Author: Matthew Pouliot

Tim Hudson

Who will make up the next wave of Hall of Fame starters?


Tim Hudson’s retirement has me thinking about what we’re going to be looking at for new starting pitching Hall of Famers a few years down the road… just how many and maybe who should go in from the group that’s debuted the last 15 years or so.

But we need some perspective first before trying to figure that out. We’re working on a remarkable stretch in which five starting pitchers have been elected to the Hall of Fame on their first ballots these last two years. On the other hand, no starting pitcher who retired in between Nolan Ryan in 1993 and Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux in 2008 has been elected.

So, let’s look at the Hall of Fame starting pitchers of the last 50 years. Right now, there are 17 of them whose prime years started in 1966 or later. I’ve broken them down by 10-year timeframes, starting with 1966-75, and also listed other pitchers still receiving or deserving of consideration. Each pitcher is slotted into the timeframe in which he was most valuable.

Bob Gibson 82 WAR, 127 ERA+ in 3,884 IP
Catfish Hunter 37 WAR, 104 ERA+ in 3,449 IP
Fergie Jenkins 83 WAR, 115 ERA+ in 4,501 IP
Juan Marichal 62 WAR, 123 ERA+ in 3,507 IP
Phil Niekro 97 WAR, 115 ERA+ in 5,404 IP
Jim Palmer 68 WAR, 125 ERA+ in 3,948 IP
Gaylord Perry 94 WAR, 117 ERA+ in 5,350 IP
Tom Seaver 106 WAR, 127 ERA+ in 4,783 IP
Don Sutton 69 WAR, 108 ERA+ in 5,282 IP

Tommy John 62 WAR, 111 ERA+ in 4,710 IP
Jim Kaat 45 WAR, 108 ERA+ in 4,530 IP
Luis Tiant 66 WAR, 114 ERA+ in 3,486 IP

Obviously, this is the big group, from a time in baseball history in which excellent hurlers were able to rack up huge inning counts. The result was nine Hall of Famers, plus three more guys who still receive support.

Bert Blyleven 97 WAR, 118 ERA+ in 4,970 IP
Steve Carlton 84 WAR, 115 ERA+ in 5,218 IP
Nolan Ryan 84 WAR, 112 ERA+ in 5,386 IP

Jack Morris 44 WAR, 105 ERA+ in 3,824 IP
Rick Reuschel 68 WAR, 114 ERA+ in 3,548 IP
Dave Stieb 57 WAR, 122 ERA+ in 2.895 IP

Here it thins out, and we see the makings of the 1980s drought; the three HOFers here were all at their best in the 1970s. Morris is the only true 1980’s pitcher with a chance of being elected. The BBWAA turned him down, but it’d be a surprise if he doesn’t sail in through the Veterans Committee.


Roger Clemens 139 WAR, 143 ERA+ in 4,917 IP
David Cone 62 WAR, 121 ERA+ in 2,899 IP
Bret Saberhagen 59 WAR, 126 ERA+ in 2,563 IP

And now we have no Hall of Famers from this decade, if only because of Brian McNamee and the steroid allegations against Clemens. Of course, Maddux was also a huge part of this era, though he was slightly more effective in the following one.

Tom Glavine 74 WAR, 118 ERA+ in 4,413 IP
Randy Johnson 104 WAR, 135 ERA+ in 4,135 IP
Greg Maddux 105 WAR, 132 ERA+ in 5,008 IP
Pedro Martinez 86 WAR, 154 ERA+ in 2,827 IP
John Smoltz 67 WAR, 125 ERA+ in 3,473 IP

Kevin Brown 69 WAR, 127 ERA+ in 3,256 IP
Mike Mussina 83 WAR, 123 ERA+ in 3,563 IP
Andy Pettitte 61 WAR, 117 ERA+ in 3,316 IP
Curt Schilling 81 WAR, 127 ERA+ in 3,261 IP

The recent surge. We have five Hall of Famers here and two guys who should join them eventually in Mussina and Schilling.

So, obviously, we don’t have any sort of even distribution when it comes to starting pitchers and the Hall of Fame. 14 Hall of Fame starters debuted in between 1955 and 1967 and then none debut in between 1971 and 1985 (or 1983, if you want to include Clemens). From this upcoming 2006-15 group, there’s no way to start right off and say that history dictates three or five or seven of these guys should eventually go in. And we also have to reconcile that these candidates just aren’t going to get the chance to match the inning and win totals of the great ‘70s pitchers.


