Winners and losers of the trade deadline

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Winners

Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers gave up what seems like a lot for Yu Darvish – top prospects Willie Calhoun, A.J. Alexy, and Brendon Davis – but the club is clearly primed for a run at the World Series and adding Darvish only helps those chances. You may fight for a World Series in 2022, but a lot can happen between now and then.

Additionally, Calhoun doesn’t have the glove to stick at second, making him a future corner outfielder or DH. The Dodgers’ outfield is spoken for and moving to the American League as a DH may be the best thing for Calhoun’s future. Alexy and Davis are still many years away from the majors such that the Dodgers shouldn’t be banking on them in any significant way.

Darvish, meanwhile, is a time-tested starter and although he’s just a year and a half separated from recovering from Tommy John surgery, he’s shown he is still a fearsome right-hander. He has a 4.01 ERA this year, which seems mediocre, but ERA retrodictor like FanGraphs’ FIP and xFIP and Baseball Prospectus’ DRA all see him as having pitched better than his results indicate. Furthermore, the Dodgers’ rotation is currently missing ace Clayton Kershaw, Brandon McCarthy, and Scott Kazmir. Rich Hill dealt with blisters all of last year and Hyun-Jin Ryu is not a picture of perfect health. Adding a No 1.5, so to speak, in Darvish not only adds production, but stability.

But that’s not all the Dodgers did. The Dodgers also snagged lefties Tony Watson and Tony Cingrani from the Pirates and Reds, respectively. While the Dodgers’ bullpen was already strong – its 2.83 aggregate ERA is second-best in baseball – adding two lefties to the roster never hurts. Watson has held left-handed batters to a .569 OPS over his career, Cingrani .712. Teams have clearly seen the success other teams had had, like last year’s Indians and Cubs, playing match-ups with the bullpen. The Dodgers are looking to emulate that strategy in the post-season this October.

New York Yankees

The Yankees acquired third baseman Todd Frazier and relievers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle from the White Sox two weeks ago. They added Jaime Garcia from the Twins on Sunday. And ahead of Monday’s deadline, they acquired Sonny Gray from the Athletics. In the White Sox trade, the Yankees gave up No. 3 prospect Blake Rutherford and No. 19 prospect Ian Clarkin along with Tyler Clippard. The Yankees sent Zack Littell (now the Twins’ No. 16 prospect) and Dietrich Enns. For Gray, the Yankees surrendered Dustin Fowler (now the Athletics’ No. 3 prospect), Jorge Mateo (No. 5), and James Kaprelian (No. 11).

Like the Dodgers, it seems like a lot. Due to all of the relatively recent baseball media covering prospects, teams and fans alike had begun to covet potential stars a little too highly. Now, we’ve seemed to reach an equilibrium. Teams aren’t hoarding prospects as much as they used to just a few years ago and are now willing to make a sacrifice in an attempt to win now. It’s a healthymidpoint between mortgaging the future and steadfastly refusing to compete. The Yankees stand at 56-47, just a half-game ahead of the Red Sox in the AL East. They’re only 3.5 up on the Rays. If the Yankees were to slip in the AL East, they’d have to compete with the Royals, Rays, Mariners, Orioles, Twins, Angels, and Rangers who are all within five games of the AL Wild Card.

Frazier provided an immediate upgrade at third base, bringing his above-average bat to the hot corner, replacing Chase Headley’s .715 OPS and the meager .448 Ronald Torreyes put up in 51 plate appearances. Robertson, of course, is familiar to the Yankees, having pitched there from 2008-14. He put up solid but unimpressive numbers over two and a half seasons with the White Sox, but is still a quality right-handed reliever who can handle high-leverage situations and record a couple of strikeouts when necessary. Kahnle has been one of baseball’s hidden gems, carrying a 2.18 ERA with a nice 69/7 K/BB ratio in 41 1/3 innings. The only qualified reliever with a higher strikeout rate than Kahnle is Craig Kimbrel. Add Kahnle and Robertson to a bullpen that already has Aroldis Chapman, Adam Warren, and Dellin Betances. The Yankees’ bullpen is not going to be fun to face in a post-season game.

Colorado Rockies

Dark horse winner here. Could’ve gone with the division rival Diamondbacks just as easily for adding J.D. Martinez. The Rockies are 60-46 but 14.5 games behind the Dodgers for first place in the NL West. They are clearly focused on the Wild Card, where they hold a 5.5-game lead over the Brewers for the second slot and are only a half-game back of the D’Backs for the first. The Rockies added Jonathan Lucroy from the Rangers, upgrading their weakest position. While Lucroy was having the worst season of his career, hitting .242/.297/.338 in Texas, Rockies catchers weren’t any better as Tony Wolters musterd a .642 OPS in 67 games, Ryan Hanigan .673 in 24, Dustin Garneau .613 in 22, and Tom Murphy .236 in eight. At least Lucroy has a long track record of hitting and it’s reasonable to expect him to get out of his funk before the season is over.

