With three of the league's best teams at the top of its standings and two of the worst at the bottom, the National League's Central division was certainly worth keeping a close eye on. Let's see what ultimately transpired as we continue to look back at baseball's just-completed July trade season …
- Acquired infielder Nick Delmonico from the Orioles in exchange for right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez.
- Acquired an international bonus pool slot from the Rockies for right-handed reliever Mitchell Boggs.
- Acquired minor league infielder Juan Herrera in exchange for left-hander Marc Rzepczynski.
- Acquired right-handed reliever Matt Guerrier from the Dodgers in exchange forright-handed reliever Carlos Marmol and an international bonus pool slot.
- Acquired righty Jake Arrieta, reliever Pedro Strop, and an international bonus pool slot from the Orioles in exchange for right-handed starter Scott Feldman and catcher Steve Clevenger.
- Acquired minor league righty Ivan Pineyro from the Nationals in exchange for outfielder Scott Hairston.
- Acquired third baseman Mike Olt, right-handers C.J. Edwards and Justin Grimm and a player to be named later from the Rangers in exchange for right-hander Matt Garza.
- Acquired minor league right-hander Corey Black in exchange for outfielder Alfonso Soriano.
- Acquired infielder/outfielder Russ Canzler from the Orioles in exchange for right-hander Tim Alderson.
- Acquired infielder Robert Andino from the Mariners in exchange for a player to be named later. (This deal occurred after the expiration of the non-waiver trade period.)
- Acquired minor league righty Parker Frazier from the Rockies in exchange for right-handed starter Armando Galarraga.
What stands out from even a glance at the list above is, of course, the degree to which the Cubs outpaced the remainder of baseball in shedding veterans. Setting aside the unique Guerrier-Marmol swap, the Cubs put together four deals that shed salary and brought in young talent. While each deal was very different in the nature of the return, the net benefit to the organization is undeniable given its current makeup. Of course, the Cubbies failed to offload a series of other veterans that seemed primed to change hands, including outfielders David DeJesus and Nate Schierholtz (under team control next year), reliever Kevin Gregg, and catcher Dioner Navarro. Somewhat less surprisingly, Chicago decided to hold onto two younger, cost-controlled pitchers that had been mentioned in rumors in James Russell and Jeff Samardzija.
The other obvious seller of the division, the Brewers, scored last year's biggest heist by snatching shortstop Jean Segura from the Angels for a few months of Zack Greinke. This year, they managed to pull off only one deal, due in part to the fact that some potential high-salary trade chips (Yovani Gallardo, Aramis Ramirez, and Corey Hart, in particular) were not movable due to performance and/or injury issues. However, with other relievers staying put or going for a modest price, Milwaukee seems to have done well to pick up Delmonico. The youngster entered the season as the O's fourth-ranked prospect (per Baseball America) and was hitting .243/.350/.469 with thirteen home runs and five stolen bases at High-A as a 20-year-old. Rodriguez was of no use to the Brewers for the rest of this season, cost them virtually nothing to sign, and was set to become a free agent. The lesson from the Cubs and Brewers seems to be that striking early paid dividends for sellers this year.
While budget, history, and performance kept down expectations of major moves from the remainder of the division, it seems odd that the Bucs, Cards, and Redlegs all failed to make even a supplemental addition. (In the case of the Cardinals, the team actually saw a net outflow of players with big league chops.) To be sure, the prospects of St. Louis upgrading at shortstop or adding a veteran starter always seemed to be a matter of GM John Mozeliak unearthing value in a tight market. And the Reds do not have any glaring holes that lack internal answers. But for a Pirates team that possesses the best record in baseball, a highly regarded farm, and an ongoing lineup hole out in right field, the lack of any substantial acquisition is surprising. Looking at the division as a whole, an awful lot of major league talent left, and virtually none came back.