Mark Buehrle 60 WAR, 117 ERA+ in 3,276 IP
Zack Greinke 48 WAR, 122 ERA+ in 2,087 IP
Roy Halladay 66 WAR, 131 ERA+ in 2,749 IP
Cole Hamels 45 WAR, 124 ERA+ in 2,005 IP
Felix Hernandez 50 WAR, 128 ERA+ in 2,262 IP
Tim Hudson 57 WAR, 121 ERA+ in 3,124 IP
Clayton Kershaw 47 WAR, 154 ERA+ in 1,607 IP
Jon Lester 35 WAR, 120 ERA+ in 1,793 IP
CC Sabathia 55 WAR, 117 ERA+ in 2,984 IP
Johan Santana 51 WAR, 136 ERA+ in 2,026 IP
Justin Verlander 44 WAR, 122 ERA+ in 2,105 IP

That’s 11 names. I just wanted to list the candidates clearly more than halfway to Cooperstown, so I left off Max Scherzer, David Price, Madison Bumgarner and younger options.

What we have here is one guy shaping up as an inner-circle Hall of Famer in Kershaw, one more should-be certainty in Halladay and a third guy who just needs to survive as a quality pitcher into his mid-30s in Hernandez.

Some might question my opinion of Halladay, given the rather short career. However, he was far and away baseball’s best pitcher in a 10-year span from 2002-11. He racked up 62 WAR in those seasons, whereas the next best guys were Santana at 50 WAR and Sabathia at 48. He won two Cy Youngs and had cases for two more. He’s clearly in for me.

Santana is the tougher call. I value peak more than longevity, and he had a run as baseball’s best pitcher before Halladay overtook him. He practically lapped the field in a five-year span from 2004-08, racking up 35 WAR. The next high totals were Brandon Webb at 27 and Roy Oswalt at 26. That 35 WAR matches Kershaw’s total during his current incredible five-year run. So, yeah, when the time comes, I’ll make a case for Santana and the Hall of Fame. I don’t think he has much of a shot, though.

Then we have Greinke, Hamels and Verlander. Whereas King Felix has already had all of the big seasons he needs for a strong case, those three are going need more years of Cy Young contention in order to sway future voters. Greinke and Hamels seem like the better bets right now. Some may scoff at Hamels, but he’s just 31 and he’s second to Kershaw on the WAR list over the last five years.

Lester could be a special case. He has a long way to go by the numbers, and he’d seem to be a weaker bet than Greinke and Hamels going forward. However, he’s already pitched for two World Series winners (with a 3-0 record and a 0.43 ERA in World Series play), and he seems well set up for more chances at postseason heroics over the next several seasons.

That leaves us with the Buehrle-Hudson-Sabathia group. Buehrle, incredibly enough, is the active leader in pitching WAR, even though he’s never had a season with a sub-3.00 ERA and he’s received Cy Young votes just once in his career, that when he finished fifth on the 2004 ballot. The lack of greatness figures to cost him in the end, particularly since it doesn’t appear that he’ll try to hang on and continue to eke out wins into his 40s.

Sabathia looked like a future Hall of Famer three years ago, but his case has taken a huge hit since. Through age 31, he had 191 wins and a 125 ERA+ in 2,564 innings. In the three years since, he’s won just 22 more games with a 4.85 ERA that’s knocked his career ERA+ all of the way down to 117. What we’ll need to ask was whether the greatness that came before was sufficient. He won a Cy Young and turned in four other top-five finishes. There’s not really any span in which he was baseball’s best pitcher, but for seven years from 2006-12, he was a close second to Halladay. His postseason track record is mixed; he came up big in 2009 when the Yankees won the Series and he’s 9-5 overall, but that comes with a 4.53 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP. Sabathia is pretty much the borderline Hall of Fame candidate for me.

How about Hudson? He has a better ERA+ and more innings than Sabathia. His best seasons came when offense was at its peak, making them look less impressive. It also doesn’t help that he was still competing with the likes of Johnson and Martinez in his prime; his best five-season run of 27 WAR from 2000-04 places him a distant fourth behind those two and Schilling. Hudson is rather like a lesser Mussina, and while I mean that in a good way, it certainly doesn’t bode well for him that Mussina himself can’t get elected.

