Braves Add Top Of Order Bat, Right-handed Starter
The Atlanta Braves struck late in the trade deadline day, acquiring OF Emilio Bonifacio and left-hander James Russell from the Chicago Cubs for prospect Victor Caratini.
Bonifacio gives the Braves a player who can fill a number of different roles and can handle the leadoff spot if needed. He can play second and all over the outfield. The right-handed hitter has good speed and will be a late-game pinch-running option, as well.
Russell is a left-handed reliever who will slide into a late-innings role for Atlanta. Russell has a 3.51 ERA in 33.1 innings for the Cubs thus far this season. He is in his fifth big league season.
Caratini is a 20-year-old catcher who can also play other positions, as well. He is currently at the Low-A level and is batting .279 with a 757 OPS. A native of Puerto Rico, Caratini was drafted out of Miami-Dade junior college.
Marlins Add Pitching, Position Player Depth
The Miami Marlins, making a push for a post-season spot, acquired two young players from the Houston Astros right at the deadline: RHP Jarred Cosart, UT Kike Hernandez, as well as prospect Austin Wates, according to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. Houston is reportedly receiving top prospects Colin Moran, Jake Marisnick and Francis Martes, as well as a compensation pick, in return.
Cosart will be under team control for several more years, as he is in his first full season in the big leagues. The right-hander has a 4.41 ERA in 20 starts this season with a 4.02 FIP. He moves from a hitter-friendly park to a pitcher-friendly one. Hernandez can play the infield and the outfield and he has a 768 OPS 24 games into his rookie season. He is just 22 years old. Wates is currently in Triple-A and the centerfielder has a .299/.396/.381 slashline with 31 stolen bases.
The Marlins give up Moran, who they selected sixth overall last year out of UNC. Moran was a player the Astros considered taking with the top pick last season. He has a 735 OPS at High-A this season, but many projected him to be a plus hitter at third base down-the-road.
Marisnick is a top outfield prospect, but he has struggled in two short stints in the big leagues. Originally a Blue Jays' prospect, he was acquired in the deal that sent Mark Buerhle and Jose Reyes to the Blue Jays.
Martes is an 18-year-old right-hander from the Dominican currently pitching in the Rookie League. He has a 5.18 ERA in 33 innings, where he has struck-out a batter an inning while walking 20.
Yankees Grab Two At Deadline
The New York Yankees made two deals at the deadline, acquiring infielder Stephen Drew from the Red Sox and infielder/outfielder Martin Prado from the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Yankees sent Kelly Johnson to the Red Sox, while Steve Gilbert of MLB.com is reporting that the Yankees will send prospect Peter O'Brien and a PTBNL or cash to Arizona.
Prado has a 686 OPS this season but he had a 750 OPS last year and a 796 OPS in 2012. Prado brings flexibility to the Yankees' roster, as he can play third base, second base and left field. Drew, a natural shortstop, is likely to move to second base for the first time in his career, with Derek Jeter at shortstop. Drew can also spell Jeter when he needs a day off. Drew signed with the Red Sox late and he is batting only .176 in 39 games this year. He had a 777 OPS and played above-average defense for the Red Sox last season when they won the World Series.
Biggest Deal Comes In Late
Just as the trade deadline came to a close, news trickled out that the Detroit Tigers, Tampa Bay Rays and Seattle Mariners had pulled off the biggest deal of the day. The final trade has not yet been announced, but FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal and CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman are reporting that David Price will go to Detroit, Austin Jackson will go to Seattle and Tampa will get Drew Smyly and prospect Willy Adames from Detroit and Nick Franklin from Seattle. More could be involved.
Price is the biggest name in this deal and he bolsters a starting rotation that arguably was already the best in baseball (or, at least, was before the A's acquired Jon Lester earlier in the day). Price will join Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello and Anibal Sanchez in a rotation clearly set-up for the post-season. Price is under team control for next season and could sign long-term with the Tigers, taking perhaps the money offered to and rejected by Scherzer during the off-season.
Jackson brings the Mariners a solid right-handed bat and glove in centerfield, two needs they desperately had to fill. He joins Chris Denorfia in a fortified Mariners' outfield.
Tampa comes away with a major-league starter in Smyly, who is under team control for several years, as well as a top infield prospect in Franklin. The Rays still have an outside chance at a playoff run this year, but will be decently positioned next year for the post-season, in any case. Adames was in the Tigers' top-10 prospect list. The 18-year-old is already at Low-A, hitting .269 with a 774 OPS in a pitcher-friendly Midwest League.
