This analysis of the 2015 MLB trade deadline will never change.
These labels, awards and grades will go on the respective teams' permanent record.
In five years, you can click on this article and get analysis that will be as relevant then as it is now. We know who won and who lost already. We will always know.
There's nothing that can possibly change with any of these winners and losers. No sudden developments or surprising results. This is fixed in time, the tetherball pole of the baseball universe, with everything spinning around it, as it remains forever still and unchanging.
Here are the winners and losers of the 2015 trade deadline. These are permanent labels that the teams will carry around with them forever.
These grades will never change.
This is something that definitely needs a longer postmortem. When did we realize the Astros were good? When did they? After all of the breathless chitter-chatter about the Padres and the White Sox this offseason, should we acknowledge that the Astros struck an artful balance between short-term upgrades that didn't come at the expense of long-term planning? Did they have the best offseason of all? Did they have the best offseason of the last five years?
Regardless, this is a section about their trade deadline. The first thing to acknowledge is that the Astros gave up a ton of prospects. Well, technically it was more of a half-ton (six prospects *190 pound average = 1,140 pounds), but they also gave up quite a bit of their prospect depth to go for it. For a team that was building toward a sturdy future, it's a little shocking to see them take out a mortgage like this.
Except, look at all the positions they're set at for the next few years. They have one of the best keystone combos in baseball, and they're both young and under contract for years and years at below-market rates. They're set at a corner position with George Springer. They'll have another year with Jason Castro and now Carlos Gomez. They'll have Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers, Collin McHugh, and now Mike Fiers for a short-term push and the long-term plan. The only rental they picked up was Scott Kazmir.
They're so much better, though. Gomez is a huge improvement over Jake Marisnick. Kazmir and Fiers push Scott Feldman and a hodgepodge of fifth starters out of the rotation. This is how a team with a deep, robust system is supposed to approach the trade deadline.
It's almost ... as if ... trades can have two winners. Will make a note to explore that idea later.
The Brewers had a couple of big trade chips, but their biggest was Carlos Gomez, who is under contract for team-friendly prices next year. The initial report had them getting Zack Wheeler, who is an electric pitcher, but also currently broken. He didn't just have the normal Tommy John surgery, either -- he tore an additional tendon. I still think he's going to be an excellent pitcher, but I wouldn't want to bet my rebuilding plan on him.
Then the Mets got weird. So very weird. They had problems with Gomez's hip. Gomez didn't have a problem with his hip. The Astros, who have scotched a couple important deals because of medical concerns, didn't have a problem with his hip. But the Mets did. Unless it was second-guessing about how much money Gomez made, which, ha ha, that couldn't be true, right?
The Brewers got to step back and field different offers, and by including Mike Fiers -- solid, cheap, not a cornerstone -- got several of the Astros' best prospects in a combo deal. They got a potential superstar hitter because the Mets are weird -- possibly the only team at the deadline to get one.
SB Nation presents: The failed deal that opened the door for Gomez-to-Houston
They had a fire sale to take care of. Everyone knew it. They had one of those guys spinning the signs on the corner, doing tricks. And you thought, "Oh, that's neat. Also, desperate. Now I feel bad." There was a way for the Reds to blow it.
Instead, they did well with the Cueto trade, exchanging him for pitchers who can help in the short and long term. They haggled the Giants out of one of their top prospects, a pitcher with mid-90s heat and promising command. The entire rotation from last year is gone, except for Homer Bailey, who is out of service. To climb out of that hole, they needed as much pitching as they could stuff in the knapsack. It would have been a lot cooler to get the majors-ready pitchers the Tigers ended up stockpiling, but they did more than OK, especially considering that they dealt two pending free agents.
Much of what I wrote up there could apply to the Phillies, too. They're winners in their own way. I just like the Reds' haul a little bit better. My only complaint is that Aroldis Chapman is still there, but I'll give them a pass on that because he should be popular in the offseason, and the Reds still had other pieces to deal. It wasn't a situation like the Padres, who had a pending free agent and a closer, but held on to them both (see below).
They were already screwed for next year when it came to David Price and Yoenis Cespedes. Pay them and prop that Window of Damocles up for just a little longer, ignoring that they'll become awful deals, just like the rest of them? Or trade them and start the rebuilding process that'll come for them, just like it came for the Phillies? There was no way to look good.
