How can you top a month in which you finished 20-3? Oh, just by bolstering your starting rotation and adding bullpen depth at the trade deadline.
The Los Angeles Dodgers entered Monday’s MLB Trade Deadline sporting the MLB’s best record at 74-31. They could have easily just stood idle and likely would have been fine heading into the last two months of the regular season and into October. However, that wasn’t the case and they made some moves.
Yu Darvish was one of the most sought-out starting pitchers on the market and who landed him? Of course it was the Dodgers, right at the deadline buzzer. Darvish will help the Dodgers’ starting rotation while Clayton Kershaw recovers from a back injury. He will also help in the playoffs and give the Dodgers a solid rotation to compete for a World Series championship.
The Dodgers sent the Texas Rangers Willie Calhoun, a second baseman/corner outfielder prospect. Here’s the kicker: Calhoun wasn’t even the Dodgers best prospect as he was ranked fourth. Still, that’s not bad for the Rangers, but for how much Darvish was in demand, they could have gotten a top-two prospect. Instead, the Dodgers held on to their top-three prospects and got even richer.
Along with Darvish, the Dodgers added some left-handed bullpen help and depth in Tony Watson (Pirates) and Tony Cigrani (Reds). Neither are elite bullpen guys, but ones who can contribute and get outs before giving way to closer Kenley Jensen. A team like the Dodgers, who have dominated the MLB this season thus far, shouldn’t be able to be in a position where they get this much better, yet here they sit.
The New York Yankees were also winners at the deadline. On Monday, the Bronx Bombers acquired starter Sonny Gray from the Oakland Athletics. Gray was another highly sought after starting pitchers on the market and the Yankees acquired him. This is an even bigger win for Gray, who was on a team who had no chance of making the playoffs to the tem currently leading the AL East.
Last week the Yankees acquired third baseman Todd Frazier and relievers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle from the Chicago White Sox. The arch rival Boston Red Sox were quiet at the deadline. Boston could have used another bat or two as they currently sit in last in the AL East in home runs. They also could have gone after some starting pitching as David Price has landed back on the disabled list. However, that was not the case as they only acquired reliever Addison Reed from the Mets and the Yankees got better. This will still be a two-team race down the stretch, but New York definitely made some sound moves to better their chances of winning the division.
The Washington Nationals needed bullpen help in the worst way imaginable and they went out and acquired thee quality relievers. Tony Kintzler was added on Monday from the Minnesota Twins and last week the Nats acquired Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle from the Oakland Athletics. The starting pitching was great heading into July, but then Stephen Strasburg developed some arm soreness. Washington needs him to be healthy or the bullpen issues will be a thing of the past.
The biggest loser of the MLB Trade Deadline? That would be the Houston Astros. That might seem startling for the team that will likely finish with the best record in the AL, but they failed to make necessary moves. With the health of Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers up in the air, the Astros should have gone out and acquired either Darvish, Gray or Jose Quintana, who was traded from the White Sox to the Cubs, but they chose not to. The Houston bullpen hasn’t been very good with a 4.53 ERA. They did trade for Francisco Liriano, who they will use out of the bullpen, but his 5.88 ERA won’t help matters. Sure, the Astros could still make a deep run in October, but they failed to make the necessary moves to enhance their chances.
The rich got richer in Los Angeles and the rest of the MLB should be on alert because of that. There is still two months left before the postseason gets under way, so anything can happen, but it’s hard to go against what the Dodgers have going right now.