If you were paying attention to sports media today, you surely noticed that MLB’s non-waiver trade deadline was unbelievably hectic. “But Andrew,” you certainly wondered, “I can’t keep track of these deals! What happened? How do they impact the Nats?” Well, you’re in luck! This post will serve as your guide to every deal that went down, and how they relate to the Washington Nationals. I’ll try to keep them chronological, but of course, things were pretty muddled. And if I don’t mention a prospect, it’s because they’re not worth mentioning.
The Boston Red Sox trade LHP Jon Lester and OF Jonny Gomes to the Oakland Athletics for OF Yoenis Cespedes and competitive balance draft pick.
The day got off to a rollicking start with this huge deal. Lester had been rumored to be on the move for a long time, and it was Billy Beane who finally convinced the Sox to pull the trigger. The A’s were a surprise entrant into the Lester sweepstakes, given that they had emptied their farm system to acquire Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, and they took the surprising step of trading their All-Star outfielder to upgrade their starting pitching staff to an unbelievable level. This has little relevance to the Nats, as the odds of an Oakland-Washington World Series are pretty slim, but is noteworthy for the movement of ex-Nat Gomes.
The Oakland Athletics trade RHP Tommy Milone to the Minnesota Twins for OF Sam Fuld.
Joe covered this trade, and the extension signed by Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki, here. It has even less implication for the Nats than the Lester trade.
The Boston Red Sox trade RHP John Lackey and LHP Corey Littrell to the St. Louis Cardinals for RHP Joe Kelly and 1B/OF Allen Craig.
Once the Red Sox traded Lester, it was simply a matter of time until Lackey was on the move as well. And just like with Lester, the Red Sox got major-league talent back for their pitcher. Kelly has been mediocre, but is under team control through 2018 and could be a passable back-end starter. Craig was an All-Star last season, and hit .312/.364/.500 from 2011-13. But his numbers have fallen off a cliff this season: .237/.291/.346. The Cardinals had certainly given up on him if they were willing to trade him, but the Red Sox must still see his potential.Lackey will be under a team option for the veteran minimum for 2015, triggered by an odd clause in his deal with the Red Sox that created the option of Lackey missed significant time with a preexisting elbow injury. At roughly $500K, Lackey will be a bargain in 2015. This deal affects the Nats in that it beefs up a main NL contender, for both this year and next. But if Craig returns to form or stud rookie Oscar Taveras fails to hit, this deal could come back to bite St. Louis.
The Arizona Diamondbacks trade OF Gerardo Parra to the Milwaukee Brewers for OF Mitch Haniger and LHP Anthony Banda.
Parra, reportedly a former Nats target, has seen his stock fall drastically over the past few years. The two-time Gold Glover has earned his keep with his defense, but metrics rate him poorly this year and his offense has slipped, from a 97 wRC+ in 2013 to an 81 wRC+ in 2014, to the point that he has been below replacement level in 2014. Haniger was one of the Brewers’ top prospects, but Milwaukee has a very thin farm system and Haniger did not appear on any prominent top-100 prospects list. This trade affects the Nats in that it improves the Brewers, but Parra will not play every day and will not make a huge impact.
The San Diego Padres trade OF Chris Denorfia to the Seattle Mariners for OF Abraham Almonte and RHP Stephen Kohlscheen.
Denorfia was a backup outfielder in San Diego, and fits a need in the extremely thin Seattle outfield. Almonte played with the Mariners some this year but struggled, hitting .198 in 27 games. This trade does not affect the Nats, except in that it prevents the Braves from acquiring Denorfia, who they were rumored to have interest in.
The Boston Red Sox trade LHP Andrew Miller to the Baltimore Orioles for RHP Eduardo Rodriguez.
Miller has been stellar out of the bullpen this year, striking out nearly 15 batters per nine innings and putting up an ERA of 2.34 to accompany a FIP of 1.69. But he will be a free agent after the season, which is why it is puzzling that the Orioles would give up a great prospect in Rodriguez, who Baseball America ranked as the No. 65 prospect in baseball before the season. Miller was reportedly another Braves target, but, as with nearly all intra-AL trades, this does not effect the Nationals much.
The Cleveland Indians trade SS Asdrubal Cabrera to the Washington Nationals for SS/2B Zach Walters.
Joe also covered this deal here. My two cents: Cabrera will be a big offensive upgrade on Danny Espinosa, and Walters did not figure into the Nats’ future plans. If Ryan Zimmerman is indeed out for the season as has been reported, Cabrera is a perfect fit as a free-agent to be after this year.
