DEADLINE DEALS REVIEWED: Red Sox and O’s Match Up on Deal As Red Sox Re-Tool Roster
Yesterday’s MLB Trade Deadline saw a flurry of action as teams still in play for the playoffs made push on top of push until it seemed everyone was at risk of being traded. For purposes of keeping this under a billion words we’ll focus on the Red Sox and Orioles. If you want a rundown of what happened, visit MLBTradeRumors.com.
The Red Sox did what many expected them to do at the deadline and that was move their assets to playoff bound teams. What we didn’t expect was what they got in return. The Red Sox did something not often seen in baseball as they moved major league talent for major league talent. In the first trade the swapped All-Star for All-Star. The Red Sox swapped workhorse Jon Lester and bearded brother Jonny Gomes to the Oakland A’s for Yoenis Cespedes. It’s a move that benefits both teams as the A’s get another front line started for the playoffs and the Red Sox get a power hitting outfielder who should fit nicely into left field for the next year and a half. The Red Sox will have first crack at determining whether or not they want to keep him long-term, which given his skill set in Fenway Park, may be a good idea. Lester should give the A’s a formidable rotation in the playoffs and Cespedes will give the Red Sox some more punch to their lineup, which is desperately needed.
The new Red Sox:
The Red Sox then spun John Lackey to the Cardinals for SP Joe Kelly and under performing 1B/ OF Allen Craig. Lackey gives the Cardinals another horse on their staff to go with an already solid group that added Justin Masterson the day before. The Cardinals are all in over in the NL and parting with a guy who fell out of the rotation after an early season injury and a guy who just a few years ago was an All-Star but has fallen off tremendously this year wasn’t a big deal. The Cards are one of the very best run organizations in the league as they rarely make a bad decision in player personnel and always have a player waiting in the minors, ready to take the place of a player moved in a deal. For the Red Sox, getting Kelly and Craig is a move for 2015. Kelly basically replaces Felix Dubront, the aggravated lefty moved to the Cubs a few days earlier. Kelly will probably slot into the 5th starter roll and get a chance to earn a spot for next year. He’s young, cost controllable and has shown the ability to pitch in the past. If he falters, he can become a bullpen guy or move on. Craig is a bit of a wild card. Over the prior 2-3 years, Craig absolutely raked. He was one of the better hitters in the NL, leading to the Cardinals locking him up long term. Then this year happened and he became expendable. Craig’s power has been sapped and he’s not a “hit for average” kind of guy. Fenway should be a welcomed spot for this guy if he can get hitting again. The problem is there’s not really a spot for him on this roster. The outfield now looks like this – Cespedes, Bradley Jr., and Victorino, and Papi and Napoli have held down the 1B/DH positions all season. While it’s never a bad thing to have depth, this may truly be a 70 game tryout for Craig to see what he can do and see if he can provide value to the Red Sox next year and beyond. Remember, Papi and Napoli aren’t on the books forever and Craig can be kept through 2018 if they exercise his option.
Finally, the Red Sox matched up with the Orioles to provide the only play the O’s would make leading up to the deadline. I wish the O’s had done more: added a starter or added another bat, but they didn’t. Instead they acquired Andrew Miller, the hard throwing, lock down bullpen lefty, from the Sox. It’s a nice addition for the O’s as they add another piece to a bullpen that typically gets overworked. This looks an awful lot like last year when the O’s chose not to add impact pieces and just added K-Rod to their bullpen. Nice addition but probably not enough to really improve. For the Red Sox, they picked up the Orioles #3 prospect and interesting arm Eduardo Rodriguez. He’s a prospect but a decent on who will provide depth for an already strong stable of arms at the minor league level for the Sox. It’s a nice haul for a guy who’ll be a free agent at the end of the year.
For the Orioles, this seems like the same old story. They’re engaged in a lot of talks but in the end they don’t make a move because they’re too afraid of shipping off their “can’t miss” prospects because of “what might happen.” It’s not a bad strategy but one that will probably end in a loss in the ALDS or even worse, missing the playoffs (they’re only 1.5 games up in the AL East.) While their colleagues went out and upgraded across the field, the O’s stood pat with a replacement level 1B (Steve Pearce,) their All-Star 1B unable to shake off a bad season (Crush Davis,) and a 2B platoon that looks little league level. There were players they could have acquired. Asdrubal Cabrera went to the Nats for a MI prospect, Martin Prado could have been had, and Marlon Byrd and others were available. AJ Burnett looked like a really good fit for the O’s staff. Instead, the O’s will rely on the guys that have got them here. That would be fine except the Tigers, A’s, Yankees all bolstered their teams by adding multiple pieces and appear stronger as we head toward the last third of the season. Does it mean the Orioles are doomed, no, but they should have done more in an attempt to win.
The Red Sox added real value and I kept thinking yesterday afternoon if this team was better now than it was prior to the trades. The real answer is no because they lost two very good starting pitchers, but the MLB talent they added along with an interesting pitching prospect is enough for me to at least consider it. They’ve put themselves in a positive position moving forward and if they can bring Lester back and add a few pieces this team will be right back in the thick of things.
Winners: Red Sox, A’s, Tigers, Cardinals, Yankees
Losers: Phillies, O’s, Brewers, Blue Jays, Rays (for this year)
Honorable mention: The Mariners made two quieter moves Thursday to bolster a dreadful outfield. They acquired Chris Denorfia, who will provide depth, but then snagged Austin Jackson from the Tigers. Their offense and outfield defense gets better immediately and they only gave up Nick Franklin, someone who is talented but blocked, to get Jackson. Let’s see how that turns out.