If you were hoping for an exciting trade deadline like I was, then you were not disappointed last Thursday. There were not just a handful of deals made at the deadline. No, there was a flurry of activity unlike anything I can remember. The reigning world champions, the Boston Red Sox, did the most work, unloading five players to four different teams and completely overhauling their roster in the process. However, the Red Sox trades may not have been the biggest deal of the day, so, in anticipation of the playoffs, which are just two short months away I give you my top five trades from last Thursday and how they will affect the pennant races to come.
- Asdrubal Cabrera to Washington in exchange for Zach Walters. Cabrera solidifies the middle of the infield for the first-place Nationals and they didn’t give up much to get him. Cabrera will actually play second base for Washington as they have Ian Desmond entrenched at shortstop, but his acquisition removes a big question mark from the Nationals’ lineup. He’s not having that great a year, but he’s just a couple years removed from some monster seasons.
- New York Yankees land Stephen Drew and Martin Prado in separate deals. So I might be cheating on this one as it was not one deal, but in two moves the Yankees bolstered their struggling lineup and set themselves up to contend either for the AL East crown or a Wild Card spot. Like Cabrera, Drew changes positions and immediately takes over at second base (although I kind of wonder if they’re not thinking ahead to next season after Derek Jeter retires when they can move him back to his natural position at short). Prado, on the other hand, can fill all kinds of holes for the Yankees as he can play in the infield or outfield. I like both moves as New York tries to get Jeter into the playoffs one last time before he rides into the sunset.
- St. Louis gets John Lackey for Allen Craig and Joe Kelly. Another one of the Red Sox’ moves added a great arm (and a fantastic playoff pitcher) in Lackey to the staff of the second-place Cardinals. Lackey is a big-game pitcher having a great season and he should be able to help St. Louis secure a playoff spot. Maybe they don’t catch the Brewers, but they certainly have the pitching needed to earn one of the Wild Card berths.
- Oakland gets Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes for Yoenis Cespedes. I can’t put this deal first because the A’s gave away their cleanup hitter to get Lester. Sure, Gomes will lessen some of the pain of losing Cespedes, but his power is impossible to replace. On the bright side, Oakland gets two months (plus, hopefully, another in the postseason if they are lucky) of the former Red Sox ace who is enjoying what is probably the best year of his career. Lester, plus the earlier addition of Jeff Samardzjia and the homegrown Sonny Gray give Oakland a tremendous trio at the top of their order who will prove difficult to deal with in the playoffs.
- Detroit gets David Price in three-team deal. To me, Price is the biggest prize of the deadline. He has another year on his contract and I truly think he is a better pitcher than Lester. He also gives the Tigers another ace on a team that already had Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Annibal Sanchez. The price for Price was not that high either, Austin Jackson and Drew Smyly are nice players and I can certainly see Smyly flourish in Tampa Bay under Jim Hickey and Joe Maddon, but I doubt he will ever be Price’s equal. With this move, Detroit not only served notice to the rest of the AL Central that if they have any playoff aspirations this year they might want to consider looking at the Wild Card standings, they also let the rest of baseball know, they are they team to beat going forward.