The contenders, in some cases, made off like bandits at the MLB trade deadline, raiding their poorer cousins and not relinquishing much of value in return.
Now, it wasn’t a complete loss for the 15 teams we deem to be non-contenders, as some of these teams were able to translate middle-of-the-road stars for a boatload of prospects.
Some teams, like Oakland, tore it down to the bone to re-stock the minor league cupboard. Toronto, which could have re-booted, made a couple of smaller moves that were met with collective yawns. The San Francisco Giants, meanwhile, are the worst team in baseball and did zip to improve their chances down the road.
All in all, it was an eerily quiet deadline until the Yu Darvish and Sonny Gray trades went down.
Here is our list of good, bad and “meh” grades for the 15 MLB teams who will likely be done in early October, or long before that. Starting with bad, then “meh” then good.
15. San Francisco Giants – Bad
We never thought we’d be saying this, considering the Giants have won three titles this decade, but they stink. Bad. From top of the heap in 2014, to the playoffs in 2016 and now general ignominy. They are the worst team in baseball, officially, with their 40-67 record (.374 winning percentage) falling .005 points behind the terrible Philadelphia Phillies at 39-64 (.379 winning percentage). GM Bobby Evans looked at his line-up in July and instead of rebuilding for the future, did just about nothing. The only untouchables we can see on this roster are C Buster Posey, injured starter Madison Bumgarner and promising lefty starter Ty Blach. Everyone else should have been up for grabs. Evans did send 3B Eduardo Nunez, his second best player, to Boston for rookie ball RHP Gregory Santos and A-Ball rightie Shaun Anderson. Of the two, only Anderson makes San Fran’s top 30 prospects, slotting in at no. 17.
14. Detroit Tigers – Bad
Justin Verlander, who was one name many thought would be moving Monday, had a lot of fun on Twitter posting about his actual non-movement. And the joke, surely, is on the Tigers. Now, the former Cy Young winner was nearly untradeable, given his unruly contract (he is owed $56 million over two more seasons) and his lousy season (6-7, 4.29 ERA). Of the two moves they did make, with Arizona and the Chicago Cubs, the jury will long be out on the return. The Tigers got minor league infielders Dawel Lugo, Sergio Alcantara and Jose King from Arizona in the J.D. Martinez deal. Lugo is now 14th on the Tigers top prospect chart, while Alcantara is 23rd and King is well down the list. From the Cubs in the Alex Avila/Justin Wilson trade, the Tigers got infielders Isaac Paredes, Jeimer Candelario and that “player to be named.” Candelario and Paredes at least slot in higher, with the former ranked 3rd in the Tigers system and Paredes ranked eighth. Of all these players, only Candelario (196th) and Lugo (200th) made a top 200 list earlier this year.
13. New York Mets – Bad
It’s been a yo-yo of a season for the 48-55 New York Mets, much like their trade deadline, we say. The Mets, who will likely miss the playoffs for the first time since 2014, sucked and blew at the deadline, figuratively. By that we mean they were buyers — and sellers — and in back-to-back transactions traded for and dealt away the same type of player. On July 28, they acquired Miami Marlins closer A.J. Ramos for prospect arm Merandy Gonzalez and OF Ricardo Cespedes. Then, on July 31 they shipped closer Addison Reed to Boston for minor league pitchers Stephen Nogosek, Gerson Bautista and Jamie Callahan. As far as prospects go, the guys they sent to Miami, Gonzalez and Cespedes, rank 7th and 24th for their new club, respectively. The youngsters they got for Reed aren’t nearly has highly rated, with only Nogosek making the Mets’ top 30. In a separate deal, the Mets traded slugging 1B to Tampa Bay for 30th ranked prospect pitcher Drew Smith. Not a good deadline at all for New York.
12. Baltimore Orioles – Bad
The O’s are still within a sniff of a wild card spot, sitting 4.5 games back of Kansas City. However, with a tepid starting pitching staff and a starting line-up that isn’t getting it done offensively every night, the O’s should have been marketing some of their bigger names, like Zach Britton and Manny Machado. Instead of hitting the reset button, then, Baltimore made one significant deal, bringing in Tampa Bay Rays infielder Tim Beckham, with minor league righthander Tobias Myers going to the Rays. The only reason we saw for dealing for Beckham was the fact he’s an upgrade — not by much mind you — on the shortstop-by-committee of Ryan Flaherty, J.J. Hardy and Ruben Tejada. Otherwise, the O’s lack of inactivity at this deadline gives them a “bad” grade.
