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Arizona Diamondbacks: Keeping Robbie Ray
The Arizona Diamondbacks played the deadline as well as any .500-ish team could have. Mainly through their trade of Zack Greinke, they set themselves up for the future without blowing up their present.
This leaves us little choice but to pick nits, but we’re thinking Robbie Ray also should have exited Arizona on deadline day.
Ray is under the D-backs’ control through 2020, and he’s been a strikeout machine with an 11.8 K/9 since 2016. But since his 3.95 ERA in that span marks him as more of a mid-rotation starter than an ace, the Snakes might have been better off capitalizing off interest from the Yankees, Astros and Brewers (per Heyman) than they were in keeping him.
Colorado Rockies: Trading Mike Tauchman
Just as it was in 2018, offense has been the Rockies’ biggest weakness in 2019. They simply haven’t had enough depth around Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, Trevor Story and David Dahl.
In light of the .915 OPS that Mike Tauchman has compiled with the Yankees since joining the team in a March trade, it’s hard not to wonder if he might have made a difference if he’d stayed with the Rockies. Perhaps they too quickly disregarded the .959 OPS he put up at Triple-A Albuquerque in 2017 and 2018.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Neglecting Their Bullpen
With an 82-44 record and a plus-210 run differential, the Los Angeles Dodgers have two strong claims to the honor of baseball’s best team. And they generally look terrific on a daily basis.
So long, of course, as you don’t focus on their bullpen. Its 4.18 ERA isn’t terrible, but it’s no accident that it has drastically damaged the club’s overall win probability. There isn’t much depth underneath veteran closer Kenley Jansen, and even he’s struggled this season.
Despite all this, the Dodgers’ solution at the deadline was to trade for lefty specialist Adam Kolarek. To repeat a familiar refrain, such a disappointing haul may not be a problem now, but it could be a big one in October.
San Diego Padres: Keeping Kirby Yates
It was never likely that the San Diego Padres would contend this season, so it’s good enough that Manny Machado hasn’t been a disaster and that Fernando Tatis Jr. and Chris Paddack have blossomed into stars.
The Padres also added a big piece to their already sizable cache of young talent in the Bauer trade, which netted them well-regarded outfielder Taylor Trammell. Next to everything else they already have in place, 2019 should prove to be a key step toward legit contention.
Still, it’s fair to ask if the Padres should have traded ace closer Kirby Yates. He’ll still be around next season, but his 1.02 ERA and 8.0 strikeout-to-walk ratio as of deadline day elevated his value to a level it isn’t likely to see again.
San Francisco Giants: Keeping Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith
The San Francisco Giants were better than the sum of their parts even earlier in the year, and then they planted themselves in the NL wild-card race with a 17-3 run between June 30 and July 23.
Even then, however, the Giants were facing overwhelmingly long odds of making the postseason and practically impossible odds of winning the World Series. Throw in the less-than-awesome state of their farm system, and they had real reasons to sell Madison Bumgarner, Will Smith and others.
Ultimately, “others” went, while Bumgarner and Smith stayed put. The Giants have naturally cooled with an 11-12 record that puts them on track for a future in which they miss out on the postseason and potentially lose both pitchers to free agency.