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Winners, losers and tweeners from trade deadline

Jeff Passan
Yahoo Sports

After 31 trades – 32 if you count the Mets' Omar Quintanilla-to-the-Orioles-for-cash blockbuster, which I happen to consider a sale, or maybe performance art – the July 31 trade deadline has passed. That means we now get to spend all of August wondering who's going to go before the actual deadline. Baseball is so confusing.

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Travis Snider (far right) scored on a Neil Walker grand slam Tuesday. (AP)

Anyway, the masses want a quick-and-dirty dissection of the action, and being a man of the people, I got winners and losers. (And, yes, tweeners, because sometimes everything isn't so black and white, especially when you're trying to evaluate almost 50 players who haven't spent a minute in a major-league uniform, so please allow a little gray. One shade is plenty).

And while there is no overwhelming winner, no stand-out-from-the-pack kings of fleece, what the …

1. Pittsburgh Pirates did earned them the first spot here. (Let's get this out of the way now: This is in no particular order. This column meanders among winners and losers and tweeners. Look for the capital letters to see what your team of choice did.) The Pirates are WINNERS as much for moves that could benefit them in the future as this year. Did they overpay for Wandy Rodriguez? Sure, especially considering his salary going forward. But he's an upgrade, and the Pirates believe they can make the playoffs, so they needed one of those. The deals for Travis Snider and Gaby Sanchez, however, are the epitome of buy low. Both are talented. Both needed changes of scenery. Both were afforded such a thing by GM Neal Huntington, whose deft maneuvering made up for last year, when the Pirates bought at the deadline and cratered. Much as the …

2. New York Mets have since the All-Star break. The Mets were a great story in the first half. They are now three games under .500. Which makes their insistence on holding onto veteran Scott Hairston absolutely maddening when a) there was a fairly robust market for him, b) he's a free agent after the season and c) smart people run the Mets. Trading Hairston would not be seen as giving up; it would be seen as a prudent business decision. When the entirety of your summer trading season consists of being the team that benefitted from the sale of Omar Quintanilla, the most important American transaction since the Louisiana Purchase (or maybe the Peppermint Patty I bought a few weeks ago) you earn that LOSERS tag well enough that it should be written in Comic Sans. Across town, the …

3. New York Yankees get a big, fat LOSERS stamp, too, for preparing to enter the postseason shorthanded in the rotation once again. CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda are fine, and maybe Andy Pettitte gets healthy soon, and the bullpen is effective and everything, but the Yankees could've used Ryan Dempster, and he was theirs for a deal just a little better than what the …

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Ryan Dempster (US Presswire)

4. Texas Rangers, last year's runaway best and WINNERS this year as well, ultimately offered. About five minutes before the deadline, the Rangers struck a deal to acquire the best pitcher left on the market, Dempster, a necessity considering the frailty of their current rotation. Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz? Out for the year. Matt Harrison? Not a No. 1. Yu Darvish? No idea how he'll hold up in his first season here. Derek Holland? Inconsistent. Scott Feldman? Alexi Ogando? Roy Oswalt? Martin Perez? Justin Grimm? The Rangers know they need another starter. Maybe Cliff Lee once he clears waivers and the Phillies understand they have to eat money to deal him? Perhaps Josh Beckett, should he find whatever's missing from his arm? Certainly the …

[Tim Brown: Dempster chase came down to Rangers, Yankees and Dodgers]

5. Boston Red Sox would like to dump him despite what management is saying publicly. The suits still blame much of the clubhouse's toxicity on Beckett, and that's tolerable if he's pitching well. He isn't. So they held onto him, and the underperforming Jon Lester (for whom both Atlanta and Texas made unsuccessful plays), and, well, everyone except Kevin Youkilis, Matt Albers and Scott Podsednik. And for the return they received – Craig Breslow, Zach Stewart and Jose De La Torre – the Red Sox are ever-so-slight LOSERS. About five weeks after the Youkilis dump, he's sporting an adjusted OPS 23 percent above league average, of which the …

6. Chicago White Sox are happy beneficiaries. They're also distinct WINNERS, among the game's biggest. They snagged Youkilis, Francisco Liriano and Brett Myers for next to nothing. No impact talent. Hell, the Red Sox paid Chicago $5.5 million of the near $8 million remaining on Youkilis' deal. The White Sox find themselves in first place and have a much better chance of staying there with those three than they would have otherwise. And so the …

[MLB Full Count: Watch live look-ins and highlights for free all season long]