11. San Diego Padres – Bad
Brad Hand is still a Padre and that might not be a good thing for fans in San Diego. Their biggest trade chip wasn’t moved at a time when his value is optimal, what with his 1.96 ERA in 50 games, seven saves and 72 strikeouts in 55 innings. The Pads are way, way out of the playoff picture and gutted their pitching staff — save for Hand — by dealing SP Trevor Cahill and relievers Brandon Maurer and Ryan Buchter to Kansas City for SP Travis Wood, RP Matt Strahm and rookie ball infielder Esteury Ruiz (now 30th on the Padres prospect list). Wood was terrible in K.C. before going to San Diego, posting a 6.91 ERA in 28 games. He’s been all right so far with the Padres, surrendering two earned runs in six innings and striking out seven. As for Strahm, who was key to the deal, he is out the rest of the season after knee surgery. He was 2-5 with a 5.45 ERA in 24 games (three starts) with the Royals.
10. Los Angeles Angels – Meh
Even with the American League’s best player in the line-up, the Angels are still not a very good team, chugging along with a 52-55 record. That puts them 17.5 games behind AL West leading Houston and 4.0 games out of a wild card spot. They made one small move at the deadline, sending righthanded reliever David Hernandez to Arizona for Venezualan rookie ball starter Luis Madero. With the second thinnest farm system in baseball (according to Baseball America) the Angels could have shed some more high salaried players, like starter Ricky Nolasco and his $12 million salary to re-stock the farm. They also had a few players on the short term disabled list, like Cameron Maybin ($9 million) and SP Matt Shoemaker ($3.25 million) are both free agents after this season and could have fetched a decent return.
9. Cincinnati Reds – Meh
Another year out of the playoffs is a foregone conclusion in Cincinnati, and for a team with decent trade bait, they didn’t do a whole lot at the deadline to change the culture. All it might have taken was to get ageless wonder Joey Votto (.304, 27 HR, 72 RBI) to waive his no-trade clause and the return could have been enormous. The Yankees, who have the second best farm system in baseball (according to Baseball America) could have used his bat, ditto Houston, who have the third deepest farm. The Reds could also have optimized a return on SS Zack Cosart, but again, pretty much crickets at the deadline. The only move made was to send left-handed reliever Tony Cingrani to the Dodgers for OF/1B Scott Van Slyke and C Hendrik Clementina. Van Slyke has some major league power, but is still raw, while Clementina is still a few years away from the big leagues.
8. Toronto Blue Jays – Meh
Despite protestations from management to the contrary, the Blue Jays did absolutely nothing to improve their chances at going for a wild card spot. GM Ross Atkins stated to the press that the three moves they made netted the team controllable young prospects, while still remaining “relevant.” Uh huh, and the team also announced a rise in ticket prices for a squad not likely to see a post-season game. First they dealt minor league 1B Ryan McBroom to the Yankees on July 23 for utilityman Rob Refsnyder. Then, on Monday, they shipped LHP Francisco Liriano to the Astros for veteran OF Nori Aoki and Houston’s eighth best prospect (now Toronto’s fifth best), OF Teoscar Hernandez. A decent return, if Hernandez develops into the player the Astros thought he would be (he has 41 games of big league experience). The final deal struck involved journeyman reliever Joe Smith, who went to Cleveland for minor league lefty Thomas Pannone and 2B Samad Taylor. Pannone slots in now as the Jays 21st best prospect.
7. Atlanta Braves – Meh
The Braves have the best farm system in baseball, so says Baseball America. With another mediocre year nearly in the books, they could have made the farm even better, in our estimation. Julio Teheran, who would have been their best bargaining chip in the absence of injured Freddie Freeman, could have been dealt for a passel of prospects. He’s under control until 2019 and with all the contenders who were looking for a starter, he could easily have been traded. As it was, the Braves succeeded only in sending starter Jaime Garcia and C Anthony Recker to the Minnesota Twins for rookie ball pitcher Huascar Ynoa. The Dominican prospect, younger brother of White Sox hurler Michael, was once highly coveted in the Twins system, but has regressed a bit and doesn’t crack Atlanta’s excellent top 30.
6. Philadelphia Phillies – Meh
If international bonus slot money is supposed to assuage demoralized Phillies fans, then Philadelphia management won the day on Monday. That was about all the NL East’s worst team (39-65) could crow about after the fire sale at the deadline. On July 26, the sent veteran reliever Pat Neshek to Colorado for minor leaguers Jose Gomez, J.D. Hammer and Alejandro Requena. None of them rank in the top 30 of the Phillies sixth best farm system. Two days later, they traded staff ace Jeremy Hellickson to Baltimore for OF Hyun Soo Kim, AA reliever Garrett Cleavinger and some of that bonus slot cash. Soo Kim will mostly be a reserve in Philly, while Cleavinger, like the aforementioned minor leaguers, doesn’t slot into the organization’s top 30 prospects. The same day, 2B Howie Kendrick was packaged with cash to Washington for more international bonus money and A ball hurler McKenzie Mills. In Mills case, at least, he now occupies the 24th spot on the prospect list. Lastly, the Phils moved veteran reliever Joaquin Benoit to Pittsburgh for A ball reliever Seth McGarry. Total meh.
