Grading All 30 MLB Teams' July Trade Window Activity

Karl BuscheckContributor IIIJuly 31, 2014

Grading All 30 MLB Teams' July Trade Window Activity

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    So much for a quiet MLB trade deadline. 

    Jon Lester is on his way to Oakland, while Yoenis Cespedes is off to Boston, as first reported by Alex Speier of WEEI. The Detroit Tigers then countered by snagging David Price as part of a three-team swap with the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays, per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports

    With the deadline having now passed, let's take a look back at which clubs made the best and worst use of their respective assets. The grading criteria is simple. Teams get credit for the smart swaps they've pulled off and for avoiding foolish moves as well.

    It's no surprise that the clubs that went big like the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Detroit Tigers and the Oakland Athletics receive the highest marks of all. 

Houston Astros

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    The Good

    The Houston Astros pulled off a big swap right at the deadline.

    As Maria Torres of MLB.com reports, the club shipped out starter Jarred Cosart as part of a six-player deal with the Miami Marlins. It was a smart move for the Astros to move the right-hander, as Cosart had been struggling badly after a strong start to the season. In July, Cosart has posted an 8.02 ERA.  

    The most promising player that the Astros received in return is Colin Moran, who was the No. 6 overall pick in the 2013 MLB draft. 

     

    The Bad

    Chad Qualls and Tony Sipp are still on the squad. 

    There's no question that the Astros bullpen has been terrible, and dealing the club's top two relievers would only make it worse. Then again, the team is 22.5 games out of first place, which means a lockdown lefty and a closer are unnecessary luxuries. 

     

    The Grade

    B-

Los Angeles Angels

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    The Good

    General manager Jerry Dipoto did an excellent job of shoring up the bullpen, which had been a major weak spot for the Los Angeles Angels in the opening months of the season. Huston Street, the headline acquisition, has been flat-out dominant this year. 

     

    The Bad

    The only downside to the Street deal is that the trade came at a tremendous cost. The Angels had to part with top prospect Taylor Lindsey along with three other highly touted minor league players, including shortstop Jose Rondon, who played in the 2014 All-Star Futures Game.

    That's a lot to give up for a reliever. As a result, the Angels didn't make any subsequent upgrades. 

     

    The Grade

    B+

Oakland Athletics

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    The Good

    Billy Beane is thinking big in 2014. 

    First, the Oakland Athletics general manager brought in Jeff Samardzija at the beginning of the month, despite the fact that his rotation was already among the best in the AL and that his team owned the top record. By adding the right-hander back on July 4, the Athletics also got an extra five starts out of Samardzija.

    Of course, Beane wasn't done.

    As reported by Alex Speier of WEEI, Oakland snagged Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes from the Boston Red Sox for Yoenis Cespedes. As Jim Bowden of ESPN And SiriusXM adds, the Red Sox also sent cash to the Athletics, while Boston received the team's competitive balance draft pick. 

    The additions give the Athletics an absolutely loaded rotation of Lester, Samardzija, Scott Kazmir, Sonny Gray and either Jason Hammel of Jesse Chavez. As Bleacher Report's Scott Miller explains, Oakland "realize[s] it's all about pitching in October."

     

    The Bad 

    There's no other way to put it: Oakland had to pay a steep price to land Samardzija from the Chicago Cubs. The centerpiece in the deal was Double-A shortstop Addison Russell, whom Baseball America ranks as the fifth-best player in all of the minors. 

    Hammel, whom the club also acquired in the trade, has been torched to the tune of 9.53 ERA in four starts. John Lund of 95.7 The Game dubbed Hammel "Jim Johnson II" in reference to the team's discarded former closer. 

     

    The Grade

    A

Seattle Mariners

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    The Good

    Seattle Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik didn't trade D.J. Peterson.  

    The right-handed hitter, who checks in at the No. 46 spot on Baseball America's top 50 prospects list, has been on a tear in 2014. This season, Peterson has 23 home runs. Mariners fans will certainly be happy that the front office didn't jettison the talented prospect.

