Best and Worst Deadline/Waiver Deals

Philadelphia Phillies v Washington Nationals

By Patrick Brewer

Best Trade Deadline Deals

David Price

Probably the biggest prize of the trade deadline, David Price was traded away at the deadline for the second consecutive season. This year it was the Detroit Tigers doing the selling and the Toronto Blue Jays doing the buying. More so than any other trade deadline deal, David Price has been everything the Blue Jays could have hoped for and more. In 11 starts with the Blue Jays, David Price has a 9-1 record with an ERA of 2.30. In 74.1 innings pitched, Price has 87 strikeouts with only 18 walks. The Blue Jays needed an ace and Price has been everything the Jays needed and more in the second half.

Yoenis Cespedes

With a historically anemic offense in the first half of 2015, the Mets were desperate to acquire an impact bat to help give a little relief to the Mets strong, young pitching staff. After the acquisition of Carlos Gomez fell apart, the Mets struck a deal with the Detroit Tigers to acquire Yoenis Cespedes. While Price was the best deadline acquisition in terms of pitchers, Cespedes was hands down the best offensive player acquired at the deadline. In his time with the Mets, Cespedes has a slash line of .287/.337/.604 with seventeen home runs, forty-four RBIs, and a wRC+ of 157. Truly the boost to the offense the Mets needed to get them into the playoffs.

Cole Hamels

When the Texas Rangers went out and got Cole Hamels at the trade deadline, many predicted it was more of a move for 2016 than 2015. Looking back a little over two months later, it is pretty evident how wrong we were. Hamels has helped solidified the Rangers rotation and has been a big part of their late season push into the postseason. In 12 games with the Rangers, Hamels finished with an ERA of 3.66 and a record of 7-1. Hamels kept the Rangers in every game he started and always gave them a chance to win, as evidenced by his performance in their victory over the Angels on Sunday to clinch the AL West.

Ben Revere

While Troy Tulowitzki and David Price were the Blue Jays acquisitions that got the most attention, the trade for Ben Revere has also been an essential part of their push into the playoffs with the AL East crown. Revere has provided the one thing that Jays really didn’t have earlier in the season; both speed and contact at the top of the lineup in front of the home run hitters. In his time with the Jays, Revere has a slash line of .319/.354/.381 with a wRC+ of 102, all while providing great defense for the Jays in left. While Price may likely win the Cy Young, Revere should get just as much credit for the Jays second half run.

Ben Zobrist

The Royals may have missed on the Johnny Cueto acquisition, but they hit the bullseye perfectly with the acquisition of Ben Zobrist to cover them in left field, for the duration of the Alex Gordon injury, and at second base for the struggling Omar Infante. Despite his increasing age, Zobrist is still one of the most versatile players in all of baseball and has continued to play that part for the Royals in the second half. In the second half with the Royals, Zobrist had a slash line of .284/.364/.453 with a wRC+ of 124, while filling in admirably for All-Star Alex Gordon during his injury.

J.A. Happ/Joe Blanton

With the injury to A.J. Burnett, and struggles by both Jeff Locke and Charlie Morton, the Pittsburgh Pirates knew they needed to bolster their starting rotation in some way at the deadline. Rather than go after one of the bigger pitchers that was on the market, the Pirates instead went for the cheaper option and acquired both J.A. Happ and Joe Blanton. Both pitchers have been better than expected for the Pirates, and have been perhaps two of the better pitchers in the entire league since the deadline. Since the trade Happ has eleven starts with the Pirates with an ERA of 1.85 and a FIP of 2.19. By comparison, Blanton has also been wonderful with the Pirates with an ERA of 1.57 and a FIP of 2.11 in twenty-one relief appearances. Blanton and Happ have definitely been the two most underrated deadline deals.

Worst Trade Deadline Deals

Johnny Cueto

Of all the teams in postseason contention at the trade deadline, the Royals were clearly the team most in need of some help to bolster their starting rotation. Of the available pitchers, and with what the Royals were willing to give up in mind, Cueto was the most logical choice for the Royals. Since being acquired, Cueto has started thirteen games with an ERA of 4.76 and a FIP of 4.06. To say Cueto has been disappointing is an understatement. If the Royals hope to get back to the World Series in 2015, they are going to need Cueto to pitch much better in the postseason.

Scott Kazmir

Along with the Royals, the Astros were a team in need of some pitching upgrades, mainly a veteran presence to add to a young pitching staff. The Astros really are the team that opened up the trade deadline with the acquisition of Scott Kazmir well before the deadline. Since coming to the Astros, Kazmir has struggled mightily to maintain his form from the first half of the season with Oakland. Since the acquisition, Kazmir has started in thirteen games for the Astros with a 4.17 ERA and a FIP of 5.19. The Astros hope for an improved performance for Kazmir in the playoffs, and will likely need it if they wish to advance deep into the postseason.

Carlos Gomez

Beyond the acquisition of Scott Kazmir, the Astros also attempted to bolster their already strong offense with the acquisition of Carlos Gomez. After the trade between the Mets and the Brewers fell through, Gomez was traded to the Astros instead, with Yoenis Cespedes ending up on the Mets in his place. In his time with the Astros, Carlos Gomez has been plagued by both injuries and poor play even when healthy. In 163 plate appearances with the Astros, Gomez has a slash line of .242/.288/.383 with a wRC+ of only 81. With Gomez back and healthy for the playoffs, the Astros have to expect more out of him going forward.

