You could make the case (I certainly will) that the three biggest trades leading up to the Deadline involved three frontline starting pitchers: Cliff Lee (pictured left; AP), Dan Haren and Roy Oswalt.
Lee is the best of the trio, obviously, and made the first-place Rangers a heavy favorite for an American League West title upon his arrival to Arlington (if he wasn’t already). Oswalt and Haren, meanwhile, are both having rough seasons, but they’re both legitimate aces and should be sparked by joining the contending Phillies and Angels, respectively. Unlike Lee — a free agent at season’s end — both are in the books beyond the 2010 season, too.
Also, Edwin Jackson joined the White Sox, Jake Westbrook went to the Cardinals, and the Dodgers nabbed the coveted Ted Lilly.
The “Evil Empire” strikes again: Did you really think a Trade Deadline was going to go by without the Yankees having a big-time say? They got the most notable position player dealt in Lance Berkman, who will finally give the Bronx Bombers a stabilizing presence at designated hitter. They nabbed Austin Kearns to bolster the outfield. And they got Kearns’ Indians teammate, closer Kerry Wood, to give them yet another bridge to Mariano Rivera.
With the Red Sox decimated by injuries and the low-budget Rays standing pat prior to the Deadline (minus the acquisition of a struggling Chad Qualls) the Yanks — owners of the best record in baseball heading into Saturday night — positioned themselves for another World Series run.
Big names stay put: Although a flurry of moves came down hours before the Deadline, this year sure seemed like one when teams were extremely hesitant to take on salary and part ways with top prospects, even though many described this as a dried-up trade market (especially in terms of reliable bullpen help).
Adam Dunn (pictured right; AP) and Prince Fielder were seemingly the two biggest bats available, but because of steep demands, neither moved. The Brewers have Fielder under club control for one more season, so there was no urgency to deal him just yet. But Dunn is a free agent after the season, and there have been no indications that a contract extension is in the works.
Cody Ross was a highly coveted outfielder the Marlins were reportedly shopping, but he wasn’t dealt. Neither was Blue Jays infielder/outfielder Jose Bautista. Or Astros right-hander Brett Myers, who may work out an extension. But the biggest surprise (minus Dunn) is the fact that neither of the Blue Jays’ seemingly available late-inning relievers — Jason Frasor, Scott Downs and Kevin Gregg — were dealt.
Among the teams looking to add, here were the biggest winners, in my mind …
1. Rangers: Hard to argue here. Their only not-great area was starting pitching — until they added Lee. They also got Jorge Cantu and Cristian Guzman to bolster the infield.
2. Yankees: A great team got much deeper with the acquisitions of Berkman, Kearns and Wood.
3. Dodgers: They needed to be active, and they were, by adding Lilly, Scott Podsednik, Ryan Theriot and Octavio Dotel.
4. Phillies: A lot of the chatter in Philadelphia still revolves around not being able to keep Lee this past offseason, but general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. almost made up for that, by getting Oswalt in exchange for J.A. Happ — and none of their big-time prospects — and an additional $11 million from the Astros.
5. Angels: The acquisition of Haren gives them an ace through at least the 2012 season. That’s enough to make the top-five.
… We now return to our regularly scheduled baseball season.
– Alden Gonzalez