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ANAHEIM ANGELS
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Purchased the contact of 3B-S Kaleb Cowart from Triple-A Salt Lake; designated 3B-L Conor Gillaspie for assignment. [8/18]

At one point, Cowart was among the best hot-corner prospects in baseball. That stock has plummeted over the past few years, as the former first-round pick has struggled mightily over his past two seasons, but upon a somewhat controversial move to the PCL, Cowart posted a .323/.395./491 at Triple-A El Paso. He has made several swing adjustments over the past few years, and though there are some moving parts, he's shown spurts where he can make hard contact into the gaps from both sides of the plate. There's above-average raw power—particularly from the right side—but that power plays down because of how much swing-and-miss there is in his game, and he doesn't appear to pick up secondary offerings well.

Cowart has had his share of offensive struggles since 2012, but the same cannot be said about his glove. Though not fleet of foot, the 23-year-old third baseman has excellent instincts and soft hands, and he also possesses a borderline plus-plus arm that is also accurate. The upside with Cowart is a switch-hitting David Bell, with defensive replacement on the corners as a possible floor. —Christopher Crawford

TEXAS RANGERS
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Acquired OF-L Will Venable in exchange for C?-R Marcus Greene and a player to be named later; designated OF-R Michael Choice for assignment. [8/18]

The Rangers are in pursuit of a playoff spot, and Jon Daniels is doing everything he can to ensure they succeed in their hunt, even if it means acquiring seemingly downtrodden rentals.

You might consider Venable an odd fit for the Rangers, who already have two left-handed-hitting outfielders. But therein lies the rub: Josh Hamilton has been sidelined for days with a balky knee, and finally hit the disabled list on Thursday. Without Hamilton, the Rangers needed someone to pair with Ryan Strausborger in left field. Venable not only fits in that platoon better than Texas' internal options, but makes more sense as an insurance policy against Hamilton missing significant time.

Invariably, Venable comes with his own warts. His power production has vanished since 2013, when he set new career bests in home runs (22) and isolated slugging (.216). Some regression may have been expected, but he's homered just 14 times since, and is in position to follow up his leanest seasonal ISO with the second-leanest. Eek.

The saving grace for Venable is his ability to add value in other ways: He'll hit for a respectable average and walk an acceptable amount; he'll steal a dozen-plus bases at a high success rate and make the most of his in-play advancement opportunities; he'll play left, center, or right field, and hey is that an inning at first base off there in the distance? Why, yes it is. Venable is, then, a quality reserve outfielder and a tolerable platoon option, with or without big-time power numbers, especially since he just might improve in that regard with the move away from Petco Park.

Quoting home/road splits is an admittedly crude (and at times outright misleading) exercise for this sort of thing. Still, it's hard to ignore how Venable has consistently performed better on the road than at home, to the point where his home slugging percentage in 2015 (.289) is lower than his road batting average (.290). This isn't to suggest Venable is about to explode—he's on the wrong side of 30 and there are certainly other factors leading to his reduced pop—so much as it's something to consider.

Piece it all together and the Rangers are getting a useful stopgap outfielder who may or may not have some hidden upside. Given the Rangers' standing in the playoff race—they entered Thursday 4½ games behind the division-leading Astros, and 1½ back of the Angels for the second Wild Card—each and every marginal upgrade pushes them that much closer to making it to the postseason.

Part of the transaction cost here is Choice, a onetime top prospect whose massive raw power has seldom translated into games, perhaps due to his passive approach. These types always get second, third, and sometimes eighth chances. Not yet 26, Choice is certain to circle the globe before he's done. —R.J. Anderson

LOS ANGELES DODGERS
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Acquired 2B-L Chase Utley and cash considerations from the Phillies in exchange for UTL-S Darnell Sweeney and RHP John Richy; designated INF-S Alberto Callaspo for assignment. [8/19]

You just knew Ned Colletti wasn't going to let August pass without trading for some past-his-prime, more-fame-than-game veteran. What's that? Oh, right. Smart get for the Dodgers.

What Utley represents—besides, arguably, the top second baseman of his era—is another option. The Dodgers' front office prides itself on flexibility and maneuverability and all those buzzwords that present the roster as an athletic, living, breathing thing—it is—and boil down to a simple motto: have more potential solutions than likely problems.

