How The Rivals Did: David Price, Jon Lester Highlight AL East Trades
Welcome to a special addition of How The Rivals Did where we’ll discuss not Thursday’s games (which we’ll talk about tomorrow as usual), but the trades made by each team in the AL East. We’ll mention each deal and provide a little bit of analysis before recapping what each team did overall.
1. Orioles acquire Andrew Miller in exchange for pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez
Miller is an excellent left-handed reliever, but Rodriguez was a relatively steep price to pay as he has the ability to be a solid major league starting pitcher. We will have to see if Miller’s upgrade to the Orioles bullpen as a rental is worth the cost.
The Orioles’ deadline was a little bit of a letdown after it seemed like they were going to get Jon Lester, but they held onto Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, and Hunter Harvey and seem poised to win the division nonetheless.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays did nothing, and they will count on the returns of Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind to serve as their “deadline acquisitions.” They still should be in the division and Wild Card races, but it would have been nice for them to do something.
New York Yankees
1. Yankees acquire Martin Prado from Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for “catcher” Peter O’Brien
O’Brien has a legitimate power, but his plate discipline and lack of a position are major concerns. They did a nice job using him to get Prado, who may not be the hitter he once was, but still has a solid bat to go along with his incredible versatility.
2. Yankees acquire Stephen Drew from the Red Sox in exchange for Kelly Johnson
It was pretty incredible that the Yankees made this trade without even using a prospect. They managed to get a player in Drew that is finally coming around after his tough start and should be an upgrade over Brian Roberts at second base–assuming he can adjust to the keystone defensively.
Overall, the Yankees made two legitimate upgrades without needing to part with any major prospect. This team is being held together by duct type, but they are somehow keeping themselves a factor for the postseason.
Tampa Bay Rays
1. Rays trade David Price to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for Drew Smyly and Willy Adames from Detroit plus Nick Franklin from the Seattle Mariners. (The Mariners also received Austin Jackson from the Tigers in the deal.)
The Rays clearly downgraded for right now, but they received two talented pieces they can help them in the near future, and a third that will fascinating to see develop. Here is my full analysis of the trade.
It was tough for the Rays to deal Price, but they found a deal that they thought was worth the scrutiny. It does give a hit to their AL East hopes, but they certainly cannot be counted out.
Boston Red Sox
1. Red Sox trade Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes to the Oakland Athletics for Yoenis Cespedes
The Red Sox turned a rental starting pitcher and a platoon outfielder until a legitimate starting left fielder with the type of power that is not seen too much in the big leagues. Cespedes has issues with contact and is only under team control until after next season, but the Red Sox did a good job being creative when they were not getting the type of offers they were looking for in terms of prospects.
2. Red Sox trade John Lackey and pitching prospect Corey Littrel to the St. Louis Cardinals for Joe Kelly and Allen Craig
Lackey was not as obvious of a trade candidate (until, of course, we heard that the Red Sox would move him), but the Red Sox turned him and a halfway-decent prospect into a recent All-Star and a starting pitcher who touches 96 MPH. Craig has struggled through a disastrous season while Kelly needs improvement to remain a starting pitcher in the AL East, but they were worthwhile risks to take. Another negative: the Red Sox could have used Lackey next season, and of course they’re not getting him back.
3. Red Sox trade Andrew Miller to Orioles in exchange for Eduardo Rodriguez.
As mentioned above, the Red Sox managed a good starting pitching prospect for a rental reliever…who they just might re-sign. This was my favorite trade that the Red Sox made all day.
4. Red Sox trade Stephen Drew to the Yankees for Kelly Johnson.
This wasn’t as much about of a return for Drew as it was getting rid of him to allow Xander Bogaerts to get back to playing shortstop. Johnson doesn’t help them in a non-contending year, but he is a versatile backup with power who they could re-sign for next season if they like what he does.
The Red Sox were selling like crazy and managed to get an interesting haul for their wares. Veterans with concerns are certainly not the same as prospects, but the Red Sox retooled to have a chance at contending again next season.
Overall in the division, the Orioles got slightly better, the Yankees improved a little bit more than that, the Rays got a solid amount worse, and the Red Sox weakened themselves as well (although not as much as a usual seller would). Overall, the Orioles have to feel a little bit better about their chances with Miller in the fold with the Yankees (and especially the Rays now) still needing a lot of things to go right. For the Blue Jays, meanwhile, they lost something by not doing anything, but they will hope that it won’t matter. It will be interesting at the end of the season to look back and see whether these teams might the right calls on all their moves.