Boston Red Sox – The Red Sox (70-43) weren’t feeling the love in a recent series against the pesky Rays and jumped at the chance to add an arm, trading none of their big prospects and landing Jake Peavy in return. This was the most impactful move at the deadline. The Red Sox deserve a ton of credit for leaving the joke of a season in 2012 in the rear view. Shortstop Jose Iglesias was a nice Red Sox story, and the Tigers probably overpaid for him.
Chicago Cubs – The Cubs (50-63) are an irregular Cubs bunch. They’ve played better on the road and have struggled to score runs in such a hitter friendly environment. They wanted quantity arms to add for a quietly decent staff (3rd in QS in the MLB). They traded the he-is-what-he-is Matt Garza to the Rangers for a pitcher C.J Edwards, another workhorse pitcher in Justin Grimm and got rid of Alfonso Soriano for righthander Corey Black. If Jake Arrieta can get his act together, they could be looking at a Samardzija / Wood / Jackson / Edwards / Arrieta rotation in 2014. That’s a lot of missed bats.
Houston Astros – At 37-76 anything is probably an upgrade, but we may remember this time as Houston rebuilt smartly instead of clinging on to a 70-wins-at-best roster. Addition by subtraction remains the H-Town plan for the future, and they continued to burn old wood for fresh saplings. Bud Norris, easily the most identifiable Astro pitcher (at least), was shipped to Baltimore for L.J Hoes, Josh Hader and a draft pick. They traded average guys like Jose Veras, Justin Maxwell for more draft picks and prospects. They need as many prospects as they can get, and it now looks like their farm system is among the league’s deepest. Now the kids need to pan out.
Texas Rangers – These aren’t the same Rangers of the earlier part of the decade. At 65-50, they’ll have to continue to play small ball with the likes of Leonys Martin to keep pace in a very good American League. They bagged pitcher Matt Garza from the Cubs which was a minor win but did nothing in the face of losing a major part of an already questionable offense when the MLB suspended outfielder Nelson Cruz. They’ll sorely miss his 27 homers and 76 RBI. They inquired about Blue Jay sluggers Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista as well as perused the availability of Carlos Gonzalez and Matt Kemp. In the end, they are hoping that their bats can still match up well against an Oakland or Tampa Bay in the playoffs -— they’ll have issues against Detroit or Boston.
Philadelphia Phillies – The aging-est team in baseball (51-62) seems to be in serious denial. They’re in serious rebuilding mode with a beyond-aging core. Teams kicked the tires on Cliff Lee, Michael Young and Chase Utley and nothing ended up happening. They thought they could be competitive this year and apparently Michael Young still thinks so (invoking a no-trade clause pretty late in the process). Maybe someone should tell Young that the Phillies have a worse run differential than the Marlins and could feasibly be caught by them. Sad.
Pittsburgh Pirates – Are those green, efficient Pirates (69-44) going to sustainable down the stretch? They own one of the best records in baseball, but they still needed a gas-guzzling bat or two in the worse way and were unable to get any offensive help. Only the Giants, Nationals, Phillies have scored fewer in the NL, and they will be hard pressed to match Cadillac offenses (and division foes) Cincinnati and St. Louis in those inevitable summer slugouts in Busch and Great American. Their fans were screaming for an upgrade; guys like Justin Morneau, Alex Rios or heck even Nate Schierholtz would have made sense. A backend starter like Bud Norris could’ve made sense for a team that seems destined to play in October. It seems the Pirates were content keep relying on their efficient, run preventing style (381 runs allowed – 1st in MLB). Hopefully they don’t run out of hybrid electricity like in 2011.
Seattle Mariners – The Mariners (53-61) have tinkered with their ballpark and offensively have some pieces but big, about-to-be-free-agent-bats (Michael Morse, Raul Ibanez and Kendrys Morales) weren’t moved. They’re 11.5 games out of first and their pitching has strangely let them down (only the Angels, Blue Jays and lowly Astros have surrendered more runs). They wanted top prospects and commanded a premium for those expiring bats. In the end, no one was willing to pay price for their middling veterans.