The 2012 trade deadline has come and gone and the flurry of action this month has been astounding. The advent of an extra wild card and the falling of formerly competitive teams turned into unprecedented buying and selling of numerous star-level players. However, not all trades are created equal. Sometimes these deals work out for both teams. Sometimes they don’t. Let’s take a look back at last year’s July trades and how those moves have affected the franchises that made them.
Edwin Jackson traded from the White Sox to the Blue Jays for Mark Teahen, Jason Frasor and Zach Stewart
Edwin Jackson, Marc Rzepczynski, Octavio Dotel and Corey Patterson traded from the Blue Jays to the Cardinals for Colby Rasmus, Trever Miller, Brian Tallet and P.J. Walters.
Jackson spent a matter of minutes as a member of the Blue Jays before being flipped to St. Louis for the prize that Alex Anthopoulos’s true truly wanted, Colby Rasmus. For St. Louis, Jackson performed well, going 5-2 with a 3.58 ERA and 2.2 K/BB ratio, helping them make a run to the playoffs. Two other pieces in the trade, Rzepczybnski and Dotel, served their purpose as well working in short relief.
Colby Rasmus struggled mightily in his first go-round with the Blue Jays, but has come around a little bit this season with 1.8 fWAR to his credit. Still, he has yet to reach the potential that made him one of the top prospects in all of baseball.
Carlos Beltran traded from the Mets to the Giants for Zach Wheeler
The Giants, thinking Beltran would be the piece that would put them over the top in the NL West, traded away one of the best young pitching prospects in baseball. Instead, they faded fast, ended up losing the division by eight games and missing out on the wild card due to a later season surge by the Cardinals, who went on to win the World Series. Beltran, a free agent only months later, decided to sign with the defending champs, leaving San Francisco without their top pitching prospect and without a postseason birth.
For the Mets, this deal could not have gone better. Wheeler continues to turn heads in the minor leagues where he currently sits with a 3.26 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and 117 strikeouts in 116 innings at Double-A.
Doug Fister and David Pauley traded from the Mariners to the Tigers for Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush and Francisco Martinez
Fister was outstanding for the Tigers down the stretch in 2011, posting a 1.97 ERA and 11.4 K/BB ratio during the regular season. However, this season Fister has come back down to earth a bit, posting a 3.77 ERA and a 3.95 K/BB ratio, though he has missed some time due to injury.
Hunter Pence traded from the Astros to the Phillies for Jarred Cosart, Jonathan Singleton and Josh Zeid
Pence was having a great season with the Astros, but he cranked it up another notch once landing in Philly, hitting .324/.394/.560 the rest of the way. The Phillies sent Pence packing for San Francisco at this year’s deadline, so his time in the city of brotherly love was short lived.
In return for Pence, the Astros received two big-time prospects in Jarred Cosart and Jonathan Singleton. Cosart, despite having plus stuff that continuously wows scouts, has yet to put up the numbers everyone expects. Some say he might have to move to the bullpen eventually, but rest assured that the Astros will give him every chance to succeed as a starter. Singleton, on the other hand, continued to progress as big left-handed bat that will eventually fit in the middle of a major league lineup. He’s currently hitting .284/.400/.491 with 13 home runs in 423 plate appearences, but keep in mind that he’s doing so as a 20-year-old in Double-A.
Michael Bourn traded from the Astros to the Braves for Jordan Schafer, Juan Abreu, Brett Oberholtzer and Paul Clemens
Michael Bourn has become an essential part of the Braves playoff push this season. He is currently hitting .292/.345/.427 while playing excellent defense in center field. Even if the Braves fail to resign Bourn this offseason, he will have been worth the investment. Jordan Schafer did not fit in the Braves plans and he has consistently shown the inability to hit for AVG or get on base at the big-league level. Juan Abreu looked like a somewhat promising bullpen arm, but command and control issues have led to some ugly home run rates and hefty walk rates. Neither Oberholtzer or Clemmens have done much of anything at the minor league levels.
Ubaldo Jimenez traded from the Rockies to the Indians for Drew Ponmeranz, Alex White, Joe Gardner and Matt McBride.
This was one of the most intriguing trades of last July. Jimenez, who had fallen out of favor in Colorado, was less than a year removed from a 19-8 record and 2.88 ERA, but struggling with a loss of velocity that led to vastly mixed results, mostly on the negative side. Cleveland took a chance, surrendering a couple of solid young arms, one with top-end upside.
