Deadline moves alter outlook of tight races

Deadline moves alter outlook of tight races

Deadline moves alter outlook of tight races
The non-waiver Trade Deadline has passed, players have switched teams, and although there can still be trades and waiver-wire action, revamped rosters promise exciting races in the final two months of Major League Baseball's regular season.

Two of the more exciting races likely will take place out West.

The longtime Giants-Dodgers rivalry is alive and well in the National League West after the Dodgers earned the sweep in San Francisco this weekend. San Francisco and Los Angeles each acquired veteran outfielders -- Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino, respectively -- on Monday. The Dodgers' trade for Victorino -- and for reliever Brandon League -- followed its acquisition of shortstop Hanley Ramirez.

"In some ways, it is a reaction to not only playing them and getting swept, but also knowing to a point they were going to be extremely active," Giants general manager Brian Sabean said. "You didn't want them to be able to outdistance you, based on personnel moves that you didn't pursue."

In the American League, the Angels and Dodgers continued to impersonate the Yankees and Red Sox. The Angels followed their impressive offseason by landing right-hander Zack Greinke, while the Rangers swooped in at the last minute to get righty Ryan Dempster.

Dempster steps into a rotation that just lost two key members -- Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz -- to season-ending elbow injuries.

"We wanted to improve the club any way we can," general manager Jon Daniels said. "If Colby and Neftali had not had their injuries, we would still be looking to improve the club. Right now, this is the area that we needed to improve."

So what does it all mean? Are the current division leaders -- who got there before all of the changes -- still the favorites?

Here's a look at how the moves leading up to the Deadline impact the races:

AL East

AL East (Aug. 2)
Team GB
Yankees -
Orioles 6.5
Rays 6.5
Red Sox 9
There surprisingly weren't many impact Deadline deals in the AL East, other than the Yankees trading for outfielder Ichiro Suzuki. New York also picked up Casey McGehee, who can help fill in while Alex Rodriguez misses time with a broken hand.

Although any of the teams below New York could make a run, there has been the sense that the division is the Yankees' to lose. That remains the same.

AL Central
The Indians shouldn't be entirely overlooked, but the consensus is that this race is going to come down to the Tigers and White Sox. The Tigers parted with top pitching prospect (Jacob Turner) for right-hander Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante, who they hope will solve their season-long woes at second base.

AL Central
Team GB
White Sox -
Tigers 2.5
Indians 7.5
The White Sox, meanwhile, acquired veteran Brett Myers to help stabilize their young bullpen and also traded for left-hander Francisco Liriano, a seven-year AL Central who certainly knows his way around the division.

This one should come down to the wire, and the schedule could play a big factor. Chicago's last 10 games are against the Angels, Indians (six games) and Rays, while the Tigers' last 13 come against the Twins (six) and Royals (seven).

AL West
The Angels won the offseason by signing Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson. They made the biggest Deadline splash by acquiring Greinke. The only question remaining is will that be enough to win the division?

AL West
Team GB
Rangers -
A's 4.5
Angels 5
This isn't to discount the A's -- one of baseball's biggest feel-good stories. Despite Oakland's best efforts, the division likely will come down Texas and Los Angeles, as Oakland's September slate -- Angels (seven games), Tigers (three), Yankees (three) and Rangers (four) -- is a doozy.

That means it'll be Rangers and Angels. Both teams have the ability to play like baseball's best for long stretches, which is why it's difficult to predict. Let's just say the eyes of baseball fans will once again be on these two teams on the season's final weekend -- when they square off in Anaheim.

NL East

NL East
Team GB
Nationals -
Braves 2.5

The Braves were linked to Greinke and had Dempster, pending his approval -- which never came. Instead they got left-hander Paul Maholm, a good pitcher on a heck of a run but clearly not the impact arm they were seeking. If Maholm's roll can continue in Atlanta and Ben Sheets continues winning, Atlanta's rotation is much improved.

But it still doesn't equal the Nationals' -- with or without Stephen Strasburg.

NL Central

NL Central
Team GB
Reds -
Pirates 3.5
Cards 8
The Reds gained a power bullpen arm with the late acquisition of reliever Jonathan Broxton, and the way they're playing without Joey Votto is just as impressive. Pittsburgh's moves provide potential upside, as Gaby Sanchez was an All-Star a year ago and Travis Snider is an intriguing young outfielder. Plus, the Pirates' September slate is favorable, with 13 of 16 coming against the Cubs, Brewers and Astros.

That leaves the defending World Series champions, who also have a favorable September schedule. The Cardinals upgraded their bullpen with Edward Mujica, but otherwise stood pat. Two Central teams likely could make the playoffs and it wouldn't surprise anyone if the division comes down to the Reds and Pirates. But the Cardinals have the potential to make a run, as they proved last year.

NL West

NL West
Team GB
Giants -
Dodgers 0.5
D-backs 2

The Dodgers' 3-4-5 of Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Ramirez has the potential to be among the game's elite, while the Giants still retain the pitching edge. And while those two deserve the headlines, don't forget about last year's division champ, as Arizona has used a recent run to sneak back into the picture.

This is another race that might come down to scheduling, which in this case favors San Francisco. The Giants don't travel outside of the NL West in September, while Los Angeles faces the Cardinals at home and Nationals and Reds on the road.

Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.