Major League Baseball’s trade deadline came and went Sunday afternoon but not before several contending teams bolstered their playoff hopes with shrewd moves at the 11th hour.
Other teams — most notably the two atop the American League East — failed to address glaring needs and may lose ground as a result.
Here’s a quick look at the major winners and losers.
1. Texas Rangers. They have the offense, they have the starting pitching and now — after Sunday’s late acquisition of San Diego setup man Mike Adams — the Rangers have the bullpen to make another run to the World Series. With a narrow two-game lead over the Angels in the AL West, Texas needed to make a move or two to solidify its spot atop the division and position itself for another playoff run. In Adams they nabbed a proven eighth inning guy with who has given up only six earned runs in 48 innings (1.13 ERA), and the addition of Koji Uehara from the Baltimore Orioles will bridge the gap between the Rangers’ strong rotation and fireball closer Neftali Feliz. Coupled with the inactivity of the Angels, Red Sox and Yankees, the Rangers may have made themselves the new favorites in the AL.
2. Philadelphia Phillies. Rumored to be in the mix for New York Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran, the Phillies waited to get the outfield bat they needed and ended up with a better player who they can keep beyond 2011. All-Star Hunter Pence is in the midst of a career year and should find a happy home behind Ryan Howard in the Phillies’ lineup. To land Pence, the Phillies parted ways with the top arm in their farm system, 21-year-old righty Jarred Cosart, but the payoff should be worth it for a team loaded with top-end starters looking to get back to the Fall Classic for the third time in four years.
3. Atlanta Braves. Fans must have been tomahawk chopping their hair off as they watched hitter after hitter change uniforms while their front office seemingly stood pat, but Sunday’s acquisition of Houston Astros leadoff hitter Michael Bourn showed just how valuable patience can be at the trade deadline. In Bourn the Braves get the proven lead-off hitter they’ve desperately lacked for the better part of the last decade — Bourn leads the majors in stolen bases with 39 and has a better average (.303) and OPS (.766) than the two centerfielders he’ll replace. Most importantly, the Braves pulled an absolute coup by obtaining Bourn without dealing any of their top four pitching prospects.
Other winners: Pittsburgh Pirates, Milwaukee Brewers, Toronto Blue Jays, San Francisco Giants
1. New York Yankees. Used to be the Bronx Bombers could hand pick their targets in the offseason and at the trade deadline and seemingly land any stud pitcher or hitter they wanted. That’s why Brian Cashman’s silence at the trade rings so loudly. The Yankees have CC Sabathia and very little else in the way of reliable starting pitching. In Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, A.J. Burnett and the now-healthy Phil Hughes they have names you recognize but three of the four peaked years ago and hardly makeup the rotation of a World Series hopeful. New York needed another starter and — at least at this point — they failed to get him.
2. Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox picked up Erik Bedard from the Seattle Mariners just before the buzzer sounded Sunday hoping to buy a few starts from the always-injured lefty while Clay Buchholz worked his way back from a back injury. On Monday reports surfaced that Buchholz has a stress fracture and is likely out for the season, meaning Bedard must go from emergency stop-gap to reliable (healthy!) starter — something he’s failed to do since 2007.
3. Los Angeles Angels. The Rangers and Angels both approached the deadline needing bullpen help and only one succeeded. Los Angeles also could have used another hitter to help their offense keep pace with the sluggers in Arlington, Texas, but that didn’t happen either. After scrapping to hang close to Texas all season, the Angels did nothing to help their chances at catching the defending AL champs and now a fade down the stretch could be in the cards.
Other losers: Houston Astros, Cincinnati Reds, Chicago Cubs