    The Mariners did manage to upgrade the squad by landing Austin Jackson from the Detroit Tigers. The center fielder arrives at Safeco Field as part of a three-team deal with the Tampa Bay Rays and the Tigers, as Greg Johns of MLB.com reports. Jackson is a top-level outfielder and also supplies considerable pop with 25 doubles on the season.

     

    The Bad

    The team's other two offensive additions were unimpressive. 

    Seattle brought in Kendrys Morales, who owns a sub-.600 OPS. And according to Greg Johns of MLB.com, the M's also added Chris Denorfia from the San Diego Padres. The outfielder provides value off the bench, but not much considering that he's hitting at a clip of .242. 

    The Grade

    C+

Texas Rangers

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    The Good 

    The last-place Texas Rangers did an excellent job cashing in on relievers Joakim Soria and Jason Frasor.

    In particular, the Soria deal brought back an impressive return of minor league starter Jake Thompson and reliever Corey Knebel from the Tigers.

     

    The Bad

    The Rangers' sell-off could have gone even further. With a noticeable lack of bats on the trade block, right-handed hitters Alex Rios and Adrian Beltre would have drawn major returns. According to Bill Ladson of MLB.com, the Washington Nationals called about Beltre, but the Rangers weren't interested in making a swap.

    That could prove to be a mistake, as the 35-year-old's trade value will never be higher. 

     

    The Grade

    B

Chicago White Sox

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    The Good

    The trade season has been completely quiet for GM Rick Hahn and the Chicago White Sox. As a result, it's difficult to say that the club has really done anything well.

     

    The Bad

    The biggest disappointment for the White Sox is that they didn't ship out any of the club's veteran trade chips. Gordon Beckham and Alejandro De Aza have played too poorly to drum up any interest.

    Meanwhile, the exorbitant contracts attached to Adam Dunn and John Danks have resulted in them staying put on the South Side. 

     

    The Grade

    C

Cleveland Indians

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    Chris Carlson/Associated Press

    The Good

    Considering how ineffective Justin Masterson (4-6, 5.51 ERA, 98 IP) has been in 2014, the Cleveland Indians actually received a decent return.

    According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Tribe netted outfield prospect James Ramsey from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for the right-hander. A former first-round pick in 2012, Ramsey is a slightly better prospect than the pick Cleveland would have received had Masterson rejected a qualifying offer from the team this winter.

    Plus, as Nightengale points out, Cleveland saved $3 million by dealing the starter.

    Cleveland also got rid of Asdrubal Cabrera in a cost-cutting move with the Washington Nationals, according to Jordan Bastian of MLB.com. The trade saves the team from having to pay the balance of Cabrera's $10 million salary and also nets Cleveland infield prospect Zach Walters. 

     

    The Bad

    The odd part about moving Masterson is that Cleveland is still very much in the playoff race. The team is a game under .500 but just five games out of the second wild-card spot. Masterson has been poor this season, but it never hurts to have a veteran starter around during the final months of the campaign.

    Parting with Cabrera makes much more sense with Francisco Lindor on the door steps of the major leagues. 

     

    The Grade

    B-

Detroit Tigers

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    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    The Good

    GM Dave Dombrowski did it again. 

    With only minutes to go before the deadline, the Tigers landed David Price as part of a three-team trade with the Seattle Mariners and Tampa Bay Rays, per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. Adding Price to the front end of the Tigers' talented rotation is a remarkable power play for the AL Central leaders.

    The Tigers also made a move to strengthen the bullpen, which had been the squad's most glaring weakness. Dombrowski helped partially resolve that issue by adding Joakim Soria via trade. The veteran right-hander provides the club with a quality setup arm and also offers closing insurance for the team.