Fortunately, we have plenty of time to think about these things. Sabathia and Hudson might look like better or worse candidates a few years from now, depending on how pitchers like Greinke, Hamels, Lester, Scherzer and others progress. Maybe it shouldn’t matter, but it does. No one was making cases for pitchers like Cone and Brown while such obvious Hall of Famers were winding down their careers.

When things are said and done, I’d like to think that at least five pitchers from the above group wind up in Cooperstown. If I had to guess, I’d go Kershaw, Halladay, Hernandez, Hamels and Greinke. Still, I hope the cases of Sabathia and Hudson aren’t quickly dismissed.

Can we talk about how awesome of a season Bryce Harper is having?

Bryce Harper

After seeing a column today suggesting, of all things, that Yoenis Cespedes should be the NL MVP, it occurred to me that some might not realize just how outstanding Bryce Harper has been this year. Let’s recap a little bit.

– Harper is currently in line for the sabermetric triple crown, leading the NL in average (.333), OBP (.465) and slugging (.640). There are several challengers in average, and Joey Votto could still overtake him in OBP. The slugging title would seem to be wrapped up, though.

– His .465 OBP would be the highest mark for a batting-title qualifier since Chipper Jones came in at .470 in 2008 (Votto finished at .474 in 2012, but he played in just 111 games).

– Harper’s .640 slugging would be the highest mark since Albert Pujols finished at .658 in 2009.

– His 1.106 OPS would be the top mark since another Pujols season in 2008 (1.114). He’d join Pujols as the only other player to finish above 1.100 in the last 10 years.

– His 198 OPS+ (adjusted for league and ballpark) would be the highest mark in either league since Barry Bonds’ 2004 campaign.

– He leads the NL in runs scored at 101.

– He leads the majors at 8.7 rWAR. That’s a higher total than anyone finished with last year, even though there’s 24 games left in the Nationals’ season. Prorating his current figures gives him 10.2 WAR, which would be the highest total for an NL player since Bonds finished at 10.6 in 2004 (Mike Trout came in at 10.8 in the AL in 2012).

Harper’s season is set to go down as one of the five greatest for someone 22 or younger in the history of the game. Here are some single-season leaderboards, using players only 22 or younger (must qualify for the batting title).

.552 – Ted Williams 1941 (22)
.465 – Bryce Harper 2015 (22)
.463 – Jimmie Foxx 1929 (21)
.458 – Mel Ott 1930 (21)
.449 – Mel Ott 1929 (20)

.735 – Ted Williams 1941 (22)
.673 – Joe DiMaggio 1937 (22)
.640 – Bryce Harper 2015 (22)
.637 – Jimmy Foxx 1930 (22)
.635 – Mel Ott 1929 (20)

235 – Ted Williams 1941 (22)
198 – Bryce Harper 2015 (22)
193 – Ty Cobb 1909 (22)
179 – Mike Trout 2013 (21)
177 – Stan Musial 1943 (22)

There aren’t any flukes on those lists. Harper is currently 11th on the rWAR list for 22-year-olds and younger, but he’s on pace to finish third. Everyone around him went on to have a Hall of Fame-type career.

10.8 – Mike Trout 2012 (20)
10.6 – Ted Williams 1941 (22)
9.9 – Rogers Hornsby 1917 (21)
9.8 – Ty Cobb 1909 (22)
9.7 – Eddie Collins 1909 (22)
9.4 – Alex Rodriguez 1996 (20)
9.4 – Stan Musial 1943 (22)
8.9 – Mike Trout 2013 (21)
8.8 – Rickey Henderson 1980 (21)
8.8 – Dick Allen 1964 (22)
8.7 – Bryce Harper 2015 (22)
8.5 – Alex Rodriguez 1998 (22)
8.3 – Eddie Mathews 1953 (21)
8.2 – Cal Ripken 1983 (22)
8.2 – Al Kaline 1955 (20)
8.2 – Joe DiMaggio 1937 (22)

None of this is an MVP argument as much as an appreciation. Trout has spoiled us the last few years, but for sheer firepower, he hasn’t matched what Harper is doing right now. Unless you were lucky enough to have witnessed Ted Williams 74 years ago, you’ve never seen a 22-year-old hit like this.

