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August 2, 2010

One-Hoppers

Deadline Steals?

by Ben Lindbergh

There’s no denying that the non-waiver trading deadline is a fun time of year for baseball fans and writers alike. Compulsively refreshing our rumor sites, Twitter feeds, or RSS readers, we wait for the latest news to break, giddy with anticipation of superstars set loose, upsetting divisional balances of power in the process. But how many deadline acquisitions actually go on to change their new team's fortunes in the short term? Let’s take a look at the players who changed hands in the second half of last July, in descending order of post-trade production:

Name

Trade Date

New Team

Post-Trade WARP

Matt Holliday

7/24

Cardinals

3.3

Felipe Lopez

7/19

Brewers

2.4

Adam LaRoche

7/31

Braves

2.3

Victor Martinez

7/31

Red Sox

1.6

Rafael Betancourt

7/23

Rockies

1.5

Jake Peavy

7/31

White Sox

1.4

Cliff Lee

7/29

Phillies

1.4

Orlando Cabrera

7/31

Twins

1.1

Nick Johnson

7/31

Marlins

1.1

George Sherrill

7/30

Dodgers

1.1

Julio Lugo

7/22

Cardinals

1.0

Ian Snell

7/29

Mariners

0.9

Ben Francisco

7/29

Phillies

0.7

Cla Meredith

7/19

Orioles

0.5

John Grabow

7/29

Cubs

0.3

Freddy Sanchez

7/29

Giants

0.3

Joe Beimel

7/31

Rockies

0.2

Tom Gorzelanny

7/29

Cubs

-0.3

Jarrod Washburn

7/31

Tigers

-0.4

Ryan Garko

7/29

Giants

-0.4

Jack Wilson

7/29

Mariners

-0.5

Trades completed so late in the season afford few players the opportunity to make major regular-season impacts in their new uniforms. After accounting for the fact that acquiring some these players required their new employers to surrender pre-existing members of the 25-man in return (not to mention the fact that most of the players on the move weren’t actually replacing replacement players on their new rosters), many of these in-season upgrades start to appear fairly marginal in nature. Last season, only the Twins could plausibly be said to have secured themselves a playoff berth through deadline dealing, but during a 2010 season in which five out of six division leads are currently hotly contested, marginal upgrades could produce significant impacts.

Of course, not all deadline deals involve short-term rentals; some trade targets are signed through subsequent seasons, and even the free agents-to-be may be more likely to stick around after getting acclimated to their new surroundings for a few months. What’s more, the true measure of a mid-season trade often isn’t taken until October. The 2009 Phillies may not have needed Cliff Lee’s regular-season contributions to put them over the top in the NL East, but his 5 sterling starts in postseason play were worth their weight in prospects. After shipping all 220 pounds of Justin Smoak to Seattle for Lee this summer, the Rangers are hoping for a similar return.

Ben Lindbergh is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Ben's other articles. You can contact Ben by clicking here

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One-Hoppers: Getting W... (08/10)
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