The Tampa Bay Rays trade LHP David Price to the Detroit Tigers for LHP Drew Smyly and SS Wily Adames. Tampa Bay also acquires 2B Nick Franklin from the Seattle Mariners, who acquire OF Austin Jackson from Detroit.
Now here’s a doozy. Price seemed unlikely to be traded before deadline day, given his team’s recent surge in the standings, but Andrew Friedman clearly found a deal he liked, even though many skewered him for not getting enough for Price. Price may be an ace, but he is only under control for this year and next, and may cost as much as $20M for the 2015 season. Of course, Tigers owner Mike Illitch has shown he wants to win at any cost. Smyly has been good as a starter and stellar as a reliever, and will be under control through 2018. Adames is in Low A, but Baseball America said that he has “the highest ceiling of any prospect traded on July 31.” Franklin has been trapped behind Robinson Cano in AAA all year, where he has an .847 OPS. Jackson had a 134 wRC+ in 2012, but has struggled offensively since and has been exactly league average (100 wRC+) this year.
The Boston Red Sox trade SS Stephen Drew to the New York Yankees for 2B/3B Kelly Johnson.
Drew has really struggled with the Red Sox after not signing a deal for the first half of the season, while Johnson was a candidate to be designated for assignment by the Yankees. It’s a bit of salary relief for Boston, a second baseman for New York, and cognitive dissonance for us all.
The Arizona Diamondbacks trade 2B/3B/OF Martin Prado to the New York Yankees for C/1B/OF Peter O’Brien.
The Yankees work their financial muscle again, agreeing to take on the $11M owed to in 2015 and 2016 in exchange for a fringe prospect on O’Brien, who can hit a boatload of homers but not reach base otherwise or play defense anywhere. With Drew, Prado, and Chase Headley, the Yankees have a lot of options in their infield going forward. Arizona is far from contention, so this trade also has little impact on the Nationals.
The Chicago Cubs trade LHP James Russell and 2B/OF Emilio Bonifacio to the Atlanta Braves for C Victor Caratini.
These last two trades do indeed have some effect on the NL East, both this year and going forward. The Braves acquired Russell as lefty help for the bullpen, and Bonifacio, a former National, to bolster the bench. Russell is having a solid season, with a 3.51 ERA, but shows a strange reverse platoon split where lefties have hit him better than righties. His FIP is a mediocre 4.27, but Russell’s ERA has outstripped his FIP in every season of his career so far. But since his peripherals have been so poor, he has regularly posted a negative WAR, including this year’s -0.3. He’s solid if you believe he can keep holding off his FIP. Bonifacio has been wildly inconsistent this season. His wRC by month: 121, 51, 27, 180. He hit like baseball’s worst hitter (by a lot) in May and June, but like baseball’s best hitter in July. Assuming he falls somewhere in the middle, perhaps at the 90 wRC+ level he’s posted for the full year, he could be a solid backup infielder for Atlanta. Caratini was rated as the No. 8 prospect in the Braves’ system by Baseball America before the 2014 season. Bolstering the bench and bullpen won’t move the needle much for a team, but is certainly worth noting.
The Houston Astros trade RHP Jarred Cosart, 2B/OF Enrique Hernandez, and OF Austin Wates to the Miami Marlins for OF Jake Marisnick, 3B Colin Moran, RHP Francis Martes, and a competitive balance draft pick.
Now here’s a deal if you like prospects. Cosart is the headliner here, a 24-year-old starter under control through 2019. He has a fastball that can touch 99 with movement, but he has trouble controlling it. The pitch also does a great job of inducing ground balls but not strikeouts, which is why his career K/BB ratio is 1.26. His 1.47 K/BB is the lowest of any qualified starter this season. Cosart has been inconsistent, and is a good get if a team believes that he can continue to improve. Hernandez was considered a fringe prospect before this year, but broke out in the minors and has now posted a .768 OPS in 24 games with Houston. He’s only 22, and could be a good second baseman, but was blocked by Jose Altuve. Wates is 25 and posting a .776 OPS at AAA. Marisnick is regarded as a great defensive center fielder, but there are significant questions about his bat. Moran is perhaps the most interesting guy the Astros are receiving. He was the 6th overall pick in the 2013 draft, and the Astros reportedly heavily considered him at No. 1 overall. He has been mediocre in his first full pro year, with a .735 OPS at High A, but this stems largely from his .395 slugging percentage. If he can rediscover his power stroke, he should restore whatever sheen his prospect status has lost. Martes is raw, as a 18-year-old in rookie ball. His numbers are poor, but reports on his stuff are good. How you feel about this deal largely depends on your faith in Cosart and Moran, though it’s clear the Marlins have upgraded at the MLB level right now.