The Marlins are screwing over one of their players… again

Marcell Ozuna

When the Marlins demoted starting center fielder Marcell Ozuna on July 5, it made some sense. Sure, they had no one to replace him, but he was in a lengthy slump and 10-14 days in Triple-A might have been just the thing to restore his confidence at the plate.

And it was. Ozuna hit .325 with two homers and four doubles in his first 10 games back in the minors. But he wasn’t recalled.

Two weeks later, Ozuna is still rotting away in Triple-A while the Marlins play Christian Yelich out of position in center and Cole Gillespie, Ichiro Suzuki and recently Derek Dietrich in the corners. Ichiro played in 24 games and got 77 at-bats last month, hitting .195/.250/.234.

Ozuna has kept producing through all of this, hitting .314/.372/.558 in 24 games in Triple-A. It’s really hard to imagine that he’s not one of the Marlins’ three-best outfielders right now. Even his disappointing major league line of .249/.301/.337 features an average, an OBP and a slugging percentage better than Ichiro’s.

But, of course, the Marlins have reasons to keep Ozuna down. Financial reasons. Money reasons. Jeffrey Loria reasons. See, Ozuna entered the 2015 season with one year and 153 days of service time, practically assuring that he would be super-two arbitration eligible if he remained in the majors. That’s not going to happen now. If he were recalled today, he’d already be a long shot to qualify for super two. If the Marlins wait another week, it’s a given that he’ll miss the cut off.

So, they’ll wait another week.

Ozuna’s continued presence in Triple-A is all about saving Loria a buck. His free agency timetable hasn’t changed, but losing out on that fourth year of arbitration will probably cost him $5 million-$10 million over these next few years. That’s apparently enough to make it worth it for Loria. He hasn’t even gotten the kind of negative publicity for it that he might if he were holding back a top prospect instead (oddly enough, the Marlins rarely hold back top prospects for service time considerations, which is why they get themselves into such situations later).

I do wonder, though, if this will really pay off for Loria in the long run. Ozuna is a Scott Boras client. Jose Fernandez is a Boras client. Lots of good players are Boras clients. Spiting him to save a couple of million per year doesn’t seem like the greatest of ideas.

2015 MLB Trade Deadline Tracker

Detroit Tigers v Seattle Mariners

Find all of the completed deals right here through Friday afternoon’s trade deadline.

July 31

Mets acquired OF Yoenis Cespedes from the Tigers for RHP Michael Fulmer and RHP Luis Cessa

After backing out of the Carlos Gomez deal and flirting with Jay Bruce, the Mets still managed to pull off deadline day’s biggest deal, bringing in Cespedes in the midst of one of his best surge’s as a major leaguer. It’s not an ideal fit — a true center fielder would have been better — but it will give the offense quite a lift, even if Cespedes doesn’t offer much in the way of OBP. It will be interesting to see how the Mets try to get by with either Curtis Granderson or Cespedes in center. Ideally, Juan Lagares would start hitting and those two could stay in the corners. Lagares, though, appears to be too banged up to contribute. Expect him to take a backseat so that Michael Conforto can continue to start in left for now.

The Tigers did well to get Fulmer here. He has all of the makings of a No. 3 starter or perhaps even a No. 2, and he should be ready to help next year. Cessa has been a career starter in the minors, but he probably projects better as a reliever in the majors.

Blue Jays acquired OF Ben Revere from the Phillies for RHP Alberto Tirado and RHP Jimmy Cordero

The Phillies got two of the Blue Jays’ hardest throwers back for Revere, with the caveat that both are true relievers. Tirado has the better chance of the duo of turning into a late-game option in a couple of years, though Cordero could reach the majors first. Revere should be a nice complementary player for the Jays as a left fielder against right-handers and backup to Kevin Pillar in center. He hit .298/.334/.374 in 366 at-bats for the Phillies. The Blue Jays can continue to stick with Chris Colabello if he produces, but now he will be able to DH more frequently. Sacrificing power for defense makes plenty of sense here.

