Thanks to the exceptionally long time Jose Quintana and David Robertson spent on the block, White Sox fans became more familiar than usual with other teams’ farm systems.
Rick Hahn slow-played most of his most tradeable players when taking the winter into account, but relative to the trade deadline, the White Sox acted swiftly, and apparently to their benefit. Waiting closer to July 31 seemed to work in the favor of the buyer, not the seller, at least if the top prospect lists are any indication.
Let’s look at four teams that had varying degrees of interest in White Sox players, and what they ended up giving up to solve problems via other teams.
New York Yankees
- Traded Jorge Mateo, Dustin Fowler and James Kaprielian for Sonny Gray.
- Traded Zack Littell and Dietrich Enns for Jaime Garcia.
The Yankees seemed like a perfect trade partner for Quintana, and that’s partially reflected by the separate deal Brian Cashman struck with Hahn for Tommy Kahnle, Robertson and Todd Frazier. But the Sox ended up trading Quintana to the Cubs for Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease, the former a top-10 prospect and the latter a top-100 arm. Mateo recovered his prospect status, giving Oakland a package that is closer to reaching the majors, but it doesn’t match the upside. Clouding matters further, Fowler (freak knee injury at Guaranteed Rate Field) and Kaprielian (Tommy John surgery) are lost for the season. Garcia is a rental, but Littell sounds comparable to Ian Clarkin, the second prospect in the Yankees-White Sox deal.
Meanwhile, New York held onto most of its top prospects, including Clint Frazier and Gleyber Torres, while the White Sox were at least able to pry away top-50 prospect Blake Rutherford in the Kahnle deal.
So Yankees land Sonny Gray while hanging on to Torres, Frazier, Sheffield, Adams and Florial - 5 of their top 6 prospects per @MLBPipeline.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) July 31, 2017
Los Angeles Dodgers
- Traded Willie Calhoun, Brendon Davis and A.J. Alexy to Texas for Yu Darvish.
The Dodgers added a starting pitcher without trading any of their top prospects like Walker Buehler, Alex Verdugo or Yadier Alvarez. The difference is that Darvish is a free agent after the year, but the reports over the negotiation suggest that the Dodgers were able to lower Texas’ asking price due to a lack of a strong market.
- Traded Blake Treinen, Jesus Luzardo and Sheldon Neuse to Oakland for Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson
- Traded Tyler Watson to Minnesota for Brandon Kintzler
While David Robertson had been long linked to the Nationals, Mike Rizzo ended up looking elsewhere for bullpen help. He ended up acquiring three additional righties without touching his core group of prospects — Victor Robles, Erik Fedde, Juan Soto or Carter Kieboom. Luzardo, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, was in a rumored deal for Robertson that was quashed by ownership over the offseason.
- Traded Nori Aoki and Teoscar Hernandez to Toronto for Francisco Liriano.
In the end, the Astros didn’t acquire a starter of note (Liriano looks ticketed for the bullpen). They didn’t part with Kyle Tucker, Francis Martes, A.J. Reed, David Paulino or anybody else, even though Lance McCullers on the disabled list and Dallas Keuchel not yet clear from a neck injury.
It’s hard to blast Jeff Luhnow for his inactivity, because his reluctance to deal from his farm system has resulted in the Astros owning the best record in the American League, far and away. The Astros have the league’s best rotation ERA (3.96) despite the aforementioned problems, but the bullpen was in need of an upgrade, so he addressed that. The Astros are being knocked as “losers” in the tradition of issuing immediate judgment, but it’s a choice they had earned the right to make.
In the end, it seems like the lack of competitive divisional races made it harder to surprise buyers to emerge. The Yankees resumed its place in the AL East arms race, the Brewers served as smelling salts to the Cubs’ front office, the Royals tooled up for one last stand and the Diamondbacks and Rockies jockeyed for wild card positioning, but that’s about it. With no challenger to the Astros and Nationals and no surprise teams (Twins, Braves) maintaining a surge, those who wanted to add could take their time doing so.
In this environment, Hahn and the White Sox fared relatively well, for all we can know at this time. Now, if only these recently acquired would stop getting hurt...