July Trade Recap: NL East

The teams of the National League East were much less flashy than their American League brethren — as usual, perhaps — but nevertheless made several notable moves … or, in some cases, notable non-moves. Here’s what took place:




  • No trades



  • No trades


Last year at this time, the Marlins were selling off what few veteran pieces they had for whatever they could get. Ricky Nolasco was the team’s big deadline piece, but unfortunately he didn’t really start pitching well until after he was playing for the Dodgers. But that was not the case this year. Still hanging around in the postseason pitcure even after losing stud righty Jose Fernandez, Miami went hard after Jon Lester before ultimately turning its sights to Houston.

The Fish got their arm in Cosart, and brought back additional value in Hernandez and Wates, but paid a big price. Marisnick was somewhat expendable given the team’s other young outfielders, but Moran was brought to Miami at a tall opportunity cost (6th overall draft pick; $3,516,500 bonus) and the team gave up a young power arm and future draft pick. The deal certainly helps the Marlins in the present — though just how much remains to be seen — and avoids a major sacrifice of future control. But if Marisnick and Moran reach their potential, and Cosart is not able to stick in the rotation, it could still hurt down the line.

On the other hand, as much as things change — the saying goes — the more they stay the same. Check out last year’s NL East recap if you don’t believe me. Braves and Nationals adding the final pieces for the stretch; Mets and Phillies standing pat at the deadline.

Sure, there were some differences. This time around, the Nats needed a more substantial addition after losing Ryan Zimmerman for some time. With Cleveland paying the rest of Cabrera’s salary, Washington agreed to ship out an MLB-ready middle infielder back to Cleveland. Though Walters is an interesting player — in large part due to his legitimate power bat up the middle — he has his warts and did not have a path to a job in DC. Cabrera will hold down the fort until Zimmerman returns (or until the end of the season, when the Nats will face some tough decisions).

Atlanta, meanwhile, once again added a lefty pen piece in the capable Russell, who could also forestall the necessity of such a move next year (he can be controlled through arbitration for 2015). This time around, the club also added a versatile utilityman in Emilio Bonifacio, who might conceivably see a fair bit of time at the positions (second, center, third) from which the club has at times received sub-optimal production. He will also be a nice pinch-running/hitting/fielding option, making for a sturdy bench piece for a contending club.

It may be easy to forget come deadline time, but there are still two more teams in the division. For the Mets, standing pat made plenty of sense. If nobody was going to take Bartolo Colon‘s salary, then the organization may as well pay him to pitch in New York next year. Daniel Murphy is also under control and could be extended. And Chris Young just wasn’t bringing anything back at this point. In addition to holding onto veterans, the Mets did not appear to make a concerted effort to acquire younger, MLB-ready talent. As GM Sandy Alderson explains, he wasn’t interested in giving up young pitching at this time but could potentially look to cash in some prospect chips in the offseason. (Though it is tempting to wonder what New York might have been able to extract in a deal like that between the Marlins and Astros.)

Over in Philadelphia, justification for inaction was somewhat harder to come by. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said that he was surprised that opposing teams did not come to him with more aggressive offers for the club’s available players, particularly as the team was willing to eat salary to facilitate a better return. But the fact is that none of the Phillies’ ready-to-move pieces were worth aggressive action. The list of names and contract complications (no-trade clauses, vesting options, massive buyouts, and the like) is already well-known; suffice to say that none of the assets that the Phillies shopped would have delivered the level of long-term value or short-term impact needed to motivate bidders.

Right now, there is simply no way for the team to get out from under its numerous long-term obligations to veterans while recouping any sort of prospect return. True, the Phillies could convince Chase Utley to waive the no-trade clause in his low-risk contract. They could decide to part with Cole Hamels for whatever the market will bear. But they’ve already shown they have no intention of doing those things.

