Winners and losers at the trade deadline

42 Comments

Given how disappointing this afternoon’s trade deadline proved to be, it’s only fair that the annual winners and losers column is a little lopsided. Let’s get right to it:

Winners

Red Sox: I didn’t like the idea of Boston giving up top prospects for Jake Peavy because I just didn’t see him being a big upgrade over the rest of their candidates for the postseason rotation. Parting with Jose Iglesias for him, on the other hand, is something I can get behind. Iglesias had an incredible run for the Red Sox earlier this season, but he was a lifetime .257/.307/314 hitter in the minors. He had a .588 OPS in 829 Triple-A at-bats.  And while he was still at .330 for Boston this season, he had returned to earth in a big way this month, batting .205/.247/.217 in 83 at-bats during July. I think Iglesias will be a useful regular for a long time, but for a big-spending team like the Red Sox, he was always going to be expendable. They sold high when they sent him to Detroit in the three-team swap.

Angels: Getting Grant Green from the A’s for Alberto Callaspo was a nice little coup. Green is 25 and still doesn’t have a position, which is a problem, but he’s also hit .325/.379/.500 in Triple-A this year. The Angels should start working him out at third. Some will argue that the Angels should have moved Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar as well, but I’m not so sure. Both have reasonable contracts, and the Angels almost certainly would have downgraded had they tried to replace either in free agency this winter. They would have needed a big return to justify dealing either.

Braves: Many wanted the Braves to get a starter with Tim Hudson out. I think they’re just fine with a front six of Mike Minor, Kris Medlen, Julio Teheran, Paul Maholm, Brandon Beachy and Alex Wood. And getting the perpetually underrated Scott Downs from the Angels for Cory Rasmus was nice. I’m not positive how he does it, but Downs has a 1.76 ERA again this year. Last year’s 3.15 mark was his worst since 2006, and that was really the result of two bad weeks (nine of the 16 runs he allowed came in a stretch of five appearances).

Cardinals: The slumping Cardinals failed to add, but the important thing for them is that the Pirates and Reds didn’t make any additions, either. St. Louis is still the NL Central’s best team on paper, provided that Yadier Molina isn’t out for much more than the minimum 15 days with his sprained knee. All bets are off if his absence extends into September.

Cubs: The lack of action on Wednesday suggests that the Cubs were smart to move Matt Garza, Scott Feldman and Alfonso Soriano when they did. They clearly got a better return for Garza, a free agent at season’s end, than the White Sox did for Peavy, even though Peavy is locked up for another year.

Dodgers: Drew Butera, yo. But, no, the Dodgers are here for the same reason as the Cardinals. Maybe the Diamondbacks engaged in some addition by subtraction in shedding Ian Kennedy, but they didn’t do much addition by addition.

Losers

Mariners: Kendrys Morales, Oliver Perez, Michael Morse, Raul Ibanez and Joe Saunders are all going to be free agents this winter, and the 50-56 Mariners, remaining stubborn under GM Jack Zduriencik’s guidance, didn’t cash any of them in. Morales and Perez would have brought significant returns. At least some of the other teams that declined to sell could have chances to get deals done in August, but I’m not sure any of the Mariners listed above will clear waivers, limiting the team’s options.

Royals: Winners of seven in a row to move to 52-51 on the season, the Royals refused to sell. Which is understandable. But the fact that they did choose to buy, acquiring outfielder Justin Maxwell from the Astros, and still didn’t land an upgrade from Chris Getz at second base is tough to take. It’s not like they needed a star; they’ve gotten so little production from second base for years now that just about anything would have done.

Indians: One of the rumors going around Wednesday was that the Indians were aiming for a big-time starter. Instead, they stayed quiet; their only deadline pickup was lefty reliever Marc Rzepczynski, who was unwanted by the Cardinals. Something to energize the fanbase in Cleveland would have been welcome; the Indians have the AL’s sixth-best record, so they’re right in the thick of things.

Blue Jays: The Blue Jays could have cashed in closer Casey Janssen and turned a tidy profit. They also had a couple of nice role players in Emilio Bonifacio and Rajai Davis to dangle. They did nothing.

White Sox: The White Sox’s top picks in the 2009, 2011 and 2012 drafts were outfielders (Chris Sale was the choice in 2010). Baseball America said their No. 1, No. 2 and No. 5 prospects at the start of the season were outfielders. Yet when they chose to deal Peavy, they did it for another outfielder, getting Avisail Garcia from the Tigers. They also dealt Matt Thornton to Boston for an outfielder (Brandon Jacobs) earlier in the month. In the abstract, I don’t mind Peavy for Garcia. It’s decent value. The White Sox, though, have questions throughout the infield and a dearth of young pitching in the minors. I’m not sure what they’re building.

