The 2012 trade deadline is now in the rearview mirror, and short of waiver claims and minor league callups, each team has their core group of players set for the playoff march. Of course, some teams fared better than others to prep their teams for an October run, or for future years. Let's take a look at the winners, the losers, and the teams that I really can't form an opinion on quite yet.
Houston Astros. The Astros traded everything that wasn't nailed down, and got a ton of young players in return to help rebuild a farm system that was horribly neglected by former GM Ed Wade. While Houston didn't get any of the top ten prospects dealt at the deadline, they got a lot of depth and mid-range ceiling players. Houston will probably be bad next year too, but at least they'll be bad with young players as opposed to being bad with old players making a ton of money. The only way that this deadline could have been better for the Astros would be if they were able to deal Francisco Cordero and Ben Francisco, who came over in the ten player deal with the Blue Jays.
Chicago White Sox. Chicago's farm system is absolutely dire. Yet, the Sox added a third baseman (Kevin Youkilis), a starting pitcher (Francisco Liriano), and a veteran reliever (Brett Myers) and the best player they gave up was the oft-traded Zach Stewart. That's pretty slick from Kenny Williams, a guy who is absolutely never afraid to make a big move at the deadline.
Detroit Tigers. Speaking of GMs never afraid to make a trade…hello, Dave Dombrowski. He swooped in out of nowhere to pluck Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante from the Marlins (albeit for a hefty package), and positioned the Tigers very well for an October run. Combine that with the White Sox moves, and we're going to have a very entertaining AL Central race going down the stretch.
Milwaukee Brewers. Despite rumors about trading guys like Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart, the only Brewers to be dealt were Zack Greinke and catcher George Kottaras (who was DFAed and then traded). The haul that the Brewers got for Greinke was superb, and probably more than anyone expected. The team has needed a shortstop since dealing Alcides Escobar FOR Greinke before 2011 (and you can argue that they needed one for longer than that), and Jean Segura more than fits the bill. Combining Segura along with Ariel Pena and James Hellweg, and you have the makings of a fantastic return for a rental in Greinke.
Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates traded smart at the deadline this year, much like last season. They managed to keep Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, and Starling Marte while adding a corner outfielder (Travis Snider), a first baseman (Gaby Sanchez), and a mid-rotation starter (Wandy Rodriguez). Trading Robbie Grossman in the Rodriguez deal may end up hurting in the long run, but he was the best player they gave up, and the trade for Snider effectively replaces Grossman's future spot in the organization. Their trades aren't rentals either, with all of the players being under control for at least another season past this one.
Los Angeles Dodgers. They kept their best prospects (Zach Lee, Allen Webster), and picked up some help on offense (Shane Victorino, Hanley Ramirez) and the bullpen (Brandon League). I was always of the opinion that they didn't need Ryan Dempster, and by not paying the Cubs ransom for him, apparently Ned Coletti agreed. The Dodgers' large lead in the NL West has evaporated, and they're prepping for a showdown with the Giants and Diamondbacks to end the season for the division title.
Texas Rangers. Jon Daniels is typically a GM who goes all in all the time, and with competition tightening in the AL West, Daniels needed to make a splash. But he lost out on Greinke, lost out on Cole Hamels, and lost out on Josh Johnson. The Rangers had to settle for Ryan Dempster as their lone acquisition, and many are predicting that he gets lit up like a Christmas tree in Arlington. For a Rangers team that will now be without Neftali Feliz for the rest of the year and has purged Roy Oswalt to the bullpen, it'll be a fight for the Rangers to even make the playoffs this fall, let alone win their third straight AL pennant.
Toronto Blue Jays. Alex Anthopolous is normally very good at the trade deadline..but what the hell went on here? He dealt a highly-thought of prospect in Travis Snider for a reliever (Brad Lincoln), dealt a horde of prospects and a pair of contracts for JA Happ and Brandon Lyon, and they acquired no one aside from Happ to solve their starting pitching problems. Anthopolous also wasn't able to deal mercurial shortstop Yunel Escobar, but that may have been due to teams backing off due to Escobar's attitude problems. I understand not thinking your team is a contender and standing pat or dealing veterans…but the Blue Jays made some moves that I'd classify as "bizarre" more than anything else.
