The July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline was yesterday and it featured Yoenis Cespedes going to the Boston Red Sox and Jon Lester going to the Athletics, David Price being traded from the Tampa Bay Rays to the Detroit Tigers in a three-team trade, John Lackey being traded to the St. Louis Cardinals and Allen Craig and Joe Kelly going to the Red Sox and Austin Jackson being sent from the Tigers to the Seattle Mariners in the David Price trade to help Seattle’s offense.
Austin Jackson to the Mariners, David Price to the Tigers and Jon Lester to the Athletics are the acquisitions that will have the most impact this season. Jackson will help the Mariners offense in their quest to reach the postseason in Robinson Cano’s first season with the team, Price will anchor a rotation that now has the last three Cy Young winners (Max Scherzer, Price and Justin Verlander) and Lester will combine with Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir and Jeff Samardzija to form the best top four starters in baseball, just ahead of the new Tigers rotation. The new pitchers that the Athletics and Tigers now have likely put them on track to meet in an epic American League Championship Series.
The Yankees made a few trades that could improve their chances of getting into the playoffs via the second wild card spot. They acquired Stephen Drew from the Red Sox for Kelly Johnson, who is currently on the disabled list. In another trade, they received infielder/outfielder Martin Prado from the Arizona Diamondbacks for minor league slugger Pete O’Brien (33 homers this season without a true position) and either cash considerations or a player to be named later. In the third deal of the day, the Yankees claimed pitcher Esmil Rogers off of waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays and released infielder Scott Sizemore.
“We think we’re going to compete,” Brian Cashman said. “I think we’re improved. We’re going to find out if it’s good enough or not.”
Drew will be the new second baseman replacing Brian Roberts, Prado will likely mainly play in right field allowing the struggling Ichiro Suzuki to not play everyday anymore and Rogers will look to help an overworked bullpen. Prado can also play second and third, which will give Joe Girardi versatility.
The trade for Drew is questionable because he has only played shortstop in his nine seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Oakland Athletics and Red Sox. The Yankees will need him to have a quick adjustment to second base because Derek Jeter will be the shortstop until the end of the season. Even with no previous second base experience, Drew could be an upgrade defensively over Roberts because he had been struggling to make plays that he was able to make earlier in his career.
Roberts, who has been released, was only hitting .237 with five homers while Drew has .176 average and four homers in 39 games. Roberts has played in 52 more games and has only hit one more home run. The Yankees will hope that Drew’s .477 slugging percentage and .806 OPS in his last 20 games will continue. Drew had a respectable 2013 season where hit hit .253, with 13 homers, 67 RBIs and stole six bases. Even though he has been struggling this season, he should be an upgrade defensively and will be an upgrade offensively if he can hit the way he did last season. The Yankees will also have a 31-year-old playing second instead of a 36-year-old.
In Prado, the Yankees get a player who is hitting .270 this season with five homers and 42 RBIs. Ichiro is hitting .269 with a homer and 14 RBIs. He also only has a .107 average and three RBIs in his last 28 at-bats. Prado is a key addition because he has experience playing second, third and left field, so right should not be much of a transition, and he will give the offense much more production. Prado has some power as he has a career-high of 70 RBIs in 2012 and has hit at least 10 homers in each of the past five seasons.
These two trades for Prado and Drew, along with the trade for Chase Headley, makes the Yankees better defensively and offensively than they were in the middle of July. Michael Pineda could also be making his return to the rotation in the next few weeks because after throwing 45 pitches in a simulated game on Tuesday, he will make a rehab start where he will throw 60-65 pitches with Triple-A Scranton on Sunday, according to Bryan Hoch. He will likely replace Shane Greene or Chris Capuano in the rotation.
With the additions that the Yankees made there is no guarantee that they will get the second wild card spot, but they will give the team a much better chance of making up the 3.5 games that they Yankees are behind the Blue Jays and making the playoffs in Derek Jeter’s final season. The Yankees are currently tied with the Kansas City Royals and half a game behind the Mariners, who get to play the struggling Texas Rangers and Houston Astros in their division. The Blue Jays have injury issues and a questionable rotation, the Royals didn’t acquire anyone at the deadline and the Mariners still have a suspect offense.