Yesterday, we broke down the moves from the MLB Trade Deadline in the American League. Today, we are taking a look at the National League. We hope you enjoy our breakdown!
The San Diego Padres
The Padres held onto Joaquin Benoit and Ian Kennedy while trading Denorfia. I don’t really understand the strategy, especially in this insane market for pitching, but at least they good return on Denorfia after selling incredibly low on Chase Headley a couple of weeks ago.
The Washington Nationals
Asdrubal Cabrera is a solid addition to the Nats infield, but not a difference maker. He’ll likely slide into second base, hit for a little pop and play adequate defense (hopefully) while Anthony Rendon covers third base to cover Ryan Zimmerman until at least September. If this is more than a rental, I’ll be surprised, but good on the Nationals for getting the Indians to pay all of Cabrera’s remaining salary.
Zach Walters isn’t a throwaway player, though, just someone with a lot of power and questionable defensive skill. It’s worth noting that he turned a corner in AAA with regard to getting on base, drawing as many walks this year in 60 games as he did last year in 134. This is one of those deals that could be a head scratcher in a few years, but Walters got his chance to be part of the solution for the Nats earlier this year and didn’t sparkle, so they take a “Win Now” approach as the leaders of the NL East and get someone who can contribute now.
The St. Louis Cardinals
The need for pitching was there for the Cards thanks to the loss of Michael Wacha, but I have slight sticker shock over the price that they paid for these additions. Justin Masterson is a rental who may wind up in the bullpen now that they’ve added John Lackey. I just don’t see him being worth the cost of James Ramsey with the way that he has struggled on the mound this season.
As for the acquisition of Lackey, Allen Craig had been a steady bat for the Cardinals in the past, so it’s a shame that it has to end this way, but as the David Freese trade proved in the off-season, this front office won’t be sentimental when a player fails to maintain his consistency. Could Craig bounce back in Boston? I’d almost bet on it, and Joe Kelly is a young pitcher who has been a solid swingman for the Cards. They’re selling low on Craig and too fast on Kelly, but if John Lackey can pitch like a middle of the rotation starter for the rest of this year and next year, under the league minimum option that was triggered in his contract when he missed 2012, the Cards will get a significant benefit out of this.
Verdict: In the Middle
The Houston Astros
I don’t understand why the Astros felt a pressing need to unload Jared Cosart, a promising 24 year old starter who is three seasons away from arbitration, but they got a nice haul for him, 22 year old major league shortstop Enrique Hernandez and outfielder Austin Wates in the form of third baseman Colin Moran, outfielder Jake Marisnick, pitcher Francis Martes, and the Marlins’ 2015 compensation pick.
Moran and Marisnick (who was a big part of the Blue Jays/Marlins trade that sent Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle up north a couple of years ago) have high ceilings and the comp pick means that the Astros will have three early picks next year in the draft and a lot of slot money, but at some point, all these prospects have to turn into major leaguers and those major leaguers need to stay in Houston, or else what’s the point?
Verdict: Winner… I guess
The Miami Marlins
Cosart’s youth and decent ceiling make this seem like a worthwhile add for the Marlins as they cling to their faint wild card hopes, but it’s really hard to understand why they would trade last year’s first round pick and a near first round pick (the comp pick) for Cosart. It’s just wild to me that Tom Milone can cost Sam Fuld and Jared Cosart can cost this king’s ransom.
The Atlanta Braves
The Braves added a couple of complimentary pieces in lefty reliever James Russell and utilityman Emilio Bonifacio, who has been killing left handed pitching this season. These are the pieces that a contender picks up, but the cost was exorbitant relative to the gain.
Simply put, I imagine it’s hard for the Braves to know where the ceiling is for Victor Caratini, a 20 year old switch hitting catcher with only a year in their system. Their second round pick last season, Caratini might one day grow into a very valuable piece, far more valuable than a fringey LOOGY and a utility man.
Verdict: In the Middle
The Chicago Cubs
All praise to Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein for their continued prospect hoarding after the Oakland deal. I said this with O’Brien and I’ll say it with Caratini, the Cubs got a lotto ticket and they didn’t pay much for it.
The Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks didn’t quite shed as much as I thought they would, but Peter O’Brien is a nice piece to be free of Martin Prado, whose $10 million dollar salary would have been very hard on Arizona over the next two years, especially if he continued to decline.
The Diamondbacks also traded away Gerardo Parra, a historically great defender who is still under team control for the next two seasons, but Parra’s (already diminutive) slugging numbers are on the decline and there’s no everyday spot for him in the Brewers outfield. For the luxury of a very good fourth outfielder, the Brewers traded Mitch Haniger (a top outfield prospect for the Brewers) and an A-ball level left handed starter named Anthony Landa. That’s just too much for someone who won’t affect your team on a regular basis, especially when Haniger could, in short order, be someone who could contribute as a fourth outfielder at the big league level.
The Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers are in the driver’s seat in the NL Central, so I understand the desire to be bearish and they definitely have a need to replace Logan Schafer, but they paid a premium price for a player that is far from premium. It’s kinda wild how much fourth outfielders with a good defensive reputation can get on the market right now.
I’m also a little surprised that the Brewers didn’t try to upgrade their rotation, but there always waiver wire deals and I wonder if the Brewers might make something happen in August to improve the staff.
Final Thoughts From Both Leagues
So, those are the teams that made deals, but there are others who stayed on the sidelines.
Of the non-mover/shakers, I’m most surprised by the Pirates, Royals, Dodgers and Blue Jays, but there are always August waiver wire deals and the notion that, sometimes, doing nothing is better than doing something.
All in all, I feel like the A’s and Tigers put themselves in the best position to succeed this year and the Red Sox and Diamondbacks are probably in the best position to grow positively from these deals in the future. I like the Orioles restraint because I like their starting pitching more than most and the Yankees did what the Yankees do. I think Tampa let a golden opportunity slip through their hands and the Cardinals pulled the plug too early on Allen Craig and Joe Kelly.
As for individual deals, I’m most impressed by the kinds of deals where you give up a little to get something that might be a lot… eventually. So I’m giving the golden cup to the Twins for the Milone deal, but if Jon Lester re-signs with the Red Sox and Oakland doesn’t win the whole damn thing, that will be a deal that people talk about for a long, long time.
As is the case with all things sports related or otherwise, we shall see how the future unfolds, but I’m pretty sure the Cubs won’t win it all.
Sources: Baseball reference for all statistics and MLBTradeRumors.com for all transaction details.