Philadelphia seemingly wants to move the less desirable pieces and still get something back, but that is not going to happen. And that is why no deals were consummated. Other teams made more realistic assessments, as evidenced by the Yankees’ acquisition of several veterans (with at or above-market salaries) for a relative pittance of young talent. At several points in the last few seasons, players like Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Cliff Lee could have been cashed in. Instead, they were supplemented by even older players brought in at open-market rates. It is now too late (for various reasons) to recoup any significant value for any of them, which the team’s inaction reflects.

52 Responses to July Trade Recap: NL East Leave a Reply

  1. Blue387 11 months ago

    The Mets should have found a way to move Bartolo Colon.

    • Ace2095 11 months ago

      They can still move him in August like they did with Byrd last year.

    • oh Hal 11 months ago

      I’d guess Alderson would have had to drop his asking price. Any rumors on what the asking price was? It wouldn’t surprise me if he wanted a top 50 prospect.

    • paqza 11 months ago

      Sandy didn’t force the issue; I think that’s fair. Last year’s Byrd/Buck trade shows that he knows how and when to play his cards. Besides, the guy is pitching well for the team.

  2. Dale Pearl 11 months ago

    The Cardinals come out of this as the biggest short time gainer but the biggest loser in the long run. They gave away a ton of talent for some aging arms. Even if they do decide to resign Lackey the guy is what 36? Can the Cardinals compete with Boston and New York on signing Lester in the off season? I kind of think that Boston made a plan with Lester telling him that when he is traded the Sox will sign him back next year for the price he asks for. Win win for Boston, they lose Lester for what 2 months and gain substantial upgrades all with the intent of bringing him back by March.

    • GetToTheChoppa 11 months ago

      They traded outfield depth in Ramsey for masterson and gave up pitching depth for a cheap 500k lackey contract. They still have Carlos Martinez to replace Kelly’s spot and they’ve been without Jaime Garcia. Not to mention guys in the minors waiting. Craig was expendable with Tavares needing a place. They still have Grichuck and Piscotty. The cardinals could afford to move young guys for instant upgrades cause they had the depth. But doubt the rays would of settled for Grichuck and Martinez for price.

      • stl_cards16 11 months ago

        Just speculation, but I wonder if the Cardinals were never really serious about Price because of what he’ll cost next year. They don’t have a lot of payroll space in 2015 unless they plan to significantly increase payroll.

  3. Dale Pearl 11 months ago

    I am very surprised that Cincinnati did not move Latos or Cueto. One of them is bound to be traded in the off season. Reds have to many pitchers coming up in the minors.

    • Ace2095 11 months ago

      If I were the Red’s I would definitely move Cueto because he is going to become expensive and I doubt they can afford him. He would require a very significant haul however but I think a team would ultimately pay it.

      • Dale Pearl 11 months ago

        Reds have 4 pitchers that will need to be dealt with by the 2016 season.
        Latos is just 24 had great stuff up until this year his velocity and endurance has fallen off quite a bit since his off season elbow surgery to remove bone chips.
        Cueto is injury prone. No doubt about it I would have to see him in a national league uniform but I don’t think he is healthy 5 of the next 10 years he plays. trade them both for prospects and reap long term rewards.

      • Jeff Snedden 11 months ago

        I think I speak for all Pirates fans everywhere when I say I wish the Reds would have traded Cueto too. I’d love to see him pitching for Seattle, Anaheim, or Tokyo.

  4. TDKnies 11 months ago

    Sheesh, kind of sums up the NL East as a whole the past few years. Braves and Nats making moves to immediately improve with the Nats going for it a little harder, the Marlins making moves that people don’t really get at the time (but still doing something to build a future in their own way), and the Mets and Phils do absolutely nothing.

    I won’t blame the Mets for doing nothing because they want to build around their guys (whether they can or not is another story). Colon might be the only one they “should” have moved. As for the Phillies though, they’re just sitting in the corner and completely ignoring their situation. They’re not good this year. Their older players are likely not going to be better next year. They don’t have a larger than normal number of exciting prospects, so their influx of young talent isn’t likely to be better than anyone else’s. Barring some August trades, where is the evidence of their plan to get better? They’ve done this two years in a row now. Their house is rotting and it’s like they’re waiting for it to fall down before building again as opposed to doing things to repair it right now. I should be happy that a division rival is in such disarray, but it’s simply too frustrating and sad to watch for me to feel that way.