Utley's impact to the lineup is greater than the value he'll provide while standing in for Howie Kendrick; rather, by taking over at second base, Utley is freeing super-sub Enrique Hernandez to play more center field, thereby allowing Joc Pederson time to reset mentally. If/when Kendrick returns from his injury and Pederson from his sabbatical, then the Dodgers' lineup possibilities will resemble a spider web, but, you know, a good and strong one; not some everyday house spider nonsense.

Of course for any of that to work, the Dodgers first need Utley to perform. That's no given, considering his seasonal True Average (.241) is a point worse than Callaspo's was with the Dodgers. The good news—and what the Dodgers are presumably banking on—is that Utley has looked better since returning from a month-plus-long stint on the disabled list due to ankle inflammation, notching 15 hits in his first 31 August at-bats. Alas, it can be foolish to read too much into the streaks and slumps of any player, let alone a 36-year-old who has altered between good and bad months all season long.

The best-case scenario sees Utley maintaining his compact swing and command over the strike zone, allowing him to provide enough average and on-base production to atone for his power deficiencies. If he can do that, then he should be able to provide value even after Kendrick returns, albeit in a different role. Serving in a utility (though his non-keystone experience is limited to first base) or pinch-hitting capacity might seem beneath a player of Utley's standing, but he's no longer in Philadelphia, where his past loomed over every decision. Now, in L.A., he's simply another option. —R.J. Anderson

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
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Acquired UTL-S Darnell Sweeney and RHP John Richy from the Dodgers in exchange for 2B-L Chase Utley and cash considerations. [8/19]

There's no standout tool in Sweeney's game, but he has a chance to have a lengthy big-league career because he can help you win games in several different ways. Sweeney's swing gets from point A to point B quickly from both the left and right side, and since there's some upper plane along with an involvement of the lower-half of his body, there's "sneaky" power here that has developed each year. The feel for hitting has also improved, though there are more contact issues with Sweeney than you'd typically like to see from a guy with fringe-average power. He's a plus runner who has also improved his baserunning, with enough speed to make him an asset late in games. He's also shown some versatility with the glove, holding his own in the outfield and showing athleticism and arm strength to handle both third and second base.

Sweeney looks like the prototypical utility player, one who isn't meant to play every day but who can help you at several positions and make a difference late in games on the bases. —Christopher Crawford

A nice piece for the Phillies, Richy brings an interesting blend of solid-average stuff, command, and pitchability to the table. He has a workhorse frame (albeit with little remaining projection), and while his motion has some effort and cadence issues, his arm action is clean and allows him to consistently get to his release point on time.

Richy's stuff isn’t overwhelming, but it’s a complementary arsenal that works off a heavy sinker in the 89-91 range. Though he has little margin for error in that velocity band, the heater has above-average movement and is a tough offering to barrel when he commands it down in the zone. He’ll also mix in a low-80s curveball that flashes some two-plane movement and average potential, along with a firm mid-80s change that lacks separation but tumbles and fades enough to play well off his fastball.

The right-hander's relative polish helped him survive the Cal League this year and he’s well positioned for high-minors seasoning next spring, followed soon thereafter by a chance to threaten the back end of Philadelphia’s rotation. —Wilson Karaman

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hpeabody
8/21
I don't think Ned Colletti has anything much to do with Dodgers trades anymore. That would be Farhan Zaidi.
granbergt
8/21
I think it was a joke. People would be more likely to criticize the deal if it had been Coletti, but since Zaidi pulled the trigger, it's a "smart get".
doctawojo
8/21
A slice of pie for Tynan. hpeabody, your punishment is watching Tynan eat it.
Dgalloway15
8/21
Byrd trade?
sbnirish77
8/21
Utley getting any time from Kiki Hernandez is as misguided as BP's assessment of the 23 year old from the Prospectus this year - "to run it down: no speed on the basepaths, no power, average-ish defense and mediocre contact ability. He's the $3 stocking stuffer at eye-level near the hardware store."
oldbopper
8/21
Having long since discarded Kaleb Cowart into the rubbish bin it was a shock to see his apparition appear before me on the tube last night in an Angels uniform. In the other direction,the fact that Michael Choice had, so quickly, reached the depths where he was DFA was an equal surprise.