By David Mullen
The non-waiver Major League Baseball trading deadline, which ended July 31 at 3 p.m. CDT, is like going to a buffet restaurant. You can fill your tray, you can take things that you will never enjoy, you could end up hungrier an hour later, and sometimes, you just order one item.
This year, many contenders pigged out at the expense of teams that have no chance of making the playoffs. The questions are: did the have-nots get enough quality back to compete in the next few years, and did some teams order the wrong thing?
Still hungry. In the case of the Texas Rangers, long out of contention for the playoffs in 2018, it is like the team valet-parked to go to a $5.95 all-you-can-eat buffet. They saved money on the food but paid a large price upfront. And they can’t be very satisfied in the end. The Rangers got rid of some salaries in trading starting pitcher Cole Hamels to the Chicago Cubs, right-handed reliever Keone Kela to the Pittsburgh Pirates and left-handed reliever Jake Diekman to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Rangers did not necessarily need to trade Kela and Diekman, but Hamels clearly had to go. The Cubs also received cash considerations from the Rangers. The Rangers got right-handed minor leaguers Eddie Butler and Rollie Lacy in the Hamels trade. On July 30, Butler threw one pitch for Texas and got the win. Pittsburgh sent over left-handed pitcher Taylor Hearn and a player to be named later, and pitcher Wei-Chieh Huang came from Arizona. Three Rangers trades, all for pitchers that the team hopes aren’t empty.
Loaded up the tray. The Philadelphia Phillies traded for hard-hitting catcher Wilson Ramos, versatile infielder Asdrúbal Cabrera and reliever Aaron Loup, immediately filling some holes and positioning the surprise team for a playoff run. Remember after week one, rookie manager Gabe Kapler was being run out of town. Now he is the talk of the town.
The Los Angeles Dodgers were the first in line to secure shortstop/third baseman Manny Machado and then later got Minnesota second baseman Brian Dozier and Toronto reliever John Axford. They may have secured another National League crown.
Eyes bigger than their stomach. In addition to Kela, the Pirates acquired starter Chris Archer from the Tampa Bay Rays. Why now? This team is not nearly as good as past teams that were reluctant to trade up.
Ordered the wrong thing. Milwaukee traded for infielders Mike Moustakas and Jonathan Schoop and reliever Joakim Soria. They could have done without them. They are desperate for starting pitching.
Had dessert. The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox already had plenty of beef. They just went out and made some sweet deals. The Yankees got reliever Zach Britton and starters J.A. Happ and Lance Lynn, and the Red Sox added starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi and former Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler. They got richer and are fat and happy.
Skipped dinner. The Oakland A’s and Washington Nationals passed on the buffet on July 31, deciding to stand pat. The A’s did make a big deal on July 21 when they acquired reliever Jeurys Familia from the New York Mets for a couple of minor leagues and international bonus pool money. Despite being tempted, the Nats decided to stick with free-agent-to-be Bryce Harper.
Contracted botulism. The world champion Houston Astros did the unthinkable. They traded for Toronto Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna (pictured above, right), who is currently serving a 75-game suspension for domestic violence charges. And he has yet to go to trial. Already, key players like ace pitcher Justin Verlander are said to be disgusted by the move. Jeff Luhnow, credited with building the Astros, is defending the trade by saying that everyone deserves a second chance. Like the mother of Osuna’s child? Why would you make a move like this that can only create a negative atmosphere in the clubhouse of the defending champions?
Any way you carve it, some teams feasted while others starved during the crowded MLB Trading Deadline. But many of the best teams made trades without reservation.