     

    The Bad 

    As one of the most popular relievers on the market, Soria wasn't cheap. Detroit sent Thompson, a minor league starter, and Corey Knebel, a reliever, to the Texas Rangers. Thompson, who was the club's second-round pick in the 2012 MLB draft, is by far the bigger loss.

    Even with the addition of Soria, the Tigers bullpen could still use help.  

    The Grade

    A

Kansas City Royals

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    Ed Zurga/Associated Press

    The Good

    A team can never have enough pitching

    So it's difficult not to like the Kansas City Royals' acquisition of Jason Frasor—especially since he only cost one minor league reliever. While splitting time with the Royals and the Texas Rangers, the 36-year-old has produced a 2.97 ERA. 

     

    The Bad

    The Royals have failed to upgrade the club's underwhelming lineup. Bringing in an extra bat to play one of the corner outfield spots would have made a ton of sense. Admittedly, the team's recent struggles, though, made it difficult for the club to justify an all-in-type move.  

     

    The Grade

    C-

Minnesota Twins

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    The Good 

    Morales' tenure with the Minnesota Twins was extremely brief. 

    After playing just 39 contests with the Twins, the team shipped the designated hitter/first baseman to the Seattle Mariners for Stephen Pryor. While Pryor will likely never be anything more than another bullpen arm, at least the Twins got something for a player who served no real purpose on the last-place team.

    The Twins also did an excellent job of maximizing the value of Sam Fuld. According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, they sent the center fielder to the Oakland Athletics for starter Tommy Milone. Thats a strong return—especially considering that the Athletics had designated Fuld for assignment earlier this season.

     

    The Bad

    Arguably, it's still been too slow of a deadline for the AL Central team. It would have been ideal to move Josh Willingham. However, the outfielder has struggled in 2014, which has torpedoed his value. 

     

    The Grade

    B

Baltimore Orioles

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    Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

    The Good

    The Baltimore Orioles landed Andrew Miller from the Boston Red Sox, according to Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com. The left-hander relieved has been dominant  for the Red Sox, posting a 2.34 ERA.

     

    The Bad

    Miller wasn't cheap. As Ghiroli reports, the O's had to part with highly touted minor league pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez to acquire Miller. 

    Baltimore expressed a reluctance to deal a top minor league arm throughout the trade season. It's surprising that when the team finally did so, it wasn't part of a blockbuster move, but rather to pick up a bullpen piece. 

     

    The Grade

    C-

Boston Red Sox

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    The Good

    The Boston Red Sox get it.

    The 2014 season just isn't their year, which makes now the ideal time to sell off veteran trade chips. Moving Jake Peavy and Felix Doubront out the door—the Doubront deal being reported by Morosi Wednesday afternoon—got the process well underway.

    Then the club shipped out John Lackey in exchange for Allen Craig and Joe Kelly from the St. Louis Cardinals, per Peter Gammons. That's an impressive haul, as the move provides the Red Sox with a replacement for the veteran right-hander and a bat to plug into the underwhelming lineup. 

    The Red Sox also picked up a promising arm in exchange for Andrew Miller. Boston acquired left-handed pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez from the Baltimore Orioles, per Ian Browne of MLB.com. As Browne notes, MLB.com tabbed Rodriguez as the third-best prospect in the O's farm system.

    The Jon Lester-to-Oakland swap took the fire sale to the next level.

    Lester's move to Oakland was first reported by Alex Speier of WEEI, and it sure was a big one. GM Ben Cherington brought back Yoneis Cepedes, who should be a force at Fenway Park. As Bleacher Report's Scott Miller points out, Cepsedes has 17 home runs and the rest of the Red Sox's outfield has combined to go yard 14 times. 

     

    The Bad

    With Lester and Lackey having been dealt, the only real complaint is that the Red Sox haven't gone even further with the fire sale. Relievers Koji Uehara and Andrew Miller both have considerable trade value.  

    This grade climbs even higher if the the Red Sox re-sign Lester in the offseason.

     

    The Grade

    A-

New York Yankees

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    The Good

    New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman is looking like a genius right now.