5. Pittsburgh Pirates – Meh
A 3-7 swoon of late has all but taken the wind out of Pittsburgh’s playoff sails, leaving them nine games out of the last wild card spot and 6.5 games back of NL Central leading Chicago. What they did, or didn’t do, at the trade deadline was a head scratcher and earns them a solid “meh.” On Monday, the Bucs sent A ball relief pitcher Seth McGarry to Philadelphia for aging journeyman reliever Joaquin Benoit. That one had us saying “huh.” If the Pirates were thinking about adding pieces for a run, they should have went bigger. Later the same day, they sent effective lefty reliever Tony Watson to the Dodgers for infielder Oneil Cruz (now the 16th best prospect in Pittsburgh’s seventh ranked farm system) and A Ball reliever Angel German. Thus, they neither signaled taking a shot at the NL Central crown (still vaguely within reach) or re-stocked their formidable farm system with great prospects.
4. Texas Rangers – Good
The Rangers would have been in “meh” to “bad” territory, had the deal that sent Jonathan Lucroy to Colorado — for that outstanding prospect “player to be named” — been their only one. Sending trade deadline bait Lucroy away for virtually nothing, if anything, opens the door for Robinson Chirinos to finally take the bull by the horns behind the plate. Out of the playoff race, for all intents and purposes, the Rangers mini rebuild got in full swing on Monday, first by dealing reliever Jeremy Jeffress to Milwaukee for South African relief pitcher Tayler Scott, who debuted at AAA Round Rock this week. With the clock clicking down at the deadline, the Rangers finally pulled the trigger, as expected, on Yu Darvish. A free agent at the end of the season (and the Rangers may yet sign him anyway), Darvish went as a rental to the Los Angeles Dodgers, fetching Dodgers prospect righty A.J. Alexy, 2B Willie Calhoun and A Ball infielder Brendon Davis. Alexy is now the Rangers’ 19th ranked prospect and Calhoun will see action with AAA Round Rock. Good haul.
3. Chicago White Sox – Good
The White Sox farm system got a major talent injection and could push them from a fifth place ranking by Baseball America all the way to the top. They got a big jump on proceedings by trading veteran starter Jose Quintana across town to the Cubs on July 13, netting four minor league prospects. The biggest of them was OF Eloy Jimenez, an A ball masher who immediately obtained no. 2 status on the Chisox top prospect list. The second best of the four is righthanded fireball starter Dylan Cease, who is eighth on Chicago’s list. Six days later, they sent 3B Todd Frazier and relievers Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson to the Yankees for another trio of minor leaguers and Tyler Clippard. Of the three youngsters, OF Blake Rutherford is now the Sox fifth ranked prospect and lefty starter Ian Clarkin 24th. On consecutive days last week they traded middle relievers Anthony Swarzak to Milwaukee for OF Ryan Cordell (now their 19th ranked prospect) and Dan Jennings to Tampa for highly touted 3B Casey Gillaspie (14th). And finally, the shipped Melky Cabrera back to Kansas City for two more minor leaguers, one of who is now 25th ranked prospect A.J. Puckett. Job well done in the Windy City.
2. Miami Marlins – Good
In what could be the biggest coup of the deadline, the Marlins raided the Seattle Mariners farm system for four prospects, giving up only reliever David Phelps in the process. Even though the team is mired in an ownership kerfuffle and have Baseball America’s worst ranked farm system, they managed to do well at the deadline and re-boot. The Fish got slick minor league outfielder Brayan Hernandez in that deal and he is now their 8th ranked prospect. The remainder of the quartet include RHP Brandon Miller (20th ranked prospect) RHP Pablo Lopez (23rd) and A Ball righty reliever Lukas Schiraldi. In a separate deal three days before the deadline, Miami traded closer A.J. Ramos to the Mets for up-and-coming outfielder Ricardo Cespedes (no relation to that other Cespedes) and excellent minor league starter Merandy Gonzalez, who slots in as their 6th ranked youngster.
1. Oakland A’s – Good
Faced with having to go to arbitration with Sonny Gray in the off-season, the A’s did themselves a solid and traded him to the Yankees for international bonus slot money and three minor leaguers. Not bad for a promising pitcher who has scuffled at times and spent time on the DL. The Athletics middling farm system got a good injection with the trio of youngsters, including 3rd ranked prospect OF Dustin Fowler (who has 40 extra base hits in AAA ball), 5th rated prospect SS Jorge Mateo and 11th ranked RHP James Kaprielian. An earlier deal that saw relievers Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson go to Washington netted the Athletics 29-year-old set-up man Blake Treinen, as well as 7th ranked prospect lefty Jesus Luzardo and 15th ranked power-hitting 3B Sheldon Neuse. An overall “real good” for the A’s.