Nationals, Orioles Make Deadline Deals
The Beltway was busy on deadline day, as the Washington Nationals bolstered their infield and the Baltimore Orioles added bullpen help. The Nationals picked up Cleveland Indians' infielder Asdrubal Cabrera for prospect Zach Walters. The Orioles acquired Boston LHP Andrew Miller for prospect Eduardo Rodriguez.
Cabrera has been a shortstop for much of his career, but he is likely to slide over to second with Ian Desmond manning the six-spot for Washington. Anthony Rendon will play third while Ryan Zimmerman continues to recover from a hamstring strain.
Cabrera is a free agent at the end of the year. He has declined significantly with the bat over the past two seasons, but he is a switch-hitter and has been a career league-average hitter from both sides of the plate. He also brings defensive versatility to the Nationals, which will be valuable if Zimmerman does return this season.
Walters appeared in 32 games for Washington this season and had a 741 OPS with three homers in 39 at-bats. A natural shortstop, Walters is batting .300 with a 965 OPS in Triple-A this season. He was the Nats' 14th-best prospect coming into this season, according to MLB.com.
Miller, a former top-10 pick of the Tigers in 2006, was part of the deal that brought Miguel Cabrera to the Tigers. Miller struggled with the Marlins but re-made himself as a reliever with the Red Sox the past three seasons. This year, the left-hander has a 2.34 ERA and 69 Ks in 42.1 innings. He will bolster the late-innings for the Orioles, who currently lead the AL East by 2.5 games.
Rodriguez is a 21-year-old left-hander who was ranked as the Orioles' third-best prospect coming into this season by MLB.com. He is pitching at the Double-A level this season and he has a 4.79 ERA and 69 Ks in 82.2 innings. Rodriguez was a Futures Game participant in 2013 and an AFL Rising Star.
Mariners Add Denorfia
The Seattle Mariners, looking to add defense and speed, added outfielder Chris Denorfia from the San Diego Padres for outfielder Abraham Almonte and right-hander Stephen Kohlscheen.
The veteran Denorfia has experience in the AL West, having played in a limited role for the Oakland A's in 2008 and 2009. Originally in the Reds' organization, Denorfia spent the past five seasons with the Padres. He is a free agent at the end of the year.
Denorfia can play all three outfield positions and he runs the bases well. He, like the rest of the San Diego line-up, has struggled at the plate this year, but he had OPS+s of 110 and 123 the past two seasons. He will likely take the playing time of Endy Chavez.
Almonte is still playing with rookie eligibility. The centerfielder is only 5'9''. He has excellent speed and hit well in the minor leagues, although he has struggled in limited at-bats with the Mariners this year. Almonte was originally a member of the Yankees' organization and was traded to Seattle for Shawn Kelley. He can play second base as well as centerfield.
Kohlscheen is a reliever who is currently at the Triple-A level with Tacoma. The 6'6'' right-hander has struck-out more than a batter an inning this season at the Double-A and Triple-A levels and he has a 2.70 ERA. He was a 45th-round pick out of Auburn in 2010 by the Mariners and reached Triple-A for the first time this season.
Milwaukee Nabs Parra
With division-rival St. Louis loading up on pitching, the Milwaukee Brewers knew they had to make a move in the competitive NL Central. They added outfield help on Thursday by acquiring Gerardo Parra from the Arizona Diamondbacks for prospects Mitch Haniger and Anthony Banda.
Parra, a smooth-fielding outfielder and left-handed batter, will have one more year of arbitration-eligibility next year. He has a 667 OPS in 104 games for Arizona this year, but he had OPSs of 784, 747 and 726 each of the past three seasons. Parra hit a career-high 10 homers last season. He has six thus far this year.
Parra will bolster the Brewers' bench, giving them a premium defender and base-runner who can start versus some right-handers and come into games late for defensive purposes.
Haniger was one of the Brewers' top prospects. The former Cal-Poly star is batting .255 with a 732 OPS in his first season at the Double-A level. Haniger was the Brewers' supplemental first-round pick (38th overall) in 2012.
Banda is a left-hander currently pitching in the Midwest League. He has struck-out a batter an inning and he has a 3.66 ERA in 83.2 innings pitched. The soon-to-be 21-year-old was a 10th-round pick out of junior college in 2013. He was drafted, but didn't sign, with Arizona in 2011.
Cards Continue To Add To Staff
After acquiring Justin Masterson from the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday, the St. Louis Cardinals added another starter to their injury-plagued rotation in Boston right-hander John Lackey. The Red Sox received right-hander Joe Kelly and UT Allen Craig in the deal.
Lackey is a two-time World Series champion, having won with the Angels in 2002 and with the Red Sox last season. He is signed through 2015 in a unique deal that pays him the minimum. He has a 3.60 ERA for Boston this season and should give the Cardinals a horse near the top of their rotation, which has struggled with injuries this season. Lackey has pitched in the American League his entire career.
