The first shall be last.
Nothing exemplifies baseball's frustrating and fascinating non-waiver trading season better than the fact that it began and ended with the same trade: Jake Peavy going from the Padres to the White Sox for a package that includes promising left-handers Clayton Richard and Aaron Poreda. When the deal was first announced in late May, it was the consummation of a long series of rumors that stretched back to the previous winter, but Peavy rejected that trade so he could stay in the National League and play for the only team he ever knew. When the summer trade winds began to swirl shortly thereafter, Peavy's name was nowhere to be found. In fact, he wasn't a part of any substantive rumors for two months. But as the deadline arrived, there was Peavy agreeing to take his Cy Young-winning arm and his still-healing ankle to the Windy City.
The Peavy trade was the last and most surprising deal of another busy trading season. Over the past two months, there were 30 trades involving 75 players and 27 teams. Some of those clubs fared better than others, most notably the past five World Series champions, all of whom made trades to bolster their chances at another title run. It's just further proof that for those teams who make competing for a ring an annual mission, past triumphs have no bearing on the desire to succeed in the present. In other words, greed is good.
It should go without saying that it could take years to fully understand whether these deals worked or not. But in the immediate aftermath of a busy deadline day, here's a quick look at the very early winners and losers.
BOSTON RED SOX
Added: Victor Martinez, Chris Duncan, Brian Anderson, Casey Kotchman
Traded: Julio Lugo, Argenis Diaz, Hunter Strickland, Mark Kotsay, Justin Masterson, Nick Hagadone, Bryan Price, Adam LaRoche
They addressed their most pressing need -- another bat -- while keeping their booming farm system largely intact. Their best young major league-ready pitchers (Clay Buchholz and Daniel Bard) and their top offensive prospect (Lars Anderson) are still in the system even after they landed Victor Martinez, a switch-hitting All-Star in the prime of his career who can play multiple positions and has a very affordable club option for next season. Martinez is batting .284/.368/.464 with 15 home runs and 67 RBIs, which should help a lineup that has suffered from the disappointing seasons of veterans like David Ortiz and Jason Varitek and slumps from Kevin Youkilis and Jason Bay. Manager Terry Francona will now have his hands full trying to massage the bruised egos of some of his veteran stars like Ortiz, Varitek and third baseman Mike Lowell, all of whom could lose at bats to Martinez, but that's a small price to pay to get back to the postseason and make a run at a third World Series title in six seasons. Perhaps even better, neither of their prime competitors (the Rays and Yankees) in the AL East made a similarly bold move to match.
Added: Cliff Lee, Ben Francisco
Traded: Lou Marson, Jason Donald, Jason Knapp, Carlos Carrasco
The Phillies made just one deal but they made it a big one. When the Phillies acquired Cliff Lee, the reigning AL Cy Young award winner, from the Indians on July 29, they had just finished a stretch where they won 19 of 22 games and pushed their lead in the NL East from one game to seven games. But despite the increased cushion in the division, the Phillies made the move with an eye on October. Lee didn't come cheap -- four of their top 10 prospects went to Cleveland in the deal -- but the Phillies still managed to keep arguably their four best prospects: pitchers J.A. Happ and Kyle Drabek, Dominic Brown and Michael Taylor. Their NL East rivals were unable to match, leaving a third straight division title for the Phils a matter of when, not if.
Added: Jarrod Washburn
Traded: Luke French, Mauricio Robles
The Tigers have been in first place since mid-May, but they've struggled to break free of the Twins and White Sox. With 20-year-old phenom Rick Porcello hitting something of a wall, the Tigers suddenly had a pronounced need for a veteran starting pitcher to help get them back to the postseason for the first time in three years. They found just the guy in lefty Jarrod Washburn. He's been very good all year, with an 8-6 record and 2.64 ERA, but spectacular of late, going 4-0 with a 0.74 ERA over his past five starts. He's a free agent at year's end, but he didn't cost much -- two young lefties, one at the major league level, one at Class A went back to the Mariners in the deal -- and he gives the Tigers some balance in the rotation and a playoff-ready top three that also includes Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson.
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Added: Julio Lugo, Matt Holliday
Traded: Chris Duncan, Brett Wallace, Clay Mortensen, Shane Peterson, player to be named
Lugo is a proven veteran, but the deadline is a success because of the other bat the Cardinals added. Matt Holliday, a three-time All-Star, will provide the added offensive boost that the Cardinals had been desperately seeking while simultaneously easing the burden on Albert Pujols. In his first seven games in St. Louis, Holliday batted .520/.606/.840 and the Cardinals have scored 38 runs, compared to 34 in their 10 games immediately preceding the trade. Brett Wallace is a legit prospect, but he wasn't going to aid a playoff push this season. Holliday, on the other hand, is already doing his part in St. Louis to keep the Cardinals neck-and-neck with the Cubs in the NL Central.
CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Added: Mark Kotsay, Jake Peavy
Traded: Brian Anderson, Clayton Richard, Adam Russell, Aaron Poreda, Dexter Carter
Before the Peavy deal was announced, the White Sox were clearly in the losers category. Their only other deal was to get oft-injured Mark Kotsay from the Red Sox for Brian Anderson, who had demanded a trade. At literally the last second, though, they upgraded their pitching staff and their chances at repeating as AL Central champions by landing Peavy. There are several question marks, however, chief among them Peavy's health. He hasn't pitched since June 8 and has been on the disabled list with a damaged tendon in his ankle. Just a few weeks ago, it was still unclear whether Peavy would be able to pitch at all this season, but the White Sox are banking on him being ready by late August or early September to aid their postseason push. He needs to not only pitch but pitch well to help justify what is a sizable investment by the White Sox: four players, including top prospect Aaron Poreda, and $48 million over the remaining three guaranteed years on his contract.
They're loaded with talented young players like Neftali Feliz, Derek Holland, Justin Smoak and Martin Perez and they have had financial constraints, but it's difficult to understand how they could sit just 1½ games out of the wild card and three games out in the AL West and not make a deal, especially when they haven't been to the playoffs in 10 years and have never advanced past the Division Series. They're one of just three teams to have not made any trades in the past two months, but if there's a silver lining it's that one of the other two is the Angels, whom Texas is trying to catch in the West. The starting pitching remains shaky, but if Josh Hamilton returns to form, they'll have essentially gotten another bat that they haven't had to this point.
Added: Cla Meredith, Josh Bell, Steve Johnson
Traded: Oscar Salazar, George Sherrill
Orioles president Andy MacPhail had vowed that his team would not be a farm system for anyone else, but they may not have done enough at this deadline to help themselves for the future. Sherrill brought back a decent pair, third baseman Josh Bell and pitcher Steve Johnson, both of whom should start learning the Oriole Way at Double-A. But with a handful of other players who could have been traded to accelerate their building program that has begun already with players like Nick Markakis, Matt Wieters and Adam Jones, it's a little surprising that they only made one trade to strengthen their farm system.
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Added: Freddy Sanchez, Ryan Garko
Traded: Tim Alderson, Scott Barnes
Their punchless offense ranks last or next-to-last in the NL in home runs, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. In other words, it needed severe help, and while the Giants did get Pirates All-Star second baseman Freddy Sanchez and Indians first baseman Ryan Garko, neither looks like a true difference-maker. Sanchez hasn't even played since he was traded a few days ago because of a sore knee and Garko has gotten off to a slow start with just one hit in his first 12 at-bats. Garko hit just 14 home runs a year ago, and Sanchez has hit just 37 homers total over the past five years. He's a career .300 hitter, but his .336 OBP and .421 slugging percentage are underwhelming. His defense is a plus, as is the fact that he has a club option for next year, but he's not going to help solve their biggest weakness. In addition, they dealt Tim Alderson, one of their most highly-touted pitching prospects to get Sanchez.
Added: Tim Alderson, Ronny Cedeno, Jeff Clement, Aaron Pribanic, Brett Lorin, Nathan Adcock, Charlie Morton, Gorkys Hernandez, Jeff Locke, Casey Erickson, Eric Fryer, Lastings Milledge, Joel Hanrahan, Argenis Diaz, Hunter Strickland, Kevin Hart, Jose Ascaio
Traded: Freddy Sanchez, Jack Wilson, Ian Snell, Eric Hinske, Nate McLouth, Nyjer Morgan, Sean Burnett, Adam LaRoche, John Grabow, Tom Gorzelanny
After seven trades that gutted their 25-man roster and landed nearly 20 -- 20! -- players in return, most of them young prospects, it's clear that the Pirates are starting over in a way they've never fully committed to throughout their 16 previous losing seasons. They were just six games out in the NL Central when the fire sale began, and now they've conceded any chance at competing not only this year but for the foreseeable future as well. The series of trades have given a boost to their farm system, especially in the pitching department, and there is talent on the way to Pittsburgh, most notably Alderson and Jeff Clement, a former No. 3 pick in the draft. But few if any of the prospects they've received are considered top-tier guys and many are years away from the majors. For instance, the three pitchers they received from the Marines -- Aaron Pribanic, Brett Lorin and Nathan Adcock -- are all at A ball. Perhaps the Pirates could flip some of their new acquisitions in future deals, but as always, their future remains uncertain.
Added: Felipe Lopez, Claudio Vargas
Traded: Roque Mercedes, Cole Gillespie
This last spot could just as easily have gone to any number of teams, but the Brewers are the choice because they pulled off the biggest deal of the year last season by getting CC Sabathia and because general manager Doug Melvin had been looking to make another big deal this year but couldn't pull it off. They've managed to hang around in the NL Central, trailing the Cubs by four games, but with just a .500 record they need to do something to get back to the postseason. The most glaring area is starting pitching; the Brewers have the worst ERA among starters in the National League. Newly-acquired Claudio Vargas won't help in that department as he's more likely to pitch in the bullpen.