The MLB trade deadline winners and losers (column)
It’s Christmas in July, aka the non-waiver trade deadline.
We break down the winners and losers by division after Tuesday, July 31’s deadline passed.
The Dodgers picked up Manny Machado at the All-Star Break and added Minnesota’s Brian Dozier on Tuesday. My one question is pitching for Los Angeles. Theoretically, the Dodgers will go into the postseason with the same rotation as last year — Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood, Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda with some Walker Bueller and Ross Stripling thrown in — and that didn’t win it against Houston. Of course, no Yu Darvish is addition by subtraction, but, after Kershaw, who has checkered postseason history, who scares you?
Yes, the Diamondbacks and the Rockies are close behind the Dodgers, but both teams have had every opportunity to run and hide while L.A. was in a coma earlier this season.
The Cubs took a flier on Cole Hamels. Meh. With Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana and Mike Montgomery as a playoff rotation, they were already deep sans Darvish or Hamels.
Meanwhile the Brewers picked up third-baseman Mike Moustakas, second-baseman Jonathan Schoop and a closer/reliever in Joakim Soria. Have you looked at the Brewers rotation? Jhoulys Chacin is the ace? In what universe can this team win a wild-card game/make a deep run with Chacin as an ace?
The Pirates may have gotten the deal of the day in nabbing Chris Archer from Tampa Bay. Pittsburgh’s played its way back into the playoff hunt, and Archer could help the Bucs make the playoffs this year. He also has a team-friendly contract that could help the Pirates in the next few years.
Cubs still win this division.
No one made huge moves here, which is a telling commentary. The Phillies and Braves, who have led the division for most of the year, are ahead of schedule on their respective rebuilding programs and didn’t feel the need.
The Nationals jettisoned reliever Brandon Kintzler to the Cubs, but apparently did consider dealing Bryce Harper. First, by not adding anyone, are the Nats tacitly acknowledging that they’re not going to get it done this year?
Second, they are dancing a delicate number by floating Harper as trade bait. If the Nationals have any hope of signing Harper, then you have to be careful he isn’t offended by the rumors.
The Astros made a splash by picking up Roberto Osuna from Toronto, His talent is not questioned; his background is. Having been suspended 75 games this season for domestic violence, Osuna seems an odd fit for Houston, a franchise that has expressed a “no-tolerance” policy for player involved in such issues.
A lot is being made of this possibly disturbing clubhouse harmony and how it’s a bad look — and the latter is true. If he pitches well, then there will be no issue internally. Remember how the Cubs acquired Aroldis Chapman, 30-game suspension for domestic violence, in 2016, and they went on to win the World Series for the first time in 108 years?
Cleveland added a few parts, and will still win this division.
The arms race continued with the Red Sox and Yankees. Boston picked up Nathan Eovoldi from Tampa and Ian Kinsler from the L.A. Angels. The Yankees retaliated with pitchers J.A. Happ, Lance Lynn and Zach Britton.
Assuming that Boston starter Chris Sale’s trip to the disabled list is brief, the Red Sox still have the edge here, but Boston’s and New York’s wheeling and dealing brings up the biggest issue in baseball.
Are some teams even trying?
The Baltimore Orioles are 32-74 and 42 games behind Boston as of this writing. The O’s are six weeks out of first place. They could be mathematically eliminated from the race by Aug. 15.
Kansas City is 32-73. There’s tanking, which, say teams like the Padres, Reds, Marlins, White Sox, Rangers, and Tigers are doing, and then there’s not even giving a rat’s rear end.
It is not good for baseball to have two teams — Baltimore and Kansas City — to be on pace for 49-113 seasons.
Since the Cubs and Astros, the last two champions, were tear-downs, tanking has become all the rage. But this is bordering on the ridiculous. This will have to be addressed come the next negotiation of the sport’s collective bargaining agreement in 2021.
In the meantime, enjoy the pennant races and we’re sticking on Cubs and Astros in the Fall Classic.
Every person who has ever strapped into a board owes a debt of gratitude to Burton.