The Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners swung two deals respectively (one with each other) in order to shore up areas of need moving down the stretch. Obviously, both teams are in different places in terms of the pennant race. The Blue Jays are still holding onto hope that they can sneak into one of the two wild card openings while the Mariners are ready to prepare for next season. Both teams made significant progress towards those goals.
The two started off with each other. The Mariners sent Steve Delabar to the Blue Jays in exchange for Eric Thames. This is one of those old-fashioned deals where a team sends someone they don’t really want or need to another team to get something they do need. The Blue Jays have been desperate for arms to help them get through the grueling days of summer. Delabar is hardly a shut down reliever, but he has been solid this season for the Mariners. He has a 4.17 ERA despite some very strong strikeout to walk numbers.
The crux of his problem has been the home run ball. Of the 23 hits he has surrendered this season, nine of them have been home runs. The Blue Jays are hoping the small sample size has skewed the results on that. Delabar has fanned 11.3 hitters per nine innings, so he has a nice live arm and should fit well into the Blue Jays’ middle relief.
Eric Thames goes from the Blue Jays to the Mariners. He had a very promising 2011 trial in the final few months. He hit 12 home runs and appeared to have locked down the left field job for the Blue Jays. 2012 has been a struggle for Thames as his lack of plate discipline (40 Ks in 160 PA) has caught up with him. Still, he is only 25 years old and more than capable of being a productive corner outfielder. Goodness knows, the Mariners need productive outfielders after dealing away Ichiro Suzuki and having a revolving door in left field for several years.
The two teams made separate deals to add to their pitching and outfield depth respectively. The Blue Jays dealt left fielder Travis Snider to the Pirates in exchange for Brad Lincoln. The 27 year old Lincoln has been a swing man for the Pirates in his short career. He started five games this season, but really has made a name for himself in the bullpen. In 59.1 innings he managed a 2.73 ERA. The Blue Jays have already announced that he would be added to their pen. When you add up Lincoln, Delabar, Brandon Lyon, and David Carpenter you get quite an infusion of arms to the pen.
As for the Pirates, they have had the same issues as the Mariners in terms of outfielders. Andrew McCutchen may very well be the MVP of the National League in center field, but right and left field have been black holes. Snider is 24 years old, but seems like he should be older than that. He has been up since 2008, but has never been able to stick. He’s off to strong start this season, but his best year came in 2010 when he hit 14 home runs in more than 300 plate appearances.
He may not be the answer for the Pirates in left field, but he does give Clint Hurdle more options as the Pirates try to keep in the playoff hunt. Hurdle has been juggling Alex Presley, Jose Tabata, Starling Marte, and a host of others up until this point. The Pirates are still trying to land a more substantial outfielder, but Snider will certainly help in terms of depth.
The Mariners traded former closer Brandon League to the Dodgers in exchange for Leon Landry and Logan Bawcom. Landry is only in advanced A, but he is showing some promise with the bat. He has a .917 OPS in the California League and has shown impressive speed as well. Bawcom is a promising young pitcher who could replace League within a year. He’s split time between AA and advanced A this season and combined to have a 2.03 ERA and 20 saves.
As for the Dodgers, League is the second significant relief pitcher they have acquired in the last week (Randy Choate). League has a 3.63 ERA and nine saves this season, but that was seen as a disappointment following his 37 save season in 2011. Still, this year approximates his career performance, so the Dodgers are getting a solid 7th to 8th inning reliever. When you include Choate you see a much deeper bullpen than they had even a week ago. Both the Cardinals and the Rangers showed the importance of bullpen depth last season and the Dodgers appear to be ready for that kind of series.