Winners and Losers of the 2016 MLB Trade Deadline
Every year, the trade deadline in baseball creates a great deal excitement, and this year was no different. In fact, it could be argued things got even more exciting this year, as opposed to year’s past. Some teams really stocked up for the present. Other clubs did what they could to improve their farm systems. Then there are the teams that had the chance to sell high, given the quantity and quality of prospects who changed addresses, but failed to capitalize on an opportunity to rebuild.
For the short term, the Texas Rangers absolutely made out on Monday. Considering this team is ahead six games on the Houston Astros, GM Jon Daniels may just have increased that lead by trading for Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress of the Milwaukee Brewers, and Carlos Beltran of the New York Yankees. Granted, this did not come cheap; they had to part with a couple of prospects. Pitcher Luis Ortiz and outfielder Lewis Brinson, one of the top prospects in the game, will head the other way.
Still, for a team that hasn’t won the World Series since 1961, they are in great shape for their best opportunity since winning back-to-back pennants in 2010 and 2011 and being one strike away a couple of times during the latter Fall Classic. Lucroy can hit for average and power, he’s been a two time All-Star, including this year, and finished fourth in the 2014 NL MVP standings.
Jeffress has been solid in previous years as a reliever, but this season he really capitalized on his first chance to be a team’s closer. While Sam Dyson has had a good season overall, he has lately dipped, though the good numbers persist. If Dyson continues to have trouble down the stretch, Jeffress could be a pivotal part of that bullpen. Jake Diekman has also looked good since being the other piece in the trade which sent Cole Hamels to Texas last year. It’s a job well done for shoring up the bullpen.
Then there’s the Beltran trade. While Dillon Tate has a lot of upside, he has done nothing but struggle in A Ball in 2016. This isn’t to say Tate can’t grow and get better; he certainly can. But the Rangers are serious contenders.
Beltran may be 39, but he’s not washed up. He made another All-Star team this year, his first since 2013, and is widely regarded as one of the best playoff performers in history. With a slash line of .332/.441/.674, he knows how to perform in meaningful games in October. He’s had sixteen homers and forty RBI in such games. Beltran’s postseason walks (35) outweigh his strikeouts (26).
The prospects Texas gave up might turn out to be really good players, but no one can justifiably criticize the Rangers for these moves, especially if they win the World Series for the first time ever this season.
New York Yankees
The Yankees may be giving up on this season, but they got some impressive pieces in return. Aroldis Chapman earned them Gleyber Torres, the former top prospect for the Chicago Cubs. Andrew Miller? While he stands a chance of pushing the Cleveland Indians far, even likelier since he’ll be under contract two more years, the Bronx Bombers picked up youngsters Clint Frazier, who’s in Triple-A and could debut later this year or 2017, and pitcher Justus Sheffield. Beltran? As mentioned, Tate is not having a good year, but the potential is there. One has to commend GM Brian Cashman for stockpiling prospects at different levels in minor league ball; all could play a big role for the Yankees going forward.
With all the deals the Yankees made, they managed to upstage the Brewers, but Milwaukee got some good stuff in return. In return for trading reliever Will Smith to the San Francisco Giants, right-handed prospect Phil Bickford heads to the Brew Crew along with backstop Andrew Susac, who has split time with the Giants and the minors in recent years. Between A Ball and High-A Ball, the 21-year-old Bickford has posted a 2.71 ERA, a 1.043 WHIP, and has averaged 10.2 strikeouts over 9 innings. It’s an even year, and the Giants most certainly have a good chance of winning their fourth World Series this decade, but the Brewers got a very talented young arm in return.
Brinson has spent 2016 in Double-A and has played as high as Triple-A, which he did so in 2015. He was rated as a top-20 prospect heading into the year. He has missed time and the batting average isn’t where people would like. Yet the power is there, with eleven homers and forty runs knocked in.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants do have a chance to win it all again, yes, but they’ve been on a skid lately and traded for some players with questionable numbers. San Francisco’s big splash was getting Matt Moore from the Tampa Bay Rays while sending Matt Duffy and prospects the other way to St. Petersburg. Moore was an All-Star in 2013, but in 2016 he’s posted a 4.08 ERA with a 100 ERA+ and 1.27 WHIP.
Then there’s the Smith trade. He’s appeared in just twenty-two innings so far in 2016, and he has a 3.68 ERA out of the bullpen. He’s been solid and durable in the past, so, like Moore, he’s capable of producing for the Giants.
The problem here is they are taking big risks in hopes of a big reward and, unlike Texas looking to pad its lead, the Giants are simply trying to get back on track and avoid being overtaken by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Entering play on Monday, San Francisco held a mere two game lead over their hated arch-rivals. It doesn’t help that July saw them go 11-13 for their first losing month since April, when they went 12-13. The Giants weren’t the biggest losers this deadline, but these trades could turn out poorly in the long term should San Francisco fail to go all the way this year.
Chicago White Sox
Sometimes the best trades are the ones which aren’t made. That cannot be said for the Chicago White Sox. Trailing Cleveland 10.5 games in the A.L. Central, both Chris Sale and Jose Quintana had come up in trade discussions. Chicago failed to move either one. Sure, Sale has a legitimate chance of finally winning the Cy Young this season after high finishes in years past, but what good has that done a ChiSox team that currently sits at 51-54? Trading him Quintana to a contender could’ve netted a nice package in return. Had they traded Sale to, say, the Boston Red Sox, imagine the plethora of talent the White Sox could have received in return for a pitcher of Sale’s caliber. Instead, they sat idle, blowing a golden opportunity to rebuild.