Over the weekend, while you and I rested, relaxed and recreated, the baseball world was busy churning out rumors and trades and contract extensions like a factory that overworks its employees. Not more than a few hours after the lights went out in the blog jail section of the Palatial Score Towers, it was announced that the best pitcher on the trade market, right-hander Zack Greinke had been traded by the Milwaukee Brewers to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in exchange for young and highly-touted shortstop Jean Segura along with pitching prospects Ariel Pena and Johnny Hellweg.
Coming into the season, the three players were all among Baseball America’s top ten prospects for the Angels system, as well as in the Baseball Prospectus rankings. It’s a steep price to pay for what essentially boils down to three months of service from Greinke, but Los Angeles has suddenly bolstered itself, not only for a playoff run, but also a playoff rotation that could likely be considered the best in baseball with Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and the admittedly struggling Dan Haren.
However, the Texas Rangers currently enjoy a five game lead in the American League West over the Angels, which may prove difficult for the Anaheim team to surmount. This, of course, would mean that a successful stretch run results in a one game play-in roll of the dice against another Wild Card team, which would essentially remove the Greinke acquisition as a factor.
Meanwhile, Milwaukee, who was going to lose Greinke as a free agent anyway, did well to trade him for three top ten prospects from an organization instead of waiting to attain a draft pick compensation pick when he signed elsewhere this coming off season. It’s odd that you see a trade in which the team acquiring the prospects can be said to be taking the safer route of the two teams involved in the deal, but that’s what it seems like with this Angels and Brewers swap.
Later that evening, it was announced that Los Angeles wasn’t the only California team wheeling and dealing as the San Francisco Giants acquired Marco Scutaro from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for Minor League middle infielder Charlie Culberson. Scutaro is expected to fit into the shortstop carousel with Brandon Crawford over the next few months, but in the meantime, will fill in at third base for the injured Pablo Sandoval. Expectations aren’t high for the veteran, as seen in the price of a disappointing former prospect that the Giants willingly paid to attain him, but with Emmanuel Burriss the previous roster option, it’s a slight but immediate upgrade.
Perhaps spurred on by all of these transactions in their state, the San Diego Padres moved to lock up relief pitcher Huston Street, who was acquired this off season from the Rockies for basically nothing, signing the team’s closer to a two-year extension that guarantees him $14 million. The deal also includes a 2015 team option valued at $7 million. It’s a smart move by the Padres, as they continue to lock up a core of players even though they’re not immediately competitive. We too often think only in the buyer/seller dichotomy, but the truth is that locking up immediate talent is a smart move no matter where you are in the standings.
And since so many of the moves we’ve dealth with so far will have an impact in the standings of the National League West, we might as well also mention that the Arizona Diamondbacks traded away two outfield prospects Marc Krauss and Bobby Borchering to the Houston Astros for third baseman Chris Johnson. The D’Backs previously moved Ryan Roberts and have struggled all season long to find production from the hot corner. I’m not sure that Johnson is truly the answer that they’re looking for.
However, the deal is further evidence of the Astros strategy ahead of the trade deadline. Without the type of star assets to wheel and deal that other teams have, Houston have been able to acquire a plethora of previously well-thought of prospects that have fallen out of favor, either through increased depth in the organization that they’re dealing with or because of a bad performance. I think it’s a really smart idea for a team whose system has been so depleted. At worst, the moves increase their own organizational depth, and at best, one or two of these guys turn it around, and fulfill their previous promise.
And The Rest
The Chicago White Sox have acquired Francisco Liriano from the Minnesota Twins. [FanGraphs]
The Milwaukee Brewers are going to miss Zack Greinke. [Instagram]
Have you ever wondered what the days leading up to the MLB non-waiver trade deadline are like for a general manager? Wonder no more [Baseball Prospectus]
One play. Three arguments. [Yahoo! Sports]
The Cincinnati Reds are on a ten game winning streak and are 11-2 since losing Joey Votto to injury. [Baseball Musings]
Why Justin Masterson would be a good acquisition for the Boston Red Sox. [Over The Monster]
Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez is scared of the Tweeter. [ESPN]
Memo to Chipper Jones: Please don’t quit. [Baseball Nation]
The only thing this take out slide took out was dignity, as it ignited a bench clearing brawl. [The Score]
Reggie Jackson provides a power thumbs up to Upper Deck. [Old Timey Baseball]
Hey, look. That bigot has a heckuva ‘stache. [Knuckleballs]
The definitive and comprehensive list of baseball player walk up music. [Designated Hits]
Lew Ford played Major League Baseball yesterday. [HardBall Talk]
And yet another epic meltdown from this guy. [The Score]