The months of June and July are trade season, and teams are fortifying themselves for runs at a ring while the also-rans are planning for 2015 and beyond.
With that in mind, as we look forward to the next week of wheeling and dealing before the non-waiver clock runs out, here's a list of some of the more significant deals of June and July 2013 and a look at how they panned out:
The deal: Cubs trade pitcher Scott Feldman and catcher/infielder Steve Clevenger to the Orioles for right-handed pitchers Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop plus international signing money.
The reasoning: The Orioles liked Feldman's 3.46 ERA and were hanging in there in the American League East despite a rash of underperforming starting pitching, so they went for the impending free agent as a rental property. The Cubs loved Arrieta's arm as a starter and liked Strop's as a reliever and were in the midst of a still-going rebuilding project based on accumulating prospects domestic and international.
The winner: The Cubs, big time. Feldman went 5-6 with a 4.27 ERA down the stretch for the O's, who did not make the playoffs, and signed with Houston in the offseason. Arrieta has blossomed in Chicago this season, harnessing his pure stuff into a 2.12 ERA and 93 strikeouts in 85 innings through Wednesday and looking like a pivotal rotation piece at the age of 28.
The deal: Marlins trade right-hander Ricky Nolasco and international signing bonus slot No. 96 ($197,000) to the Dodgers for young pitchers Josh Wall, Steve Ames and Angel Sanchez.
The reasoning: The Dodgers weren't embarrassed at all to show the world that they were boldly going after a World Series ring. The Marlins knew high-priced Nolasco was going to be a free agent in the winter and wanted to get as much young talent for him as they could. In other words, a classic July baseball trade.
The winner: Tough call, with a slight nod to the Dodgers at this moment. Nolasco went 8-3 with a 3.52 ERA down the stretch to help the Dodgers into the postseason, where they fell two games shy of reaching the World Series by losing to the Cardinals in the National League Championship Series. They also got a cash allotment for the international signings, which they covet. The Marlins still have one shot at winning this trade. Wall has been waived twice and is now a Triple-A reliever in the Pittsburgh organization. Ames has pitched well in relief in very limited time in 2014 for Miami's Double-A affiliate but is 26. Sanchez still has a bit of intrigue, though. He went 0-8 for Miami's Double-A club this year before moving on to the Tampa Bay and White Sox organizations, but he throws hard and is 24 and pitched well in his lone start for Double-A Birmingham.
The deal: Cubs trade right-hander Matt Garza to the Rangers for third baseman Mike Olt, right-hander Justin Grimm, Minor League pitcher C.J. Edwards and a player to be named later that turned out to be righty reliever Neil Ramirez.
The reasoning: The Rangers went with the same strategy as the Orioles did with Feldman and the Dodgers with Nolasco: Load up your rotation with one of the better available soon-to-be-free-agent starters on the market and hope that two-plus months of brilliance will end up being the deciding factor in postseason glory. The Cubs were using their same M.O.: stock up on prospects.
The winner: The Cubs, again. Garza went 4-5 with a 4.38 ERA for the Rangers, who did not make it to October. Olt hasn't panned out for the Cubs just yet, but he's seen big league time, as has Grimm, who has made 42 appearances out of Chicago's bullpen this year. Ramirez has been brilliant as a reliever for the Cubs, with a 1.00 ERA through Wednesday, and Edwards is a 22-year-old who was terrific in four starts for Double-A Tennessee before experiencing right shoulder fatigue in April.
The deal: Brewers trade reliever Francisco Rodriguez to the Orioles for third-base prospect Nick Delmonico.
The reasoning: The Orioles wanted bullpen depth for a playoff push and the Brewers were out of the race and wanted to build for the future.
The winner: The Brewers. Baltimore didn't use K-Rod as its closer, didn't make the playoffs and he became a free agent, signed with the Brewers again, and became their closer on Opening Day and has been one of the best in the Majors in that role this year. Delmonico just turned 22 and is still trying to find himself in high A ball.
The deal: Cubs trade outfielder Alfonso Soriano to the Yankees for Minor League pitcher Corey Black.
The reasoning: Soriano was an aging slugger with almost $25 million left on his contract, and the Cubs agreed to pay almost $18 million of that. Black was a 21-year-old former fourth-round pick with upside as a right-handed starter.
The winner: Too early to tell, but probably the Cubs. The Yankees enjoyed an inexpensive late-summer renaissance from Soriano after the deal, when their former All-Star second baseman hit 17 homers and drove in 50 runs in 219 at-bats. But New York didn't make the postseason, and young Black has seemingly hit his stride in the Minors for the Cubs, pitching to a 3.02 ERA so far in Double-A Tennessee this year and striking out 94 batters in 92 1/3 innings.