Orioles acquire OF Gerardo Parra from the Brewers for RHP Zach Davies

The Orioles had a Parra-type player in Alejandro De Aza, only to dump him after his slow start. Now they’ve had to give up a solid prospect and spend some money to replace him. Clearly it’s a win if Parra’s career season continues — he’s batting .328/.369/.517 right now after coming in at .265/.316/.387 the previous two years — but there isn’t much reason to think it will, particularly now that he’s switching leagues for the first time in his career. Also, his defense isn’t nearly what it was a few years back. All of that said, he’s better than what they have now and that probably makes the deal worth doing. Davies, 22, isn’t a big upside guy, but he has a 2.84 ERA and an 81/33 K/BB ratio with just four homers allowed in 101 1/3 innings in Triple-A this year. He could work out nicely as a fourth or fifth starter.

Cubs acquire RHP Dan Haren from the Marlins for RHP Ivan Pineyro and SS Elliot Soto

The Cubs would have preferred a top-of-the-rotation threat, but they needed to shore up the fifth spot and do that here. Haren has a 3.42 ERA in 21 starts for the Marlins, but it comes with a diminished strikeout rate and peripherals that suggest his ERA should be closer to the 4.00-4.50 range. He gives the Cubs security, but ideally, he wouldn’t be in their top four should they reach the postseason. The Marlins aren’t getting much in return. Pineyro is probably a middle reliever if he makes the majors. Soto might have some use as a utilityman if this year’s on-base skills are for real; he’s at .388 in Double-A this year, but his career mark is .328 in six minor league seasons.

Rangers acquired RHP Sam Dyson from the Marlins for LHP Cody Ege and C Tomas Telis

This one will slip under the radar, but Dyson is solid reliever capable of being something considerable more if he just brings down his walk rate some. He throws in the mid-90s and gets tons of grounders along with his strikeouts (41 in 44 IP this year). He makes the minimum for another year, and he could become a really good setup man for half a decade or so. The Marlins didn’t give him away; Ege has the makings of a strong lefty reliever himself, and Telis should grow into a long-term role as J.T. Realmuto’s backup. Still, this is a nice pickup for Texas.

Pirates acquired 1B-OF Mike Morse and cash from the Dodgers for OF Jose Tabata

Morse is being tossed around like he didn’t have an .811 OPS in 131 games for the Giants last year or a .794 career mark. The Pirates can use him as their first baseman against left-handers and give him a chance to secure the job outright if he outproduces Pedro Alvarez. He’s also an option in the outfield, but it’d be for the best if he’s not needed there. The Pirates are also finally out from under the rest of Tabata’s deal, which they’ve seemed to regret from the moment it was signed in Aug. 2011. He’s made $4 million this year while spending most of the season in the minors and gets $4.5 million next year before the guaranteed portion finally comes to an end. Tabata still might be useful as a fourth outfielder and starter against lefties, but the Dodgers probably won’t ever have playing time for him. He’ll head to Triple-A for now, and it’d be for the best if he simply gets released.

Blue Jays acquire RHP Mark Lowe from the Mariners for LHP Nick Wells, LHP Rob Rasmussen and LHP Jake Brentz

Lowe had had a fabulous year, posting a 1.00 ERA and a 47/11 K/BB ratio in 36 innings for the Mariners. His ability to keep it up is less about stuff and more about health. He’s always had durability issues, and he hasn’t topped 50 innings since 2011. This year, he’s already at 45, including his time in Triple-A. Coming back to the Mariners are three lefties. Wells is the prospect in the group, a 2014 third-round pick with a chance of turning into something someday. Right now, he’s sporting a 4.78 ERA in Rookie ball. Rasmussen is a fringy reliever who could slot into Seattle’s pen immediately. Brentz is another Rookie ball guy.

Twins acquire RHP Kevin Jepsen from the Rays for RHP Chih-Wei Hu and RHP Alexis Tapia

Jepsen has a 2.81 ERA for the Rays this year, but he’s gone from striking out 10.4 batters and walking 3.2 batters per nine innings last year to striking out 7.3 and walking 4.3 this year. That’s a big change, and it might not bode well for continued success in a setup role. On the plus side, the Twins didn’t part with any top prospects here. Hu, 21, has a nice 2.44 ERA and a 73/19 K/BB ratio in 84 2/3 innings in high-A ball, but he doesn’t get rave reviews for his stuff. Tapia is a 19 and pitching in Rookie ball. Neither made Baseball America’s preseason top 30 prospects list for the Twins.

