In the weeks since the Frostbite Falls Flying Squirrels pulled off a blockbuster acquisition of Victor Martinez, the BARB trade market has been as active as in years. Ten trades have been completed, involving nine teams and over 40 players as teams attempt to earn playoff spots or prepare for 2015.
Not surprisingly, the Arizona D-Backs were involved in half of the 10 deals. The first was the biggest: Ron Melkonian picked up the dead weight of Prince Fielder, along with Gregory Polanco and a few relievers (Sergio Romo and Jim Johnson), and sent a package headlined by Adrian Gonzalez and Justin Upton to Central contender Casselton. Also going to Landon Bolt’s squad were Addison Reed, Mike Zunino, Kris Medlen and two players to be named. The commissioner’s office could not confirm rumors that the reasons behind the deal were suspect, at best. All Bolt said was, “I mean, how can I say no to that?”
Talking heads were befuddled at Casselton’s moves, as just a day prior they had essentially raised the white flag, sending a couple of relievers, Brad Ziegler and Neal Cotts, along with injured started A.J. Griffin, to division-leading St. Francis for three lefties (Craig Breslow, Tom Milone and Derek Holland) and a talented PTBN. After that deal was completed, Bolt lamented that his team would have had “an impossible postseason run…we would have limped in and been eliminated swiftly.”
Scott Hatfield nicknamed his new bullpen, made up of Zielger, Cotts, Pat Neshek, LaTroy Hawkins, Fernando Rodney and Koji Uehara, the “Over-the-Hill Gang”. “As John Fogerty once sang,” commented Hatfield, “someday never comes. This is it. We’re going to make the most of our opportunity window and enjoy it while it lasts.”
On the same day as the Casselton-St. Francis deal, Carolina and New England swapped veterans in need of a fresh start. Rafael Soriano donned the Yankee Stompers uniform and Nick Markakis joined the Wildcats.
A few days later, James Herndon made another veteran-laden trade, this with Anthony Guerra of Nor Cal. Herndon sent Junichi Tazawa, Heath Hembree and Gio Gonzalez to the west coast in exchange for Matt Wieters and Jason Kubel.
Hatfield was back at it in an attempt to shore up his lineup, acquiring Michael Cuddyer and Jacoby Ellsbury from perennial contender Brooklyn. Eric Caskey, in turn, picked up veterans Aaron Hill and Coco Crisp with young right-handers Lucas Giolito and Tyler Glasnow. “It is difficult to see two veterans leaving,” said Caskey. “But we are very excited about the return. Giolito and Glasnow (have) very high ceilings and we get immediate use from Hill and Crisp.”
Some on the Kansans roster were apparently upset Hatfield would tinker with a winning formula in the middle of the season, but Hatfield brushed off comparisons to a certain “nomadic” owner, choosing Ellsbury’s defense and outstanding season over Crisp’s unfortunate degenerative neck condition. “As for Aaron, we think he’s a decent offensive player, but past his peak on both sides of the ball.”
A number of small deals followed, many of which Ronald Melkonian had a hand in: Starling Marte and Sean Manaea came to the desert while Sergio Romo went to Nor Cal; Yuma picked up outfield help in Adam Eaton for young righty Braden Shipley and, in a separate deal, Martin Prado for Nick Swisher, Albert Almora, Sergio Santos and Jenrry Mejia; and backup shortstop Chris Owings was sent from Frostbite Falls for Almora and two players to be named.
Bolt was back at it as well, acquiring Bartolo Colon for a package including outfielder Grady Sizemore, lefty Tony Cingrani and minor-league infielder Stefen Romero.
What have the moves done for the main teams involved? Well, Casselton has caught fire, winning 10 in a row at one point as part of a 15-of-17 stretch, to pull within 2 ½ games of St. Francis. Yuma continues to pull away from the beleaguered West, and the four teams in the East are all within seven games of each other.
More trade news to come!