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MLB trade deadline: Finding positives in lower profile deals

Not every trade this year was for Jonathan Lucroy.

Seattle Mariners v Chicago Cubs Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

We all congratulated the Rangers and Giants and Indians on their attempts to become the 2016 World Series champions, two months before the Giants inevitably win it and everyone tries to apply some sort of strategy to what is clearly evil magic.

But this was the most berserk trade deadline since 1995, so these contenders weren’t the only ones to swap players. Some teams made adjustments rather than splashes, and it’s high time we mention them, because—if anything—one subject baseball news hasn’t covered in the last month is “trades.”

Orioles deal for Wade Miley

His ERA is leaning in to kiss 5.00 through 112 IP. Hitters strut up to the plate hitting .274 against him. He allows 9.4 H/9, 1.4 HR/9 and 2.7 BB/9, with a 2.4 SO/W rate. And now he’s wearing Orioles orange instead of Mariners blue.

Why? Well, for starters, Ubaldo Jimenez. He was a crater in the Baltimore rotation, one even their thunderous lineup failed to homer their way out of on multiple occasions. The Orioles needed starting pitching, and scanned the market with their traditionally conservative methods. Andrew Cashner and Jeremy Hellickson were there, but even they wound up being too sexy, and in Cashner’s case, unavailable, for the O’s. They settled on Miley, who in a given year will give you a 3.50-4.00 ERA through 30 starts and call it a season.

Also, many experts agreed that a lefty would do the Baltimore pitching staff some good, as they had been trotting out right-handed starters all summer, which resulted in limited success. With a southpaw in the mix, they can force an opposing team to have to think a little more in a playoff series, but since that southpaw has been giving up 3.2 runs and 6.1 hits per start, maybe his ineffectiveness outweighs his dominant hand? Right, no—we’re doing positives. Sorry.

Another thing that is in Baltimore’s favor here is what they gave up to acquire Miley. Let’s check in with Camden Chat:

To get Miley, the Orioles are sending Cuban lefty Ariel Miranda to the Mariners...

The only reason this trade isn’t completely upsetting is that the Orioles didn’t really trade a prospect, so they haven’t hurt their farm any.

But hey, let’s dig up some more optimism from the sadness mines: In the last month, Miley’s ERA has been at 3.45 through five starts, and opposing batters are only hitting .248 against him. July and August have been the two most successful months for him, career-wise (September and October... have not). And, he appears to be able to stay healthy—something that will be more of an asset if Miley should return to the form that made him a 2012 All-Star. Should that happen, the O’s have him for 2017 for $9 million, and can flip the switch on an option to keep him in 2018 for $12 million.

Besides, the Orioles rotation has a 2016 season ERA of 4.94. Miley will fit right in! Team chemistry is huge during a playoff run—maybe all the starters can talk about how hard it is to not give up five or six runs a game.

Braves bring in Matt Kemp

When rumors of this deal began to surface, people typically had similar reactions: “What? Why? What?” The Braves weren’t supposed to do stuff right now; they were supposed to sit there, rebuilding and occasionally pulling off trades that were somehow only beneficial to them. Atlanta needed offense, sure, and wasn’t quite at the point where they’d be in play for the huge names on the trade market. So, Kemp it was.

What did the Braves gain here, exactly? Well, for starters, their biggest cheerleader.

Kemp’s enthusiasm may be so infectious Atlanta—or Cobb County I guess—actually becomes a baseball town!

Obviously, the flaws with this acquisition are that Kemp has been in decline for years, he has suffered through a litany of injuries, and he is on a large, bad contract. This we know. Also, he’s hit .167 in 108 AB at Turner Field throughout his ten-year career. The Braves have 26 more games there this season. Plus 81 more next year.

All right, though; positives! First, there’s the enthusiasm. We covered that. Next, if he were to continue his 2016 numbers with San Diego, slashing .262/.285/.489 with 23 HR, he would instantly be among Atlanta’s top three offensive contributors. Maybe some of the weight comes off Freddie Freeman’s shoulders and the 26-year-old first baseman is able to relax for the first time in four months. I mean, Kemp’s Braves career is off to an 0-for-4 with 2 SO start, but that’s only one night of the two months this Braves roster has left together. Maybe Kemp gets to be the grizzled vet during the upbringing of a new Braves generation, his attitude rubbing off on them as the Dodgers chip in to pay $3.5 million of the (*eye twitches involuntarily*) $21.5 million Kemp is owed annually until 2019.

But perhaps the best news resulting from this trade is what it cost the Braves to bring Kemp to Georgia. With the Orioles, the benefit to acquiring Miley, if it was going to happen regardless, was that they didn’t give up much. In this trade, Atlanta sent Hector Olivera to the Padres, subtracting a problematic, expensive disappointment from their books. One thing Braves fans can certainly celebrate, as they did on Talking Chop, is their front office’s apparent commitment to not employing violators of the league’s domestic abuse policy.

While other teams are pursuing previous offenders like Jose Reyes and Aroldis Chapman so they can have better talent on the team, Atlanta has kept within their business model of keeping high makeup guys. Not only that, there has been a lot of unity among the front office condemning Olivera’s actions.

Red Sox trade for Fernando Abad

When you’re not an elite baseball player and the word “bad” is right there in your name, you’re already screwed.

Yes, in his first appearance with Boston since being acquired from Minnesota, reliever Fernando Abad gave up a go-ahead three-run blast to Robinson Cano, losing the game for Boston during a tight race in the NL East.

Not great.

He wasn’t the best reliever available, and he had the worst debut possible, but there is an adequate amount of positives to see from the acquisition of Abad. Costing the Red Sox only an inaccurate Triple-A hurler in Pat Light was one of them.

With the Twins this season, Abad had a 2.65 ERA through 39 appearances. Lefties haven’t been able to touch him, hitting only .163 against the 30-year-old. He may not be Andrew Miller—he’s definitely not Andrew Miller—but Boston wasn’t looking to rip the league in half with its deadline moves, having addressed their needs in the weeks leading up to the panicked final day. One nice thing about Abad is that he isn’t unavailable indefinitely, like fellow relievers Craig Kimbrel and Koji Uehara.

While the home run to Cano was not what people wanted to see and undoubtedly lit a sports talk radio powder keg, Boston now has a bullpen option who has consistently maligned left-handed hitters this year. Abad is replacing LOOGY Tommy Layne, who was not getting the job done against lefties, allowing them to get on base to the tune of a .355 OBP (Abad’s is at .297). So, this is an improvement. It may not seem like one now, since Abad has had his struggles, and had one of them last night in his first game—in a big spot—with his new team, but Boston has the roster to win the NL East, and a logical move to acquire bullpen help for cheap who can fight off the left-handed hitters late in the game can, if you look at it right, maybe by squinting and turn your head sideways, can be seen as a positive.