7. Detroit Tigers felt compelled to make perhaps the starkest short-term move of any team, trading for free-agent-to-be Anibal Sanchez and infielder Omar Infante. Because they yielded Jacob Turner and Rob Brantly, a pitcher and catcher who should play together and play well together for a long time, it would be wrong to deem the Tigers anything more than TWEENERS; this is one of those trades best analyzed in a few years, when we know how Sanchez fared and whether Turner's arm held up and if the …

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Carlos Lee is still around. (US Presswire)

8. Miami Marlins' overhaul actually worked. Here's their tally: Dump Edward Mujica, Gaby Sanchez, Hanley Ramirez, Randy Choate, Kyle Kaminska, Sanchez and Infante. Pick up Zack Cox, Gorkys Hernandez, an extra draft choice, Scott McGough, Nate Eovaldi, Brian Flynn, Turner and Brantly. (We will ignore the Carlos Lee trade because we are kind people and wouldn't want to remind anyone how they're stuck with him because he refused to accept a trade to the Yankees, who happen to have the AL's best record.) The long and short: getting rid of Hanley at his market's nadir, even if the Dodgers took on the whole of his deal, was dodgy; getting Turner for Sanchez was brilliant; and setting themselves up to cut payroll while avoiding the question of whether they would was typical. As abominable as their business practices are, strictly from a baseball perspective they're TWEENERS, and the ultimate sway will come from how the assemblage of prospects develops. Same goes for the …

9. Houston Astros and Jeff Luhnow, the tradingest GM in baseball. Their docket is even more loaded with names than Miami's. The Astros gave up: Rodriguez, Myers, Chris Johnson, J.A. Happ, Brandon Lyon, David Carpenter and Carlos Lee. Coming back: Bobby Borchering, Marc Krauss, Robbie Grossman, Colton Cain, Rudy Owens, Matt Heidenreich, Blair Walters, Francisco Cordero, Ben Francisco, Asher Wojciechowski, Carlos Perez, Joe Musgrove, David Rollins, Matt Dominguez, Rob Rasmussen and, naturally, a Player to be Named Later, because what would a deadline be without a PTBNL? The Astros are the biggest TWEENERS because this deadline was simply Luhnow whacking the back of the Etch-a-Sketch. Beyond the $5 million they kicked to the Pirates to take Rodriguez and a $500,000 buyout on Chris Snyder, the Astros owe absolutely no money. From 2015 and beyond, they haven't a single dollar committed in payroll. Compare that to the …

10. Philadelphia Phillies and it's no wonder they shed the future salary of Hunter Pence. The Phillies in 2015: Likely between $83 million and $88 million, depending on the breakdown of Cole Hamels' contract. For Pence, they got catching prospect Tommy Joseph, Class-A pitcher Seth Rosin and outfielder Nate Schierholtz. The Dodgers sent them reliever Josh Lindblom and sorta-prospect Ethan Martin for Shane Victorino. And yet the feeling that the Phillies were LOSERS pervaded the day, not just because they failed to unload free agent-to-be Joe Blanton. Maybe because it's so weird to see them selling or perhaps because they backed themselves into this situation with ill-conceived contracts like Ryan Howard's, which soon will take over the title of worst present-day contract from the …

[Big League Stew: Phillies will still give away Hunter Pence bobbleheads on Aug. 21]

11. San Francisco Giants and their Barry Zito disaster. The Giants have danced around it well enough to build quite the formidable team, one whose strength grew with the Pence and Marco Scutaro acquisitions. GM Brian Sabean could've used one more relief pitcher, but that's hardly a reason to take away WINNERS status from the Giants. They targeted weaknesses, fixed them and didn't give away their best prospects. That's how it's done. Not like the …

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Hanley Ramirez (Getty)

12. Los Angeles Dodgers grabbing at everything that moves, like a cat with one of those string toys. It was as though GM Ned Colletti was scrolling through car magazines saying, "Oooh, pretty," and, "Wow, I'd love that," only with baseball players catching his attention. A shiny Hanley Ramirez? C'mon down. A beautiful Shane Victorino? Work it. A stunning Brandon League? Delightful. Since their great start, the Dodgers haven't been good enough to warrant such a spending spree. And yet … it's difficult to fault Colletti, because his team is better, and he really didn't give up all that much. Maybe Eovaldi or Martin develops into an ace and Colletti gets his third strike after dealing James McDonald and Carlos Santana. More likely is the Dodgers hanging around for a while, and considering where they've been, they're unlikely WINNERS, a designation the …

[Big League Stew: Ranking the 10 most impactful trades of deadline season]

