The NL Central was apparently tired of the West getting all the headlines. In matching moves at the top of the standings, the Pirates and Reds both shored up their teams for the playoffs.
The Marlins were the key in this, and another trade that I’ll cover in a second. The Marlins shipped struggling first baseman Gaby Sanchez to the Pirates for Gorkys Hernanzez and a competitive balance pick. In Pittsburgh, Sanchez will back up first base and be a good young bat that can come off the bench. It gives the Pirates a young player who can play well. He’s struggled, but succeeded in the past so this pick up was great for the Pirates. It’s a low risk/high reward move for the Pirates who continue to show that they are for real, not just this year, but into the future.
The other big NL Central move that happened was the Reds adding Jonathan Broxton to be a set up man in their bullpen. This move makes games a lot shorter for Cincinnati as Chapman is pretty much a shut down closer in the 9th and Broxton should have similar success in the 8th. The Reds are currently in first and playing some of the best baseball in the majors. The Royals have fallen apart and are trying to get value back for their valuable pieces. The last thing Royals fans want to hear is that they are re-building, but they are certainly not contending this season. At least they have their young core intact.
The defending champs in St. Louis have added Edward Mujica to their bullpen as they continue to chase the Pirates and Reds. They are 7 games back of the Cental title and in 4th in the wildcard race. Mujica is a solid bullpen veteran who will help out this team, but if the Cards are going to make any noise it will be with the guys they have. They got Mujica for former number 1 pick Zack Cox, who will be taking his talents to South Beach and the Marlins.
The Yankees made one more move, acquiring Casey McGehee from the Pirates to help hold down the hot corner until A-Rod returns from injury. In return, the Pirates get a veteran bullpen arm in Chad Qualls.
Conventional wisdom saw the Red Sox standing pat today after asking around about their players. They don’t want to just give guys away, but they also don’t like the clubhouse chemistry. In the end, they decided that they have talent, they just need them to play the way they are being paid to play and they will have a shot at a wildcard slot. So while they did make a move, it was a small one. They received Craig Breslow from the Diamondbacks for Scott Podsednik and Matt Albers. Breslow will be a lefty out of the bullpen. Podsednik was signed to help out while Ellsbury and Crawford were hurt, but with those two back he was expendable. He goes to help out an Arizona club that is likely going to be sitting at home in October. Being a fringe club is the hardest thing to be at this time of year, and the Diamondbacks didn’t want to mortgage the future for a short-term burst of life that very well may leave them short of a playoff spot. This trade gives them help in Podsednik and Albers, but leaves them in good shape. The big surprise out of Phoeniz was that Justin Upton wasn’t on the move. But he may be this winter.
And in the last minutes before the trade deadline we get another headline trade. The Texas Rangers finally add a pitcher. After losing out on Greinke to the Angels and seeing Hamels re-sign with the Phillies, the Rangers were running out of options. With the two top options gone, they weren’t interested in Josh Beckett, didn’t like the asking price for Matt Garza and Josh Johnson and were told that Felix Hernandez wasn’t on the market. They looked into Cliff Lee, but thought the contract was too expensive. They looked like they were gonna just sit on what they had, until Ryan Dempster agreed to think about other teams besides the Dodgers. After the Dodgers and Cubs couldn’t get a deal done, the Yankees were rumored to be interested in Dempster. But in the end, the Rangers got another solid pitcher to add to their starting roation and prepare them for the playoffs. They still feel like they don’t have that one game playoff ace, but hope it’s no longer a necessity with a starting rotation of Derek Holland, Yu Darvish, Roy Oswalt, Matt Harrison and now Ryan Dempster. The Cubs return was Kyle Hendricks and Christian Villanueva. Both players are young, but have high upside and will be important pieces in the Cubs re-building effort.
Other deals were rumored to be happening, but didn’t go through. The one with the best shot at going down was a trade that would send Joe Blanton to the Orioles. But alas they couldn’t work out a deal. Alfonso Soriano was rumored to go to the Tigers, but that was another one that didn’t make it. And while trades can still happen if a player passes through waivers, I think we are done with seeing players being shipped back and forth for a while. It was an exciting trade season. I’ll come back with a post of winners and losers at the trade deadline soon.