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Trade deadline reshapes AL Central for the rest of 2015 and beyond

Buyers, sellers, a team that did nothing... The AL Central looks different than it did a week ago.

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The last week was quite possibly the busiest ever for baseball trades, with dozens of deals moving over one hundred players from one team to another. The AL Central had at least its fair share of the action, with a pair of buyers, a pair of sellers, and one team that somewhat bafflingly wound up doing nothing.

Let's take a look at each team's moves from the last week, and what impact they might be expected to have for the rest of 2015, and for 2016 and beyond.

Kansas City Royals

  • Acquired RHP Johnny Cueto from Reds for LHP Brandon Finnegan, LHP John Lamb, and LHP Cody Reed
  • Acquired INF/OF Ben Zobrist from Athletics for LHP Sean Manaea and RHP Aaron Brooks
  • Trade RHP Joe Blanton to Pirates for cash considerations
For 2015: The Royals currently have the best record in the American League, and are in line to have home-field advantage for as long as they go in the postseason. They were one victory short of winning the World Series last year, and clearly want another crack at it. They acquired arguably the best pitcher available, and a strong hitter who can play second base or a corner outfield spot, both of which are needs for Kansas City right now.

For Beyond: In going for it this season, the Royals put a huge dent in their farm system. Many considered Finnegan and Manaea their two best prospects, and there are scouts who liked some of the other guys they moved to eventually be a part of the rotation as well. For a team without very good starting pitching on the MLB team right now, and a team unlikely to hand out a $150 million contract to one of the big free agent arms, they've hurt their chances of being competitive beyond this season.

The Verdict: While there's a good chance the Royals are worse from 2016 to 2018 because of these moves, I think they were absolutely the right thing to do. The future is promised to no one, and the Royals have put themselves in at least as good a position as any other team in baseball to reach the World Series this October.

Minnesota Twins

  • Acquired RHP Kevin Jepsen from Rays for RHP Chih-Wei Hu and RHP Alexis Tapia
For 2015: Jepsen is a decent reliever, but he doesn't move the needle much.

For Beyond: Neither of the prospects they gave up were ranked among their top 30 by Baseball America, so there's a pretty low chance this ever comes back to bite them.

The Verdict: The Twins were in something of a strange position, because with two months left in the season, they're holding one of the two AL Wild Card spots, but they have a losing record since the end of May, and have been really bad since the All-Star break. I don't think they're going to hold onto that Wild Card spot, which could be taken to mean they should have been bigger buyers, but I don't think anyone but the very best available players would have made a big enough difference for them to hold off all the other contenders for that postseason spot. They were wise not to sell the future.

Detroit Tigers

  • Acquired SS JaCoby Jones from Pirates for RHP Joakim Soria
  • Acquired LHP Daniel Norris, LHP Matt Boyd and LHP Jairo Labourt from Blue Jays for  LHP David Price
  • Acquired RHP Michael Fulmer and RHP Luis Cessa from Mets for OF Yoenis Cespedes
For 2015: It's been a long time since the Tigers were sellers. Given that they are only 3.5 games out of a Wild Card spot, there was a reasonable chance they would have made the postseason, but that chance is a lot smaller now.

For Beyond: The farm system had gotten awfully thin, and suddenly there are five more pitchers there, including Norris, who'll be part of the rotation in 2016 and is viewed by many scouts as a future #1 or 2 starter.

The Verdict: While I'd love to laugh at the Tigers for spending so much money and then being so mediocre, I would have much preferred they imagined themselves as strong contenders, and held on to everyone. An old, expensive roster and a barren farm system would have been a great formula for becoming non-contenders for 3 or 4 years. They'll now find it much easier to reload.

Cleveland Indians

  • Acquired SS Eric Stamets from Angels for OF David Murphy
  • Acquired LHP Rob Kaminsky from Cardinals for 1B/OF Brandon Moss
  • Acquired OF Abraham Almonte from Padres for LHP Marc Rzepczynski
For 2015: The Indians are now short a bat in their quest to get back to .500 for the first time since they were 2-2, it isn't much of a bat though, and even if the Indians lose an extra game or two this year because of these moves, the most likely impact of those extra losses would be picking one or two spots higher in next year's draft.

For Beyond: None of the three guys the Indians moved were a big part of the team's future, and these trades do very little to hurt their chances in 2016, especially when you factor in the money they'll now have to spend this offseason. Meanwhile, Kaminsky immediately becomes one of the 3 or 4 best prospects in the farm system, improving the chances that the starting rotation is really good come 2017.

The Verdict: Murphy and Rzepczynski's departures clear up roster spots and playing time for other guys the team needs to get a better sense of between now and the end of the season. Moss' departure frees up money to acquire someone who can likely help the team as much as he would have in 2016, while also giving them a nice pitching prospect.

Chicago White Sox

  • Did nothing
For 2015: Nothing changes.

For Beyond: Nothing changes.

The Verdict: I understand that the White Sox were in sort of a no man's land (due to having made a late run into the edge of contention in the days leading up to the deadline), but I think it was a mistake on their part to freeze like deer in the headlights. They were in discussions about adding Cespedes or Upton to upgrade their lineup and make a push for the postseason. Only days before that they were reportedly shopping a number of their players, including Jeff Samardzija, who'll be a free agent. They decided not to punt their slim postseason chances in exchange for prospects, but also didn't do anything to help their chances, and will likely finish the season a little below .500, with nothing but a compensation pick to show for it.


How do you think these moves collectively impact the Tribe's chances of making it to the postseason in 2016 or 2017?