1. The Toronto Blue Jays
Who would have thought the Toronto Blue Jays would come out of the trade deadline as the biggest winner? There was rumblings of the Blue Jays making moves but not many around baseball took them too seriously given their inaction in previous years. Boy was everyone surprised. The Blue Jays started off the deadline with a bang when they acquired Troy Tulowitzki (along with reliever Latroy Hawkins) seemingly out of nowhere on Monday night. Following that they went out and got the best available pitcher on the market in David Price. They ended their trading spree on the final day by acquiring some further bullpen help in Mark Lowe as well as outfield help in Ben Revere. The Blue Jays upgraded their starting staff and bullpen, which were their two biggest weaknesses, and were able to acquire two more hitters to add to an already potent offense. The only thing keeping the Blue Jays from a perfect trade deadline was their failure to acquire another strong starter behind David Price.
Deadline Grade: A
2. The Houston Astros
If not for the Toronto Blue Jays, the Houston Astros may be the talk of the town as the team that did the most at the trade deadline. The Astros opened up the trade deadline by acquiring Scott Kazmir from the Oakland Athletics. This solidified the top of their rotation with Kazmir and Dallas Keuchel providing a strong 1-2 potential playoff punch. The Astros furthered their upgrades by acquiring both Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers from the Milwaukee Brewers. Gomez provides an upgrade to an outfield that has struggled a bit and is under control through the end of next year. Fiers helps solidify the back end of the Astros rotation and provides them with a pitcher with several years of control going forward. The Astros were not able to make another deal for a starting pitcher or bullpen help with the Padres or any other team but the Astros have still put themselves in a good position to win the AL West or perhaps a Wild Card. The Astros are clearly improved from where they were pre-deadline.
Deadline Grade: A-
3. The Kansas City Royals
The Royals are another team that filled some important needs on their roster. While their roster upgrades weren’t as unexpected as some of those on the Astros and Blue Jays, they still got what they needed to in order to maintain their playoff position. The Royals most evident weakness throughout this season has been their shaky starting pitching staff. Their strong offense, defense, and lights out bullpen have been able to cover up their weaknesses in the starting staff but these issues still needed to be addressed prior to the playoffs. The Royals fixed some of these problems by going out and getting the best pitcher (at least at the time) on the market in Johnny Cueto. They now have a certified ace to lead the staff in the playoffs. Beyond that they also picked up super utility guy Ben Zobrist who will likely play left field until the return of Alex Gordon and then fill in in right field and second base where the Royals biggest offensive weaknesses lie. The Royals filled their two main needs but perhaps could have done better by adding a second starter behind Cueto to further solidify their position.
Deadline Grade: B+
4. The New York Mets
Wow those Mets. What a crazy week. The Mets started their trading with the acquisitions of Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson from the Atlanta Braves. Many thought this would be the only move the Mets would make given their well-documented budget constraints, but boy were we all wrong. They followed with an acquisition of Tyler Clippard who will help solidify the back end of their bullpen, especially with the suspension of Jenrry Mejia that followed. The Mets then got about as close as you can to acquiring a player as you can without actually acquiring them. This was Carlos Gomez. Originally the deal fell apart because of concerns the Mets had with Gomez’ medicals but it seemed to be a financial problem more than anything. Many thought the Mets were done and this would be their final attempted trade of the season but the Mets came through and traded for Yoenis Cespedes. This was a good pickup for the Mets but is the ultimate definition of a rental given his weird contract specifics. The Mets definitely did a few good things to improve their team but may not have done enough, or as much as some other teams did. The biggest move for the Mets may be getting David Wright healthy and back for their imminent playoff push.
Deadline Grade: B
5. The Detroit Tigers
The rest of the top winners from the trade deadline were buyers but our final team on this list were sellers. The Tigers realized that it was not likely they would be able to compete this year so they went the other direction and traded David Price (who they were unlikely to resign), Joakim Soria (who they didn’t want to keep) and Yoenis Cespedes (who they wanted to keep but were unable to resign unless he was traded). The Tigers traded the guys they needed to trade and were able to get back plenty in return to help them in the immediate and long-term future. For David Price the Tigers got a certified, big league ready starter in Daniel Norris as well as two other future middle rotation starters in Matt Boyd and Jairo Labourt. For Soria the Tigers got a good Double A shortstop prospect in JaCoby Jones who could contribute at the big league level in a few years. Finally the Tigers were able to trade Yoenis Cespedes to the New York Mets for Michael Fulmer, who is well liked by many scouts around the league, and Luis Cessa who is a lower level prospect. All in all the Tigers were able to turn three expiring and unwanted contracts into six good prospects with three or four future big league starters in the mix.
