Arguably the most important annual date of Major League Baseball’s regular season – the July 31 non-waive trade deadline – has come and gone. Who are the winners and losers from the deadline? Let’s take a look with their updated Sports Interaction odds to win the World Series.
Blue Jays Looking Toward 2018?
The Toronto Blue Jays weren’t full-blown sellers at the deadline, but they didn’t do anything to get better, either. Starting pitcher Marco Estrada is a free agent after this season but his market likely was very little with a 4-7 record and 5.19 ERA so he remains on the team. Ditto for slugger Jose Bautista.
The Jays dealt another pitcher set for free agency in lefty Francisco Liriano to Houston for outfielders Nori Aoki and Teoscar Hernandez. Toronto saved some money there and won’t miss Liriano much considering his 5.88 ERA. He had started all season with the Jays but is expected to move into Houston’s bullpen. Aoki is a decent big-league outfielder but has zero power – he was hitting .272 with two homers in 71 games before the trade and is best suited as a fourth outfielder. The team holds his arbitration rights after this season, but he could be non-tendered.
That trade is more about Hernandez, who as of this writing was hitting .279 with 12 homers, 44 RBIs and 12 steals in Triple-A. He was ranked as Houston’s No. 9 prospect – and the Astros have one of the best farm systems in baseball. He’s No. 5 in Toronto’s organization per MLB.com. Expect to see Hernandez (who has 100 big-league at-bats and, ironically, hit his first career MLB homer off Liriano in 2016) called up when rosters expand in September and compete for a starting job next spring.
Toronto also dealt reliever Joe Smith to Cleveland for lower-tier prospects. Really nothing to see there.
Jays fans likely need to resign themselves to missing the playoffs this season and a potential last-place finish in the AL East for the first time since 2013.
Dodgers Lead Winners
The MLB record for regular-season wins is 116, last accomplished by the 2001 Seattle Mariners – who didn’t even reach the World Series. The Los Angeles Dodgers aren’t quite on that pace (not far from it), but they were the World Series betting favourites before Monday’s deadline and those odds shrunk to +275 following the acquisition of Texas Rangers ace pitcher Yu Darvish (and in separate deals, two lefty relievers) for prospects.
The Dodgers were going to win the NL West for a fifth straight season and almost surely lead the National League in wins even if they stood pat. But L.A. hasn’t won a World Series since 1988 and went all-in on Darvish, who is purely a rental as he will be a free agent after the season. Darvish is the best power pitcher to ever play in MLB out of Japan and serves as insurance in case Cy Young candidate Clayton Kershaw is slow to return from his back injury. If Kershaw is healthy, the Dodgers now have a stellar foursome for any playoff series in Kershaw, Darvish, Alex Wood and Rich Hill.
Anyone for a Yankees-Dodgers World Series? That would be a ratings bonanza in the USA. New York was the other big winner at the deadline in acquiring Oakland ace right-hander Sonny Gray for prospects – after already landing two relievers and infielder Todd Frazier from the White Sox a couple of weeks ago. The Bombers are now +900 to win the World Series.
The Yankees needed starting pitching after the season-ending injury to Michael Pineda and the inconsistency of Masahiro Tanaka. It was just a year ago that the Yanks were sellers at the deadline in sending away Carlos Beltran, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman. The emergence of young players such as Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez has accelerated New York’s return to contention. That said, the Yankees are in a battle with Boston for the AL East title and conceivably could miss the postseason entirely.
Astros Rather Quiet
While Houston landed Liriano, the Astros were surprisingly quiet in terms of adding a starting pitcher. Their ace, lefty Dallas Keuchel, has been on the disabled list twice this season and No. 2 starter Lance McCullers Jr. just landed there this week. Perhaps Houston GM Jeff Luhnow didn’t want to raid his farm system for a Gray, Darvish or, earlier, Jose Quintana considering the Astros are locks to win the AL West and thus at a minimum play in the ALDS. Houston still has the shortest odds among AL teams to win the World Series at +450, which the franchise has never done.
I would consider the Red Sox as semi-losers at the deadline. Their big trade was this offseason in landing Cy Young favourite Chris Sale from the White Sox, but Boston could have used another starting pitcher with David Price returning to the disabled list. Plus, the Yankees got significantly better on Monday. Boston did add Mets closer Addison Reed to fortify the bullpen. The Sox are +750 to win the World Series.
Trades can still be made, but players must clear waivers. If a player is claimed, the two teams can work out a deal, the club that put the player on waivers can take him back or it can simply let the guy go for nothing to save money. Blue Jays fans may remember the Jays let overpriced Alex Rios go on waivers to the White Sox in 2009 and Toronto saved around $60 million (U.S.) remaining on Rios’ contract. That’s the danger of claiming a high-priced player. Waiver claims go in reverse order of the standings.
Updated World Series Predictions
I’m taking the surging Cubs to repeat in the National League after adding Quintana and Tigers reliever Justin Wilson. Chicago is +300 to win the pennant and +700 for the World Series. The Dodgers look amazing, but Kershaw has been very mortal in his playoff career and I’m not sold he’ll return from injury at 100 per cent.
The Indians, with their unbelievable bullpen and filthy ace Corey Kluber, repeat in the AL and this time beat the Cubs in the Fall Classic. Cleveland is +800 to win it all.