Countdown to MLB Trade Deadline Part 1: The Deals Already Done
As the MLB non-waiver trade deadline is just two days away, I will be doing a three-part series on the lead up to the big day. Today, we are going to look at the deals which have been completed in the past couple of days and how they impact the playoff picture and the clubs still browsing the trade market.
Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers
The semi-annual Jeffrey Loria fire sale is officially underway, as the Marlins shipped superstar third baseman (nee shortstop) Hanley Ramirez and reliever Randy Choate to the Dodgers for pitchers Nathan Eovaldi and Scott McGough on July 25. Ramirez is currently batting only .252 with 15 homeruns, but he has a career OPS of .875 with 231 stolen bases. Although he is defensively challenged, HanRam is an offensive superstar who can hit for power and average, has tremendous speed, and is only three years removed from winning the NL batting title. If Ramirez can get his hitting back on track, he will help improve the NL’s fifth worst offense (3.94 runs per game, 2nd fewest homeruns), provide protection for Matt Kemp and help the Dodgers push for the playoffs. L.A. also gets Choate, a situational lefty who can be counted on to get tough left-handed hitters out during the stretch run.
With 2 years and $31.5 million left on his contract, the Marlins will save a lot of money by dumping Ramirez. The financial situation in Miami was desperate; after boosting their payroll to $118 million this year, Miami is 2nd last in the NL East and is averaging only 76% capacity attendance at their new park.
Eovaldi has put up some good numbers (2.74 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 8.4 SO/9) in AA, but has struggled in 21 appearances in the Majors. He should be a young, cost-effective member of the Marlins’ staff and could even blossom into a #3 starter. McGough is a young reliever in Single-A ball with unremarkable stats, and looks like he may never make the Show. It is still shocking that the Marlins were willing to move such a supreme talent for such a low price. The second place Dodgers are just one game behind the division-leading Giants and will be buying on deadline day, as their new ownership is clearly committed to spending money and making the playoffs.
Zack Greinke to the Angels
The Angels acquired Zack Greinke on July 27 for three minor-leaguers, as L.A. clearly felt the need to add another weapon to their pitching staff. The Angels have been passed by Oakland and are holding the second wildcard spot by only 1.5 games. Greinke is a great young pitcher, but he is not among the game’s elite. So much focus is placed on Greinke’s huge strikeout totals, but this is a pitcher who posted a 1.20 WHIP during 1.5 seasons in the weak NL Central. Aside from his breakout 2009 campaign, Greinke has posted numbers which belong to a #3 starter (career 3.79 ERA and 1.25 WHIP); the good news is that he is going to be a number 3 starter behind Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson in L.A.
The Angels didn’t give up much to get Greinke: Ariel Pena is having a good season in AA (sub-3.00 ERA, 8.7 K’s/9) and is a year or two away from being a mid-rotation starter in the Majors, while John Hellweg’s numbers in AA (3.38 ERA, 1.38 WHIP and 6.6 K’s/9) suggest that his future is as a fifth starter or long reliever. Milwaukee also got Jean Segura, a speedy, contact-hitting middle infielder in AA, who looks like nothing more than a future bench player.
Greinke is a free agent at season’s end, so this is a cheap rental by the Angels to try to push them into the playoffs. However, his addition is not going to be enough to help the Halos win the NL West. The Angels need to boost their offence and not their rotation, as they already boast the AL’s second-best team ERA (4.00), but their hitting attack (4.5 runs/game) is barely above the AL average. The Halos have deep pockets, so look for them to add a big bat or two at the deadline to complement their outstanding pitching staff.
The Not-so-Big Deals
Sanchez and Infante to the Tigers
The first dip into the Marlins’ clear-out bin actually occurred on July 23, when Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante were scooped by Detroit for three minor leaguers. If you look at Sanchez’s last four seasons with the Marlins (cumulative 3.76 ERA, 8.1 K’s/9), is there that much separating this guy from Zack Greinke? Despite these stats, Sanchez makes $5.5 million less per season than Greinke for no conceivable reason other than that he is not loved (or known) by the media the same way Greinke is. Sanchez gives up a ton of hits, but he should be an effective third or fourth starter as the Tigers try to make-up 2.5 games on the AL Central leading White Sox. Infante returns to the Tigers, where his career .713 OPS and his defensive prowess will make him the new starting second baseman.
The Marlins Discount Store receives AA pitcher Brian Flynn and AAA catcher Rob Brantly, neither of whom will be anything more than roster filler in the Show. The Fish also get 21 year old pitcher Jacob Turner, who has a 3.07 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP in 14 Triple-A starts, and looks like he might have a future with Ariel Pena in the back of the Marlins’ rotation.
Liriano to the White Sox
On Saturday, the White Sox “bolstered” their rotation by trading bench player Eduardo Escobar and a minor league pitcher to the Twins for Francisco Liriano. The only nice thing I can say about Liriano is that I once drafted him in my fantasy baseball pool. He was just as useless in fantasy baseball as he is in real life. But when you strike out nearly a batter per inning, big league clubs will continue to give you chances even when you have posted a combined 1.47 WHIP and 5.20 ERA over the past two seasons. Chicago may actually be the only team which has gotten worse as the result of adding a player via trade.
Part 2 of this series will tomorrow discuss some of the players who are on the trade market.
…and that’s the last word.