    The executive has picked up starter Brandon McCarthy and third baseman Chase Headley for spare parts, and both are thriving. McCarthy has reeled off a 3-0 record with a 2.55 ERA, while Headley is hitting .303 (10-for-33) in pinstripes. 

    On deadline day, the team also added infielders Stephen Drew from the Boston Red Sox and Martin Prado from the Arizona Diamondbacks, per Bryan Hoch of MLB.com.

     

    The Bad

    For all the moves the Yankees did make, there is still more that could have been done. The one area of the team that still needs to be strengthened is the rotation. It's not out of the question that Cashman will make that happen in August during the waiver trade period. 

     

    The Grade

    B

Tampa Bay Rays

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    The Good

    The good news for the Tampa Bay Rays is that they have added some talented young players. That the team acquired second baseman Nick Franklin, starter Drew Smyly and prospect Willy Adames as part of a three-team swap, per Bill Chastain of MLB.com. Of course, doing so came at the expense of losing David Price. 

     

    The Bad

    The Rays roared back into contention thanks to a remarkable month of July. Nonetheless, the front office decided to ship out the team's left-handed ace. As manager Joe Maddon explained via Chastain, the move wasn't a "surprise," but it was still "disappointing."

     

    The Grade

    B+

Toronto Blue Jays

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    Rich Schultz/Getty Images

    The Good

    The Toronto Blue Jays didn't do much of anything at the deadline. Of course, the club also held on to top young pitchers like right-hander Aaron Sanchez and left-hander Daniel Norris. 

     

    The Bad

    As is the case with the Baltimore Orioles, the 2014 season looked like the perfect time for the Blue Jays to execute an impact trade. Apparently, GM Alex Anthopoulos didn't agree with that view. The biggest splash that the front office made was adding infielder Danny Valencia. 

     

    The Grade

    C

Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Matt York/Associated Press

    The Good 

    It's been a busy month for the Arizona Diamondbacks. One of the highlights was shipping out Brandon McCarthy to the New York Yankees. Even though the D-backs only received Vidal Nuno in return, at least the team was able to get out from under the balance of McCarthy's $10.25 million salary. 

    On deadline day, the D-backs also managed to deal Martin Prado. According to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com, Arizona sent the infielder to the New York Yankees for catching prospect Peter O'Brien. The move saved the D-backs a lot of change, as Prado is playing in the second season of a four-year, $40 million contract. 

     

    The Bad

    According to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com, the D-backs' main focus during the trade season was to bring in young starting pitching. Even with all the selling the club did, the goal was not achieved. 

     

    The Grade

    C+

Colorado Rockies

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    The Good

    There's really nothing good to say about the Colorado Rockies' trade deadline business. The ony move that the squad made was a minor swap that sent Chris Capuano to the New York Yankees for cash considerations, per Bryan Hoch and Jake Kring-Schreifels of MLB.com.

     

    The Bad

    The big question is why a team that is languishing in last place was so inactive. It didn't help that a potential trade chip like Michael Cuddyer has been stuck on the disabled list. Still, the fact that a player like LaTroy Hawkins remains on the roster rather than in a contender's bullpen is inexplicable.

     

    The Grade

    F

Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    The Good

    The best part of the trade deadline rush for the Los Angeles Dodgers has been that GM Ned Colletti has refused to part with prospects Joc Pederson, Corey Seager and Julio Urias. Moving any of those three would have made Colletti an exceptionally unpopular figure in Southern California. 

     

    The Bad

    The worst part of the trade deadline is that Colletti didn't upgrade his bullpen. Relief arms are the most readily available type of player to acquire this time of year. An unreliable bullpen is a major concern for the Dodgers as the team looks to lock down the NL West and make a run into October. 

     

    The Grade

    C-

San Diego Padres

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    The Good

    The San Diego Padres were one of the busiest teams on the market.

