MLB’s Top Five Mid-Season Acquisitions of 2012
MLB’s Top Five Most Valuable Mid-Season Acquisitions of 2012
Historically, the MLB mid-season acquisition period was usually an underutilized tool that waged very little impact on a team’s year-end performance. Trade deadline dealings usually consisted of mediocre players swapping out for young prospects and waiver wire acquisitions were met with little realistic offerings. It was a time of self-imposed trade freezes and stagnant roster movement. Not so much anymore.
In a year bustling with trade rumors, mid-season swap meets and one historic 10-man waiver wire claim, we have reached a new heyday in trade-friendly baseball. And we couldn’t be happier about it.
The biggest mid-season trade scenario came to fruition on Aug. 24, when the Boston Red Sox reached a deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers that sent an All-Star cast to the west coast that included Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Nick Punto and Carl Crawford. Unfortunately, the best trades on paper don’t always work out. The Dodgers fell in the NL-West standings significantly and are on the cusp of dropping out of the playoffs altogether. Serendipitously, those that made little waves in the national market, pay off ten fold in the months that follow. The San Francisco Giants traded for Marco Scutaro, a middle-of-the-road player with little upside. Just a position filler. We now know that some things just can’t be explained.
Let’s take a look at which acquisitions panned out, as opposed to those that floundered by the wayside.
5. Jonathan Broxton, CIN
The Cincinatti Reds acquired relief pitcher Jonathan Broxton from the Royals during the mid-season trade deadline, and its panned out. The move has shored up one of the league’s best bullpens.
At first, the Reds trading for Broxton made little to no sense. Cincinnati already had a flame-throwing closer in the bullpen. His name is Aroldis Chapman and he’s one of the best in the game. Luckily, Reds manager Dusty Baker had something up his sleeve, moving Broxton to a 7th and 8th inning specialist.
Since then, Broxton is eight-for-nine on holds and has even closed four games during Chapman’s absence. During his short tenure with the team, he has garnered a 2.37 ERA with a nasty .95 WHIP. His presence in the bullpen and veteran leadership might be just what the Reds need as they make their push to end a decades-long World Series draught.
4. Adrian Gonzalez, LAD
This pick might be leaving you scratching your head. But I still maintain that Adrian Gonzalez is and will be one of the best acquisitions of the season.
Gonzalez has only been a shell of himself since he came over from the Boston Red Sox in one of the season’s biggest blockbuster trades in league history. He’s struggling with at the plate, starting a sluggish .255/.308/.427 slash line in 27 games. fourth highest OPS since his late-August acquisition and has a sluggish start with a .255/.308/.427 slash line in 27 games. But change usually affects ball players. Just look at Albert Pujols’ resurrection from overrated to power slugging machine in a tale of two halves this season. Or Manny Ramirez’s appearance first few months in a Dodgers’ jersey.
Gonzalez will be a huge factor for the Dodgers in the coming years. Especially when you factor in the talent that surrounds him (Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, Shane Victorino, etc.). He’s already shown signs of his former self. With runners in scoring position, Gonzalez is hitting .333, third-highest in the league since his move to the Dodgers. And why just two days ago, he hit two solo home runs to notch a 5-3 win over the Reds to keep hope alive in their fight for the second spot in the NL wild card race.
The Dodgers will soon be reaping the benefits of their high-priced acquisition. They just have to wait until next year to see its full results.
3. Gaby Sanchez, PIT
While not a household name, Gaby Sanchez has slowly crept into the spotlight in Pittsburgh since coming over from the Miami Marlins during the summer trade deadline. In 45 games, the Pirates slugger has accumulated a solid .272 average with a .352 on-base percentage and a .347 slugging percentage. He’s also tallied 17 runs and 12 RBIs, both second best amongst his teammates since his acquisition.
Unfortunately, the Pirates have dropped out of playoff contention, ending one of MLB’s terrific Cinderella stories. Meanwhile, Sanchez’s statistical value has become a moot point. Even though the 29-year-old first-baseman has put together a solid September, going 14-for-49 (.289) with a meaty .510 slugging percentage.
Sanchez is only a one-year rental and will, most likely, hit free agency this year for a higher salary. If the Pirates can retain him, it would be a wise move. He’s hit 19 home runs in each of the previous two seasons and still has the bat speed and impact on a game then he did in his All-Star-caliber season with the Marlins.
2. Ichiro Suzuki, NYY
The New York Yankees stirred the baseball world when they traded for long-time Mariner Ichiro Suzuki right before the mid-season trade deadline. And it payed off with huge dividends.
Ichiro started out the year as one of the fading greats in the game of baseball. The Mariners were ready to cut their expensive, future Hall-of-Famer loose after a pedestrian .261/.288/.353 start to the year.
It turned out, the Ichiro just needed a change of scenery. The 28-year-old speedster has put up spectacular numbers in a Yankees uniform, nothing a .328/.352/.478 slash line with five home runs, 23 RBIs and 12 stolen bases in 58 games. This week, Ichiro was honored AL Player of the Week, going 15-for-25 with two home runs, five RBIs and seven runs in the New York Yankees’ latest home stand.
Suzuki is on the last year of his contract, but all signs point to him staying around for at least another year. And with big bats cluttered all around him, his offensive numbers could continue to soar.
1. Marco Scutaro, SFG
Marco Scutaro is arguably the best mid-season acquisition in the majors this year. Since his transition to the San Francisco Giants, the 36-year-old second baseman has established himself as one of the best middle infielders in the game.
“He’s definitely up there. If he’s not the best, he’s amongst the top two,” first baseman Brandon Belt said. “It seems like he doesn’t ever get out. He’s even better when he has two strikes on him, which is awesome.”
It’s no easy feat to remake yourself on a whole new ball club. Just ask Adrian Gonzalez. Or Josh Beckett. Or basically anyone who was acquired from the Dodgers this year.
But Scutaro has laid to rest any question marks the Giants may have had about him. Onlookers can only marvel at his flat swing through the strike zone. He’s compiled a team-best 78 hits for the team, hitting safely in 44 of his 53 games with the Giants. He’s also mustered a terrific .361/.385/.458 slash line with a career-high 68 RBIs. Not only is he a statistical outlier, but provides San Francisco with reliable defense, timely hitting and mentors the younger teammates in the art of hitting, which in 11 years, he has since mastered. All at a reasonable price of $2.1 million in the final year of his contract.