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MLB trade deadline: Winners, losers include Giants, Yankees on big day

MLB trade deadline: Winners, losers include Giants, Yankees on big day

There was very little in the way of significant action before the MLB trade deadline passed Wednesday. Afterward, though, was quite a different story.

In the 30 minutes after the deadline passed, a flurry of moves was announced, providing the mass chaos that many had expected would occur with so many prominent names said to be available.

Most of those prominent names stayed with their incumbent teams. But a select few stole the headlines, and dictated which teams won the trade deadline, and which ones lost.

Winners

Astros

Houston won the trade deadline. Full stop.

If the Astros weren't the prohibitive favorites entering the deadline, they certainly emerged from it with that designation after acquiring Zack Greinke in a trade with the Diamondbacks. While Houston sent quite a haul of prospects to Arizona, the Astros managed to add Greinke without giving up top prospect Kyle Tucker, and even got the Diamondbacks to send $24 million over as part of the deal to help offset Greinke's massive contract.

Greinke, by the way, is 10-4 so far this season with a 2.87 ERA and 128 strikeouts and 141 innings. He now joins a rotation that includes Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander.

Good luck with that, American League.

Giants

In Farhan, we trust.

How can you not at this point? After making several adjustments to San Francisco's roster over the last few months, many of which have played a critical role in the Giants' recent surge back to relevancy, Zaidi carried that momentum into Wednesday's trade deadline and ran with it. Madison Bumgarner, Will Smith and Tony Watson -- all rumored to be on the move for months -- are still Giants.

Sam Dyson is gone, but for him, Zaidi got three prospects from the Twins, including a 24-year-old outfielder who has batted .331 and hit 15 home runs in 41 games with AAA-Rochester this season.

Zaidi somehow managed to unload the entirety of the $19 million remaining on Mark Melancon's contract to the Braves, and got two players in return, including Atlanta's No. 17 overall prospect.

Drew Pomeranz has been a revelation in San Francisco's bullpen over the last two weeks, and Zaidi convinced the Brewers to trade for him (and quadruple-A reliever Ray Black) for their No. 3 prospect, middle infielder Mauricio Dubon.

Dubon should arrive in the majors sooner rather than later, but in the meantime, Scooter Gennett -- whom San Francisco acquired from Cincinnati for cash considerations -- figures to provide the Giants a boost at second base.

In each situation, Zaidi dealt from a position of strength and managed to improve the team's future outlook, all without ruining its chances in the present. 

Cubs

In a wide-open NL Central, Chicago went for it.

In the waning minutes of the deadline, the Cubs acquired Nick Castellanos from the Tigers for two pitching prospects, including their 2018 first-round pick. Castellanos was well worth that cost, though, as he now slides into what was already a fairly stacked Cubs lineup.

Castellanos, 27, fits Chicago's timeline, can play both the infield and the outfield and also leads all players with 37 doubles this season. Wrigley Field is far more hitter-friendly than Comerica, so expect some of those doubles to turn into homers in the second half. Castellanos absolutely mashes lefties, slashing .347/.415/.611 against southpaws, and he makes the Cubs the favorite to claim the division title.

Losers

Yankees

New York did nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

In dire need of a starting-pitching upgrade, the Yankees elected to stand pat, and now the gap between them and the Astros has grown considerably. They had a tremendous opportunity to compete for a World Series title in a couple of months, and while they still have a decent chance, they likely will be kicking themselves come October.

The Astros got Greinke. In a deadline when frontline starters like Bumgarner, Trevor Bauer, Marcus Stroman and Robbie Ray were said to be available, the Yankees decided, "Nah, we're good."

Nah, they're actually not.

Dodgers

Much like the Yankees, one wonders if the Dodgers' failure to acquire adequate reinforcements at the deadline will cost them a championship.

Los Angeles had an obvious need in the bullpen. The Dodgers did add a reliever -- Adam Kolarek was acquired from the Rays -- but he's not the difference-maker needed, having posted a 3.95 ERA over 43.1 innings so far this season.

Jedd Gyorko? Offense is not Los Angeles' problem, and he doesn't provide much of it anyway.

The Dodgers have talented prospects coming out of their ears. They have the best team in the National League, and one of the two best teams in all of baseball. Maybe they already were so far ahead of the competition that they didn't need to add anything, but come October, they'll deserve all the flack -- and then some -- if the bullpen falters in yet another heartbreaking postseason exit.

[RELATED: MadBum era lives on: Ace stays in SF as deadline passes]

Cardinals

After being .500 at the All-Star break, St. Louis has gone 13-5 since. As a reward for getting back into playoff contention, the front office went out and added ... Tony Cingrani?

Huh?

Cingrani came over in the trade with the Dodgers for Gyorko. He hasn't pitched this year, and is out for the rest of the season recovering from labrum surgery. So, no, he won't be contributing to a Cardinals' postseason run.

St. Louis had multiple needs, but none bigger than a starter. There were plenty of quality starters to be had, but in the end, the Cardinals stuck with the same rotation that has Jack Flaherty and Miles Mikolas as its Nos. 1 and 2 starters.

That's not going to cut it in the postseason, and given the moves of the teams they're competing with, they'll be lucky to get there at all.

How Giants, Farhan Zaidi might choose to use new 26th roster spot

How Giants, Farhan Zaidi might choose to use new 26th roster spot

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- As Giants veterans checked into camp last week, a couple of them referred to the 25-man roster in interviews. Like writing a new year on your checks, it'll take a while for players to adjust to having a 26th man.

