquiring Sonny Gray from the A's and the Dodgers going down to the wire to land Yu Darvish from the Rangers at the last minute. The Yankees were linked to Gray for a few weeks and after the A's tried playing the field a bit, the two teams were able to reach an agreement. Oakland got a boat load in return, both Jorge Mateo and Dustin Fowler are top prospects that will bolster the A's farm system and the Yankees not only get Sonny Gray but didn't have to give up Clint Frazier or Gleyber Torres in the deal.
So this deal works out great for both teams, the Yankees are entrenched in a 3 way division race right now and did not give up either of their top 2 prospects while the A's get quality prospects as they look to reload their farm system during this rebuilding period. The Yankees, now with Sonny Gray and Jaime Garcia (who they got from the Twins earlier) gives them enough pitching to make a run for the World Series this season.

When the clock struck 4pm, no deal for Yu Darvish was announced and many assumed that the Rangers got cold feet and did not trade him. Shortly after, the news broke that Darvish did in fact get traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for 3 minor league prospects.
This is similar to the Yankees/Gray deal but even better really, the Dodgers kept their top 3 prospects and only traded 1 (Willie Calhoun) that ranked in their top 10. Alex Verdugo, Walker Buehler and Yadier Alvarez were not in the deal, the Dodgers kept their word that they would not trade them and still found a deal that got this trade complete. The Rangers wanted Verdugo in this deal, but Darvish's no-trade clause and dwindling starting pitching market hindered them greatly in finding a deal similar to what the A's received for Gray. Their hands were tied and it was either trade him to the Dodgers or don't trade him at all, they held out as long as they could but took the Dodgers' best offer as the trade deadline struck. MLB's best team, with a 74-31 record just added Yu Darvish to go along with Clayton Kershaw (once healthy) and Alex Wood, it's clear what the goal is for Los Angeles this season.

And watch out for the Kansas City Royals now, this team has been on a roll as of late and patched up some problem areas before the trading deadline. Their main acquisition was OF Melky Cabrera, who can provide some pop in the lineup and will be an upgrade in the field. A week ago, they also bolstered their pitching staff in a multi-player trade with the San Diego Padres, receiving starter Trevor Cahill and relief pitchers Ryan Buchter and Brandon Mauer. The deals haven't been a big splash but they are adding the necessary bits and pieces for a playoff run, they currently are the 2nd wildcard team with Tampa Bay close behind and they also trail the Indians for the AL Central lead by just 2 games.

Other trades that don't have that "sizzle" but could be a huge benefit to teams down the stretch include the Houston Astros acquiring Francisco Liriano. Liriano will be used out of the bullpen but could also make some spot starts as well which may be needed. The Astros starting pitching is starting to unravel a bit, Lance McCullers has been getting knocked around and is now headed to the DL and Dallas Kuechel was roughed up in his first start back from his DL stint. So Liriano could be in play here big time for the Astros as someone who helps keep the ship afloat while the pitching works itself out.

The Cubs got a little better as well, adding C Alex Avila and reliever Justin Wilson from the Tigers. The Tigers did not find a suitor for Justin Verlander as his contract and no-trade clause were deal breakers, but they did clean house a little bit by trading J,D. Martinez, Alex Avila(who is the son of Tigers' GM Al Avila, so yes he traded his own son) and Justin Wilson.

Jonathon Lucroy was on the move again at the trade deadline as he is headed to Colorado. Last season, he was initially traded to the Cleveland Indians but after not receiving a guarantee that he would be their catcher, he used his no-trade clause to block the deal. He was then later dealt to the Texas Rangers and now that the Rangers aren't contenders, he was once again traded to a contender.

Another under the radar deal would be the Boston Red Sox added Addison Reed. The Red Sox already have Craig Kimbrel as their closer so adding Reed to be the setup man puts them in a real good position come playoff time, when pitching really takes center stage.

So there's the run down on some of the bigger trades that have happened over the past couple days. A lot of contending teams bolstered their roster in order to make a run for the playoffs and at the World Series. There's still a waiver trade deadline coming up where some pieces will be moved, but this deadline is where teams really position themselves for October. If you are a fan of any of the teams mentioned above as getting better, then you should feel real good about how the trade deadline deals went and should be excited for how the remainder of the season should go.

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