Pirates acquired LHP J.A. Happ from the Mariners for RHP Adrian Sampson

With his ERA up to 4.64, the Mariners were all set to dump Happ from their rotation. This is a more permanent solution. Happ isn’t an upgrade for the Pirates rotation, either, though if A.J. Burnett needs a stint on the DL, he’s a capable replacement for two or three weeks. Sampson, 23, had a 3.98 ERA and a 95/29 K/BB ratio in 124 1/3 innings for Triple-A Indianapolis. His stuff is mediocre, and if he has any success in the majors, it’ll probably come as a reliever.

Cubs acquired RHP Tommy Hunter from the Orioles for OF Junior Lake

Hunter is a free agent at season’s end, and he hasn’t had a great year with his 3.63 ERA in 44 2/3 innings. Still, the feeling here is that the Orioles were better off with him in the pen than they are with Lake anywhere on the 40-man roster. Lake can hit lefties a bit, but he offers horrible plate discipline and subpar defense in an outfield corner. He’s a career .241/.283/.380 hitter with 198 strikeouts in 602 at-bats for the Cubs. That makes this a winner for the Cubs, even if Hunter is just the fifth- or sixth-best righty in their pen.

Padres acquired LHP Marc Rzepczynski from the Indians for OF Abraham Almonte

Haven’t these guys been traded for each other at least once already? No? Well, it had to happen at some point. Scrabble is a perfectly respectable lefty specialist, those his numbers this year against lefties aren’t as strong as usual (.264/.339/.358 in 53 AB). Almonte is a solid center fielder and a switch-hitter, but he lacks the bat to play regularly or even the splits to form part of a platoon. He might put up one or two good years before he’s done, but it’s anyone’s guess whether they’ll come in Cleveland.

Cardinals acquire RHP Jonathan Broxton from the Brewers for INF Malik Collymore

Just like Parra, Broxton was acquired by the Brewers as they tried to gear up for the postseason last year and now he’s gone in a deadline deal this year. Broxton was awful early on, but his ERA has dropped from 8.22 on May 20 to 5.89 now and he has a 37/10 K/BB ratio in 36 2/3 innings overall. The home run ball can be a problem for him, but the Cardinals play half of their games in a pretty forgiving stadium. Anyway, they aren’t bringing him in to pitch in crucial situations. Collymore, a 2013 10th-round pick, is in Rookie ball again this year and hitting .216/.326/.378 in 74 at-bats. He showed more last year, but he’s a long shot to reach the majors.

Athletics acquired LHP Felix Doubront from the Blue Jays for cash considerations

The Jays thought they could do without Doubront after their recent moves, so they save a little money here. The A’s get themselves some rotation insurance with Scott Kazmir gone and Drew Pomeranz apparently remaining in the bullpen.

Red Sox acquired RHP Ryan Cook from the Athletics for cash considerations

The 28-year-old Cook still possesses a nice 2.93 ERA as a major leaguer, with 207 strikeouts in 202 2/3 innings, but injuries caused him to slip last year and a disastrous spring cost him his spot entirely this year. He ended up giving up five runs over 4 1/3 innings in his final stints with the A’s, and they were probably just going to non-tender him rather than pay him another $1.5 million or so in arbitration next year. The Red Sox will take a look-see and see if he has anything left.

July 30

Blue Jays acquire LHP David Price from Tigers for LHP Daniel Norris, LHP Matt Boyd and LHP Jairo Labourt

With Norris involved, I’d say the Tigers did a bit better for their rental than the Reds did for Johnny Cueto, even if I’d put Boyd and Labourt behind all three arms the Royals surrendered. It’s just the Norris is the best bet of the six. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays have given themselves a much better shot at postseason success should they get there, though that’s still very much in doubt.

Astros acquire OF Carlos Gomez and RHP Mike Fiers from Brewers for OF Brett Phillips, OF Domingo Santana, LHP Josh Hader and RHP Adrian Houser

This is quite the hit to the Astros’ depth, but it’s a testament to their system that they could go get Gomez and Fiers without touching top arms like Vincent Velasquez, Mark Appel and Michael Feliz. Now we’ll just have to wait and see if Gomez’s can get back to where he was in 2013 and ’14 while perhaps dealing with a mysterious hip condition that wrecked the deal sending him to the Mets. Even if he just carries on his 2015 level of performance, he’s an upgrade over Jake Marisnick at a modest price through 2016. Fiers is making the minimum this year and next, and he won’t be eligible for free agency until after 2019. His upside would seem to be rather limited despite his strong strikeout rate, but he’s a nice asset at a bargain price. The Astros will likely send Scott Feldman to the pen to make room for him.