Washington Nationals. The Nats have the second best record in baseball, a young team, and a dwindling lead in the NL East…yet, they stood pat. Washington did nothing, even with Stephen Strasburg's upcoming shutdown and shortstop Ian Desmond's torn oblique resulting in questions swirling around this team. After blowing up the farm system for Gio Gonzalez this winter, I can understand not wanting to weaken the farm even more…but not even a low-level piece? Really, Mike Rizzo?
Colorado Rockies. You want to talk about a mess of a franchise? Look no further than the Rocky Mountains. The Rockies had two of the best bullpen arms on the market in Rafael Betancourt and Matt Belisle, and didn't seriously consider moving either. Veteran catcher Ramon Hernandez didn't go anywhere, even with the emergence of Wilin Rosario this year. The Rockies only traded pitcher Jeremy Guthrie (for Jonathan Sanchez, which is like filling one hole with dirt taken from another hole) and infielder Marco Scutaro (though Charlie Culberson is a better return than Clayton Mortensen, who the Rockies sent to the Red Sox in the winter for Scutaro). It just seems like a huge missed opportunity for a disaster of an organization.
Arizona Diamondbacks. With all of the talk about trading Justin Upton and putting together a blockbuster package for an elite starter, all the Diamondbacks did was trade reliever Craig Breslow to the Red Sox. I don't think the Diamondbacks needed to do much, but for a team that had so many rumors swirling around them, and that had their prime competition in the division both make strides, standing pat just doesn't seem wise.
Atlanta Braves. Reed Johnson fills a huge hole for Atlanta, giving them the solid outfielder off of the bench that they desperately needed with the struggles of Matt Diaz and Eric Hinske, and the limitations of Jose Constanza. On the other hand, Paul Maholm doesn't seem like much of an upgrade for the back-end of the rotation, and trading an extremely high ceiling (albeit injured) prospect like Arodys Vizcaino seems like way too much to give up. The Braves also didn't really fill their hole in the bullpen, rollin the dice with the erratic middle relief crew they've had all year. It's a definite gamble for Atlanta, and I'm of the opinion that this trade will center around the performance of Maholm over the final two months of this season.
Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies dealt 2/3 of their Opening Day outfield, receiving a bounty of prospects that this farm system desperately needed. But at the same time of me praising them for trading Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence…they should have done more. The Phillies couldn't reach an agreement with the Orioles on money to deal them Joe Blanton and they didn't part ways with Juan Pierre, who was in demand as a bench bat. Trading Cliff Lee and Jimmy Rollins were thought of as longshots, but they didn't get close on either of them at all. I guess Ruben Amaro is hesitant to completely blow things up and admit failure, but 2013 could also be another disappointing year at this rate.
San Francisco Giants. Hunter Pence and Marco Scutaro were the big pickups for the Giants, and they didn't have to deal any elite prospects (sensing a theme here?)…but I'm not sure either will be a huge upgrade for the Giants. Pence brings power potential to the right field position, but he's not much of an upgrade overall over Gregor Blanco, especially when you figure in Pence's erratic defense. As for Scutaro, he was pretty much picked up because Pablo Sandoval is currently hurt. Compared to the Dodgers going crazy, the Giants' moves underwhelm in contrast, and again…it all depends on how Pence produces this year for them.
Chicago Cubs. Yes, it's all great and dandy that the Cubs finally got the Ryan Dempster situation reserved, but the two prospects they got from the Rangers are much less thought of than Randall Delgado, who they were going to get from the Braves for the veteran. Atlanta still helped them by giving up Arodys Vizcaino for Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson, though. The Cubs essentially sold low on Geovany Soto though, and weren't able to move Alfonso Soriano or Matt Garza despite subtantial discussions about both. Obviously, Soriano's contract and Garza's triceps injuries are huge reasons why, but it still feels like the Cubs could have done a lot more.