    • paqza 11 months ago

      The Mets didn’t get the offers they wanted for Murphy and Colón so it didn’t make sense for them to make those moves. They’re set currently at every position but SS and LF and there weren’t corresponding players available. I knock Sandy for his lack of creativity but at least he’s not making obvious mistakes out there.

  5. Will32 11 months ago

    Ruben Amaro…

    Not making moves to move decent, aging, overpaid players who are a part of a losing team for the second year in a row? He has the leverage in the trade negotiations, the “sellers” always do! He gave up Hunter Pence for nothing but refuses to trade guys like Papelbon, Kendrick, and Byrd. Papelbon wants out, Kendrick is a free agent, and Byrd won’t have the same value next season. I don’t get it.

    • flyerzfan12 11 months ago

      It’s a seller’s market so naturally Amaro didn’t make a trade..ya know, why would you want to improve your team?

      • NotCanon 11 months ago

        You look at what Price got in return and think “Seller’s Market?”

        • Will32 11 months ago

          Look at what the Cubs got for Samardzija.

          • NotCanon 11 months ago

            Samardzija’s deal was primarily due to having 2 more years of arbitration left. Also, he wasn’t alone (Hammel was awesome right up until they traded him to Oakland).

            Even with that, the Cubs got one awesome prospect, one good-to-average prospect (McKinney), and a thoroughly-mediocre (youngish) pitcher (Straily).

          • vtadave 11 months ago

            Samardzija is a free agent after next year, just like David Price.

          • NotCanon 11 months ago

            Yes, sorry, my wording was unclear. I meant this year plus next.

            However, that doesn’t change the fact that two sub-3.00 ERA starters were sent in the deal (from a hitter-friendly park to a pitcher-friendly, even if they did change leagues), and it was earlier in the season and thus had more value for the acquiring team.

        • paqza 11 months ago

          What does Price’s return have to do with the Phillies? They have no comparable pitcher once you take salaries into account.

        • $21621694 11 months ago

          All price got was a plane ticket and a new uniform

          • NotCanon 11 months ago

            That’s about all the Rays got too.

    • NotCanon 11 months ago

      Papelbon only wants out to be a closer, and has a massive NTC to leverage that. Kendrick isn’t worth anything and – fittingly – doesn’t cost anything. Byrd very well could have more value next season if he continues his current career progression, but has a shorter/cheaper contract, and even if he doesn’t, it sounds like nobody was offering anything worthwhile for him this season, in which case, why make a move just to make a move?

      • Will32 11 months ago

        You move the big contracts of expendable players. Amaro already has to work around Howard’s contract. Plus there may be something serious with Lee. They’re both owed at least 25M for multiple years. So why not clear some space in the budget with Hanley Ramirez, Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, and Pablo Sandoval becoming free agents after this season?

        • NotCanon 11 months ago

          For starters, the Phillies don’t have major cost issues. Kendrick will be gone (not that he was costing more than ~$7MM anyway). Byrd is cheap ($8MM for a starting corner outfielder who’s above average on both sides of the ball?). Moving Papelbon (assuming he consented) would require a financial investment that would mitigate the advantage of moving him. Rollins will be affordable for what he provides, Utley will be affordable for what he provides. Lee would have been affordable for what he would have provided (but now he’s injured, so he can’t be traded anyway). Hamels is better or as good as Lester and Scherzer (and his contract will end sooner), so you don’t move him to make room for one of them unless you get quality back. They also have a brand new $200MM/season coming in from the new TV deal starting next year (up from the ~$20MM/year they’d been making before).

          Sandoval’s primary position is one where the Phillies top prospect (in AAA) plays, and the only other one I’d trust him to man (first) is manned by The Unmoveable Man and a middling power hitter (Ruf). Rollins has another year on his contract now, so I’m not sure how you can carry both him and Hanley for even one year (not to mention he’ll probably need a long-term contract after the last couple of years).