For the Brewers, this is quite a shift from the Zack Wheeler-Wilmer Flores deal that would have given them two ready pieces for 2016. It’s also interesting that they apparently didn’t ask for Marisnick, who could have taken over for Gomez in center. Of the four players they got back, only Santana is ready to contribute. He’s a high-risk, high-reward right fielder with a huge strikeout rate. Phillips and Hader are better long-term prospects. Phillips will hit for average and modest power and play a solid center field when he’s ready in 2017. Hader’s slight build has long had him looked at as an injury risk, but he’ll be nasty if his command and changeup come along. Houser might be a fourth or fifth starter if things break right.

Dodgers acquire LHP Alex Wood, 2B-OF Jose Peraza, RHP Jim Johnson, LHP Luis Avilan and RHP Bronson Arroyo from Braves and RHP Mat Latos and 1B-OF Mike Morse from Marlins; Braves acquire INF Hector Olivera, LHP Paco Rodriguez and RHP Zach Bird from Dodgers and competitive balance draft pick from Marlins; Marlins acquire RHP Jeff Brigham, RHP Victor Araujo and RHP Kevin Guzman from Dodgers

A whopper of a deal, this seems hugely skewed in the Dodgers’ favor, mostly because they’re eating about $40 million in Olivera’s signing bonus and the salaries of Morse and Arroyo to make it happen. This could be a huge blow to the Braves’ future if Olivera doesn’t work out. Wood is just 24, and he has a 3.10 ERA and a 337/108 K/BB ratio in 369 innings as a major leaguer. Peraza figures to turn into at least an average regular at second and maybe something more. Olivera offers a middle-of-the-order bat, but there are questions about his health and long-term position.

For Marlins fans, this should just be another bummer. None of the three prospects the Dodgers sent them would have rated in the top 20 in their system. Latos alone should have drawn a bigger return, but the Marlins were mostly interested in shedding Morse’s salary and even gave up a 2016 draft pick, likely to come in the 40-45 range, to make it happen. Landing that pick was a key to the Braves’ part of the deal.

Giants acquire RHP Mike Leake from the Reds for RHP Keury Mella and 1B-3B Adam Duvall

Leake is a perfectly solid starter, but do you want him starting postseason games? He has a career ERA+ of 100 and that’s with him benefiting from the Reds’ typical strong infield play; his career FIP of 4.17 is worse than his 3.87 ERA. He has been on quite the roll of late after a slow start, and he’s going from a good situation for pitchers to a great one. Still, he doesn’t really seem like a difference maker, especially for a Giants team seven deep in the rotation. Whether Leake is second, third, fourth or fifth best in that group is hard to tell. He’ll help, and he might prove necessary if Matt Cain fails to improve the further removed he gets from his injuries or Chris Heston hits the wall. Tim Hudson appears likely to exit to make room for him. It just seems like he would have helped other teams more.

The Reds did well here, considering that Leake is a free agent at season’s end. Mella has a terrific arm, one with more upside than any of the three the Reds got from the Royals for Cueto. Still, much could happen to it between now and his projected major league debut in late 2016 or 2017. Duvall has been one of the top power hitters in the minors, but he’s 26, he can’t really cut it at third and he’ll probably never hit for average in the majors. He needs to hope the Reds turn right around and trade Marlon Byrd or Jay Bruce. If that happens, he could take over in left field and hit several homers these next two months. But if it doesn’t materialize now, one wonders if he’ll ever get a chance.

Cardinals acquire 1B-OF Brandon Moss from Indians for LHP Rob Kaminsky

The Indians would much rather have been in position to buy than to sell this week, but at least they were able to flip Moss at a profit after giving up second baseman Joey Wendle to get him from the A’s in the offseason. Kaminsky, a 20-year-old southpaw with a 2.15 ERA in 217 innings as a minor leaguer, is a much more intriguing talent. He projects as a fine middle-of-the-rotation starter with continued good health. Moss gives the Cardinals a starter at first base or in left field against right-handers with Matt Adams and Matt Holliday out.

