Five biggest winners of the MLB trade deadline

By Vincent Frank

The Major League Baseball trade deadline has come and gone. In what has been one of the most active trade periods in recent baseball history, a whole heck of a lot has gone down over the past couple weeks.

Now that the non-waiver deadline is in our rear-view mirror, let’s check in on the five-biggest winners around the baseball world.

1. Philadelphia Phillies

Ruben Amaro Jr. finally bit the bullet and moved some veterans that played key roles when the team was actually contending for a World Series. It might have taken longer than it should have, but Amaro’s due diligence will pay off big time for Philadelphia over the long term.

The first move came when Philadelphia sent embattled closer Jonathan Papelbon to the division-rival Washington Nationals in exchange for Double-A pitcher Nick Pivetta. While adding a prospect could help the team moving forward, shedding Papelbon’s contract and enigmatic personality proves to be the big win here. The closer had $13 million remaining on his deal for next year. As it relates to Pivetta, he was considered one of Washington’s top-10 prospects at the time of the deal. The 22-year-old starter has put up a 7-6 record with a 3.02 ERA and 1.25 WHIP between Single-A and Double-A this year.

The biggest move from Philadelphia was the trade of ace starter Cole Hamels to the Texas Rangers, along with a nice amount of cash, for a whole host of prospects. Rarely does one trade replenish a farm system, but that’s exactly what Amaro Jr. and company did here. Of the six players acquired in this deal, starting pitcher Jake Thompson and outfielder Nick Williams immediately found themselves ranked as top-five prospects in Philadelphia’s farm. Right handed-pitchers  Jerad Eickhoff and Alec Asher are also among the team’s top-25 prospects. That’s a mighty nice bounty for a 30-plus pitcher that had been angling for a way out of Philadelphia for some time now.

2. Kansas City Royals

Unlike a certain team up north, the Royals have a legitimate shot at winning the World Series this year. That’s why it wasn’t too much of a surprise to see the team raid its farm system to add two valuable commodities. And while this could backfire over the long term, Kansas City’s positioning in the American League Playoff race makes it much less risky to give up top prospects for rentals.

Johnny Cueto immediately comes in and becomes one of the top pitchers among American League contenders. That’s going to be absolutely huge for the team when it prepares for five and seven-game playoff sets this October. The 29-year-old starter has posted a 2.62 ERA and 0.93 WHIP in 19 starts this year. He’s also gone at least seven innings in 13 of his 19 starts this year.

Kansas City was also able to nab veteran utility man Ben Zobrist from the Oakland Athletics in a move that gives the team more depth at almost every defensive position on the diamond.

3. Los Angeles Dodgers

That massive three-team, 13-player deal worked to the Dodgers advantage in a big way. It sure helps that the team has an unlimited resource of finances to work with, but general manager Farhan Zaidi and company made out like bandits. The impact of this deal is both short and long-term.

The Dodgers received starters Mat Latos and Alex Wood, both of whom could very well be long-term fixtures in the rotation behind Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. They also received Atlanta’s top prospect in the form of Jose Peraza as well as a couple reinforcements for this season in reliever Jim Johnson and eventually Jose Tabata. In reality, it was a combination of Los Angeles thinking for the immediate future and down the road.

4. Cleveland Indians

Acquiring the St. Louis Cardinals No. 3 overall prospect in a trade for Brandon Moss was an absolute coup for the Indians. That’s only magnified by the fact that the team yielded very little to acquire Moss from the Oakland Athletics during the winter. Four months of below-average production from Moss in exchange for a major upgrade in the farm. That’s a deal most teams would take and run with.

Starter Rob Kaminsky was immediately inserted in as Cleveland’s third-best prospect after the deal. He’s posted a 6-5 record with a 2.09 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP in 17 starts as Single-A ball this year. The 20-year-old left-handed starter was the Cardinals first-round pick back in 2013.

5. Houston Astros

After acquiring a likely rental in the form of Scott Kazmir from the Oakland Athletics earlier in the month, Houston made sure to add some potential long-term reinforcements by acquiring outfielder Carlos Gomez and starter Mike Fiers from the Milwaukee Brewers for what amounted to a large return of valuable prospects. While yielding their second-ranked prospect in the form of outfielder Brett Phillips was a mighty high price to pay, the Astros added to players that will help them down the stretch and into the future. That’s the big takeaway here.

Photo: USA Today Sports