Phillies: Ruben Amaro Jr. is still likely shocked and appalled that no team was willing to surrender two top prospects for Michael Young. The Michael Young.

Marlins: OK, so the Marlins didn’t put Giancarlo Stanton on the block yet. That’s fine. But then they wouldn’t talk about relievers Steve Cishek and Michael Dunn. Even more incredibly, they weren’t even interested in picking up a prospect for a 34-year-old Chad Qualls today. The only thing I can figure is that the commissioner’s office and the MLBPA is back whispering in the Marlins’ ears about their use of revenue sharing money.

Giants: The flagging Giants had a chance to refuel the farm system a bit, which could have been a silver lining in a very disappointing season. Instead, they held on to Hunter Pence, Tim Lincecum and even Javier Lopez. Maybe they’ll get compensation picks if Pence and Lincecum leave as free agents or maybe they’ll even deal Lincecum in August, but with plenty of contenders looking for a middle-of-the-order bat and starting pitching, it’s disappointing that they resisted overtures.

Astros clubhouse attendants: Good luck with those end-of-season tips. With Bud Norris, Carlos Pena and Jose Veras gone, Erik Bedard in now the highest-paid Astro at $1.15 million this season. That’s about what Alex Rodriguez makes per week.

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today
0 Comments

ARLINGTON, Texas — Jacob deGrom is headed to the free-spending Texas Rangers, who believe the health risk is worth the potential reward in trying to end a six-year run of losing.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday, leaving the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened substantially by injuries.

“We acknowledge the risk, but we also acknowledge that in order to get great players, there is a risk and a cost associated with that,” Rangers general manager Chris Young said. “And one we feel like is worth taking with a player of Jacob’s caliber.”

Texas announced the signing after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

The Rangers were also big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing shortstop Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).

The team said deGrom will be introduced in a news conference at Globe Life Field next week following the winter meetings in San Diego.

“It fits in so many ways in terms of what we need,” Young said. “He’s a tremendous person. I have a number of close friends and teammates who played with Jacob and love him. I think he’s going to be just a perfect fit for our clubhouse and our fans.”

Texas had modest expectations after adding Seager, Semien and starter Jon Gray ($56 million, four years) last offseason but still fell short of them.

The Rangers went 68-94, firing manager Chris Woodward during the season, and then hired Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco. Texas’ six straight losing seasons are its worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

Rangers owner Ray Davis said the club wouldn’t hesitate to keep adding payroll. Including the $19.65 million qualifying offer accepted by Martin Perez, the team’s best pitcher last season, the Rangers have spent nearly $761 million in free agency over the past year.

“I hate losing, but I think there’s one person in our organization who hates losing worse than me, and I think it’s Ray Davis,” Young said. “He’s tired of losing. I’m tired of losing. Our organization is tired of losing.”

After making his first start in early August last season, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then passed up a $30.5 million salary for 2023 and opted out of his contract to become a free agent for the first time.

That ended his deal with the Mets at $107 million over four years, and deGrom rejected their $19.65 million qualifying offer in November. New York will receive draft-pick compensation for losing him.

The fan favorite becomes the latest in a long line of ace pitchers to leave the Mets for one reason or another, including Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and David Cone.

The Rangers visit Citi Field from Aug. 28-30.

When healthy, deGrom is perhaps baseball’s most dominant pitcher. His 2.52 career ERA ranks third in the expansion era (since 1961) behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (2.48) and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax (2.19) among those with at least 200 starts.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA in five career postseason starts, including a win over San Diego in the wild-card round this year that extended the Mets’ season. New York was eliminated the next night.

A four-time All-Star and the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom was a ninth-round draft pick by the Mets in 2010 out of Stetson, where he played shortstop before moving to the mound. He was slowed by Tommy John surgery early in his career and didn’t reach the majors until age 26.

Once he arrived, though, he blossomed. He helped the Mets reach the 2015 World Series and earn a 2016 playoff berth before winning consecutive NL Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019.

But injuries to his elbow, forearm and shoulder blade have limited him to 26 starts over the past two seasons. He compiled a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings in 2021, but did not pitch after July 7 that year because of arm trouble.

DeGrom is 82-57 with 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings over nine big league seasons. He gets $30 million next year, $40 million in 2024 and 2025, $38 million in 2026 and $37 million in 2027. The deal includes a conditional option for 2028 with no guaranteed money.

The addition of deGrom gives the Rangers three proven starters along with Gray and Perez, who went 12-8 with a career-best 2.89 ERA in his return to the team that signed him as a teenager out of Venezuela. Young didn’t rule out the addition of another starter.

With several holes on their starting staff, the Mets have shown interest in free agents Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon to pair with 38-year-old Max Scherzer atop the rotation.

Now, with deGrom gone, signing one of those two could become a much bigger priority.