AL Central at the Deadline

 

Faced with the choice of being a buyer or a seller this summer, the Twins chose… nothing.

The Twins started Saturday, the non-waiver trading deadline day, with a record of 50-57. Normally a team that was seven games under .500 would look to trade away high-priced veterans and build for the future. But due to weak divisional competition, the Twins were also only six games behind the Tigers – close enough that they were considering adding a relief pitcher to help them down the stretch. In the end, though, the Twins neither bought nor sold this July.

The passage of the deadline does not mean the Twins must stick with the same 25 players they have this season. They may still try to pursue a relief pitcher through the waiver process, or they could look to the farm system for help. They may also look to deal troubled pitcher Kevin Slowey, who has been the subject of many trade rumors this year. But for now, it appears that the Twins will not be involved in any significant trades, at least until the offseason.

The other teams in the Central Division did not stand still. Here’s a quick look at the moves they made.

The Tigers filled a major need with the acquisition of Doug Fister from Seattle. Detroit’s rotation had been screaming for another innings-eater to step in behind Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, and Fister can fill that role. The Tigers also acquired reliever David Pauley, and in return they shipped pitcher Charlie Furbush, outfielder Casper Wells, and infield prospect Francisco Martinez to the M’s. As happy as the Tigers must be to have landed a new starter for a reasonable price, Fister has to be twice as thrilled to be leaving the Mariners. Despite a very good 3.33 ERA, Fister owns a 3-12 record, thanks to the futile Seattle offense.

Cleveland saw Detroit acquire a starter and raised them an ace. In arguably the biggest deadline move in MLB, the Indians plucked fireballer Ubaldo Jimenez from the Rockies. The move gives some instant credibility to the Cleveland rotation this season. It also looks to benefit the Indians for years to come, as Jimenez is just 27 years old and under contract until 2014 (including two team option years).

A year ago at this time, Jimenez was enjoying the greatest pitching season (by far) in Rockie history, on his way to a 2.88 ERA and 214 Ks in 221 innings to go with a 19-8 record. This year, his ERA is way up (4.46) and he has allowed a lot more hits (8.6 per 9 innings as opposed to 6.7 last season), but the strikeout rate is still there. Look for Jimenez’s pitching numbers to get better now that he’s no longer stuck in the pitchers’ torture chamber that is Coors Field. Without a doubt, this is a major plus for Cleveland.

In return for Jimenez, the Indians did pay a hefty price in prospects. Colorado now owns the Indians’ top three pitching prospects: Alex White, Joe Gardner, and Drew Pomeranz. Of the three, Pomeranz is the most talented. He was picked fifth overall in the 2010 draft. Catching prospect Matt McBride was also sent to Colorado in the trade.

In addition to the Jimenez deal, the Indians shipped Orlando Cabrera to the Giants in return for power-hitting outfield prospect Thomas Neal. If recent trends hold, this is not good news for Cleveland, since Cabrera has been a sort of playoff good luck charm lately. He’s been to the playoffs six of the past seven seasons despite playing for seven different teams in that time, including a playoff-bound stint with the Twins in 2009. The Indians might have wanted to restock their farm system after the Jimenez deal, but the more superstitiuos Cleveland fans will no doubt be upset about this move.

Chicago didn’t make as much of a splash as the other contenders, but the White Sox did send starting pitcher Edwin Jackson and hitter Mark Teahen to the Blue Jays. In return they picked up relief pitcher Jason Frason and minor league pitcher Zach Stewart. Jackson is a talented but erratic starter, and the White Sox have had trouble deciding which five starters to use this season, so this move is an example of addition by subtraction for the Sox more than anything else. But Frasor should provide a boost to their ‘pen as well.

Kansas City was the only obvious seller in the division, but they didn’t make any Earth-shattering moves. The Royals did send infielder Mike Aviles to the Red Sox for a pair of minor leaguer: pitcher Kendal Volz and shortstop Yamaico Navarro. This move should have no effect whatsoever on the Central Division race this year, but it does bolster an already strong farm system that every year gives Royal fans hope for a bright future that never seems to arrive.

Topics: AL Central, Kevin Slowey, Orlando Cabrera

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