I'm not sure if there's been a GM I've doubted more than Dave Dombrowski who's made me regret it later more. Except for that Doug Fister trade. That still bugs the hell out of me. Still, this was a magnificent deadline for the Tigers, who still want to squeeze a couple more seasons out of the Miguel Cabrera core, but didn't want to be left with a sad compensation pick at the end of the season.
With the Price deal, the Tigers got four pitchers who could be in the rotation next year. One of them should be at least average or better, I'll wager. Two of them wouldn't be unreasonable. And now they can still hand out a dumb contract to a great player this offseason, with just a little more depth behind him. This was a very deft balancing of rebuilding and reloading, considering a) there just weren't a lot of majors-ready prospects available and b) they had only a couple of pending free agents with which to work.
Four pitching prospects in Double-A or above, three of whom are having excellent seasons, for two rentals. I know the rentals were quality, but that's still a yowza return. Yowza!
Flashy, splashy deals are great. They release endorphins and make the world go 'round. There's something about a nice, quiet move to vastly improve what the internal options were, though. The Orioles could've used another slugger or an ace or a number of different pieces to improve a flawed contender.
They went in, grabbed a valuable player having a very nice season, and ducked out. I'm writing 1,000s of words about BIG MOVES and PROSPECTS and DEATH BY CLOSING WINDOW, so it's refreshing to see a normcore move like this. Gerardo Parra for a minor leaguer of moderate promise, and Junior Lake for Tommy Hunter. Calm. Rational. You keep that pulse down, Orioles.
Really, I want to put the Blue Jays in the winners' column, but they took on a bit of financial baggage for an oft-injured player and dished out a lot of useful prospects for a rental. As an impartial observer, I'm more keen on the Orioles' approach of the little addition/hope for the best combo for a team that's chasing the second wild card along with six others. Just a personal preference, though. Your theories of trade deadlinology may vary.
This is going to run thousands of words, so I'm going to cheat here by just linking back to my laudatory review of their deadline from earlier. They done good.
They made a trade, all right. Justin Upton for a compensatory draft pick after the first round of the 2016 draft. That was not the exciting trade for which A.J. Preller was looking:
padres do like their nucleus. they obviously think they can get back in it. hurt in 1st half by myers injury, kemp underperformance— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) July 31, 2015
Nonsense. This is post-deadline spin. The Padres are literally 7½ games out of the second wild card, and they're behind three different teams, including one in their own division. They had a closer who could have returned some of the prospects they burned in their quixotic attempt to build a slugging team that couldn't field. Now they have a disappointing team with an excellent closer.
They just got too clever. That's my guess. The Yankees were reportedly offering Jorge Mateo, their No. 3 prospect, who's a 20-year-old shortstop holding his own in the Sally League. It would have made sense for both sides. Instead the Padres are ... wait-till-next-yearing? Hoping to deal Kimbrel during the offseason, when the price for closers is traditionally way lower than it is at the trade deadline?
Considering how active and gutsy the Padres were in the offseason, it's amazing how disappointing it is for them to say, "Don't worry: Wil Myers and Matt Kemp will fix all this." Their first attempt at an exciting roster was credible and exciting. But it needs a reboot, and I'm not sure how Kimbrel is still on a team that has traditionally grown relievers in a petri dish.
(They get bonus points for keeping Tyson Ross, though.)
This is a harsh place to put these teams, as I like a lot of their moves made in theory. In isolation, these teams made their teams better, and they didn't give up vast swaths of their farm systems. With a different set of criteria, they could all go in the winners pile.
Except for you, Cubs. Dan Haren probably isn't very good.
But they're all here because of what they didn't do. They didn't get one of the Johnny Cueto/David Price/Cole Hamels troika, and it's a gonna sting. Cueto went to a team that doesn't need his help to make the playoffs, Price went to one that is still a serious long shot for the postseason, and Hamels went to one that's focusing on next year. But these three teams are still very much on the bubble, and one more ace could have made all the difference.
The Giants tried hard. They just didn't have the farm system to compete. In a way, the best parts of their farm system are in the lineup, helping them have the best offense in the National League. That's what other teams wanted. The Giants couldn't part with them. Mike Leake is OK, don't get me wrong. But a super-pitcher was what the Giants really needed.
The Dodgers tried hard. They also did things. They essentially bought Mat Latos and Alex Wood, which led to them getting credit for being creative. That's not inaccurate. They were creative.
Except, well ...
