The unthinkable happened, the most storied general manager in the game of baseball, Billy Beane got his man, but boy did he have to pay a hefty price. On the morning of the MLB Trade Deadline, July 31st the first place Oakland Athletics traded their cleanup hitter OF Yoenis Cespedes and a Competitive Balance Draft Pick to the last place Boston Red Sox in exchange for 2 month rental pitcher Jon Lester and OF Jonny Gomes. We all thought the Red Sox would get one or two top prospects, but no! They got the best team in baseball’s cleanup hitter in exchange for a two month rental! Once Billy Beane watched his newly acquired pitcher Jason Hammel pitch 4 tremendously awful games, he was willing to overpay to get his man, and that’s exactly what he did. Most people think now the A’s have the best starting rotation in the league with Lester, Gray, Samardzija, Kazmir, and Chavez and most people thought this was the biggest blockbuster of the year.
But, shortly before 4pm ticked, Dave Dombrowski, GM of the Detroit Tigers worked his magic and got the best starting pitcher in the game, David Price. The Tampa Bay Rays traded David Price in a three team trade to the Tigers and the Tigers sent SP Drew Smyly to Tampa and Austin Jackson to Seattle, as well as Seattle sending 2B Nick Franklin to the Rays. Now lets look at this trade a little closer, almost every person in the game of baseball thinks the Rays got totally ripped off, and I 100% agree. The Rays traded the best lefty in the game in David Price who still has a whole year left on his contract plus the end of this year. All they got was a 2B in Nick Franklin who has only 47 at-bats and .127 AVG this year at the MLB level and SP Drew Smyly who was supposed to be a top young lefty in the game but only has won 6 games on the Tigers who are a top team in run support. The Tigers win this trade by far, but the Mariners did get their right-handed bat they were looking for in OF Austin Jackson who has another year of his contract left and only gave up Nick Franklin. The losers of this trade are the Rays by a large margin, and now Andrew Friedman, GM of the Rays has diminished his reputation as a GM.
This is the first time in many, many years when there have been multiple trades when both teams trade players off of their 25 man roster. Many people thought the Red Sox and Rays would get multiple top prospects in return for Price and Lester, and neither trade included any prospects. The top prospect dealt on July 31st was Eduardo Rodriguez who was traded by the Baltimore Orioles to the Red Sox in exchange for left-handed reliever Andrew Miller. Not only did the Red Sox get a top prospect and a cleanup hitter but they also got OF/1B Allen Craig and P Joe Kelly, who not to mention were both on the Cardinals 25 man roster for SP John Lackey. Many Bostonians have this crazy idea that mastermind GM Ben Cherington had a meeting with all of the players he was going to trade, and say to them that “he will trade them all to contending teams and get good players in return, and then all of the players that will be free agents he will re-sign all of them and this way they will have a much better team.” I think this is the most ludicrous idea any one has ever had, the only legitimate player in the past 30 years to re-sign with the team that traded him was Rick Aguilera! Being a Bostonian myself, I know Cherington is the best thing we have had in Boston sports for a long time, but there is no way that he will be able to re-sign Andrew Miller, Jonny Gomes, Stephen Drew, and especially Jon Lester. Not only has Lester gone through cancer with this ownership of John Henry and Larry Luchino but he was their first draft pick ever and he has won two World Series with them! They just think they can offer him 4 years for $70 million as a “hometown discount.” I laugh at how stupid that offer was. Jon Lester deserves a 5 year $120 million contract and that’s what he will get in the free agent market.
Many teams added some good depth for their playoff runs, the Mariners acquired OF Chris Denorfia from the Padres, the Brewers added OF Gerardo Parra, the Nationals got SS Asdrubal Cabrera, the Yankees added SS Stephen Drew and UT Martin Prado, and the Braves acquired both UT Emilio Bonifacio and P James Russell. The Marlins and Astros, two up-and-coming franchises made a interesting deal, as the Marlins got SP Jarred Cosart, OF Enrique Hernandez, and minor-leaguer Francis Martes in exchange for young prospects, 3B Colin Moran, OF Jake Marisnick, and OF Austin Wates. The Marlins seem to think they can make the playoffs, and they aren’t entirely out as they are 5 games behind the 2nd Wild Card spot, but they did give up their future at 3B and OF for a pretty good pitcher, Cosart and some depth chart guys in Hernandez and Martes. The A’s also granted Tommy Milone’s wish and sent him off to Minnesota for OF Sam Fuld, who the A’s designated for assignment earlier in the year.
This year’s trade deadline was fast and furious, the Lester trade happened early enough that the Rays had plenty of time to figure out a deal for Price and could only come up with Smyly and Franklin. The Red Sox totally remodeled their franchise trading away 3 of their 5 starters in the playoffs last in Lester, Lackey, and Jake Peavy, and will now be looking to spend big on free agents such as James Shields, Max Scherzer, and Jon Lester. The Phillies couldn’t move any of their trade chips, Marlon Byrd, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Antonio Bastardo, and Jonathan Papelbon. Many teams in the wild card chase did not make moves such as the Blue Jays, Royals, and Pirates. The Cardinals, A’s, and Tigers all now have arguably the best 3 rotations in the league, with all of their additions at the deadline. The Oakland A’s have set themselves up to be the favorites to win Billy Beane’s first World Series and hopefully the moving of their cleanup hitter Yoenis Cespedes pays off.