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2013 MLB Trade Deadline Recap (Part 4 of 5): The Key Players

Chicago White Sox relief pitcher Jesse Crain
Chicago White Sox relief pitcher Jesse Crain

Jun 22, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Chicago White Sox relief pitcher Jesse Crain (26) delivers a pitch in the eighth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Chicago won the game 3-2. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

SJN continues its recap of Major League Baseball’s trade deadline with a look at some of the key players who were dealt in July. These are all impact trades that can help push a team over the top.

Orioles trade Jake Arrieta, Pedro Strop and international signing money to Cubs for Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger
The Orioles made a significant move with the addition of starting pitcher Scott Feldman. At 7-6 with a 3.46 ERA, Baltimore was hoping Feldman would be a good addition. Instead, he has struggled since the trade, going 2-3 with a 5.70 ERA in six starts. Feldman is giving up more hits and striking out fewer batters per nine innings since the move. With a designated hitter, a slight rise in ERA is to be expected—but not to the tune of more than two runs per outing. He’ll have more opportunities, but he hasn’t pitched well with his new team so far. Baltimore also secured catcher Steve Clevenger in the trade. He’s batted .311 over his minor-league career, but has not had much opportunity in the majors yet (one home run, 16 RBI, and a .199 batting average in 79 games).

The Cubs got a bit younger with Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop. Once a highly-coveted prospect, Arrieta has struggled in his major league stints. The hope is that a change in scenery and a switch to the NL will be an opportunity for him to succeed. It’s early, but Arrieta went six strong innings in his debut with the Cubs, giving up only one run. The Cubs also added 28-year-old reliever, Pedro Strop. Strop has struggled this season but was 5-2 with a 2.44 ERA last year. The key for Chicago here is that the Cubs hold the rights to both players for several more seasons.

Orioles trade Nick Delmonico to Brewers for Francisco Rodriguez
Baltimore not only added a starting pitcher in Feldman, but also picked up closer Francisco Rodriguez from Milwaukee. The move helps replace the loss of Strop in the bullpen and as a 1-1 swap, K-Rod should significantly improve the pen. Rodriguez won’t replace the major league leader in saves, closer Jim Johnson, but will hopefully make the bullpen deeper. Thus far, K-Rod has struggled, giving up four runs in his four innings pitched. He’s been so good in Milwaukee (2.20 ERA with 31 strikeouts and ten walks in 28.2 innings), that it’s difficult to believe he can’t turn things around. In exchange, the Orioles dealt Class A+ infielder Nick Delmonico. Delmonico has shown some power in his first two minor league seasons (24 home runs) but is a long way from the majors.

Rays trade players to be named later or cash considerations to White Sox for Jesse Crain
Tampa Bay landed a potential steal from Chicago, adding top reliever Jesse Crain for cash or players to be named later. Crain was one of the top bullpen arms available at the deadline and the Rays strengthened their relief pitching for virtually nothing. Crain was an All-Star this season enjoying the best year of his career. He has an ERA of 0.74 and 46 strikeouts in only 36.2 innings. The issue is that he’s been on the disabled list and hasn’t pitched since June 29. That affected the return Chicago was able to receive and Tampa Bay may have a steal on their hands if he can get healthy. Crain’s timetable is still an unknown, but if he is able to return by September, he will be an impact player down the stretch.

Arizona Diamondbacks trade Ian Kennedy to Padres for Joe Thatcher, Matt Stites, and a compensation round B draft pick
The Diamondbacks made an interesting move at the trade deadline by dealing starter Ian Kennedy. Since an amazing 2011 season (21-4 with a 2.88 ERA), Kennedy hasn’t been the same. He was a serviceable starter in 2012, but took a step back, going 15-12 with a 4.02 ERA. This year, he’s been even worse (4-8 5.14 ERA). At 28, there have to be serious concerns about his ability to bounce back even though he won his debut with the Padres. Despite the fact that Arizona is still in the hunt for the playoffs, they thought that removing Kennedy from the rotation would be a better way to go. In his place, the Diamondbacks strengthened their bullpen with the addition of Joe Thatcher. The 31-year-old reliever has a 2.05 ERA this season and is 3-1 with 29 strikeouts in 30 innings. Arizona also added promising minor league reliever Matt Stites in the deal. Stites has dominated Single-A and Double-A in his three seasons in the minors, going 8-2 with a 1.53 ERA while striking out more than one batter an inning. He won’t help the team this season, but could be a solid major leaguer in a couple of years.

Dodgers trade Josh Wall, Steven Ames, and Angel Sanchez to Marlins for Ricky Nolasco
The Dodgers’ acquisition of Nolasco was one of the earliest deals of the trade season. He isn’t widely regarded as a top starter, but with such a thin trade market, was one of the best available. On the season, Nolasco is 7-9 and has a 3.78 ERA. In five starts with the Dodgers, he has helped the team’s resurgence, winning two of those games. To get him, L.A. traded three young pitchers in Josh Wall, Steven Ames, and Angel Sanchez. Even though the Dodgers gave up three players, the price for Nolasco was relatively small. None are considered top prospects and only Sanchez, still in Class A+, is a starter.

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