But on the second floor of the new facility at Scottsdale Stadium, there already have been plenty of conversations about it. 

The front office has an extra roster spot to work with, and few executives will dig that more than Farhan Zaidi, who spent 2019 in an endless roster shuffle as he added depth and talent to the 40-man roster. Zaidi, general manager Scott Harris and manager Gabe Kapler have talked this spring of all the different ways they can go. 

As the Giants go through their spring rotation for the first time, it's far too early to project a full roster, especially in a camp where so many jobs are up for grabs. But we can take a look at how that roster will be impacted by the extra spot. The Giants will have 13 pitchers, that much we know. But what will they do with that 13th position player?

Pablo Sandoval

Just about seven months removed from Tommy John surgery, Sandoval already is taking part in nearly every drill, with some restrictions on his throwing. But he's a month ahead of schedule in that department, and he hasn't ruled out Opening Day. 

The staff is looking more at a May return, but they'll leave the door open for Sandoval. There's some thought that given his age (33) and the fact that he's on the back end of his career, it might be easier to push Sandoval than a younger player. He's not a 24-year-old looking for that life-changing contract; he's someone who above all simply wants to play baseball. 

Sandoval feels he's ready to pinch-hit now and he has looked sharp in early BP sessions. If, say, his throwing arm will be fully healed by mid-April, could the Giants put him on the Opening Day roster purely as a pinch-hitter and let him rehab his elbow before games? They've talked about it. 

Speed/defense

This is the Billy Hamilton section. Hamilton no longer is the 50-stolen base threat he was in Cincinnati, but he still is one of the fastest players in the game and an elite defensive center fielder. He hasn't hit enough in recent years to be a regular starter, but the Giants still could find creative ways for him to impact a game. 

Let's say Mike Yastrzemski starts in center and Hunter Pence in left and Pence leads off the sixth with a single. If you know he won't hit again until late in the game and your preference is to replace him defensively anyway, you can bring Hamilton in to pinch-run and play center, with Yastrzemski sliding to left. The Giants also have discussed making this type of move much earlier in a game to gain a slight edge. 

They don't have a true center fielder and there's not much speed on the locked-in part of the roster. The 26th spot makes it a lot easier to carry a Hamilton or Steven Duggar. 

A full infield

You start adding them up: Brandon Belt, Wilmer Flores, Mauricio Dubon, Brandon Crawford, Evan Longoria ... that's five infielders before you even get to Sandoval, Donovan Solano (who had a very solid 2019) or Yolmer Sanchez (who won a Gold Glove last year and chose San Francisco over other offers, indicating he was told he has a really good shot at making the roster). 

The Giants could go with four in the outfield and use Dubon as their fifth, while keeping Solano and Sanchez on the Opening Day roster. This team may simply have to carry seven infielders at times, because that's where most of their core guys are. 

Third catcher

The Giants don't have the depth to do this but you can bet some other clubs will. Long term, though, this will be an appealing option. Zaidi has talked a lot over the past year about versatile catchers and it would be a nice boost if they could find a lefty to pair with Buster Posey and Joey Bart next year, ideally someone with options. That would allow Kapler to freely use both Posey and Bart in every game. 

Stephen Vogt, who played some left field, is in Arizona now, but someone like that would make sense in future years. The best bet would be developing a lefty-swinging catcher who could be optioned back and forth as a third guy. 

[RELATED: Watch Bart, Dubon homer in Giants' spring training opener]

Inventory

This isn't about any particular player, but adding a 26th player makes it a bit easier at the end of the spring to stash a veteran who is out of options. There are a lot of waiver claims during that final week before Opening Day rosters are set, but teams generally slow down once the season officially starts. No executive likes to lose a player who is out of options.

The Giants could stash someone on Opening Day, and then DFA him later and try to sneak him through waivers and onto the Triple-A roster. 

Joey Bart, Mauricio Dubon hit homers in Giants' spring training opener

Joey Bart, Mauricio Dubon hit homers in Giants' spring training opener

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Maybe the finish line of this rebuild isn't as far away as it first seemed.

The Giants waited nearly three hours for the rain to clear Saturday so they could get their Cactus League opener in, and it was worth it when a couple of young hitters stepped to the plate against the Dodgers. Mauricio Dubon went deep to left with his first swing of the spring, and four innings later Joey Bart also smashed a homer to right with his first swing of 2020.

Dubon showed surprising power as a rookie, hitting four homers in 104 at-bats after his promotion from Triple-A. He said he has spent a lot of time this spring working with new hitting coach Donnie Ecker on an adjustment to lower his leg kick, which should allow him to see the ball better. In addition to the solo shot, Dubon had an RBI single to center. 

Bart is in theory here to get reps before heading to Triple-A, but the Giants don't have a locked-in backup catcher and plan to be aggressive with a promotion early in the year if Bart's bat warrants it. Thus far, he's had an impressive camp. 

Bart primarily is working on defensive adjustments and trying to show the ball to umpires more efficiently, but his batting practice sessions have been loud, with the new staff marveling at how easily Bart goes the opposite way. In his first at-bat after replacing Buster Posey, Bart nearly came out of his spikes while lining a shot to right. 

[RELATED: Bochy surprises Panda, Giants with his spring training visit]

"It's always good to see Joey stay through the baseball to the right side," manager Gabe Kapler said. "We've seen that swing result since camp began, driving the ball to the air to the right side. It's nice to see that show up in ballgame."

Bart drew a four-pitch walk in his second at-bat to load the bases for Drew Robinson, a non-roster invitee who flied out to left. The Giants lost Kapler's first spring game 10-4.