Deadline Grade: B
1. The San Diego Padres
What better team to start with than the San Diego Padres. For over a week the Padres claimed to be open for business. And boy were they ever. It seemed like every player with any sort of value, and with any sort of interest from another team, was being discussed in various trade scenarios. I am talking almost the whole Padres pitching staff as well as few key offensive players and relievers. Almost no one was off-limits for the Padres in their various trade talks. The deadline came and went on Friday at 4 o’clock eastern time and the Padres only made one move. And it was not the blockbuster that everyone had expected. The Padres traded backup outfielder Abraham Almonte to the Cleveland Indians for left-handed reliever Marc Rzepczynski. Not the big move anybody expected. When pushed for further explanation AJ Preller clarified that the Padres were in fact trying to keep the roster intact in order to make a playoff push. Yes the Padres stood pat at the deadline. Rather than sell off some expiring contracts, or even trade for some new players in order to improve their roster, the Padres instead did almost nothing in the hopes of getting to the playoffs. A sub-.500 first half team suddenly going for the playoffs. The Padres needed to do something and instead they did nothing.
Deadline Grade: F
2. The Minnesota Twins
The Minnesota Twins have been the real feel good story so far this year. No one thought the Twins would be anywhere near contention this year. They have proved a lot of people wrong and have held on longer than a lot of people thought they would. The Twins were in first place in the Central for a good portion of the season and now find themselves barely hanging on to their second wild card position. Many predicted the Twins would fall out of contention sooner rather than later and it seems unlikely that they can maintain what they have been doing long-term. The Twins watched as many of the other wild card hopefuls in the American League improved their teams while the Twins only made one trade. They acquired Kevin Jepsen from the Tampa Bay Rays in order to bolster the back of the bullpen. This is a good move but not the kind of move the Twins needed in order to hold on to their tenuous playoff position. Of all the teams in the playoff hunt the Twins arguably are the ones who needed to make big moves the most. It is possible that the Twins did not want to trade the prospects they needed to in order to improve their team for this year. With that being said, the Twins still find themselves in a good position to compete next year and beyond with a good, young core of players.
Deadline Grade: D
3. The Washington Nationals
The Nationals were many people’s preseason picks to make the playoffs and even get to or win the World Series. The Nationals came out of the gates slow because of many injuries but are finally getting most of their players back in recent weeks. At the deadline the Nationals acquired RHP Jonathan Papelbon in order to bolster the back-end of a rotation that had some question marks. This was a good move for the Nationals but is being questioned because they now have two closers in Papelbon and incumbent Drew Storen, with both guys wanting to be the closer. Storen is arguably unhappy about the acquisition and this could create a bit of a rift. Beyond this trade, the Nationals did not do anything else to upgrade their lineup. Despite injuries all around the diamond, the Nationals stood pat and did not acquire any outfield help or infield help as was suggested. The only move they did not need to make was improving their already strong starting pitching staff. They did make a move but it was a move that should not have been a priority over a few other necessary improvements around the diamond.
Deadline Grade: D+
4. The New York Yankees
The Yankees are another team that is being questioned for standing pat. The Yankees have had a bit of a shaky rotation all year and had a few positions on the diamond that could use some improvements. With these issues in mind, the Yankees only made one move. They acquired OF/2B Dustin Ackley from the Mariners in return for a few minor leaguers. This may improve the Yankees offense if Ackley takes over full-time in right field or at 2B but it is really not that much of an upgrade over what the Yankees already have. In the process the Yankees seemed to focus much of their attention on acquiring another arm in the backend of the bullpen while ignoring further improvements to their starting staff. With the recent injury to Michael Pineda right before the deadline it seemed likely that the Yankees would prioritize improvements to the starting rotation. I commend the Yankees for standing pat and instead calling up Luis Severino to help out but the Yankees could have called up Severino and acquired a cheaper starter or two to create a more solid rotation from top to bottom with insurance in case of injuries. The Yankees also saw all the moves made by the Blue Jays to improve their playoff odds and still did nothing. The Yankees still hold a six game lead in the division but could find themselves losing that lead with the improvements to the Toronto team as a whole.
Deadline Grade: C-
5. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Of all the teams on this list of trade deadline losers, the Angels perhaps did the most to try to improve their team through trades. The Angels had obvious problems with poor production from left field as well as a few other positions. In order to solve this lack of outfield depth and production the Angels went out and traded for three outfielders in Shane Victorino, David Murphy, and David DeJesus. I commend the Angels for trying but pretty much all they did was acquire three mediocre outfielders that effectively barely improved their playoff odds. It seems they would have been much better off focusing their assets in one direction and acquiring one big time outfield bat such as Jay Bruce, Yoenis Cespedes, or Justin Upton. Similarly to the Yankees, the Angels watched as a division rival made the big moves to improve their team while they just stood by and watched, making only minor additions. The Angels at least did something and that saves their trade deadline from being a complete disaster.
Deadline Grade: C
Patrick Brewer is the Lead National League Writer for Call to the Bullpen. You can find Patrick on Twitter @PatrickBrewer93 or join in the discussion @CTBPod, in the comment section below or on our Facebook Page.