Itís the non-waiver trade deadline once again, although this season, like 2012, action is not quite so frenetic as it was before the latest Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). With the addition of a second Wild Card, potential buyers have increased while potential sellers have diminished, creating some imbalances in the market. As well teams have become more forthright in locking up young talent meaning that the players who do reach free agency are usually past the bright spots in their careers. All this is changing the dynamics of how teams position themselves for the stretch drive.
Not to say that trades arenít getting made and deals arenít being done, but persistently these deals seem less like blockbusters and actually look more like traditional August deals, when players can still be traded but must pass through the waiver-wire. Consider the movement of Alfonso Soriano from the Chicago Cubs to the New York Yankees. Soriano is still owed around $25 million on his existing contract so he would have moved seamlessly through the waiver process; but the Yankees, who are in their longest homerless drought since 1984 (and they werenít very good then) were desperate for any kind of power, plus they got a good deal of Sorianoís money sent their way by the Cubs, almost $18 million for twenty-one year old prospect Corey Black. Iím not surprised that the Yankeesí General Manager, Brian Cashman, expressed his discomfort with the deal as Sorianoís limitations far exceed his likely contributions at this point, but ownership is in a pickle as the Yankees continue to slide in the hyper-competitive American League East.
As for the Cubs, President Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer continue to stockpile young players while unloading veterans, including pitcher Matt Garza (to the Texas Rangers, struggling to stay in their own race in the American League West), pitcher Scott Feldman (to the Baltimore Orioles who are chasing the second Wild Card spot if they canít win the division), and utility bat Scott Hairston to the Washington Nationals, who are trying to climb back into the race in the National League East.
We havenít seen the last of the moves of course, but the potential for blockbusters seem to be limited. The Philadelphia Phillies are shopping infielder Michael Young, and he seems to be generating interest from, among others, the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox have enjoyed a wonderful resurgence this year after the disastrous 2012 93-loss campaign, but now they are being stressed by the Tampa Bay Rays, who have snapped their excellent young pitching into place and suddenly have a potent offense to mesh with a fine defense. The Orioles, too, are likely wanting to add bullpen arms and a DH who can fill out their potent lineup.