Ranking A.L. Title Contenders Post-Trade Deadline
A few days ago I was lamenting what a boring July it’d been on the trade front, with the July 31st deadline shaping up to be a real snoozer. Aside from the Marcus Stroman trade, nothing pre-31st had really materialized.
Well, I was wrong. It wasn’t the wildest deadline of all-time, but it was pretty interesting. We had a future Hall of Famer get dealt (Zack Greinke), some top prospects (Jazz Chisholm, Taylor Trammell, Logan Allen, etc), some impact relievers (Shane Greene, Sam Dyson) and few enigmas (Yasiel Puig, Trevor Bauer, Aaron Sanchez).
Today we’ll look at the power rankings of the top three A.L. contenders’ title chances post-trade deadline.
All stats via Baseball Reference, as of 7/31/19
1. Houston Astros
(Key Additions: RHP Zack Greinke, C Martin Maldonado, RHP Aaron Sanchez)
Remember in 2017 when the Astros traded for a future HOF RHP and rode that trade to a World Series victory? Boy, seems like history is repeating itself. Despite a loss in velocity as he heads into his mid-30’s, Greinke is still a top tier pitcher in baseball, and adding him to a rotation that already includes Gerrit Cole & Justin Verlander cements the Astros as the top WS contender in the AL.
Greinke has already accounted for 4.9 WAR in 2019 (although nearly a full win of that is with the bat, which doesn’t matter much to the Astros) and really helps solidify a rotation that seemingly won’t be getting a late-season boost from prospect Forrest Whitley as they might’ve hoped in Spring Training.
Sanchez is in the middle of a disastrous year as a starter after two consecutive injury-riddled seasons, but it wasn’t long ago (2016) that he led the A.L. in ERA as a 23-year-old. He will likely slide into the Astros’ bullpen as a potential high reward acquisition if he can flash his former stuff in a smaller role with the help of Houston’s analytical staff. Maldonado returns to Houston as a solid backup defensive presence at catcher, providing an improvement over the jettisoned Max Stassi.
2. New York Yankees
(Key Additions: OF Terrance Gore)
The Yankees didn’t exactly kill it at the deadline (although one could see a scenario where Gore pinch runs and steals a key base in Game 7 of the World Series) and while a top tier starter would’ve been nice, nothing that happened in the Trade Deadline moved New York out of the #2 spot in terms of A.L. World Series contenders.
They still have a 7.5 game lead in the division, and most importantly to them, none of their divisional contenders got much better at the deadline either. The Red Sox have been surging of late, slowly turning into the team that many experts (and I) thought they’d be in Spring Training, but they missed out on every big fish as well, landing only Andrew Cashner.
Tampa Bay landed slugger Jesus Aguilar, which would’ve been a huge pickup had this been July 31st 2018, as Aguilar was in the midst of an All-Star season in Milwaukee. This year however he’s been largely disappointing (.225/.320/.374), likely just providing a platoon bat. The Rays also landed Eric Sogard, a solid veteran presence that also fits their budget, but no acquisition at the deadline was likely to dethrone the Yankees of their A.L. East crown and comfortably into the postseason.
3. Minnesota Twins
(Key Additions: RHP Sergio Romo, RHP Sam Dyson)
The Twins would be a lot more comfortable right now if they’d added Stroman, Greinke, or one of the Mets pitchers that were seemingly on the block. However, they did manage to add a couple arms to shore up their bullpen, and more importantly the Indians didn’t get that much better.
Don’t get me wrong, I think the Indians got better by subtracting Bauer but adding power corner bats in Puig & Franmil Reyes, as that was Cleveland’s biggest area of need. If they get both Danny Salazar & Carlos Carrasco back from their respective ailments, they might not really feel the loss of Bauer (who hasn’t been quite the same pitcher this season as in 2019 anyways).
That being said, the Twins likely did enough at the deadline to keep themselves ahead of the pack in the A.L. Central, and keep them as the A.L.’s #3 World Series contender (can Boston really pitch enough to win a title?). But, the A.L. Central race is a lot more close for comfort post-deadline than the Twins would like.
By Kyle Bandujo