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2013 MLB Trade Deadline Recap (Part 3 of 5): The Impact Players

Houston Astros relief pitcher Jose Veras
Houston Astros relief pitcher Jose Veras

Jul 6, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Houston Astros relief pitcher Jose Veras (41) throws to the Texas Rangers during the ninth inning at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

The first two days of our trade deadline recap series (which you can find here and here), we’ve covered some of the lesser-known players that were dealt in July. Now, we move on to some players that could have a real impact on teams in playoff contention.

Tigers trade Danry Vasquez and a player to be named later to the Astros for Jose Veras
The Tigers made a move to help shore up their bullpen by picking up the veteran reliever Jose Veras from the Astros. Veras is 0-4 on the season but has a respectable 2.93 ERA for a reliever. More importantly, he had 19 saves for the Astros and gives Detroit another option there. The Tigers are content to use Joaquin Benoit in that role and thus far he’s thrived with 12 saves and a 1.40 ERA. With a 4.13 career ERA and not much of a track record of saving games there’s no guarantee he’s able to keep up the pace. Veras appears to have moved into the setup role as he pitched in the eighth inning of Saturday’s win, but if Benoit struggles as the closer, look for Veras to get a shot. The key thing is that Detroit didn’t give up much in the move in minor league outfielder Danry Vasquez, a young but modest player so far in Class A.

Nationals trade Ivan Pineyro to Cubs for Scott Hairston
The Nationals are often counted out when it comes to a potential playoff spot since they’re currently 11.5 games behind the NL East leading Braves. However, the team is only 6.5 games out of a Wild Card spot and with a lot of baseball to be played, still want to make a late push for the postseason. To help, they’ve added veteran outfielder Scott Hairston in a trade with the Cubs. Unfortunately for Washington, so far the deal isn’t paying dividends. The Nats have given him plenty of chances as a pinch hitter and a few starts, but in 11 games, Hairston is batting only .111 with the team. Hairston hit a career-high 20 home runs last year with the Mets and while he has eight this season, he was batting a career-worst .172 before the deal. A change of scenery, though, hasn’t helped and Hairston will see his chances decrease if he doesn’t turn things around. In In exchange, Washington gave up Class A+ starting pitcher, 21-year old Ivan Pineyro (1-0 with a 1.96 ERA in 2013).

Braves trade Cory Rasmus to Angels for Scott Downs
Barring a late collapse, the Atlanta Braves will make the playoffs this year as they hold a commanding lead over the Nationals in the NL East. Atlanta strengthened their bullpen before the deadline, trading for Angels relief pitcher Scott Downs. The 37-year-old Downs is having an excellent year thus far with a 1.84 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 29 innings. He’s appeared in 43 games and the veteran will give the Braves a solid arm in the bullpen. The Angels, meanwhile, get a younger reliever, Cory Rasmus from Atlanta. Rasmus is having a strong year in Triple-A with a 4-1 record and 1.63 ERA. He’s also closed out games over the past two years with 22 saves and while he struggled in his major league appearances with the Braves this season, at only 25, he is a promising bullpen arm.

Red Sox trade Brandon Jacobs and cash considerations to White Sox for Matt Thornton
Desperate to upgrade their bullpen, the Boston Red Sox made a deal for White Sox pitcher Matt Thornton. The reliever has been having a decent year, but has been even better since joining Boston. Thornton has been a quality pitcher over the past five years, but has been borderline dominant after the deal with a 2.16 ERA in nine games thus far with the Red Sox. It’s still early, but the move has been a great one for Beantown so far. Thornton is also under team control for another year and the Red Sox have the option of keeping him for $6 million. It’s a win-win for the club as they can get out of that contract with a $1 million option if Thornton struggles the rest of this season. Giving up Brandon Jacobs, a 22-year old outfielder in the deal, Boston also didn’t mortgage the farm. Jacobs has shown some power in the minors so far (43 home runs from 2011 – 2013), but also has struck out quite a bit, whiffing once in every 3.5 at bats.

Dodgers trade Matt Guerrier to Cubs for Carlos Marmol and international signing bonus slot
The Dodgers were hoping to improve their bullpen with the trade of Matt Guerrier to the Cubs for Carlos Marmol but they may have weakened it instead. With a 2-3 record and 4.80 ERA, Guerrier wasn’t having a great year in Los Angeles. However, it’s unclear to me what the Dodgers were hoping to accomplish by adding Marmol. He had been horrible in Chicago with a 5.86 ERA this year, walking 21 batters and giving up six home runs in 27.2 innings. Marmol, a former All-Star, has had a solid track record, but the move was a head-scratcher based on what he’s done this season. Early indications are proving that it may have been a bad move, too. While Guerrier has thrived in Chicago (2-1 with a 2.38 ERA), Marmol has been even worse than he was with the Cubs. The reliever has posted a 9.82 ERA in three appearances with the Dodgers and gave up his seventh home run of the year recently. It’s hard to imagine he helps them much in their playoff run and you’ve got to wonder how many opportunities he’ll continue to get if he doesn’t pitch better.

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