Then they rattled off seven straight wins to pull within 2½ games of the second wild card spot in the morass of the American League, and with only one truly tradeable asset, it looks like they're better off dancing with who they brought.
Major League Baseball doesn't need the Sox to have a good time, because the road to July 31 is as chaotic as ever without them. A review of Wednesday's action:
The Tigers are "rebooting"
The motives coming out of Detroit had been unclear this month. With Miguel Cabera's injury and a collapsing rotation with a matching bullpen, the Tigers don't look like a playoff team. Yet with so many massive contracts on hand and Mike Ilitch wanting a World Series, it made some sense to risk throwing good money after bad in an attempt to push this broken bus into October.
Maybe Dave Dombrowski was waiting to see if they could hold off the White Sox, because the day after Chicago claimed sole ownership of third place in the AL Central, Dombrowski said the Tigers are officially putting soon-to-be free agents like David Price and Yoenis Cespedes on the market.
(The American League is so strange this year that I can picture the Tigers trading Price, Cespedes, Joakim Soria and others, and that won't be enough to knock them truly out of contention.)
The Dodgers were one of the teams tenuously connected to Jeff Samardzija, but reports surfaced that they found a different starter -- Miami's Mat Latos.
Things stopped making sense shortly afterward, because the Dodgers were also said to be receiving Mike Morse, who is utterly redundant on the Dodgers' depth chart. But Miami also threw in a competitive-balance pick, so it looked like the Dodgers basically bought the draft pick by taking salaries off Jeffrey Loria's payroll.
Problem was, nobody could readily identify the prospect(s) heading to Miami in exchange for Latos, Morse and the pick. Miami GM Dan Jennings wasn't much help, because he's also the manager.
After hours of not understanding how this made sense outside of a sheer Miami salary dump -- and the Marlins don't deserve any benefit of the doubt -- a third team emerged in the form of Atlanta. The resulting deal should be a doozy if and when it's finalized.
8:45pm: Hector Olivera is in the deal as the main piece coming back to Atlanta, Bowden tweets (as MLB.com’s Mark Bowman first tweeted). Braves reliever Luis Avilan will also go to the Dodgers, Bowden tweets.
Atlanta will also add Dodgers minor league Zach Bird, Passan tweets. The Braves will receive a major league reliever, Sherman tweets. And the Marlins’ competitive balance pick, which had been slated for the Dodgers, will go to the Braves. Sherman adds on Twitter. (This is probably why the original deal had to be held up for the Braves to move in, as comp picks can only be traded once.) Morse will go to Atlanta in this iteration of the pact, Rosenthal tweets.
It’s worth bearing in mind, with regard to Olivera, that a whopping $28MM of his original deal (six years, $62.5MM) has already been paid through a signing bonus. With a $2MM salary this year, that means Atlanta can control him for the next five years for just $32.5MM.
This one seemed simpler. The Mets and Brewers seemingly had a deal lined up -- Carlos Gomez to New York, Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores to Milwaukee, according to multiple reports.
First, Flores. He found out about the deal during the game, with Mets fans giving him a standing ovation during one of his at-bats. He didn't know how to process the information:
Surreal scene. Mets trade Wilmer Flores but leave him in game. Flores then cries on field while playing. pic.twitter.com/0CDpjGpwpS— Jimmy Traina (@JimmyTraina) July 30, 2015
And for good reason, because there wasn't information to properly process. The deal crumbled, with both sides pointing to medical issues. It was presumed that Wheeler set off flags, because he's coming off Tommy John surgery.
Instead, the leading storyline from the national beat writers is that the Mets were wary of Gomez's hip condition, which cost him some time earlier this year. Doug Melvin didn't comment on Gomez's hip, because of HIPAA laws, but Gomez's agent, Scott Boras, denied that it's ever been an issue, and then joked that the Mets probably sent the Brewers an MRI of Wheeler's other arm. The former seems like an overreach, the latter is funny, and all in all, this is really the best and worst of the trade deadline all in one evening.
Cole Hamels went to ... the Rangers
The Phillies hadn't even completed the "gutting" phase of their rebuilding effort, so it became clear that Hamels' time in the Philadelphia rotation was limited. The Astros were one of the leading suitors, but they were on Hamels' no-trade list, and Hamels exercised that power.
Sometimes, that only holds up a trade, as it allows the player to get a little more for himself (usually turning an option into a guaranteed one). Instead, Hamels ended up with the other Texas team, and it's a blockbuster.
- Rangers get: Hamels, Jake Diekman, $9.5 million
- Phillies get: Matt Harrison and five prospects (Jorge Alfaro, Nick Williams, Jake Thompson, Alec Asher and Jerad Eickhoff).
Reading Lone Star Ball and The Good Phight, neither side is high-fiving. Rangers fans aren't happy about losing three top-100 prospects (Alfaro, Williams and Thompson) for one pitcher, and the Phillies are sad to see their World Series MVP leave at the top of his game. That probably means it's a relatively fair deal, as much as it can be evaluated today.
After all this activity, four teams have added starting pitchers, none of whom are Samardzija:
- Astros: Scott Kazmir
- Royals: Johnny Cueto
- Dodgers: Latos
- Rangers: Hamels
And now the Tigers are dangling Price, the Padres have several pitchers to choose from, the Blue Jays DFA'd Felix Doubront without a replacement on hand, and Chris Cotillo says the Indians and Cardinals are approaching a significant deal of their own. So the world keeps turning without Samardzija, and barring a surprise, White Sox players will have the opportunity to make the inaction worthwhile.