August 1, 2012

Was the extra wild card good or bad for the trade deadline?

by Dan Bilicki In: Baseball

There was an odd feeling surrounding this year’s MLB trade deadline. For what seems like the first time in forever, all the marquee names were heading west instead of east. Teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays and Phillies (more on them later) barely moved the barometer. All of those usual suspects didn’t pick up any big pieces for the stretch run.

In fact, those same Phillies that have won the NL East five seasons in a row held a firesale of sorts, shipping out two-thirds of its starting outfield and several other key pieces after handing out a massive contract extension to Cole Hamels. At least they didn’t panic and trade Cliff Lee.

No, all of the biggest names were shipping to the West divisions. The Rangers added to their rotation by grabbing Ryan Dempster from the Cubs – who seem content to dump everyone and build for the future (it certainly isn’t the present, they were nearly no-hit by A.J. Burnett and the Pirates last night).

The Dodgers and Giants did pretty well too, picking up Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence, respectively. And don’t forget that the Angels landed Zack Greinke last week to give them one of the best rotations in the majors on paper. All the contenders out West – except the wild card contending A’s – reeled in some big help.

But I’m sure you’ve read enough about these deals in the past day or two if you’re a MLB fan. What I was wondering is if the addition of a second wild card spot per league helped or hurt the deadline. Let’s run it down.

Help: More teams involved in the race means more teams will be looking to add pieces.

Hurt: More teams involved in the race means more teams won’t be looking sell their current pieces.

Help: Teams will be looking to end long streaks of futility by reaching for that extra spot.

Hurt: Teams aren’t eager to win a wild card spot and then potentially go home after a game.

Help: Teams realize that even in a tough division, there’s a chance that three teams can still make it to the post-season.

Hurt: Middling teams realize that they’ll have to beat those tough teams, ones that already have the deck stacked for them.

Help: Teams seem more likely to fire sale, this season more than ever. Look at Philly, Miami and the Cubs.

Hurt: Teams that are selling can jack up the prices, knowing there are fewer sellers.

That list seems pretty even to me. Maybe the extra post-season berth – even if it’s for just one game – didn’t impact the trade deadline at all. But, as always, we’ll have to see how these deals work out in the end.

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