    Without question, the Padres' best move was selling high on Street. In the deal that also saw a minor league pitcher sent to the Los Angeles Angels, the Padres landed four prospects who had cracked Los Angeles' top 10 prospects list, per Matthew DeFranks of MLB.com.

     

    The Bad

    The Headley deal didn't work out nearly as well. With Headley set to become a free agent at the end of the season, the team had to sell low on the third baseman after a shaky start to the season.

    Meanwhile, Ian Kennedy would have been an excellent player to move considering just how light the market for starters is.

     

    The Grade

    B+

San Francisco Giants

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    The Good

    With Matt Cain's right elbow causing problems, the San Francisco Giants absolutely needed to strengthen the team's rotation. Jake Peavy is no ace, but he's a substantially better option than trotting out Yusmeiro Petit every five days.

     

    The Bad

    Overall, the trade season has not been a success for the Giants. Second base remains a black hole, and an outfield bat—preferably one capable of playing center field—is still much-needed. The lack of additions is troubling, with the Los Angeles Dodgers starting to pull away. 

     

    The Grade

    C+

Chicago Cubs

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    The Good 

    It's not often that a team is able to acquire one of the best prospects in all of baseball.

    The Chicago Cubs did just that when the club landed Addison Russell from the Oakland Athletics as part of a July 4 blockbuster that saw Jeff Samardzija make his way to the West Coast. Russell could go on to be a staple in the Cubs lineup for years to come. 

     

    The Bad

    After the big early move, the Cubs haven't been terribly busy. However, the team did manage to trade left-hander James Russell and utility man Emilio Bonifacio to the Atlanta Braves, per Mark Gonzalez of the Chicago Tribune. The return was minimal, as the team only received minor league catcher Victor Caratini and cash considerations. 

    The Grade

    A-

Cincinnati Reds

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    Gus Ruelas/Associated Press

    The Good

    There have been no moves to speak of for the Cincinnati Reds this trade season. Still, even with the club slumping to a 2-8 record in its last 10 contests, the Reds remain just 4.5 games out of the second wild-card spot.

    While the Reds don't look to be giving up, the team is looking to move outfielder Ryan Ludwick, per USA Today's Nightengale. That would be a shrewd financial move, as the outfielder has a $9 million option for 2015 with a $4.5 million buyout, which Nightengale points out. 

     

    The Bad

    Cincinnati's lack of activity is clearly indicative of the front office's view of how the season is likely to turn out. The Reds already face an uphill battle to climb up the standings in the NL Central. A failure to bring in any new pieces will all but seal the team's fate. 

     

    The Grade

    C-

Milwaukee Brewers

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    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    The Good 

    The Milwaukee Brewers finally made a move. 

    In the hours right before the deadline, the team picked up outfielder Gerardo Parra from the Arizona Diamondbacks, per Adam McCalvy of MLB.com. The addition of Parra provides the Brewers with a reliable insurance policy should any of the club's outfielders sustain an injury in the closing months of the season. The two-time Gold Glove winner is also one of the premier defensive outfielders in baseball.

     

    The Bad

    The team's lead atop the standings in the NL Central has dwindled over the past month, and there are legitimate questions as to whether the front office did enough to bolster the roster. As GM Doug Melvin explained via McCalvy, the Brewers would have liked to add a right-handed reliever as well. 

     

    The Grade

    C+

Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    The Good 

    The Pittsburgh Pirates were awfully quiet at the deadline.

    Perhaps the best part of the trade season for the Pirates is that the team's vaunted minor league system remains fully intact. 

     

    The Bad

    At the same time, with one of the top farms in baseball, the Pirates were in a prime position to make a bombshell trade. Of course, that didn't happen, as the Pirates didn't pull off any trades at all. That inactivity could prove to be regrettable for the team, as the Pirates play in the most competitive division in baseball. 

     

    The Grade

    C-

St. Louis Cardinals

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    The Good 

    Admittedly, Oscar Taveras, the owner of a .208 average, has struggled in his first season with the St. Louis Cardinals. Still, he's the type of player who could go on to haunt the club had he been traded away.