The Rockies also acquired Pat Neshek from the Phillies. Neshek was the Phillies’ lone All-Star, compiling a 1.12 ERA with a 45/5 K/BB ratio in 40 1/3 innings, emerging as one of few bright spots on the roster of baseball’s worst team. Moving to Coors Field from Citizens Bank Park is not nearly as bad as it would be moving from most other ballparks. Plus, Neshek is striking hitters out at a 30.5 percent clip while walking them 3.3 percent. His average of 9.4 strikeouts per walk is baseball’s fifth-best rate among qualified relievers. Missing bats and rarely putting base runners on for free are two great traits to have if you’re going to pitch at Coors Field.

Losers

San Diego Padres

The lowly Padres, 47-58, were expected to be among the more active sellers leading up to the deadline, but only managed one trade. They sent pitchers Brandon Maurer, Ryan Buchter, and Trevor Cahill to the Royals for Travis Wood, Matt Strahm, and Esteury Ruiz. Ruiz barely snuck onto the Padres’ top 30 prospects list. Strahm is out for the rest of the year with an injury, and Wood is a veteran swingman.

Most prominently, lefty reliever Brad Hand remained untraded. Hand was the Padres’ lone representative at the All-Star Game and took over the closer’s role when Maurer was traded. He compiled six saves with a 2.00 ERA and a 70/14 K/BB ratio in 54 innings. Not trading him by today’s 4 PM ET deadline means the club will either have to move him through waivers between now and August 31 or trade him in the offseason. While there were a handful of solid relievers that changed addresses within the last week, few threw from the left side with Hand’s rate of success.  He could’ve been this year’s Andrew Miller. Instead, he’ll close out meaningless games for the final two months of the season most likely.

Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox didn’t stand pat going into the deadline. The club acquired third baseman Eduardo Nunez from the Giants and reliever Addison Reed from the Mets. The addition of Nunez is solid insurance in case prospect Rafael Devers doesn’t live up to the hype. Nunez had a .752 OPS in San Francisco before the trade, helping upgrade Boston’s most problematic position. Reed put up a 2.57 ERA in 49 innings of relief with the Mets.

It would have really helped if the Red Sox were able to add a starting pitcher, though. Right now, the rotation is still fearsome as it features Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Drew Pomeranz. Sale has a 2.37 ERA and could be the AL Cy Young Award winner when all is said and done. Rick Porcello is still the defending Cy Young winner despite an unimpressive 4.55 ERA. Pomeranz has stayed healthy through 21 starts with a 3.46 ERA and Rodriguez has been solid with a 4.16 ERA. David Price will help when he’s healthy.

Pomeranz, though, is no perfect picture of health as he battled a forearm injury after the club acquired him from the Padres last summer. Price may not be reliable coming back from his elbow injury. Rodriguez has been solid but unspectacular through parts of three seasons. Adding a Darvish or Gray would’ve gone a long way towards helping the Red Sox keep pace with the Yankees in the AL East, but after the moves the Yankees made, they’re the clear favorites in the division for the final two months.

Miami Marlins

The Marlins are in a tough spot right now. Ownership is in flux as Jeffrey Loria is still in the process of selling the team. Trade rumors have swirled around most of its standout players, including Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich, Dee Gordon, Martin Prado, Brad Ziegler, and Dan Straily. The club only made two trades, however, sending David Phelps to the Mariners for a handful of minor leaguers, as well as A.J. Ramos to the Mets for two prospects. They got their No. 6 (Merandy Gonzalez), No. 8 (Bryan Hernandez), No. 20 (Brandon Miller), No. 23 (Pablo Lopez), and No. 24 (Ricardo Cespedes) prospects in the deals.

If the Marlins got those players from Phelps and Ramos, imagine what they could’ve gotten for the others. The Marlins already have $95 million committed to the roster for next season, $84 million in 2019 and $74 million in 2020. That means that new ownership will have significant financial obligations to account for when taking over from Loria. Trading those expensive veterans is not only best for them, taking them out of a confusing situation, but helps with the transition. Everyone is tired of the Marlins holding a fire sale, but in this case, it would have made a lot of sense.

Trading Stanton would’ve been the most difficult thing to do as he is signed through 2027 to a $325 million contract. But trading the others was very realistic, even if it meant taking less than perfect value in trades. Prado, Gordon, Straily, and Ziegler almost certainly won’t be part of the next great Marlins team, so keeping them around is a loss, but at least the club still has the next month to work out deals via waivers.

A’s running out of time to find home in Oakland, Las Vegas

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LAS VEGAS — The Oakland Athletics have spent years trying to get a new stadium while watching Bay Area neighbors such as the Giants, Warriors, 49ers and Raiders successfully move into state-of-the-art venues, and now time is running short on their efforts.

The A’s lease at RingCentral Coliseum expires after the 2024 season, and though they might be forced to extend the terms, the club and Major League Baseball have deemed the stadium unsuitable for a professional franchise.

They are searching for a new stadium in Oakland or Las Vegas, but they have experienced difficulties in both areas. The A’s missed a major deadline in October to get a deal done in Oakland, and there has been little indication they will receive the kind of funding they want from Las Vegas.

