The 2013 MLB trade deadline didn't give us much excitement as anticipated. Only the three-team deal between the Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox provided some sizzle. This year's deadline dash may be more memorable for who wasn't traded and which teams didn't make a move.
But we did get some action in the days and hours leading up to the 4 p.m. deadline on July 31. A couple of playoff contenders made significant additions that should push them into the postseason and perhaps all the way to the World Series. Other teams, however, failed to fill glaring holes on their rosters. That might make the difference between making the playoffs or advancing as far in the postseason as hoped.
Taking into consideration that moves can still be made before Aug. 31 if players pass through waivers, these are the winners and losers of the 2013 MLB trade deadline.
Winner — Detroit Tigers: Did any contender fill its needs better than the Tigers? The bullpen has been a season-long issue for Detroit, though Joaquin Benoit has settled the closer question. That left a hole in middle relief, however, and GM Dave Dombrowski filled it by Jose Veras from the Houston Astros. Veras provides another hard-throwing strikeout threat in the bullpen and someone who can help out in the ninth inning, if needed. As a possible additional bonus, Veras could take over as closer next season if Benoit leaves via free agency.
But the Tigers also came through with perhaps the biggest surprise of the trade deadline in acquiring Jose Iglesias from the Boston Red Sox. Many analysts wondered if Detroit would try to cover itself against a possible PED suspension for shortstop Jhonny Peralta. Dombrowski upgraded the defense at that position, which will make the Tigers pitching staff even better, but also provided a shortstop for the next five years.
Loser — Texas Rangers: The Rangers may lose outfielder Nelson Cruz to a 50-game PED suspension as a result of MLB's Biogenesis investigation. Yet unlike the Tigers, Texas didn't pick up any insurance for that loss. A right-handed bat — preferably in the outfield — was a need even with Cruz in the Rangers lineup. With players like Alfonso Soriano, Alex Rios and Michael Young available, the options were there for GM Jon Daniels. However, he didn't get that bat. Perhaps he can do so before the Aug. 31 waiver trade deadline.
Texas did, of course, bolster its starting rotation by nabbing Matt Garza from the Chicago Cubs. Garza was arguably the best starting pitcher on the trade market, and provides the Rangers a strong top starting three with Yu Darvish and Derek Holland. But did Daniels need to get one more starter or will Texas be covered at the back end of its rotation if and when Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis return from injuries?
Winner — Boston Red Sox: Picking up another starting pitcher was a priority for GM Ben Cherington, and he got the best one available in Jake Peavy. Some Boston fans may have wanted Cliff Lee — and the Red Sox were probably the only contender that could have landed him — but Peavy was acquired without giving up a top prospect like Xander Bogaerts or Jackie Bradley Jr.
While getting more bullpen help was less of a concern than it may have been a few weeks ago, the Red Sox added depth with Matt Thornton. Brayan Villarreal could also provide a power reliever later in the season.
Getting Peavy did cost the Red Sox Iglesias, but the team is covered for the future at shortstop. Third base is a question mark, but Boston may be able to fill that need internally with Brock Holt, Will Middlebrooks or Bogaerts. If not, Cherington can still work to get some third base help before Aug. 31.
Loser — Pittsburgh Pirates: Everything is going well for the Bucs right now. They've won four in a row over the St. Louis Cardinals and could complete a five-game sweep on Thursday. That's given Pittsburgh a 2.5-game lead in the NL Central.
But the Pirates failed to address a key need at the deadline by not picking up a bat, preferably a right fielder. Rios may have been too expensive, both in terms of what the White Sox may have asked for in return and the remaining money left on his contract. Yet cheaper options like the San Diego Padres' Chris Denorfia may have been available as well.
Should the Pirates have looked to upgrade at shortstop? While Alexei Ramirez would have been too pricey, Erick Aybar could have been an improvement over Clint Barmes and Jordy Mercer. Pittsburgh could also have bolstered the back end of its starting rotation with someone like Bud Norris or even Jason Vargas.
Not making a significant addition at the deadline last year angered some in the Pirates clubhouse. Could those feelings bubble up again if Pittsburgh falls behind the Cardinals and Reds in the NL playoff race?
Winner — Baltimore Orioles: Perhaps no playoff contender was more aggressive in making moves than the O's. Bud Norris and Scott Feldman fortify the starting rotation, and Francisco Rodriguez provides another live arm in the bullpen. GM Dan Duquette didn't have to give up a top prospect like Jonathan Schoop or Kevin Gausman to acquire those reinforcements either. (Though the argument could be made that Baltimore overpaid a bit for Rodriguez.)
Finding someone to fill the designated hitter role would have been nice for the Orioles as well. But Baltimore has scored the fourth-most runs in the AL, so perhaps adding more offense wasn't viewed as a priority. That does give Duquette something to explore leading up to the waiver trade deadline, however.
Loser — New York Mets: The Mets won't finish last in the NL East, thanks to the Miami Marlins, but fourth place looks like a strong possibility for them. Maybe they can overtake the Phillies for third place, but so what?
Under those circumstances, why hold on to a player like Marlon Byrd with the demand for right-handed hitting outfielders so strong among playoff contenders? Granted, the Mets have to play someone in their outfield, but why not create the opportunity for a younger player or pick up a prospect that might help in the future?
