Maybe the extra day helped.
With this year’s non-waiver trade deadline pushed back from the usual July 31 — in order to avoid having the 4 p.m. finish line interfere with Sunday’s games — there were a combined 48 trades from June 1 to Aug. 1, the most during that period in the past two decades, according to Major League Baseball.
And nearly half came right down to the wire, as 18 trades happened on deadline day, the busiest since at least 1995 and eclipsing the previous mark of 15, done last year and 2010. The motivation, of course, varied from the Yankees’ decision to rebuild for the first time in three decades to the Rangers’ restocking to defend their AL West title.
At the start of July, we picked 15 of the most likely candidates to be traded and hit on 10 of them. The five who stayed? Julio Teheran (Braves), Danny Valencia (A’s), Yunel Escobar (Angels), Jeremy Hellickson (Phillies) and Carlos Gonzalez (Rockies).
That’s not to say, however, the dealing is by any means over. It just becomes more difficult now with players having to clear waivers before a trade can be completed -- allowing rivals to strategically block each other with claims in some cases. But before that next phase heats up, let’s look at the winners and losers from the non-waiver trade period.
YANKEES. It wasn’t an easy decision, choosing to sell off the most valuable pieces from this year’s roster, and in doing so, admit defeat after making the playoffs 18 of the past 21 seasons. But a reboot was necessary in the Bronx, and after getting the nod from Hal Steinbrenner, Brian Cashman was able to bolster the team’s farm system by using Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller and Carlos Beltran to acquire 10 highly-regarded prospects, including four first-round draft picks. The top prizes were Triple-A outfielder Clint Frazier and Class A shortstop Gleyber Torres, but the Yankees also got Class A pitcher Dillon Tate, who the Rangers picked fourth overall in last year’s draft.
RANGERS. Aside from having a deep prospect pool, it also helps to be lucky this time of year, and Texas definitely caught a break when Jonathan Lucroy torpedoed the Brewers’ attempt to deal him to the Indians, a team that was on his limited no-trade list. The Rangers then swooped in — stealing Lucroy away from the Mets as well — to add one of the game’s best offensive catchers along with setup man Jeremy Jeffress without using their own young slugger Joey Gallo in the two-player package. Texas also picked up Beltran to add two dangerous bats within hours of each other on deadline day.
INDIANS. So they lost out on Lucroy. That stung. But prying Miller from the Yankees was no small feat, even if it did cost Cleveland’s top prospect in Frazier. Miller was the best available reliever — yes, superior to the fireballer Chapman — and the Indians now have him for two more years as well, for a relatively inexpensive $18 million. If the Indians are to follow the NBA’s Cavaliers on the championship parade route, Miller will be a key, and they also picked up outfielder Brandon Guyer from the Rays in the hours before the deadline.
CUBS. What did Theo Epstein need to get for the team that apparently has everything — including a 97-year title drought? A closer that throws 105 mph in Chapman, even if he’s a two-month rental. Some argued that the Cubs overpaid for Chapman, sending three high-ceiling prospects (and reliever Adam Warren) to the Yankees for a pending free agent. But the stakes have never been higher on the North Side, and if Chapman closes out the World Series, Epstein is a legend again. The Cubs also grabbed Angels sidearmer Joe Smith, a reliever the Mets had targeted.
GIANTS. After winning three titles in six years, the Giants aren’t about to change their championship blueprint, so they traded for even more pitching by bringing in the Rays’ Matt Moore for the rotation and Will Smith, the Brewers’ former closer. Moore didn’t come cheap — the Giants gave up homegrown third baseman Matt Duffy, along with two prospects — but he’s under team control through 2019. GM Bobby Evans also traded a pair of prospects for the Brewers’ Eduardo Nuñez, the former Yankee and a first-time All-Star during his breakout season (.289, 12 HRs).
METS. Since there’s only two choices, the Mets earn a spot in the win column by trading for the best offensive player on the market, even if Jay Bruce — another lefty-hitting corner outfielder — isn’t the perfect fit for the defending NL champs. Their first choice was Lucroy, and they’d rather have given up Brandon Nimmo than Dilson Herrera. But Bruce (26 HRs, 83 RBIs) still is a good hedge against Yoenis Cespedes’ sketchy right quad and is also on board for next season. Bruce is a solid clubhouse presence, too, for a Mets team missing its captain. They remain in the hunt for relief help, as trading for Jon Niese seemed more about ridding themselves of Antonio Bastardo and getting some rotation insurance in the process.
DODGERS. As long as Rich Hill gets (stays?) healthy, the Dodgers made the move they had to in helping cover for the uncertain status of Clayton Kershaw. Hill was 9-3 with a 2.25 ERA in 14 starts for the woeful A’s and should benefit from the usual bounce of switching to the more pitcher-friendly National League. The Dodgers also got Josh Reddick (.816 OPS) in the same deal to take over rightfield in the team’s ongoing squabble with Yasiel Puig. Since the Dodgers always seem to have an abundance of money and prospects, sending three minor-league pitchers to Oakland for these two shouldn’t leave much of a dent.
WHITE SOX. It probably didn’t help that the While Sox’s most valuable commodity, Chris Sale, chose to go Edward Scissorhands on the team’s throwback uniforms so close to the trade deadline, putting into his question his frame of mind. But for a below .500 team that’s 7 1⁄2 games out of the wild-card race, it seems like the Sox could have done more than ship Zach Duke to the Cardinals for Triple-A outfielder Charlie Tilson. Given the overheated market for closers, it’s surprising that David Robertson didn’t garner more interest. And no decent bites on Todd Frazier (30 HRs)?
NATIONALS. Replacing Jonathan Papelbon as closer was the No. 1 priority for the NL East leader, but it seems like the Nats settled for less in trading for the Pirates’ Mark Melancon. Once GM Mike Rizzo lost Chapman to the Cubs — a chief rival for NL supremacy come October — it figured that Miller would be a must-get for the Nats. Instead, they dealt for Melancon 48 hours before the deadline and the Indians convinced the Yankees to part with Miller.
REDS. Upon his Flushing arrival, Bruce said he felt like he was being traded for the past two seasons. And yet, for all that time spent shopping him, the best the Reds could get for 1 1⁄2 years of Bruce — the top pure power bat on the market — was Herrera and Rookie League pitcher Max Wotell? Even Bruce’s former teammates were critical of the deal. “Unless we got a young Robinson Cano, I think they got us on that one,” Homer Bailey told FOX19 in Cincinnati.
PHILLIES. Given the demand for starting pitching, it was surprising the Phillies couldn’t find a favorable match for Hellickson — a pending free agent who has a 3.70 ERA (and 1.150 WHIP) despite hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park. Otherwise, first-year GM Matt Klentak has the disadvantage of being in a rebuilding process without any veteran, productive pieces to sell off. They’re already gone, and he’s stuck with Ryan Howard.
From June 1 to last Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline, 18 All-Stars switched teams, with a combined 37 appearances in the Midsummer Classic. Tyler Clippard is the only player to make the list for the second straight season, traded to the Yankees last Sunday after going to the Mets a year ago. Here’s the full list, with number of All-Star appearances in parentheses.
Carlos Beltran (9)
Aroldis Chapman (4)
Jay Bruce (3)
Mark Melancon (3)
Tyler Clippard (2)
Jonathan Lucroy (2)
Fernando Rodney (2)
Zach Duke (1)
Aaron Hill (1)
Francisco Liriano (1)
Wade Miley (1)
Andrew Miller (1)
Matt Moore (1)
Eduardo Nunez (1)
Drew Pomeranz (1)
Hector Santiago (1)
James Shields (1)