July 31st, the MLB non-waiver trade deadline, has come and gone. After two days of digesting one of the busiest deadlines in recent memory, it is not only time to think about who made the right turns in either improving their team for a postseason run or retooled for the future, but it is also time to think about who whiffed at those opportunities. Ladies and gentlemen, here are Cover Those Bases' winners and losers of the 2014 trade deadline.
The Oakland Athletics acquired Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Chicago Cubs on July 4th. Their rotation took a huge step forward, although they did have to give up top prospect Addison Russell in return. When we thought the A's had made their one move, they proved us wrong. On the day of the deadline, the Athletics made the first move of the day, a big one, acquiring Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes from the Boston Red Sox. They did have to send Yoenis Cespedes to Boston, but pitching wins championships, and Billy Beane and company did their job.
Boston Red Sox
At the beginning of July, the Red Sox' trade deadline status was in question. Going into July 1st, the Red Sox were only 6.5 games out of first, and a hot month could have made them buyers. However, they went 11-16 in July, and ended the month 12.5 games out. What really makes them winners, however, is that they were able to deal every single major trade piece they had that only had one year left on their contract. The Sox dealt Jon Lester to Oakland, John Lackey to St. Louis, and Andrew Miller to Baltimore. Not to mention, they also dealt Stephen Drew to New York and Jake Peavy to San Francisco. In return, the Red Sox did not just get prospects that will be in the show in five years. They got Yoenis Cespedes, Joe Kelly, and Allen Craig, three proven major leaguers. That was absolutely fantastic. This deadline could make Boston contenders again next year.
The Cubs did exactly what everyone wanted them to do at the trade deadline, sell. They dealt Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland, getting one of the best prospects in baseball in Addison Russell, while also receiving Billy McKinney and Dan Straily. They also were able to take Felix Doubront of the Red Sox' hands, who might be able to be shaped into a pretty good pitcher. However, he is a big work in progress. And right at the deadline at 4 pm, Chicago dealt James Russell and Emilio Bonifacio to Atlanta, getting a former second round pick in Victor Caratini in return. The Cubs continue to build up young players and could be contenders as soon as next year.
During the weeks leading up to the trade deadline, the question was, "How many players are the Phillies going to sell?" This was different than prior years, when the question was, "Will the Phillies sell?" I guess people should have been asking the second question again, because the Phillies did not deal one single player at the trade deadline. Let me tell you again: they did not trade a single player. With all they talent they had in Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Marlon Byrd, and Jonathan Papelbon, the Phillies still could not make a deal. The person to blame is general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., who blamed the other GMs for not being aggressive enough for his players. Unless they make some serious noise during the waiver-trade period in August, Amaro, along with the rest of the Phillies front office, failed epically. He needs to go before anything worse happens to this team.
San Francisco Giants
I really believed that the Giants were going to go out and get a bat at the deadline, particularly at second base. However, the only deal they made was getting a shaky Jake Peavy from Boston for two minor league pitchers that I feel highly about. They were not able to make the deals that they should have, especially going after either Ben Zobrist or Chase Utley. Even after the Rays decided they were going to deal David Price, they should have gone out and shopped Zobrist. The Giants were not able to get anything done, even after showing a lot of interest in him. They are competing with the Dodgers in the National League West, and when you need to be deep at every position to best them, they whiffed really badly in going out and getting a second baseman. That is why they are a loser.
Tampa Bay Rays
As soon as the Rays decided they were going to deal David Price, Ben Zobrist should have been the next guy to be moved. The Rays got a subpar return for a Cy Young award winner in David Price, only drawing Nick Franklin from Seattle and Drew Smyly from Detroit, along with a minor league shortstop. I really thought that the Rays were only going to deal Price in a fantastic deal, especially since they still can contend this season. However, that was not the case, as I believe the Red Sox got more for Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes than the Rays got for David Price. That should be the complete opposite. The Rays could have easily held on to the lefty as well, as he still has another season on his contract. Tampa Bay made a head-scratcher this deadline season.