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MLB Trade Rumor Analysis: In review

The Beyond the Box Score writers all made a concerted effort to break down trade rumors before the July 31 deadline. Can we get any takeaways from an unspectacular deadline?

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Some of our most popular articles during the months of June and July were the ones leading up to the July 31st trade deadline. As part of our coverage, five of our writers here at the site posted "MLB Trade Rumor Analysis" pieces, breaking down what to expect if these players were to be moved.

Here at BtBS, we like to think of ourselves as both accountable and forward-looking. So with that in mind, let's take a look back at the predictive nature of the five Rumor Analysis pieces that were written, and see if we can harvest a couple of takeaways to use for next year's deadline.

June 20 -- Trade Rumor Analysis: Jonathan Papelbon (by Bryan Grosnick)

Let's tear open my contribution first. On the heels of some Phillies inadequacy, and grumblings about the team selling off parts and going young, we broke down the rumors that the Phils might deal their high-priced closer. But with a career-low strikeout rate, would any team -- even one as desperate as the Tigers -- be willing to pay big bucks for him?

No. Ruben Amaro isn't trading.

In the end, the "closers" that ended up moving were guys like Jose Veras, Jesse Crain and Matt Thornton -- not Papelbon, who required a big investment. And it didn't even sound like Amaro and the Phillies were willing to deal any of their veteran players before the deadline. Michael Young, a seeming no-brainer to be dealt, didn't even move, and now he's a rather expensive utility piece on a team going nowhere.


  • Expensive, declining closers aren't a hot commodity this season. Perhaps the market has shifted?
  • WTF, Ruben Amaro?

June 27 -- Trade Rumor Analysis: Asdrubal Cabrera (by Charlie Adams)

Shortstops don't just grow on trees -- as much as it would be awesome for that to literally be the case -- and finding one with a decent offensive profile can be a struggle. Asdrubal Cabrera might not be that much of a defensive shortstop, but he's been one of the better offensive sixes in baseball over the last few years. With Francisco Lindor in house, there was the possibility that an out-of-contention Cleveland team could look to the future.

Neither of Charlie's two potential matches made a major move at the deadline. Both the Cardinals and the Reds stood pat. And that's probably not a bad thing. Cabrera posted an awful .253 wOBA in July and a worse .177 wOBA in August. Unbelievably, that would be a substantial upgrade over Pete Kozma for the Cardinals, and might even be an upgrade over Cozart in Cincy ... but not enough of one to justify the cost.

More importantly, the Indians have stayed at least in the conversation for a playoff slot, despite underperformance from Cabrera, Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher and Mark Reynolds. It doesn't make sense to deal away the only real ML option for shortstop when you're still playing for October.


  • Shortstops are expensive! Demand for these players is high, as you can see from extensions and trade returns.
  • Unexpected playoff contention means no deal

July 5 -- Trade Rumor Analysis: Ricky Nolasco (by Andrew Ball)

Mr. Ball pretty much annihilated this analysis ... though to be fair, this one was a little easier than some of the others. Nolasco was a pretty seamless fit for the Dodgers, who didn't look to have a problem adding salary in an attempt to shore up their rotation. The only real surprise here might have been the fact that this was a team that looked to be pretty solid, rotation-wise, before the season started.

Andrew also called that the Dodgers wouldn't give up a high-tier prospect in exchange for the right-hander, but I'm not sure that anyone expected the return for Nolasco would be quite so pedestrian. The Marlins wound up acquiring a trio of arms without very much projection.


  • The Marlins still would love to dump salary, and are still willing to take back indifferent returns in exchange for clearing their books.
  • The Dodgers have all the money.

July 7 -- Trade Rumor Analysis: Matt Garza (by Ken Woolums)

Matt Garza was, by and large, the most effective starter expected to be moved at the deadline. Sure enough, the facial-hair disaster hard-throwing righty wound up moving to Texas. Hooray! Someone actually got traded and Ken actually posited the Rangers as an option. Just look!

Texas always seems to need more pitching, but it may be hard for them to find reason to buy on starters.


The deal would also likely require the Rangers to part with Mike Olt or Leonys Martin.


Ken was right -- Garza did cost the Rangers Mike Olt, among others. I think this was a win ... and for future reference, it's impossible to have enough pitching depth. Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz were never able to come back as planned, and that left a sizeable hole.


  • Teams that are really looking to compete can never get enough quality starting pitching.
  • Mike Olt's prospect star really has fallen as a result of his 2013.
  • Matt Garza should not be allowed to use Twitter.

July 19 -- Trade Rumor Analysis: Bud Norris (by Mike Mulvenna)

Welp, Mike had five guesses as to where Bud Norris would land after being shipped out from the Astros -- and he missed on all of them. Am I surprised? Well, not really. The Orioles had already acquired Scott Feldman at this point, so it was tough to imagine that the team would be looking to add another starter. Meanwhile, the Giants and Blue Jays fell out of contention fast enough to make your head spin. Seriously, both those teams hit some rough times.

Like Mike intimated in his article, the return for Norris didn't include a top-end prospect. L.J. Hoes came back, as did John Hader, but perhaps the big ticket in this deal was the Orioles' Round A competitive balance pick. With a team that drafts as well as the Astros in possession of that pick, perhaps that actually *is* a top-end prospect in disguise.


  • The Orioles are committed to making the most out of their "improbable" playoff runs in 2012 and 2013.
  • The Astros could be terrifying in 2018.
  • The Astros are a different kind of terrifying in 2013.
  • Trying to predict the trade deadline is hard.

. . .

All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs, Baseball-Reference, and Baseball Prospectus.

Bryan Grosnick is the Managing Editor of Beyond The Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @bgrosnick.

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