Mike Bolsinger: 2.83 ERA
Brett Anderson: 3.29 ERA
Alex Wood: 3.54 ERA
Mat Latos: 4.48 ERA
One of those players has to sit. And, yeah, I know ERA is your grandpa's statistic, but everyone knows it, and the FIP and WARs and what have you all say pretty much the same thing. Based just on 2015, it's a lateral move, at best.
Wood and Latos have been better if you look at a multi-year stretch. Wood is a good long-term investment. There are reasons to prefer those two, both now and in the future. But did the Dodgers need to be creative, or did they need to deal for someone who made the rest of the National League shriek like someone who accidentally swallowed a spider?:
Oh, no, we matched up with the Dodgers in the first round. Kershaw ... Greinke ... Price ... how do we compete? How do we go on living? Aiieeeeee what a world what a world nooooo
Instead, for the third straight deadline, the Dodgers will make do with two ridiculous aces. Could be be enough. It's more than a lot of World Series winners of the recent past have had.
The Cubs are a little too enamored of their own farm system and a little too comfortable in their second-wild-card chase. There wasn't a sense of urgency, considering the young core that's responsible for this season's success. But there should always be a sense of urgency. They're the Cubs. When they're in the postseason race, they should act like it's the last time they'll be in a postseason race for 30 years. That doesn't mean trade Addison Russell or something ludicrous, but they were one of the teams that could have beat the Blue Jays, Royals, or Rangers out for their prized pitchers.
Dan Haren is almost worse than doing nothing at all, considering.
They exchanged a top prospect and a pitcher under contract for several more seasons for an over-30 player with health concerns. OK.
Hector Olivera might be special, sure. They might have serious concerns with Alex Wood's diminished strikeout rate or funky delivery, and they might have viewed Jose Peraza as a talented-but-limited player with a low ceiling because of his lack of power and patience. All of that is fair.
But is Olivera the best fit for this team at this stage of the rebuilding process? They're gearing up for the new stadium, after all, and there's no sensible reason to expect a 32-year-old Olivera to be a cornerstone for that roster. Especially considering that he hasn't even taken a single major league at-bat yet.
All the uncertainty of a prospect, with all the concerns of an older player coming off a serious injury. That is a very, very underwhelming return for two young players who had tremendous trade value.
They sneak in here even though they didn't really need a lot. They're a balanced, complete team, and they didn't need to panic after the Matt Holliday deal. They just happened to push two of my ugh buttons with specific players, so I can't let it go.
The Cardinals paid more to get Brandon Moss than the Indians did in the first place, a lot more, except that the Cardinals did it when Moss was having a worse season and about to get more expensive. I get the need, and I get that Moss is probably going to hit 14 home runs in the first two rounds of the postseason, just because that fits the narrative, yes. But Rob Kaminsky was a legitimate prospect, a first-rounder who has already adjusted well to professional ball and moved quickly. The Cardinals needed a 1B/OF combo, sure, but I could have also seen Kaminsky being part of a bigger deal for Ben Zobrist.
The Cards also acquired Jonathan Broxton, who probably isn't very good. There might be enough Dave Duncan juice left to fix him, but I'm not sure if I see the upside, there. Broxton has been actively bad in two of the last three seasons, but I guess if you want to believe in the good one, knock yourself out.
(As if the Cardinals don't know exactly what they're doing.)
#Marlins' Mike Hill: "I would hope our fans are educated enough to see what we’re doing here."— Jason Lieser (@PBPjasonlieser) July 30, 2015
Garbage organization. Traded their best assets for salary relief. Traded away a competitive balance pick for salary relief. Will do nothing with the money saved except rub all over the franchise's metaphorical corpulent, bloated, soulless body. They certainly won't give it to their young players:
Agent Scott Boras said the Marlins --- who are struggling to score runs --- are leaving outfielder Marcell Ozuna at Triple-A New Orleans to potentially delay his arbitration eligibility and that Marlins players are upset about it and this "is not what Marlins fans deserve."
The Marlins deny the decision is financially-driven.
Ozuna, who is hitting .353 with four homers and nine RBI in 18 games at New Orleans, would be eligible for arbitration for the first time after this season, instead of after next season, only if the Marlins bring him back to the big leagues shortly.
Boras also manages Jose Fernandez, who will be up for free agency right around the time that Giancarlo Stanton can opt out. Considering how the organization is treating Ozuna, and how they've treated their players and fans for decades, it's hard to see how anyone would want to stay there or come there as a free agent.
Other than that, the Marlins' deadline went pretty well, and they seem to be heading in the right direction.