    While there were plenty of rumors surrounding the 22-year-old, GM John Mozeliak "was never close to trading" Taveras, according to Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

    There's also a lot to like about the team's acquisition of John Lackey, as reported by Peter Gammons. Parting with Allen Craig and Joe Kelly could hurt the Cardinals down the line, but Lackey gives the team exactly what it needs right now: another top-of-the-rotation starter with lots of playoff experience.

     

    The Bad

    The Cardinals' acquisition of Masterson doesn't make much sense.

    The veteran has a track record of past success, but in 2014, he's been injured and ineffective. In his final 10 outings for the Cleveland Indians, the right-hander had a 7.01 ERA.

     

    The Grade

    B+

Atlanta Braves

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    The Good

    The Atlanta Braves waited until the last minute, but they finally got what they were looking for.

    The NL East club landed utility man Emilio Bonifacio and left-hander James Russell from the Chicago Cubs, according to Mark Bowman of MLB.com. Bonifacio will be a particularly valuable pickup for Atlanta, as his arrival will significantly improve a dismal bench. 

     

    The Bad

    Russell isn't the best fit if the Braves were looking for a left-handed specialist. The southpaw has actually been far less effective against lefties (.295 average) than he is against righties (.103).

     

    The Grade

    B+

Miami Marlins

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    Orlin Wagner/Associated Press

    The Good

    Despite the fact that the Miami Marlins are under .500, the team has remained in buyer mode. According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Marlins have been focused on trying to add young starting pitchers. 

    In the minutes before the deadline, the front office made that happen. The Marilins added Jarred Cosart from the Houston Astros in a six-player deal, per Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald

     

    The Bad

    The acquisition of Cosart certainly wasn't inexpensive, as Mike Hill, president of baseball operations, explained, via Navarro.

    "We did give up a lot, but as we told you guys the starting pitching market is very expensive."

    The biggest chip that the Marlins dealt was 2013 top pick Colin Moran. 

     

    The Grade

    B-

New York Mets

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    Gregory Bull/Associated Press

    The Good

    The New York Mets need more offense. For that reason, it never made much sense for the club to part ways with Daniel Murphy. Second base is one of the most difficult spots on the diamond to find consistent offensive production, and that's exactly what Murphy brings. 

     

    The Bad

    Ideally, Bartolo Colon would have been dealt. 

    The Mets have lots of pitching in the minors that could be used to replace the veteran. While he's been effective, he's also not cheap. Colon is due the remainder of his $9 million salary this year and makes $11 million in 2015. 

     

    The Grade

    B-

Philadelphia Phillies

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    The Good 

    There's been nothing good about the trade deadline for the Philadelphia Phillies. The team has a myriad of trade chips, and yet none of them were moved. 

     

    The Bad

    So, why no trades for the Phillies? The answers are bad contracts and too many no-trade clauses. That applies to the likes of Chase Utley, Cliff Lee, Jimmy Rollins and even Marlon Byrd. A lot of blame also goes to GM Ruben Amaro Jr., who gave out all these ridiculous deals in the first place. 

     

    The Grade

    D

Washington Nationals

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    The Good

    The Washington Nationals have found their new second baseman.

    The club acquired Asdrubal Cabrera from the Cleveland Indians, according to Bill Ladson of MLB.com. Cabrera is no game-changer, but he is substantially better than Danny Espinosa. 

     

    The Bad

    There's not much to be disappointed with regarding Washington's deadline business. The only complaint is that the team wasn't able to land an even bigger offensive producer than Cabrera. According to Ladson, the Nats had checked in on Adrian Beltre earlier in the week, but the Texas Rangers weren't interested in making a deal. 

     

    The Grade

     

    Note: All stats and videos courtesy of MLB.com. All salary information courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts on BaseballProspectus.com.

    If you want to talk baseball, find me on Twitter @KarlBuscheck.