This also applies to reliever Bobby Parnell. Perhaps GM Sandy Alderson believes that trading Parnell would leave the Mets without a closer for next season. But contenders are always looking for bullpen help, and Alderson probably could have received the biggest return here.
Winner — Chicago Cubs: With Matt Garza and Alfonso Soriano, the Cubs had two big pieces that could help playoff contenders this season. Team president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer picked up some quality prospects that bolstered the depth of the minor league organization and could make major league contributions in the future.
But the Cubs showed more savvy in signing veterans such as pitcher Scott Feldman and outfielder Scott Hairston to short-term contracts and flipping them to other teams in exchange for younger talent. It's something of a surprise that Epstein and Hoyer didn't push this even further and deal away Nate Schierholtz or Kevin Gregg. But both players could still be moved before the waiver trade deadline. (And Schierholtz might be worth keeping around as he's under club control for next season and won't be very expensive.)
Loser — Philadelphia Phillies: How did GM Ruben Amaro Jr. not trade Michael Young? Young reportedly may have handcuffed the Phillies by only accepting a deal to the Rangers. But as the trade deadline neared, reports had Young also willing to go to the Red Sox or Yankees. The Phillies even seemed to prepare for Young's departure by calling up third baseman Cory Asche. Yet Young is still with Philadelphia.
Cliff Lee is someone else Amaro could have traded, but the market for him was limited. If a blockbuster deal that yielded a load of prospects wasn't available, Philadelphia is better off holding on to him. The Phillies could use him to lead their starting rotation, especially with Roy Halladay's return in question.
Yet this team could very well finish fourth in the NL East this year. Is it really worth keeping Chase Utley, Jonathan Papelbon or Carlos Ruiz around for that? The organization desperately needs an influx of young talent. As popular as those veterans are, shouldn't they have been used to bring in some help for the outfield, starting rotation and bullpen?
Winner — Chicago White Sox: This is a little bit of a tough call. The White Sox probably should have traded off more pieces at the deadline, such as Alex Rios, Jeff Keppinger and even Adam Dunn or Alexei Ramirez. But GM Rick Hahn did trade Jake Peavy and got some prospects in return. Trading Jesse Crain to the Tampa Bay Rays could yield some young talent too.
The question, however, is whether or not the White Sox got enough in exchange for Peavy. Avisail Garcia (acquired from Detroit) could be a starting outfielder for years to come. Yet none of the minor leaguers received from the Red Sox were among their top 20 prospects. And all of them are so young that it's difficult to project whether or not they can help in the future. But at least Hahn stockpiled some possibilities.
Loser — Seattle Mariners: Joe Lucia covered this last week, but it's worth repeating the point. Much like the Phillies, the Mariners have little to look forward to for the rest of this season, other than a third- or fourth-place finish in the AL West. With that in mind, shouldn't GM Jack Zduriencik have traded away veteran players that won't make much difference this year nor have an impact on the team's future?
Michael Morse's injury did Zduriencik no favors, unfortunately. But Kendrys Morales would have been a good fit for a number of playoff contenders, including the Yankees, Orioles, Rays and Rangers. The same applies to Raul Ibanez. Tom Wilhelmsen and Oliver Perez could have helped many teams' bullpens. Joe Saunders is the type of pitcher that could have been flipped, much like the Cubs did with Scott Feldman.
Zduriencik took a shot at respectability this season by bringing in stopgap hitters to boost run production. It didn't work. The Mariners should have moved on and used the players mentioned above should have been used to bring in more young talent.
Winner — San Diego Padres: Getting Ian Kennedy might seem like a shoulder shrug of a trade. The Padres aren't in contention, so why make an addition at the trade deadline? Shouldn't they have traded Huston Street or Luke Gregerson? What about Carlos Quentin? But San Diego needs starting pitching badly and Kennedy is two years removed from winning 21 games with a 2.88 ERA.
More importantly for a smaller-market team like the Padres, Kennedy has two more seasons of arbitration eligibility, putting him under team control through 2015. Though Kennedy will get raises — and probably significant ones — over the next two years, he'll still be less expensive than whatever might be available on the free agent market.
Loser — Arizona Diamondbacks: How often does a contender trade away a starting pitcher? The D-Backs are only 2.5 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West. Yes, the Dodgers are playing extremely well and appear to be asserting themselves in the division. But Arizona is right behind them and in contention for the NL's second wild-card playoff spot as well.
Ian Kennedy is not having a good season, compiling a 3-8 record and 5.23 ERA. But pitchers who can throw 200 innings do have value and Arizona has had enough injuries in its starting rotation to warrant keeping Kennedy around for insurance against that. However, as the Arizona Republic's Dan Bickley wrote, the D-Backs may have tired of Kennedy throwing at hitters and starting brawls. His salary will also increase over the next two seasons.
GM Kevin Towers did get the left-hander his bullpen needed in Joe Thatcher, and minor-league reliever Matt Stites could help out in the future. And perhaps the D-Backs could afford to trade a starter with Brandon McCarthy and Trevor Cahill set to return. Additionally, Tyler Skaggs could rejoin the rotation by September. Yet this is still a curious move for a team that has a chance at the playoffs.