AL East: Assessing deadline deals
The Yankees and Red Sox made minor deals on the eve of the July 31st Trade Deadline. Will they alter the AL East race?
Incessant phone ringing, coffee spills, and sprinting interns. This is how I imagine the MLB Trade Deadline is for most front offices in baseball as the poor teams look to sell off what talent they have and the playoff-bound squads seek to cash in on the riches. Naturally, the final hours of the deadline which concludes at 4:00pm Eastern Time, are often the most hectic; flurrying trade rumors, speculations and materialized deals will dominate the sports sphere as the board is set and the pieces put into movement.
But already there has been a bevy of trades made with contending teams. Both the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees have addressed their needs for extra arms and platoon bats.
The Yankees have improved their pitching. Even with the sudden struggles of budding ace Luis Severino, the Yankees’ acquisition of Toronto Blue Jays’ frontman JA Happ, and the later acquisition of Lance Lynn from Minnesota, extends the talent of the Yankees’ rotation significantly with Happ while also providing insurance depth with Lynn. And let’s not forget Zach Britton. Considering both Happ and Lynn boast sub-two ERAs against the Red Sox in their careers, the Yankees have upgraded their pitching rotation significantly.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox’s acquisition of Nathan Eovaldi from the Tampa Bay Rays gives them a serviceable number four starter behind Sale, Price, and Porcello. With Pomeranz’s recent struggles and DL stints by Steven Wright and Eduardo Rodriguez, the Sox now have a power righty to compliment Sale and Price as the top two southpaws in the rotation.
The fate of this division could be determined by the quality of pitching for both teams. The Red Sox hold the advantage but the Yankees have improved over the course of 48 hours.
The Red Sox getting Ian Kinsler is more of an insurance policy as the reality sets in that Dustin Pedroia will unlikely be a factor in their run to the playoffs. It returns Brock Holt to a utility role, which he serves professionally and admirably, while giving Kinsler another chance at playoff glory.
The Yankees have yet to make a major move to absorb the impact of Aaron Judge’s injury, but it’s been no secret both teams needed to upgrade facet of their pitching, whether it be the rotation or bullpen. The Yankees have done the former while the Sox seek to improve the latter with one more quality arm to slot in before Kimbrel. They struck out on Britton and Brad Hand, but there are still quality relievers that can make major contributions in the final days of the season.
But these teams have altered the makeup of this pennant race by making relatively minor moves. Everyone knows how important that big, final piece can be for a team on the brink of Fall Glory. Just ask Justin Verlander and the Houston Astros.
But it’s the minor moves that can be just as important, and for the two best teams in baseball, it’s the minor moves that could be the final pieces to a championship-caliber puzzle.