It was a busy twenty-four hours to close out the 2014 MLB trade deadline, and most of the big names (Price and Lester in particular) were moved from their respective team.
This morning, Jasper Scherer took a look at the winners of this year's trade deadline, and while there was enough goodwill to go around, we are honor-bound to mention the hand sitters and missed opportunities that also occurred at the deadline.
Here is a look at the five biggest losers of the trade deadline:
Anyone who wants the Phillies and Royals to be good anytime soon
It might be a tad unfair to double-dip these two franchises on both lists. But it is a testament to just how unfortunate this trade deadline was, and fans of these respective organizations find themselves at a crossroads for different reasons altogether. The Phillies need to sell to re-stock the farm system and replace an aging roster. Between Cliff Lee, A.J. Burnett, and a slew of position players, it seemed like Philadelphia was going to be able to move on from something. Instead, they were left with a general manager complaining about no one wanting to work a deal with him for his overpriced antiques.
The Royals, on the other hand, more or less did nothing, which has pretty much been Dayton Moore's modus operandi in the months following the Wil Myers trade. He played his one big hand, came out slightly ahead, and sat around preening for the next year. In the final year of the Royals having a true anchor in the rotation with James Shields, a broken and dysfunctional offense, and a stellar bullpen who has a moveable piece (Wade Davis) that they probably can't afford next season, Dayton Moore decided the best course of action was to let it ride.
Though the long-term job security for the two general managers is not exactly solid, there is a ripple effect that will cascade through the organizations for the next few years based on the actions (or inactions) of their respective front offices.
Tampa Bay Rays
A team with a good track record of making trades and a decent run of prospects moved their ace starting pitcher at the deadline with as much leverage as you can possibly have, considering he still had a season of team control left next year.
For their asset, they returned Drew Smyly, a replacement-level pitcher with a 4.26 FIP as a starter. They also managed to snag Willy Adames, a 19 year-old infielder who is having success (but isn't necessarily excelling) in his first full season of minor league play. He wasn't even listed on Baseball America's pre-season Top 10 list. And they received Nick Franklin, a career .214/.291/.358 (82 wRC+) who happens to only have six hits in fifty-two plate appearances this season.
This was a pretty meager return for a former Cy Young winner who is in the middle of having the best season of his career. The fact that Austin Jackson is playing in Seattle now as opposed to Tampa is a bit shocking, because a Smyly/Jackson return for Price makes a lot more sense than Smyly and Franklin. Alas, the financial constraints of Tampa's situation perhaps made it unlikely that they could afford Jackson, considering he is making just six million dollars and has a year of arbitration left.
The Mariners traded Nick Franklin for Austin Jackson. That is a pretty wicked return for a struggling young infielder. The Tigers traded a replacement-level pitcher and a good-not-great outfielder for another ace.
Tampa got the short end of the stick on this one.
After openly criticizing a pair of teams for making no moves, and then criticizing a team for making a bad move, it might seem a bit two-faced. But, different situations cause for different observational analysis; baseball doesn't exist in a bubble. And what is good for one team is bad for another.
Texas did its best to split the difference it would seem, moving on from Joakim Soria but clinging to Alex Rios. But the Rangers aren't in the same position as Tampa, where a re-load might suffice. No, the Rangers need to blow this thing up and start fresh with their young core and their ace Yu Darvish.
The Rangers are 12th in pitching WAR and 13th in Offensive WAR. They need a lot of help in a lot of places, and pieces like Alex Rios and the even more valuable Adrian Beltre still being around leave you scratching your head.
It's possible that the Rangers think their issues are a problem of injury and not ability, but it would seem to run deeper than that.
This one is a real head scratcher. The Pirates have the third-best group of position players in the National League, they are 2.5 games back of the Milwaukee Brewers, and they have a pitching staff that has been, in a word, underwhelming.
Though some of the numbers look okay (6th in starter ERA, 6th in bullpen ERA in the National League), they are 14th in K/9 and rely far too heavily on their defense, which has been sub-par as a unit this year (the worst in the National League, in fact). There was a decent amount of talk suggesting that Pittsburgh was after one of the starters available this past month, but it seemed like they let off the steam once Samardzija and Hammel moved to Oakland.
Considering what Tampa settled on for Price, it seems like that Pittsburgh could have offered more. Instead, they'll make their push towards the post-season with Ernesto Frieri and Vance Worley as their big acquisitions (Worley, it should be said, has worked out supremely well for them so far, with a 2.54 ERA in 49.2 innings).
New York Mets
There seems to be a desire from the Metropolitans to do what is not expected of them. Rumors circulated far and wide about Bartolo Colon, Daniel Murphy, and once or twice about other possible trades for guys like Lucas Duda and Eric Young.
Alas, August has rolled around again, and the Mets have neither committed to rebuilding, nor do they seem capable to make all of the moves necessary to truly contend. Curtis Granderson was a nice addition, but hasn't quite gotten back to his pre-injury form. Bartolo Colon has been exactly what New York expected, perhaps even a touch more than, and he's also provided some of the best baseball photos of the year and for his career.
But there's this general sense that they need a decent amount more than what they have, but never seem willing to go full bore down one path or the other to get there. It's another missed opportunity in a series of missed opportunities for the franchise, as they continue their gentle passage through another baseball season without so much as a whisper.