Yesterday’s MLB trade deadline was as exciting as trade deadlines get. Big time players were consistently moved throughout the day, and several contenders did everything in their power to give themselves the best chance to win the World Series. Here are the winners and losers from yesterday.
3. Boston Red Sox
If anyone wants to take a class for how a seller should act at the MLB trade deadline, just watch what Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington pulled off yesterday. Cherington recognized Boston wasn’t winning anything in 2014, and he realized that negotiations with the team and Jon Lester weren’t where they needed to be at this time. In response, Boston traded Lester (and Jonny Gomes) to the A’s for Yoenis Cespedes. All you can say is wow that the Rex Sox were able to acquire a middle of the order, perennial star player in return. Now, Boston will have one of the games purest raw power hitters hitting behind David Ortiz next season. You also have to factor in that Lester is going to be a free agent at season’s end, and he could easily return to the Sox which would mean Cherington would have traded Jonny Gomes for Cespedes and Lester. If Lester comes back to Boston, this could go down as the biggest steal of a trade in recent memory. The Red Sox also shipped John Lackey away and got Allen Craig and Joe Kelley in return. Craig was having a down year with St. Louis after hitting above .300 in each of the last 3-seasons. If Craig can show that 2014 was just a blip on the radar screen, the Sox will be in business.
2. Oakland A’s
If you thought when the Oakland A’s traded for Jeff Samardzija Billy Beane was going for it all, you didn’t know that he would also end up with one of the game’s best big game pitchers at the trade deadline in Jon Lester. As presently constituted, the A’s rotation is flat-out scary. Lester game 1, Samardzija game 2, Sonny Gray game 3, and Scott Kazmir game 4, good luck beating this team in a 7-game series. Losing Cespedes hurts, but Beane also brought in Sam Fuld from the Twins and Jonny Gomes from Boston to help fill the void. Fuld has a higher on-base percentage than Cespedes, and Gomes can turn on a fastball. The A’s now gave 2 of the games best pitchers sitting at the top of the rotation, and with offenses being as inefficient as they’ve ever been, the A’s are now set up to make it to the World Series for the first time since 1990. Billy Beane just better hope the offense doesn’t disappear on him after this though.
1. Detroit Tigers
For most of the trade deadline, it appeared the Oakland A’s would be the clear cut winners. But with about 10 minutes remaining, in came the Detroit Tigers who saw what the A’s did, and did them one better. Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski brought in David Price, arguably the most talented pitcher in the American League, for mid-rotation guy Drew Smyly, the inconsistent Austin Jackson, and 18-year-old shortstop prospect Willy Adames. I can’t imagine Dombroski was reluctant to move Smyly and Jackson, but giving up Adames, who has a very high ceiling, was the deal breaker. When it comes down to it, the Tigers made the move they had to make, and they could have (and probably should have) had to give up a ton more. You have to wonder if the Rays panicked when they traded Price. But none of that matters for the Tigers who now arguably have a better 1-2 punch than Oakland with Price and Max Scherzer. Add Justin Verlander to that group, and the Tigers now have the last 3 AL Cy Young winners in its rotation. On top of that, Detroit didn’t give up a middle of the order bat and the team gets to keep Ian Kinsler, Victor Martinez, and Miguel Cabrera. Billy Beane may be going for it all, but the Detroit Tigers might have just jumped ahead of the A’s.
3. Jim Bowden
The cover up is always worse than the crime. Jim Bowden learned that lesson the hard way. Of all the sports writers yesterday, no one had a worse day than ESPN’s and Sirius XM’s Jim Bowden. It started when a fake Joel Sherman account tweeted that the Yankees traded for Marlon Byrd. Moments later, Bowden tweeted that the Yankees had acquired Byrd going off what the take Joel Sherman tweeted.
Instead of admitting his mistake and apologizing, Bowden went all Richard Nixon on everyone. Bowden paniced, changed his avatar and twitter handle hoping that no one would notice his mistake, and he later just deleted his whole account in shame. Now, his account is back, but it’s under the handle @JimBowdiv and the name under the account says “Ralph”. Seriously. And to think that all of this could have been avoided if he just admitted his mistake…
2. Tampa Bay Rays
The Tampa Bay Rays messed up big-time yesterday. This is a first guess. The Rays were the hottest team in the American League, getting closer and closer to a playoff spot. But for some reason yesterday, traded its best pitcher David Price when he wasn’t going to be a free agent until after the 2015 season for an 18-year-old prospect. Even if the Rays came to the conclusion that they couldn’t re-sign Price, there was absolutely no need to rush to trade him now. They could have stuck with him and made a playoff push, and then trade him over the off-season or at next July’s trade deadline. With this move, the Rays have thrown up the white flag when the team had no reason to.
1. Philadelphia Phillies
Attention Ruben Amaro Jr., the Philadelphia Phillies are going nowhere. The core of Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Jimmy Rollins is way over the hill, and it isn’t a winning trio. The fact the Phillies didn’t trade Jonathan Papelbon or Cole Hamels yesterday is a disgrace. This team isn’t all of a sudden going to go back to being a contender over night, and the Phillies are going to continue to get older and older and will continue to become more and more mediocre. After seeing what the Red Sox got for Jon Lester, the Phillies could have easily gotten a king’s ransom for Hamels and started the re-building process. Instead, the Phillies are going to continue being irrelevant for years to come.