Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Hanley Ramirez at bat in the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium. Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE
If you don't pick the winners or losers of the trading deadline, a man comes to your door, stuffs you in a sack, and throws you in a trunk. With that in mind, here are five of the best moves made by teams at the deadline.
The trading deadline is gone. The frenzy, over. Like a wild party that raged through the night, now we get to step back and see who threw up in which flowerpot.
And that means judging trades immediately, slapping "winners and losers" labels on teams. In the interest of playing nice, let's just focus on the winners today. The losers are still happy with their trades, and I don't want to be that guy. My five favorite trades of the deadline:
5. Marlins acquire Jacob Turner, Rob Brantly, Brian Flynn (from Tigers for Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante)
I'm not a fan of the Marlins' decision to sell, mind you. They'd accumulated enough talent, and were suffering through enough inexplicable down seasons, that it would have been defensible to try again next year with minor tweaks. And that's not even considering the public relations -- the history of the franchise and its tenuous relationship with South Florida. It was a weird decision.
Then you see a haul like this, and it almost makes sense. Maybe I'm remembering past deadlines with Elvis Andrus-colored glasses, but it seems like fewer and fewer of top prospects are getting traded these days. Of all the trades and swaps before the deadline, Turner was probably the best prospect moved, and he was moved for a good-not-great second baseman and a free-agent-to-be the Marlins probably weren't going to sign even if their season went well.
4. Angels acquire Zack Greinke (from Brewers for Jean Segura, Ariel Pena, and John Hellweg)
This trade was the Angels walking into the better shop, grabbing some better off the shelf, and paying full price for it. They didn't even wait for a clearance sale. They didn't even check to see if they had a coupon. They did this because they could.
There isn't a team that improved more than the Angels. Greinke's a rental. The price was significant. But the Angels got the best player that switched hands at the deadline, and they'll have him for the postseason. They'll also enjoy a nice little window of exclusive negotiations with him. Maybe the Angels will stop being so danged cheap, right?
3. Pirates acquire Wandy Rodriguez (from Astros for Colton Cain, Robbie Grossman, and Rudy Owens)
GMs would visibly make a swallowed-a-bug face when Wandy Rodriguez's contract came up. I don't get it. He's been durable and good for the last three seasons, and he was signed to something like market value.
The Pirates got $5.5 million back in this deal -- which helps explain the quality of prospects they gave up -- so they'll pay Rodriguez about $25 million over the next two-plus years. That's if he exercises his player option for 2014. If he doesn't, that means he pitched like a player who's pitched well enough to think he'll get more than $13 million in free agency. Either scenario is a positive one for the Pirates.
It was a tricky spot for the Pirates -- they're contending ahead of schedule, and they wanted reinforcements that weren't rentals. With Rodriguez, they got someone who was going to help them a lot this season, but also stick around when they try again in 2013. Under the old draft and international-free-agent rules, you could complain that the money would be better spent on amateur players. Now? Spend it on the players or stuff it under a mattress. The Pirates spent it on a player.
2. Pirates acquire Travis Snider (from Blue Jays for Brad Lincon)
This was another move that helped the Pirates in the present with an eye toward the future, and all they had to give up was a reliever. Have you noticed the Pirates' bullpen? It's kind of stacked. Joel Hanrahan is getting back to his days of wonky control, but Jason Grilli is suddenly one of the best setup men in the game. Chris Resop is doing well, as is Jared Hughes … heck, they're even getting good innings from Juan Cruz.
Seems like Juan Cruz should be 44 and out of baseball, but it turns out he's still just 33. He's like Jack Torrance in The Shining, in every team photo for the last 50 years, without anyone ever realizing it.
But the Pirates had a little bullpen depth. And they used it to acquire a player for the present and future. I argued the Pirates should trade for Justin Upton to help them win in 2012 and subsequent seasons. Considering that Snider didn't cost them a prospect, I'm almost thinking this is better than the Upton trade.
All Snider has to do is, you know, hit. Which has been tricky for him in the majors. But he's still just 24. He was born the same year as Will Middlebrooks and Dustin Ackley -- guys who will continue to get chances to fight through slumps and struggles. The Pirates are expecting him to help right away, but unlike a lot of deadline deals, this is still a good trade even if he flops for the next two months.
1. Dodgers acquire Hanley Ramirez and Randy Choate (from Marlins for Nathan Eovaldi and Scott McGough)
The Dodgers were playing Adam Kennedy and Juan Uribe at third base. Now they're not.
That's the best way to describe how the Dodgers won this trade. Even if Hanley is a .750 OPS kind of hitter, the Dodgers got better. Hanley's downside is better than the rest of the infield's upside.
But then there's Hanley's upside. He used to be one of the four or five most valuable commodities in baseball -- a middle infielder who could slug like a first baseman and steal 30 bags. Those days are probably gone, but he's still just 28, and it wouldn't be a shock to see him return to his 2010 line (.300/.378/.475).
Would you sign Hanley Ramirez to a two-year, $30 million contract in the offseason, even if continued his mediocre hitting this season? The upside is unparalleled among available players. He'd probably blow past that contract. And yet, it was a sticking point for everyone but the Dodgers when it came to acquiring Ramirez. Odd.