Now that the main trade deadline has passed, we can take a look back at what teams did the most to help themselves thus far. You can find a listing of all the deals that happened pre-deadline right here at MLB Daily Dish. The first team up on the winning side of the deadline has to be the Toronto Blue Jays.
Transactions Made (Net Moves)
Acquired Colby Rasmus, P.J. Walters, Trever Miller, and Brian Tallet from the Cardinals
Acquired Mark Teahen from the White Sox
Sent Edwin Jackson, Octavio Dotel, Marc Rzepczynski, Corey Patterson and three PTBNL to the Cardinals
Sent Jason Frasor and Zach Stewart to the White Sox
What They Got
The Blue Jays now have their center fielder locked in for the next 3+ seasons, and at a relatively cost-controlled price at that. Rasmus will be eligible for arbitration for the first time this offseason, and will not be eligible for free agency until after the 2015 season. He is just 24 years old, and is coming off a season of 3.2 WAR (BBRef) in 2010.
Rasmus' 2010 season would definitely qualify as a breakout season, as he hit .276/.361/.498 with 23 home runs, 66 runs batted in, 85 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases. He has not performed nearly as well this season, but it remains to be seen how much of that could be related to his ongoing conflicts with Cardinals' manager Tony La Russa.
It remains to be seen exactly which season represents his actual defensive skill. According to Fangraphs, Rasmus posted a UZR of 9.2 in the 2009 season, good for 4th in the Majors. However, his 2010 and 2011 numbers don't look very good (-6.7, -7.0). It's probably too early to give up on him out there, and the Blue Jays would probably have to see some pretty poor performance out there to even contemplate moving him out of center. But Rasmus will be turning just 25 next week, and has a lot of time to get it figured out again.
What They Gave Up
The player of consequence in my opinion is Stewart, who had been pitching for the Blue Jays' AA affiliate in New Hampshire. John Sickels over at Minor League Ball gave Stewart a B+ grade coming into the season, but had this to say in his midseason review of his Blue Jays' rankings:
He hasn't lived up to my expectations, but he can still be a useful inning-eater type. 4.20 ERA with 79/27 K/BB in 101 innings for New Hampshire, 116 hits. Made three major league starts. Traded to White Sox.
Stewart has not pitched as well this year, posting a 5-5 record in AA, and an 0-1 record with a 4.86 ERA in 3 starts in the Majors this year. He did have a decent year in 2010, but the biggest concern for Stewart going forward seems to be his control. In 2010, Stewart walked 54 batters in 136 innings, but has improved this season. Between his AA starts for Toronto and his 1 AAA start with the White Sox, he has 27 walks in 100 innings pitched so far this year. Stewart may not even necessarily be missed by the Jays for a while, as the depth of pitching in their system right now rivals nearly any in the Majors. Coming into 2012, they could have a rotation with Ricky Romero at the top, Brandon Morrow, Brett Cecil, and Kyle Drabek all following right behind him.
I haven't seen any announcement as to who will be the 3 PTBNLs, but I doubt very highly that they are of any particular importance overall.
The Blue Jays made what was probably the biggest trade of the deadline, and probably the Holy *#!% trade of the deadline as well. For a team that is over 10 games out of a playoff spot, and unlikely to make up that difference, they were probably the most surprising team to be a buyer. But they managed, by taking on some payroll (Teahen), to acquire a young, cost-controlled center fielder who will not be eligible for free agency until 2015. They clearly took advantage of the well-known personality conflicts between Rasmus and Cardinals' manager Tony La Russa, and now have their center fielder of the future.
To me, the relievers are essentially a push for both this season and going forward. While the Cardinals may have gotten slightly better ones in the short term, I don't believe this difference to be particularly large. They have now two relievers who will hit free agency after the season instead of one, and Rzepcyznski and Walters are both under team control for the foreseeable future. The Jays have already converted Walters back to the rotation, sending him to AAA Las Vegas.
This move clearly improves the team now, as their outfield now consists of Jose Bautista, Rasmus, and some combination of Eric Thames, Rajai Davis, and Travis Snider. The fact that both Bautista and Rasmus are under control for the next 4 seasons should help the Blue Jays continue to build to compete with the rest of the AL East in the next few seasons.