Pirates acquire RHP Joakim Soria from Tigers for SS JaCoby Jones

The Pirates didn’t really need the bullpen help, but there are some things major league teams can never have enough of. Soria, who had a 2.85 ERA as Detroit’s closer, can work the seventh and eighth innings in combination with Tony Watson, turning Jared Hughes into a big double-play weapon in the middle frames. It seems like a fine arrangement, and the price was right, since Jones didn’t fit into their plans. He’s not good enough defensively to stick at shortstop, and the Pirates weren’t ever likely to need him at his more natural position of center field. He’s probably not going to hit enough to make it as a regular anyway.

Yankees acquire 2B-OF Dustin Ackley from the Mariners for OF Ramon Flores and RHP Jose Ramirez

Ackley has picked it up some as a bench player these last two months after his dreadful start played a big role in the Mariners acquiring Mark Trumbo. Of particular interest here is that he’s hitting more flies and pulling the ball more frequently than usual, which could lead to homers in Yankee Stadium. While he’s the fifth outfielder right now, he’ll probably start getting worked out at second base some to give the Yankees an alternative to Stephen Drew.

As for the Mariners, well, they probably weren’t going to want to pay Ackley $3 million to be a spare part next year anyway. Flores has an Ackley-like bat as a corner outfielder. He’s hit .286/.377/.417 as a 23-year-old in Triple-A this year. Ramirez is a fringy middle reliever.

July 29

Rangers acquire LHP Cole Hamels, LHP Jake Diekman and cash from the Phillies for C Jorge Alfaro, RHP Jake Thompson, OF Nick Williams, RHP Alec Asher, RHP Jerad Eickhoff and LHP Matt Harrison

By taking on the whopping $33 million owed to Harrison and swallowing a further $9.5 million of Hamels’ salary, the Phillies were able to get three premium prospects here in Alfaro, Thompson and Williams, plus a decent fourth piece in Asher. It’s a fine return, even if there’s no slam dunk prospect in the deal. Alfaro should turn out to be a quality starting catcher, if not a star. Thompson has No. 2 starter upside. Williams has his detractors, but he offers the ability to hit for average and power. Most importantly, he’s gone from posting 140/22 and 117/19 K/BB ratios the last two years to a more reasonable 77/32 in 97 games this season.

Fortunately for the Rangers, they don’t have to win this year for this to pay off, though they’ve given themselves a chance to stay in the wild card race. Hamels should be a force for years to come, and it’ll be exciting to see him paired with Yu Darvish atop the rotation next year. Diekman isn’t exactly chopped liver, either. He’s one of the game’s hardest throwing left-handed relievers, and while that hasn’t resulted in good numbers this year, he could still take a step forward as a setup man. The 28-year-old has 225 strikeouts (and 95 walks) in 173 1/3 innings as a major leaguer, and he won’t be a free agent until after 2018.

Pirates acquire RHP Joe Blanton from Royals for cash considerations

July 28

Royals acquire INF-OF Ben Zobrist from the Athletics for LHP Sean Manaea and RHP Aaron Brooks

Nationals acquire RHP Jonathan Papelbon and cash from Phillies for RHP Nick Pivetta

Angels acquire OF David Murphy from Indians for SS Eric Stamets

Angels acquire OF David DeJesus from Rays for RHP Eduar Lopez

July 27

Blue Jays acquire SS Troy Tulowitzki and RHP LaTroy Hawkins from the Rockies for SS Jose Reyes, RHP Jeff Hoffman, RHP Miguel Castro and RHP Jesus Tinoco

Mets acquire RHP Tyler Clippard and cash from the Athletics for RHP Casey Meisner

Angels acquire OF Shane Victorino and cash from the Red Sox for INF Josh Rutledge

July 26

Royals acquire RHP Johnny Cueto from the Reds for LHP Brandon Finnegan, LHP John Lamb and LHP Cody Reed

July 24

Mets acquire 3B Juan Uribe, INF-OF Kelly Johnson and cash from the Braves for RHP John Gant and RHP Robert Whelan

Cardinals acquire RHP Steve Cishek from the Marlins for RHP Kyle Barraclough

Angels acquire 3B Conor Gillaspie from the White Sox for cash considerations

July 23

Astros acquire LHP Scott Kazmir from the Athletics for C Jake Nottingham and RHP Daniel Mangden

Pirates acquire 3B Aramis Ramirez and cash from the Brewers for RHP Yhonathan Barrios