The trade deadline has passed, but is the wheeling and dealing over?
Officially, the Major League Baseball trade deadline ended at midnight Wednesday. Traditionally, deals could still be made after the deadline, but it was more difficult to pull them off. This year it’s supposed to be even more difficult, but we’ll see.
This time of year teams are either buyers or sellers. Let’s take a look at the three “local” teams and then I’ll give you my big winner.
CLEVELAND — The Tribe is in the running for the Central Division title and leading the Wild Card race, so as you would assume, they are buyers.
Their big deal involved trading one of their best starting pitchers and getting two right-handed power hitting outfielders. The big names in the deal are Trevor Bauer, Yasiel Puig and Franmil Reyes.
Bauer has been an innings eater for the Tribe and has flashed brilliance from time to time. He also has been inconsistent and is “different” in many ways. Sports editor Zach Baker used the phrase a bit of an “odd duck” in describing Bauer a couple of days ago, which made me chuckle.
His preparation for games is unique, but he does throw a lot of pitches and seems to get stronger as the game goes on. Let me say right here that his childish behavior of throwing the ball over the centerfield fence when he was removed from a game the other day had NOTHING to do with his being traded.
What likely had more to do with it was his announcement that when his contract is up after 2020, he will only sign one- year deals for the rest of his career. Teams want a little more security than that (most players do as well) and that was a big factor in the decision to move him.
Getting Puig (22 homers) and Reyes (27 homers), both right-handed hitters, made the deal too good to pass up even if Puig is just a rental for the rest of the season. He will be a free agent at the end of this season and will demand more money than Cleveland is likely to offer. If they provide pop in the middle of the order, the deal may be a good one especially if either Corey Kluber or Carlos Carrasco can return to offset the loss of Bauer.
In addition, the Indians got three other players that may make the deal even sweeter in future years. On paper it looks like a good deal. If they only played the games on paper!
DETROIT — The Tigers are one of the worst teams in baseball so they were, quite naturally, sellers. They dumped right fielder Nicholas Castellanos (Cubs) and closer Shane Greene (Braves) while getting prospects in return.
If they could unload Miggy (Miguel Cabrera) and his huge contract they might be in a better position to totally rebuild. With what his career has meant to the Tigers, you can understand the big dollars. But Cabrera is getting old, can’t run and is on his way out. Unfortunately, his salary makes him unattractive to contenders.
Be patient Tiger fans, it will get better — eventually.
CINCINNATI — The Reds will put Trevor Bauer in their starting rotation, but gave up Scooter Gennett and Tanner Roark in other deals. Exactly what they are doing (buying, selling or a little of both) seems to be a mystery.
Sorry, Reds fans, I’d like to tell you what the future holds, but I have no idea.
THE WINNER — The Houston Astros made the biggest deal of the deadline landing starting pitcher Zach Greinke from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Without giving up any main position players, the Astros set up a “Big Three” of starters in Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Greinke. Come playoff time when teams tend to go with their top three starters, the Astros will be formidable — at least on paper!
The Diamondbacks, in the hunt for a wild card berth, seem to be sellers. They got young players for Greinke including the Astros No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 minor league prospects. Unless you think money is not part of trade equations, get this.
Greinke is owed some $74 million through 2021. Arizona is eating $24 million of that! They had to in order to get the prospects.
The quietest team at the trade deadline is usually one of the most active. The New York Yankees stood pat — at least for now. Remember the deadline is not hard and fast. Don’t be surprised if the Yankees don’t add some pieces before the season is over.
As for the Cleveland Indians, let’s get on with it. The Tribe may have to do without Puig because he has been suspended for three games for his part in a big brawl with the Pirates. He is appealing, but he will get some time off for sure.
Both of the new acquisitions were in the lineup Thursday evening and the reviews were mixed. Puig hit the ball hard twice, while Reyes also had a hit. Both were thrown out at the plate which had to be some kind of record. The Indians lost 7-1 to Gerrit Cole and the aforementioned Astros.
Now you know why I think Houston was the big trade deadline winner.
I will say this about Puig and Reyes. They are huge physical specimens. If some team wants to duke it out with the Tribe, at least Frankie can safely stay in the dugout!
Al Stephenson is a columnist for The Advertiser-Tribune.
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