The deal: Astros trade reliever Jose Veras to the Tigers for Minor League outfielder Danry Vasquez and a player to be named later, who became right-handed pitcher David Paulino.
The reasoning: The Tigers were on their way to the American League Championship Series and wanted another piece for a powerful bullpen to take into October. Veras, an impending free agent, was doing well as Houston's closer and figured to augment a unit that had Joaquin Benoit as its ninth-inning man. The Astros were all about stockpiling prospects for the future, and Vasquez was a 19-year-old with a big ceiling.
The winner: We'll give this one to the Astros. Veras put up a 3.20 ERA for the Tigers down the stretch and pitched in the postseason, but he had a 5.40 ERA in the ALCS that Detroit lost to Boston and signed with the Cubs over the winter. Vasquez has put up a promising .289/.353/.413 line for high-A Lancaster this season and hit three homers in one game last week. Paulino is still coming off Tommy John surgery, but he had better than a strikeout per inning in rookie ball prior to his elbow injury and is just 20 years old.
The deal:The Red Sox acquire right-hander Jake Peavy from the White Sox in a three-team deal in which Boston sends shortstop Jose Iglesias to the Tigers and Minor Leaguers J.B. Wendelken, Francellis Montas and Cleuluis Rondon to the White Sox, and Detroit sends outfielder Avisail Garcia to the White Sox and right-hander Brayan Villarreal to the Red Sox.
The reasoning: The Red Sox were making a playoff bid and wanted a veteran starter and former Cy Young Award winner added to its staff. The Tigers needed a shortstop to replace Jhonny Peralta, who was staring down a drug suspension and would be a free agent in the winter, and they liked the defensive wizardry and offensive potential of 23-year-old Iglesias. The White Sox felt Garcia had the tools to be an All-Star slugger and also like Montas' arm.
The winner: The Red Sox, until proven otherwise. Boston won the World Series last year, and Peavy was a big part of it. He went 4-1 for the Red Sox after the trade, provided leadership to the pitching staff, and pitched a good game in the club's AL Division Series win over Tampa Bay. He did not pitch well in the ALCS but rebounded with a decent effort in one World Series game. He has struggled mightily for Boston this year but could be traded again and might draw a prospect. Otherwise, injuries have prevented this trade from providing more clear results at this time. Iglesias dazzled with the glove in the playoffs last year but is out for the year with stress fractures in both shins. Garcia, who is 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds and 23 years old, hit .304 with five homers and 21 RBIs in 161 at-bats for Chicago after the trade. He got only 30 at-bats this year before his season concluded because of a left labrum tear and surgery. One bright spot for the White Sox has been Montas, who has shined as a starter in high-A ball this year.
The deal: D-backs trade starter Ian Kennedy to the Padres for reliever Joe Thatcher, Double-A reliever Matt Stites and a compensation Draft pick.
The reasoning: Kennedy was struggling but the Padres felt he could return to the form that saw him win 21 games in 2011. The D-backs, who were only 3 ½ games behind first-place Los Angeles in the NL West at the time, needed a situational left-hander, and Thatcher had a 2.10 ERA. Stites had good numbers in the Minors, too, and the Draft pick was attractive to Arizona general manager Kevin Towers.
The winner: The Padres, for now. Kennedy has pitched well for San Diego despite the team's rough go of it in 2014, and he's under club control for another year, so there's time for the team to improve. The D-backs didn't make the playoffs last year and are out of it this year, so they flipped Thatcher to the Angels. Stites is up with Arizona right now and hasn't hit his stride just yet. It'll probably be years before we know how the D-backs fare with that pick, which became high school outfielder Marcus Wilson.
The deal: Astros trade starter Bud Norris and an international Draft slot to the Orioles for outfielder L.J. Hoes, Minor League left-hander Josh Hader and a 2014 competitive balance pick.
The reasoning: The Astros were being the Astros and trying to get the most young talent in return for their valuable veteran pieces, and the competitive balance pick was a huge part of that strategy. The Orioles were going all-in for a playoff run but also had to like the international money and the fact that Norris was controlled through 2015.
The winner: Tough to say, but probably the Astros. Norris wasn't great for Baltimore last year, putting up a 4.80 ERA in nine starts, and while he's been better this year, going 8-6 with a 3.78 ERA, he's also been on the disabled list with a groin strain and missed four starts. Hoes, 24, has struggled offensively at the big-league level, but Hader, a 20-year-old, has been lights-out at high-A Lancaster, going 9-1 with a 2.46 ERA and 105 strikeouts in 95 innings. The competitive balance pick was turned into the 37th overall pick in the 2014 Draft, University of Virginia outfielder Derek Fisher.