          • NotCanon 11 months ago

            They’ll also be out from under Adams’ contract, Brown probably won’t be much more expensive (unless he goes on a tear), Ruf certainly won’t be, Nieves’ deal will be over (likely replaced by Rupp), Burnett may retire no matter what…

          • Jeff_Todd_MLBTR 11 months ago

            I actually think the Phillies do have cost issues. How else do you explain the fact that they have pursue only mid-level free agents the last two years and haven’t taken on any big salaries through trade? If they were willing to go over the luxury line, they’d probably have done so.

            I’m not saying they should shed Hamels and sign Scherzer (that’d be stupid), but spending does impact their roster construction.

            And fwiw, the TV deal is $100MM average, which is likely more like $65MM in year one. And the team has been at about $35MM. Wrote about this on January 4 post “Assessing the Impact of the Phillies’ New TV Deal.”

          • NotCanon 11 months ago

            To be fair, the Phillies haven’t yet been able to get their hands on any of that TV money. This ownership group seems very focused on the bottom line year-to-year, and as such I wouldn’t expect them to exceed their (previously) self-imposed limits until such time as they actually have the money in-hand.

            I also didn’t mean to imply that they were going to spend freely regardless of current payroll, but I would think the reason they’ve limited themselves to shorter-term contracts (and nothing too expensive) lately is because they’re just trying to ride out the 2015/2016 bubble. However, they will have some money to spend next year if they’re willing to ramp back up to the CBT level (probably an additional $25-30MM, if I’m figuring properly).

            Sorry, yes, I did have the wrong number for the TV deal. Although isn’t a significant portion of that the 25%-ish stake in CSN Philly? So they can draw extra revenues if the Flyers or Sixers (hah!) do well this year?

      • belky2 11 months ago

        For the Phillies, making a move “just to make a move” is exactly the right plan because they have ZERO chance of being competitive 2015-2016. Any prospect, any terrible trade that makes the team younger is better than watching the demise of veterans we don’t need. I would have much rather seen amaro get fleeced trading Byrd for one B prospect than do nothing at all. At least he’d be showing he has the right mindset, not hopelessly waiting for a magic season to happen.

        • NotCanon 11 months ago

          Making a move just to make one is never the right move. Youth does not equal talent. Getting younger just to be younger is not a viable strategy, because you’re more likely to end up with worse players.

          If you’re getting young, talented players? Sure. But there’s a huge, huge difference between “some dude who could potentially be league average at some point in the eventual future” and “this guy is likely to be able to take over and provide OK value on the field pretty soon.”

          I don’t see how “turning trade pieces with some value into poor prospects with next to no value” is “showing he has the right mindset.” The only way the Phillies can get better through trading is getting something actually worthwhile in return.

    • anon_coward 11 months ago

      how many of their guys have a no trade clause in their contracts?

  6. The only clear indication that Amaro was willing to eat significant money was with Howard, an unmovable contract anyway.

    With Lee and Hamels, we saw that he would eat a small amount, but was asking for the moon. Seager, Pederson, and Urias? Really? There weren’t any reports on whether or not he was willing to eat anything for Burnett, but that didn’t appear to be much of an issue.

    • flyerzfan12 11 months ago

      Think it’s too late for the Phils to fire Amaro today, get a new GM in place, and let him make moves before the August deadline?

      Obviously, I know this isn’t happening but it should.

    • Mike1L 11 months ago

      If I were Amaro, I might have asked for the Moon on Hamels as well, particularly since he was under team control for four years at a salary that wasn’t out of range for to be FA pitchers soon to be available. Ask for the moon, take somewhat less to start rebuilding. On Lee, he was irrational. And Papelbon the same. There was no reason to hold out for an extremely high return on Papelbon because there’s no reason to expect he will have any real value on the field for a team not expected to contend in the next couple of years. Cash you assets in

    • wkkortas 11 months ago

      Obviously, Amaro prefers eating crow to eating cash.