Kelly recently returned to the Cardinals' rotation after missing several month with a hamstring injury. He has struggled in four starts since returning from the DL. Kelly had a 2.69 ERA in 124 innings in 2013 for the NL Champions. This is Kelly's third season in the bigs, so he will be under Boston's control for several more years.
Craig gives the Red Sox another power bat in the corners. He also gives them some defensive flexibility. The Cal product is having a down year (638 OPS in 398 at-bats), but he has a career .460 SLG and is signed to a reasonable deal that keeps him under team control through 2017. Craig will replace Jonny Gomes as a right-handed platoon partner in the outfield and Craig can also play first base.
A's Make Biggest Noise Of The Morning
Before most of the West Coast even had a chance to grab coffee, the Oakland A's stole the headlines for the morning, acquiring left-hander Jon Lester and outfielder Jonny Gomes from the Boston Red Sox for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and the A's competitive balance pick in next year's draft. Oakland also receives cash in the deal. The A's then followed that deal by acquiring outfielder Sam Fuld from the Minnesota Twins for left-hander Tommy Milone.
In acquiring Lester and Gomes for Cespedes, the A's are taking the tact that pitching is what is going to get them past the Los Angeles Angels in the division and deep into the post-season. The A's are also banking on their platoon model working in left-field again to match the production lost from Cespedes.
Lester joins a fortified A's rotation that includes fellow All-Stars Jeff Samardzija and Scott Kazmir and A's Opening Day starter Sonny Gray. Jesse Chavez, Jason Hammel or Drew Pomeranz (currently in Triple-A) will act as the A's fifth starter for the remainder of the season.
The A's will need every bit of their rotation's star-power to hold off the Angels, who sit 2.5 games behind the A's in the division and have arguably been the best team in baseball over the past month and a half. With Lester, Oakland is also adding a proven post-season pitcher. Lester won two World Series titles with the Red Sox and has a 0.43 ERA in the World Series.
Lester is having an outstanding season. The 30-year-old has a 2.52 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP in 143 innings this season. He has struck-out 149 and has walked 32. Lester is a free agent at the end of the season and is expected to command a contract worth more than $200 million, so he is likely a rental for the A's. Oakland will not receive a draft pick for Lester since he was traded during the season.
Gomes, who was part of the A's 2012 division winning club, returns to Oakland after a dream 2013 season that saw him play a big role in the Red Sox's World Series title. He was struggling this season, hitting only .234/.329/.354 in 78 games for the Red Sox. He does have an 831 OPS versus left-handed pitchers, however, and he should receive most of his at-bats versus southpaws. Gomes will likely split time in left with Brandon Moss, with Stephen Vogt getting time at first base. Moss and Vogt will likely share time at first when Gomes is in the line-up.
The A's acquired Fuld in large part due to the uncertain health status of both of the A's centerfielders. Craig Gentry is currently on the disabled list with a broken hand suffered while attempting to bunt over the weekeend. Coco Crisp has missed significant time this season with a neck injury that is going to linger all year.
Fuld began the year on the A's roster, but he was designated for assignment when Gentry was activated off the DL. Fuld signed with the Twins and he had a nice year for Minnesota, reaching base at a .370 clip in 53 games. He stole 12 bases in 15 chances. Fuld is a plus defender in center, something the A's will need now that Gomes and Moss will be patrolling left instead of Cespedes.
These two deals are all about this year for Oakland, as Oakland will only control Fuld going into next year (and he's out-of-options). Losing Cespedes leaves a void in the middle of the A's line-up, as he was arguably the team's biggest run-producer the past two-and-a-half seasons. He was also the A's best post-season hitter the past two years, so Oakland will need to look elsewhere for production if they make the post-season. Oakland was 228-131 with Cespedes in the line-up the past two-and-a-half years; 28-44 without (hat-tip to Jane Lee of MLB.com).
Losing Milone will limit the A's options in the starting rotation somewhat going into next year. Assuming the A's don't re-sign Lester and trade Samardzija, they are looking at Kazmir, Gray, Chavez and Pomeranz as their only established starters in the system not coming off of Tommy John surgery. Milone was a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter who gave the A's a lot of quality innings the past two-and-a-half years. With Milone traded, Derek Norris remains the only return left in the A's system from the Gio Gonzalez trade.
The A's cleared a spot on their 25-man roster by optioning rookie Billy Burns to Triple-A Sacramento. They also cleared a spot on their 40-man roster by designating Jake Elmore for assignment. Until being promoted to Oakland on Monday, Burns had been playing at Double-A Midland. This will be his first stop in Triple-A. Elmore is batting .282/.374/.365 for Sacramento. He missed time at the start of the season with a strained quad.