“I think the A’s have to look at it in a couple of ways,” said Brendan Bussmann, managing partner at Las Vegas-based B Global. “Obviously, they have struggled in Oakland to get a deal across the line. It isn’t for a lack of effort. . You have an owner that’s willing to pony up money, you have a club that wants to sit there and figure out a way to make it work, and you keep running into obstacles along the way.

“It’s time to fish or cut bait. Oakland, do you want them or not? And if not, where are the A’s going to get the best deal? Is it Vegas? Is it somewhere else? They’ll have to figure that out.”

What the A’s are thinking is a little bit of a mystery. Team President Dave Kaval was talkative earlier in the process, saying the A’s are pursuing two different tracks with Oakland and Las Vegas. But he went silent on the subject several months ago. A’s spokeswoman Catherine Aker said mostly recently that the club would withhold comment for now.

The A’s have been negotiating with Oakland to build a $1 billion stadium as part of a $12 billion redevelopment deal.

Newly elected Mayor Sheng Thao said reaching a deal is important as long as it makes economic sense to the city. Her predecessor, Libby Schaaf, led prior efforts to reach an agreement, but after the city and the A’s missed that October deadline, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed reservations a deal will ever get done.

“The pace in Oakland has not been rapid, number one,” Manfred said at the time. “We’re in a stadium situation that’s really not tenable. I mean, we need to do something to alter the situation. So I’m concerned about the lack of pace.”

Recent California history justifies his concerns. SoFi Stadium in Southern California and Chase Center in San Francisco were built with private money, and Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara was 90% privately financed.

“And then I think there was some contagion where around the country people realized these deals could be done well privately and could generate a return on investment to those investors,” said David Carter, a sports business professor at the University of Southern California. “Why are we throwing public money at it at all?”

That’s also a question being asked in Las Vegas, even though the Raiders in 2016 received $750 million from the Nevada Legislature for a stadium. That then was the largest amount of public money for a sports venue, but it was surpassed last March by the $850 million pledged to construct a new stadium for the NFL’s Buffalo Bills.

Another deal like the one for Allegiant Stadium, where the Raiders play, appears unlikely in Nevada. T-Mobile Arena, which opened in 2017, was privately financed. An arena planned for south of the Las Vegas Strip also wouldn’t rely on public funds.

Las Vegas, however, has shown financing creativity. Its Triple-A baseball stadium received $80 million in 2017 for naming rights from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. Room taxes fund the authority, so it was public money in a backdoor sort of way.

Clark County Commissioner Michael Naft, who is on the board of the convention authority, has spoken with A’s representatives about their interest in Las Vegas and said he is aware of the club’s talks with other Nevada officials. He said the A’s are taking a much different approach than the Raiders, who identified Las Vegas early as their choice landing spot after many years of failing to get a new stadium in Oakland.

“When the Raiders decided to come to Las Vegas, they had a clear plan,” Naft said. “You had a clear body that was tasked with assessing the worth and the value, and they committed to the destination. I have not seen that from the Oakland A’s at any level, and it’s not really our job to go out and beg them to come here because we have earned the reputation of the greatest arena on Earth. We have put in both the dollars and the labor to make that the case.

“I think I’ve made myself clear, but from conversations with others, I don’t think I’m alone on that.”

New Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo “will not raise taxes” to attract the A’s or any other team, his spokeswoman, Elizabeth Ray, said in a statement. But she said the club could qualify for other ongoing “economic development programs,” which could mean tax breaks similar to what Tesla received in 2014.

Manfred said in December that the A’s relocation fee would be waived if they move to Las Vegas, a savings to the club reportedly of up to $1 billion.

“We’re past any reasonable timeline for the situation in Oakland to be resolved,” Manfred said then.

Naft said Allegiant Stadium filled a hole that went beyond landing an NFL team. It allowed Las Vegas to attract major sporting events such as the Super Bowl and Final Four and major concerts such as Garth Brooks and Elton John that “in many cases we would not otherwise have.”

He said he doesn’t believe a baseball stadium would accomplish that, and sports economist Victor Matheson agreed.

“I think there’s a real question about how much people are willing to watch baseball in Las Vegas,” said Matheson, a professor at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. “It’s not like locals don’t have a huge number of entertainment options right now, and it’s not clear exactly how much people might travel to watch baseball in Vegas, either.”

If the A’s truly want to be in Las Vegas, Naft said they need to make that clear.

“I just believe you can’t play destinations against each other,” Naft said. “If you want to come here and you want to be met with open arms, you’ve got to commit.”

Should the A’s fail to reach an agreement in Oakland or Las Vegas, they could consider other destinations such as Charlotte, North Carolina; Nashville; and Portland, Oregon. Whether they would have the time to explore such options is another question.

Oakland has already shown it will watch the Raiders move to Nevada and the Warriors go across the Bay Bridge to San Francisco.

Las Vegas, Matheson noted, is hardly in a desperate situation. He also expressed caution that Las Vegas could go from being among the largest metropolitan areas without a major professional sports team to among the smallest with three franchises.

“So you’ve gone from kind of being under-sported to being over-sported in a short period of time if the A’s were to go there,” Matheson said.