The Indians were gambling on the thought that Jimenez could rework his mechanics and find his velocity again. So far, they’ve gone bust. Jimenez continues to regress in terms of velocity and control to the point where he has actually been a negative value so far this season (-0.1 fWAR). On the flip side, none of the pitchers acquired from Cleveland have done much at the big league level, but ultimately, we won’t be able to make a solid assertion on these arms for a few years. Pomeranz, who has thrown 48.2 innings for the Rox this season, has gone through some rookie struggles and minor arm problems, but has also shown glimpses of the talent that caused Baseball America to rank him as the 30th best prospect in baseball before the season. He’s still only 23, so further development is needed. Alex White is an interesting young arm as well. I love the movement he generates on his fastball and his ability to generate plenty of ground balls. His minor league numbers were solid leading up to last season, but since his call to the bigs and subsequent finger injury that cost him the rest of the season, the numbers have looked vastly different. At age 23, he still has time to put things together and become a back-to-middle of the rotation starter.
Erik Bedard and Josh Fields traded to the Red Sox from the Mariners in a three-team trade that sent Trayvon Robinson and Chih-Hsien Chiang, to the Mariners from the Dodgers for Tim Fedrowicz, Juan Rodriguez and Stephen File.
Bedard was supposed to be the arm that helped push the Red Sox to the playoffs. He wasn’t. With the Sox, Bedard posted a 1.5 WHIP and only made three starts during Boston’s September swoon.
Dodgers trade Rafael Furcal to the Cardinals for Alex Castellanos
The Cardinals, in desperate need of a shortstop for their playoff run, took a chance on the oft injured Furcal. The move anchored the shortstop position for the Cards and Furcal went on to hit seven home runs in 50 games (albeit along with a .255 AVG and .316 OBP), as the Cardinals won the World Series. Furcal ended up back with the Cardinals on a two-year deal and has proved an asset this season, hitting .272 with a .341 OBP, though back issues, which have plagued him his whole career, have sidelined him of late.
The 25-year-old Castellanos has done nothing but hit since entering the Dodgers organization – he was swinging a hot bat before the Furcal trade as well. With improved plate discipline at Triple-A this season, Castellanos is looking like a prospect that can have some type of a major league impact, if only a limited one.
Koji Uehara traded from the Orioles to the Mets for Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter
Uehara, since arriving on the MLB scene from Japan, has been one of the best relievers in baseball, posting over one win above replacement (WAR) each of his three full seasons. However, this season Uehara has battled injures and thrown only 21.1 innings. Still, in those limited innings the numbers are stellar once again (30-percent strikeout rate and 2.5 percent walk rate). Once he is back and healthy, he should be able to help the Rangers’ pen in a big way down the stretch. Uehara still has two more seasons of arbitration before he becomes a free agent for his age 40 season.
Chris Davis, labeled as a “Quad-A” type of player for his ability to crush minor league pitching, but his inability to find much success in the big leagues, got off to a strong start with the bat this season for the O’s. However, after hitting over .300 with a 340-plus OBP in April and May, David has fallen off the cliff, hitting .205/.262/.397 in June and .225/.274/.427 in July while maintaining a strikeout rate of over 30-percent since May. Davis also serves as a butcher boy on defense, leading to a meager 0.8 WAR thus far this season. Tommy Hunter, in terms of value, has actually been worse that Davis, posting a -0.2 WAR in 100.2 innings of work. While Hunter doesn’t allow very many free passes, he lack the ability to miss bats and get’s hit hard because of it. Both Davis and Hunter are under team control for the next three season, but that might be a moot point, since their value together is less than that of the one reliever, when healthy, the Rangers acquired last July.
Mike Adams traded from the Padres to the Rangers for Joe Wieland and Robbie Erlin
Adams was perhaps the most sought after reliever at the deadline and Texas ended up trading away two promising young arms to acquire his talents. Adams has been good in Texas, but not nearly as dominant as he was in San Diego. The initial reaction to the trade was very positive for the Padres. Both Wieland and Eriln project to be solid big league starters, even if their ceilings are more toward the back end of a rotation. Wieland, unfortunately, went down early this season with Tommy John Surgery and Erlin has battled some arm troubles of his own this year. Still, both pitchers could more than make up for the loss of Adams, who will be a free agent after this season.
Mike Aviles traded from the Royals to the Red Sox for Yamaico Navarro and Kendal Volz
Last season, Aviles served as a fill-in piece for the Red Sox as they made their playoff push. Little did he know that that push would become a shove in the opposite direction that would lead to an offseason of tremendous change in Beantown. Part of that Change was naming Aviles the starting shortstop to which he has responded by rating quite well defensively, the main reason he has posted 2 WAR according to FanGraphs. Personally, I’d take those ratings with a grain of salt. Aviles was not rated highly defensively, both in terms of stats and the eye test coming into this season. While he certainly has made some improvements, I don’t believe they as drastic as his Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) suggests. Instead, I see a solid defender that is a liability in the batters box, having hit only .252 with a very poor .275 OBP. On the flip side, neither Yamaico Navarro or Kendal Volz are likely to make any sort of real impact at the big league level. In fact, Navarro is no longer even a part of the Royals organization, having been traded to the Pirates in the offseason.