The Major League Baseball trading deadline was a game-changer for a lot of teams this time around.
Oakland and Detroit set themselves ahead of the pack as American League contenders. St. Louis made a flurry of trades to enhance its position in the National League.
Other teams made plays for lower-tier players. Still other teams made no moves.
Speaking of the AL Central…
…The moves culminating Thursday spoke volumes about the directions the teams are taking — and, in most cases, confirmed some outside perceptions about team leadership.
Detroit: Leading division
Man. The Tigers, like the A’s a few hours before, shook things up in a big way. Locking up David Price was a huge move. Giving up Austin Jackson won’t help the Tigers defensively and Drew Smyly has potential as a mid-rotation starter, but plugging Price into that rotation just makes the Tigers beastly — I mean, Justin Verlander was your ace two years ago and is now your fifth starter. They may not be the favorite to win it all, but as far as the American League goes, they just became Option 1A. Dave Dombrowski always seems to improve his teams, and 2014 could well be the case example.
Kansas City: Currently four games behind Detroit, 3.5 games out of wild card
At the opposite end of the spectrum were the Royals, who did absolutely nothing despite an increase in payroll, despite James Shields (the cornerstone of the 2014 playoff push when the Royals traded then-prospect Wil Myers for him) going into free agency at the end of the season, despite a lineup that screamed for improvement (GM Dayton Moore says the lineup needs four or five more bats..and he constructed this roster, mind you) and despite a playoff drought stretching 29 years. Twenty-nine years. I take that back….the pre-deadline trade to pick up Jason Frasor has provided immediate dividends, but that’s it. Trading a backup third baseman for reserves or minor leaguers doesn’t count, as far as I’m concerned. How all in is Moore? How accountable is Moore for the poor roster construction and inability to improve the team in a year that has been asterisked for years as the year for the Royals? Ask yourself that, Mr. Glass.
Cleveland: Currently 6.5 games behind Detroit, 6 games out of wild card
There is still time to make a push for the postseason, but the Indians aren’t the same as they were last year — and they just don’t have the same steam they did last season. Unloading Asdrubal Cabrera and Justin Masterson were solid moves. We’ll see about the return on investment, but this wasn’t really the year they were supposed to challenge Detroit, anyways. Moves for the future which honestly don’t totally take them out of the playoff hunt the next two months.
Chicago White Sox: Currently 7 games behind Detroit, 6.5 games out of wild card
Like the Royals, the White Sox didn’t do much. Unlike the Royals, Chicago didn’t have much in the way of expectations for this year — and they certainly have lived down to their expectations. If at all possible, they did less than the Royals. A rudderless team that isn’t getting better, on or off the field.
Minnesota Twins: Currently 11 games behind Detroit, 10.5 games out of wild card
The Twins continue to build from within and build for the future, and they did make a couple trades — but that was the point of their moves. They did give the A’s struggling outfielder Sam Fuld in exchange for pitcher Tommy Milone. This is a good move for Minnesota because Milone had a sub-4 ERA for Oakland. They also picked up Stephen Pryor to bolster their reliever corps for later, although they had to give up Kendrys Morales in the process. Again, moves for the future.
The more things change, at least this year, the more things stay the same in the Central.