July 31st is one of the most important dates on Major League Baseball’s calendar. Next to Opening Day and the playoffs, the Trade Deadline is the most anticipated day of the season. Unlike the NFL, MLS, NHL and to some degree the NBA, trades are very common in baseball; they are the lifeblood of the sport, and a key part of how contenders gear up for the post-season run each year.
The 2017 edition of the Trade Deadline was no different from years past, with swaps ranging from contenders loading up to under-performers embracing a rebuilding process for the future. Particularly of note are the Latino players who got traded, as they’re hoping to make immediate impacts on a handful of teams needing reinforcements. These are the players form Latin America that we expect will have something to say when it comes to their new teams’ postseason hopes.
Chicago Cubs Aquire Jose Quintana and Alex Avila
The world champion Chicago Cubs were involved in two of the bigger deadline deals. Their first move happened right around the All-Star Break, when they acquired left-handed pitcher Jose Quintana from their inner city rivals, the White Sox. Quintana (6-9, 4.16 ERA) was the ace of the fledging White Sox for the last few seasons, although the All-Star pitcher’s career record (52-55) doesn’t reflect that due to the franchises struggles. With his talents going to waste on a rebuilding team, going to a contending franchise was the Colombian native’s best option.
With the Cubs needing some stability in a starting rotation that has struggled at times this year, both teams put aside their shaky trade history and pulled off perhaps the biggest deal between the two franchises. In return the Sox get outfield prospect Eloy Jimenez (ranked No. 2 by MLB Pipeline) and pitching prospect Dylan Cease (ranked No. 8). The Cubs continue their push towards another World Series while the White Sox add more talent for the future.
The other deal that the Cubs pulled off involved the Detroit Tigers. After being a model of consistency for a better part of the 2000’s, the Tigers have fallen on hard times recently and were looking to unload talent. The Cubs were looking for a veteran catcher to back up Willson Contreras after letting go of Miguel Montero back in June. And so, the defending champions sent two more top ten prospects (infielders Jeimer Candelario and Isaac Paredes) in exchange for Cuban-American catcher Alex Avila (.274/.394/.869), who had spent eight of his nine major league seasons in Detroit.
Arizona Diamondbacks Acquire J.D. Martinez
Another part of the Detroit Tigers’s descent into rebuilding included sending their prized outfielder to the deserts of the Southwest. With the Cuban-American Martinez (.293/.375/.1.012, 45 runs scored,) the Diamondbacks get a top of the order hitter that they hope will help them catch up with the Los Angeles Dodgers and distance themselves from the pesky Colorado Rockies in the rough-and-tumble National League West Division. In return Detroit gets a variety of minor league players as they forge a path for the future. Seems like a win-win.
Kansas City Royals Acquire Melky Cabrera
Cabrera was another player who was working hard on the South Side’s losing team, and so the White Sox sent him away to a division rival. The switch-hitting outfielder is putting up solid numbers so far this year (.292/.333/.764), and he was in the final year of a three-year, $42 million deal. Chicago felt that it would be wiser to deal him now than to let him walk away in free agency for nothing. That’s how Cabrera ended up traded to the Kansas City Royals, the team the 32-year-old Dominican played for all the way back in 2011. His arrival couldn’t come at a better time: the Royals currently trail the Cleveland Indians by just two games in the AL Central.
New York Mets Acquire A.J. Ramos
The Mets have been in dire need of a reliable closer since losing Jeurys Familia earlier this season–first to suspension, then to injury. On the other side of the trade, the Miami Marlins actually have a losing record (49-55) in second place, and most likely won’t make the postseason. As a result, the Marlins get minor league prospects to use how they see fit, while the Mets get the 30-year-old right-hander in Ramos; the Mexican-American reliever has 20 saves and a WHIP of 1.35 so far this year.
New York Yankees Acquire Jamie Garcia
Getting the left-handed Garcia (5-7, 4.29 ERA) from the Minnesota Twins a week after the Mexico native was traded from the Atlanta Braves was one of many moves that the Bronx Bombers made over the last few days to shore up their pitching staff for what they hope will be their first October run since 2012 (they made it to and lost the 2015 Wild Card game). With the Boston Red Sox hot on their tails and the Tampa Bay Rays not too far behind, the Yankees will need all of the pitching they can get to hold opposing hitters at bay.
Houston Astros Acquire Francisco Liriano
At 49-57–nine games behind the Yankees in the AL East–the Toronto Blue Jays are a far cry from last year’s playoff team. The Astros, however, are running roughshod over the American League West, with the league’s best record at 69-36. In order to keep up this dominance, the Astros felt the need to add another solid reliever, and they’ll get just that in the left-handed Liriano. Despite Toronto’s struggles this season, the 33-year-old Dominican has posted a 6-5 record with a WHIP of 1.62 and has struck out 74 batters. He’ll likely move to the bullpen as a lefty specialist for the Astros, although he can mop up some innings if need be.
Boston Red Sox Acquire Eduardo Núñez
And finally, we have Boston. In the aftermath of the Pablo Sandoval failure, the Red Sox literally needed a reset at third base. To that end, the Red Sox sent minor league pitchers Shaun Anderson (No. 17 prospect) and Gregory Santos to the Bay Area in exchange for the Giants’ veteran third baseman Eduardo Núñez (.317/.345/.790, 36 RBI’s, 20 stolen bases). The 30-year-old Dominican is batting over .300 for the third straight season and he’s expected to be a massive upgrade over Sandoval and the other third-base options on the roster. The BoSox need all the help they can get if they hope to catch the Yankees in the American League East, otherwise they’ll likely be relegated to the Wild Card game.