Gerardo Parra

At the trade deadline the Orioles, who were still hanging around .500 at the deadline, acquired Gerardo Parra from the Brewers with the hopes of boosting a poor performing offense for the second half. While Parra was a good potential fit for the Orioles, he struggled to get going in the second half and only provided negative value for the O’s over the course of the final few months. In his time with the Orioles, Parra has a slash line of .237/.268/.357 with a wRC+ of just 65. It is still possible the Orioles resign Parra in the offseason, but it will definitely be for a big discount if they do.

Mat Latos/Alex Wood/Jim Johnson

While the Dodgers did acquire some good players at both the July trade deadline as well as the August waiver deadline, these three pitchers were definitely their worst acquisitions. All three have been pretty awful for the Dodgers, and Mat Latos is no longer on the team while Jim Johnson will likely be off the postseason roster. Alex Wood has started twelve games with an ERA of 4.35. By comparison Jim Johnson, with an ERA of 10.13 with the Dodgers, and Mat Latos, with an ERA of 6.66, were both even worse than Alex Wood. None of these trades worked out for the Dodgers and yet they still find themselves in a playoffs as the favorites to advance to the World Series in the National League. Guess that’s what spending 300 million dollars in payroll will get you.

David Murphy/David DeJesus/Shane Victorino 

Through the first half of the season the Angels were hanging around the Wild Card race despite an anemic offense that was in need of clear upgrades. Rather than acquire a big impact bat, the Angels instead made three smaller moves, acquiring David Murphy, David DeJesus and Shane Victorino to be used in some combination in the corner outfield positions around Mike Trout. Murphy had a slash line of .265/.281/.400 and a wRC+ of 89 which were the best numbers of the three. By comparison, David DeJesus, .125/.183/.143 slash line with a wRC+ of -6, and Shane Victorino, .214/.292/.286 slash line with a wRC+ of 63, were both terrible in limited playing time for the Angels. If the Angels want to blame anyone or anything for their missing the playoffs, it is their poor deadline acquisitions.

Jonathan Papelbon

Despite having Drew Storen in place as their closer, the Nationals still went out and acquired Jonathan Papelbon in order to further bolster the back end of the bullpen. The results have been anything but good, and the trade has not only derailed the season of Papelbon but also derailed the season of Storen as well. Storen was removed from the closer role which seemed to shake his confidence and lead to him having a poor second half. Even before the fiasco in which he choked out Bryce Harper, Papelbon was having a mediocre second half for the Nationals in which he made twenty-two appearances with an ERA of 3.06 and a FIP of 4.87. At this point it seems it is best if the Nationals cut their losses and get rid of Papelbon at any cost.

Best August Waiver Deals

Mike Napoli

After one of the worst first halves of his entire career, Mike Napoli was pretty much left for dead by the Red Sox. The Sox more or less abandoned Napoli as an everyday starter and put him on waivers to see if they could work out some sort of trade to get him off their hands. The Rangers were the team that went for it. And the Rangers don’t regret that decision for a second. Napoli has experienced a career resurgence in his return to Texas, with a slash line of .295/.396 /.513 and a wRC+ of 145. It remains to be seen whether Napoli can maintain his performance in the postseason for the Rangers, but either way the Rangers are happy with what they’ve got from the former All Star and World Series champion. 

Addison Reed

After a terrible first half finish with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the D’backs were desperate to get reed of Reed in any way they could. They garnered some interest in the August waiver period and ended up trading him to the New York Mets, who were in need of further bullpen help on top of Tyler Clippard. Addison Reed has perhaps been the most dominating pitcher in the second half of the season for the New York Mets. In seventeen appearances with the New York Mets in the second half, giving up only two earned runs in 15.1 innings pitched. Definitely a strong performance for a guy who was written off by the Diamondbacks.

Worst August Waiver Deals

Chase Utley

With the injury to Howie Kendrick in the second half of the season, the Dodgers acquired Chase Utley as a stop gap until Kendrick was able to play again. Since Kendrick has returned, Utley has still found his way into the Dodgers lineup despite playing mediocre baseball since his acquisition. For the Dodgers, Utley has a slash line of .202/.291/.363 and a wRC+ of 85. These numbers have been wildly underwhelming, and with Justin Turner, Corey Seager, Kike Hernandez and Howie Kendrick all at the top of their respective games, there seems to be no real reason for the Dodgers to give Utley any playing time in the postseason.

Neal Cotts

The Minnesota Twins acquired Neal Cotts to be the lefty specialist that needed in order to further bolster their struggling bullpen. With the Twins in contention, they needed that extra help to push them over the hump and get them into a playoff spot. Cotts has been anything but the stopper that the Twins expected. After a relatively strong start to the season with the Milwaukee Brewers, Cotts was unable to adjust to life in the American League, finishing the season with eight runs given up in only 13.2 innings pitched for the Twins. He can’t be blamed for their finish outside the postseason but he definitely didn’t help their cause.

Patrick Brewer is a featured writer for Call to the Bullpen. You can find him on Twitter @PatrickBrewer93, or join in the conversation@CTBPod, in the comment section below or on our Facebook Page.

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