As the trade deadline approaches, which trades will American League East teams hope to avoid re-living?
We’re into July here in this 2014 MLB season, which means we’re approaching two key dates; the All-Star Game and the dreaded Trade Deadline.
The MLB trade deadline is always a thing to behold. Come July 31, the teams that find themselves out of the race will try to unload older players and bigger contracts while the teams making a playoff push will look to take them off those teams’ hands. Sometimes, these deals work out gangbusters. Sometimes…they don’t. There will be plenty of time to break down who are the sellers and who are the buyers, who will be traded and where. Today, however, I’m here to preach caution. As tempting as that one big trade can be, it can be dangerous. Plenty of teams have made trades over the last couple seasons who probably wish they hadn’t. Every team in the American League East has, for sure. As the saying goes, those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. So, with that in mind, let’s remind each of the teams in the AL East of their recent past, in hopes lessons may be learned.
Toronto Blue Jays
Trade: C Travis d’Arnaud, C John Buck, RHP Noah Syndergaard and OF Wuilmer Becerra to the Mets for RHP R.A. Dickey, C Josh Thole and C Mike Nikeas
How Bad on a Scale of 1 (not that bad) to 10 (devastating): 4
Why?: Ok, let’s toss out the extra nonsense – this trade was basically Syndergaard for Dickey. How bad was this trade? So, the Blue Jays traded away a pitcher who is still two months shy of his 22nd birthday for one approaching 40. The Jays are paying Dickey $12 million this season AND $12 million next season for what has been a .500 pitcher since he arrived in Toronto fresh off a Cy Young Award. He’s 20-20 with a 4.22 ERA in the season-plus he’s been in Toronto – not awful, but something you could really get from plenty of guys out there. Now, there is no guarantee Syndergaard will be good – he’s yet to throw a Major League pitch and already has had some arm trouble – but I’ll take a 21-year-old mega-prospect over a 40-year-old .500 pitcher any day of the week. My guess is, so would Toronto.
Trade: RHP Jake Arrieta to the Cubs for RHP Scott Feldman
How Bad on a Scale of 1-10: 9
Why?: Um, have you seen Arrieta lately? His June numbers: 0.92 ERA with 48 K and 6 BB. He’s taken back-to-back no-hitters into the late innings. Overall, he’s 9-3 for the Cubs in 20 starts since last season with an ERA of 2.63 and, at 28 years old, should still have plenty left in the tank. Meanwhile, the Orioles got Scott Feldman for a half a season, during which he finished 5-6 with a 4.27 ERA before bolting to Houston this season. For the pitching-starved Orioles, I think they would have a spot for a guy like Arrieta in the rotation.
New York Yankees
Trade: OF/1B Steven Pearce to the Orioles for cash
How Bad on a Scale of 1-10: 6
Why?: I know Steven Pearce isn’t an All-Star. He’s a journeyman utility guy enjoying a decent season for the Orioles. That said, the Yankees would LOVE him right now. Don’t believe me? Check this out; here are the 2014 stats for five mystery players:
Player A: 68 games played, .293/.349/.331 0 HR, 10 RBI
Player B: 79 games played, .289/.359/.399 4 HR, 34 RBI
Player C: 44 games played, .324/.385/.556, 7 HR, 21 RBI
Player D: 79 games played, .287/.358/.427 7 HR, 31 RBI
Player E: 55 games played, .220/.275/.411 8 HR, 24 RBI
Players A, B, D, and E? That would be Ichiro, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, and Carlos Beltran, aka the Yankees current outfield. Player C? That’s Pearce. He’s played in far fewer games, but has the highest batting average, on-base, and slugging of the bunch, and has nearly as many home runs and RBI as the Yankee players in about 60% of the games. He also isn’t being paid $20 million this season. You know what, I’m changing my score. I even convinced myself.
How Bad on a Scale of 1-10 (REVISED): 7.5
Boston Red Sox
Trade: SS Jose Iglesias to the Tigers for RHP Jake Peavy (from the White Sox)
How Bad on a Scale of 1-10: 4
Why?: The Red Sox won the World Series that season, so all trades were perfect. Sort of. This isn’t a huge mistake for Boston; after all, they have a new stud shortstop/third baseman and Iglesias is currently out for the year in Detroit. That said…it’s not like Peavy has really provided much. In about one full season’s worth of starts in Boston, Peavy is 5-8 with a 4.52 ERA with only two (two!) wins against American League opponents. He’s 1-7 this season with an ERA near five, and is clogging up a rotation that actually could use some young arms. I was for the trade last season, and they won it all, so again, whatever. But right now…I’d rather have an injured Iglesias, honestly.
Tampa Bay Rays
Trade: James Shields to the Royals for Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi
How Bad on a Scale of 1-10: 1
Why?: This one really isn’t so bad. Tampa would probably do it again today if they could. That said, it wasn’t perfect. Myers looked like an all-world prospect…until this season. Myers is hitting only .227 with five homers and 25 RBI this season. He’s never been a good fielder, and now his bat is suffering as well. Odorizzi is 3-8 with a 4.09 ERA for Tampa over two seasons. Meanwhile, Shields 21-13 with a 3.41 ERA for the Royals and has them in the playoff hunt for the second year in a row. For a team like Tampa that is dying for more pitching, maybe still having Shields would be the boost they needed.
So there you have it; not every trade is a winner. As these teams approach the deadline, hopefully they will remember that, before making another trade that is worthy of this list.