      • NotCanon 11 months ago

        Pretty sure that’s the ownership more than Amaro, since that trend started in 2006 (3 years before Amaro took over).

    • orangeoctober 11 months ago

      I was really surprised they didn’t move anyone. Not even Byrd.

      • Red_Line_9 11 months ago

        Byrd, apparently had that spooky contract trigger if traded…most of the interested teams were on his no trade list.

  7. Mike1L 11 months ago

    i don’t understand the philles. they had a few pieces that were desirable, and they could have been shopped. Every quote we saw was that RA was asking absurdly high prices. He had bad luck with Lee’s injury (and re-injury) but approached the entire exercise as if he was a museum curator with priceless artifacts. Papelbon could have been traded, even if he had to eat a few bucks to get back quality returns. What good does Papelbon do on a 70+ win team? He could have gotten creative, as the Marlins did in the Cabrera trade to Detroit, balling up a failing Dontrelle with a great player. Maybe there are more deals to come in the waiver period, but this made no sense. The Phillies are bad, and getting worse.

    • Red_Line_9 11 months ago

      Too many no trade clauses in the player contracts. Philly must be a great place to play. Players don’t seem to want to leave… Lee turned down the Bronx for it. Phillies remind me a little of the White Sox in the past few seasons

  8. Mike1L 11 months ago

    I can understand the Mets’ reticence is doing deals. They don’t really have the financial flexibility to take on much, they aren’t quite good enough to be nearing contention, and they do have some younger players who could develop. I’m not sure Murphy is as good as they think he is, but there’s no harm hanging on to him. I’m surprised they didn’t flip Colon for younger arms, but given the fact that they really can’t take back money in a deal, maybe the offers weren’t that enticing (if they were even there) The problem with Colon is that he looks like a mirage.

    • anon_coward 11 months ago

      except for Colon there was no one to trade except for the rental players this year and there is still August as teams get desperate

      trading for tulo is stupid and made up by the media just like the ethier stories last year. the young talent is getting better and the hitting coach was the problem, not the talent.

      trading Murphy, one of the best hitters on the team is also dumb. who is going to replace him? .768 OPS is not the greatest but up in the top 20% of MLB hitters just like his BA. figure the Mets sign him to an extension soon.

    • anon_coward 11 months ago

      year and there is still August as teams get desperate

      trading for tulo is never going to happen and made up by the media just like the ethier stories last year. every year there are stories where some struggling team is supposed to trade young talent and take on aging, expensive and injury prone “stars” from another team.

      the young talent is getting better and the hitting coach was the problem, not the talent.

      trading Murphy, one of the best hitters on the team is also dumb. who is going to replace him? .768 OPS is not the greatest but up in the top 20% of MLB hitters just like his BA. figure the Mets sign him to an extension soon.

    • paqza 11 months ago

      What exactly to you suggests that Colon looks like a mirage? He’s got a 3.88 ERA, a 3.40 FIP, and a 3.70 xFIP over 140+ innings at nearly 7 IP/start. That’s a useful player who has already paid off more than his salary this year in only 2/3rds of a season.

      • Mike1L 11 months ago

        his age, physique and past history. if you are an acquiring team you have to ask if his performance will continue. not a lot of pitchers have done this.

        • anon_coward 11 months ago

          it only has to continue for this season and the post season if any. no one is looking to acquire him long term

          • Mike1L 11 months ago

            he’s got a two year contract

          • anon_coward 11 months ago

            even then the team will probably care about this season to make a post season run. like when yanks got soriano from the cubs last year and DFA’d him a little while ago

          • Mike1L 11 months ago

            i take your point, but his salary for next year is $11m. that’s a lot to dfa

          • anon_coward 11 months ago

            true, but if he’s in the mid 3’s this year and 20% of pitchers are getting their elbows cut then even if he goes mid 4’s next year he could serve as a warm body to fill out the back of the rotation

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