Thursday marked the annual MLB non-waiver trade deadline, where teams can trade players without them having to go through waivers. If you woke up expecting a low, uninteresting trade day, I think you were shocked and pleasantly surprised at what had happened by 4 P.M. Eastern time. Contenders had stocked up on arms they so desperately needed (or in some cases added to their stocked artillery).
The morning started off with a blockbuster deal between the Boston Red Sox and Oakland A's. The Red Sox sent hurler Jon Lester and infielder Jonny Gomes to the A's for stud outfielder (and back to back Home Run Derby champion) Yoenis Cespedes. Lester, with the recently acquired Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, shore up one of baseball's already best rotations. If you think the Red Sox got nothing in return, you don't know Yoenis. A pull power hitter who will fit in well with the small dimensions of Fenway Park. And have I mentioned his arm? One of the most lethal in the game, and I don't mean pitching. Yoenis can throw out runners with the best of them, and he did his work in spacious O.co Coliseum... imagine that in Fenway.
More arms were dealt between the St. Louis Cardinals and, yes, the Red Sox. (In case you had forgotten, the Cards and Sox played each other in last year's World Series) St. Louis sent utility man Allen Craig and pitcher Joe Kelly to Boston for pitcher John Lackey and minor league prospect Corey Littrell. The Cards got another proven front line starter in Lackey, and the Red Sox again traded for a future in Craig (who you will remember in a losing effort from the '13 World Series) and Allen Craig who can play any outfield position and first base, something any manager loves.
Along this deadline, there were many incremental deals: such as Jarred Cosart formerly of the Astros going to the Marlins, the Nationals acquiring talented shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera from the Indians, the Orioles getting reliever Andrew Miller from the Red Sox, and a few others. We will get to the Yankees... right now
The Yankees made a couple solid incremental moves, trading much maligned infielder Kelly Johnson to the Red Sox (I've mentioned them a lot, they were active on Thursday) for another infielder, Stephen Drew. They also traded minor league catcher Peter O'Brien to the D-Backs for utility player (and I mean that in every sense of the word) Martin Prado. While Drew is expected to play 2B (Brian Roberts was also designated for assignment), Prado is expected to play the OF although he can really play any position except pitch and catch.
Right before the 4 P.M. Eastern deadline, the Mariners Tigers and Rays dropped the "BOOM" trade of the day. In the 3-team deal, the Mariners acquired CF Austin Jackson, the Rays acquired 2B Nick Franklin, P Drew Smyly, and INF prospect Willy Adames, and the Tigers got ace pitcher David Price. Price was drafted by the Rays in 2007 and had been their ace right from the start (which includes a 2008 World Series appearance, among other accolades and honors). With a rotation of Price, Max Scherzer and of course Justin Verlander, they along with Oakland are expected to compete for the American League pennant.
When the dust settles and everyone takes stock of this years trades and deals, one thing you have to take note of: in an era where bats and home runs are everything, pitching is still the end all and beat all to a baseball team's success.