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Big League Stew

The 10 best makeovers of the 2012 trading season: Los Angeles squads lead the way

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

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The Angels swung a deal for Zack Greinke last Friday. (US Presswire)

Major league clubs were busy in the weeks leading up to Tuesday afternoon's trading deadline and each move was ostensibly made to improve each team involved — whether it be for this season or future ones. But which contending teams made the biggest swaps for the races ahead? Here's our take on which moves will have the biggest impact.

1. Zack Greinke traded to Angels: Starting pitching is the name of the game when it comes to postseason play and the Halos went out and got the best starting pitcher on the market. It took a pretty penny to pry Greinke from the Brewers — top prospect and shortstop Jean Segura plus two other top 20 prospects were sent to Wisconsin — but it gives the Angels the best rotation of any American League contender. In addition to buying some insurance for the underwhelming performances of Dan Haren and Ervin Santana, it also strengthens Los Angeles in an area where the rival Texas Rangers are struggling. That's huge in a race where second-place is only guaranteed a play-in game that will largely be determined by the strength of that day's starter.  

2. Dodgers land Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino and Brandon League in three different deals: This had to be a fun week for Dodger fans. While George Sherrill was their big deadline "get" the last time they were in playoff contention in 2009, the team's new ownership ponied up for the big infield piece they needed in Hanley Ramirez and added Victorino to Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier in the outfield. Ned Colletti's failure to add a starter ranks as a disappointment but the lineup clearly needed a boost. Plus there's still time to make a notable waiver trade in August.

3. Rangers acquire Ryan Dempster from Cubs: Dempster's aversion to being traded to Atlanta was Texas GM Jon Daniels' gain. While it remains to be seen how Dempster will fare on the first American League team of his 15-year career — he has a 4.63 ERA in 50 career interleague games — his holdout on the Braves deal allowed the Rangers time to provide an answer for the Angels' acquisition of Greinke as well as the season-ending injuries to Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz. Dempster may not be the No. 1 ir No. 2 pitcher the Rangers really need, but at least he didn't end up with wearing a Braves, Dodgers or Yankees uniform.

[Related: Tim Brown: Rangers win three-team chase to land Cubs' Dempster]

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(US Presswire)

4. Hunter Pence to the Giants: One year after trading one of their top pitching prospects for a few months of Carlos Beltran, the Giants decided to go after an outfielder who'd be more than a mere rental. Pence may not be quite as talented as Beltran, but he's under team control through 2013 and gives San Francisco's offense more pop than it started Tuesday with.

5. Pittsburgh trades for Wandy Rodriguez: Give Pirates GM Neal Huntington some credit because he's used the past week to improve this team for both this season and the years beyond without dipping into the team's top level of prospects. Rodriguez has always pitched above league average and gives this year's rotation the depth it was looking for. The deal also gives them Rodriguez's services through 2014 at a cut-rate price — thanks to the Astros they're on the hook for about $17 million of the $30 million that he's still owed.

6. Tigers nab Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante from Marlins for Jacob Turner: Ever since he plunked down major pepperoni to sign Prince Fielder, Detroit owner Mike Ilitch has been all about winning now. Giving up the team's top pitching prospect in Turner continues with that theme, but at least GM Dave Dombrowski filled two major needs with the trade. Sanchez, however, will need to pitch a lot better for this deal to have an impact — the righthander allowed five runs and three homers in a loss to Toronto in his Tigers debut last Saturday.

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7.  Pirates give Travis Snider and Gaby Sanchez fresh starts: As mentioned in the Rodriguez item, the Pirates really did some bargain shopping this month. But that can really pay some dividends. Both Snider and Sanchez had fallen out of favor with each of their previous teams (Blue Jays and Marlins) and were serving as the very definition of a "change of scenery" player. The Pirates' surrender of Brad Lincoln and Gorkys Hernandez was more than a fair price to roll the dice on two young players who could still play a key role in the team's future.

8.  Jonathan Broxton joins an already-stacked Reds bullpen: Cincinnati went ahead and addressed the least of their needs, adding the Kansas City closer to a bullpen that already leads the majors with a 2.66 ERA. But if you're a strong believer in never having too much of a good thing, it's a solid move.

9.  Francisco Liriano and Brett Myers to White Sox: Kenny Williams is usually a lot more active around the trading deadline, but his big move came when he gave Kevin Youkilis a new home back in June. Liriano and Myers are depth pickups for a pitching staff dealing with questions about Chris Sale's workload, John Danks' out-for-the-season status and Philip Humber's insistence on not being any good since pitching his perfecto. Nothing to write home about, but nothing to complain about either.

10. Ichiro to the Yankees: Rewind the clock a few years and this would be the only trade that anyone would be talking about. As it is now, the Japanese superstar is what he is: An aging veteran pickup the Yankees are hoping to mine for remaining talent and use for outfield depth. All of that said, it'll be great to see him in the playoffs after an 11-year absence.

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