13. Tampa Bay Rays get for an entirely different reason: They didn't do anything. Prudence might be the single most important tenet for the Rays, and they neither got excited at their recent winning jag nor frustrated at a team that does have its flaws. If the Rays are going to do something, they should be sure, as their mistakes aren't easily ignored like big-market teams'. Tampa Bay's long-term success is built as much on not screwing up as it is in getting things right, and with a fourth playoff appearance in five years possible, the benefit of the doubt on strategy may not be theirs in full, but they've at least got a piece. So here's to some unlikely WINNERS who still somehow sit a game behind the magical …

14. Baltimore Orioles and their 55-49-with-a-minus-51-run-differential record. Here's the difference between the Rays and O's: Tampa Bay is built to do this long-term, whereas Baltimore needs to take advantage of a lucky first 100 games and try to actually sneak in to the postseason when it has a chance. Jim Thome alone will not do that. Yes, that constituted the entirety of Baltimore's deadline dealing: acquiring a 41-year-old DH who, by the way, just hit the DL. These are some Ace Ventura-level LOSERS, whereas the …

15. Oakland Athletics fall somewhere between the Rays and Orioles. They're having more of a Baltimore season, with out-of-nowhere excellence. They also happen to be built for long-term success. They weren't going to overpay for an infielder on the left side, which may cost them the win or two it takes to hang in the AL West. Still, it would be unfair to call them anything but TWEENERS for limiting themselves to a trade for George Kottaras. It was more than the …

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John Lannan (Getty)

16. Washington Nationals did to hold on to their NL East lead. The good news is the Mets, Marlins and Phillies allayed plenty of their concerns with a timely bit of awful play. Were the NL East race tighter, perhaps the Nats would've found someone to replace Stephen Strasburg in their rotation sometime late this month. Instead, they're comfortable turning to John Lannan and thus weren't compelled to spend for two months of Dempster. It's a risky move, one that lays ever so slightly on the TWEENERS side of loserdom. Pitching has carried the Nationals. A little more – or a utility infielder in case Ian Desmond doesn't heal any quicker – would've been nice to have. The Nats did nothing, the only team other than the …

17. San Diego Padres to take that tack. The Padres had plenty of conversations, certainly. Coast to coast, teams wanted Carlos Quentin, Huston Street and Chase Headley. The first two signed contract extensions. Headley remained available until the last day, when the Padres ended negotiations with no team offering enough. That makes them TWEENERS with an asterisk, that asterisk to be answered this winter when the Padres put Headley on the market again and see if they can fetch a better package of players. If they can, thumbs up; if not, thumbs down, which the …

18. Colorado Rockies earned for not getting creative enough. One general manager told me he "would love to overpay for Michael Cuddyer." Colorado didn't want to move him, even though he's 33 years old and owed $21 million over the next two seasons. They didn't ship off Rafael Betancourt, either, even with the premium for him high as it was. At least San Diego was trying something different. The Rockies are fighting Houston for the worst record in baseball, and yet they're not changing anything, other than dumping Scutaro and trading for Jonathan Sanchez, which is illegal in 49 states. For future reference: If a team wants to avoid being called LOSERS, don't trade for Jonathan Sanchez. Do what the …

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Zack Greinke (US Presswire)

19. Los Angeles Angels did, trade for Zack Greinke and be WINNERS. Really, that's how the Angels view themselves: They want to win, and they want to win now, and if that meant giving up one of their best prospects in Jean Segura and two pitchers with a huge ceiling, hey, that's business, man. The Angels do not have time to think. They are like the teenage boy who craves just one thing, only without the magazines underneath their bed and the acne that prevents them from getting it. Los Angeles may be the favorite to win the World Series now with a rotation of Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Dan Haren and Greinke, and they must thank the …

20. Milwaukee Brewers for deeming their Greinke offer the best. Brewers GM Doug Melvin is a strike-fast sort, and he wasn't going to sit around to let the Greinke market develop any more than it had to. He got his shortstop of the future in Segura and a pair of pitching prospects that could be great, and for a player of Greinke's caliber – the best dealt this trading season – potential greatness is a must. For that, and for having the hubris to acquire Greinke in the first place, the Brewers are WINNERS, worthy of celebration for using a tack opposite the …

21. Chicago Cubs and their bleed-the-market approach. After Dempster rejected a deal to Atlanta, Cubs president Theo Epstein held onto him until 3:55 p.m. ET, stringing along the Dodgers, Yankees and Rangers before extracting the deal that brought them third-base prospect Christian Villanueva and strike-throwing right-hander Kyle Hendricks. The Cubs brought in a mishmash of new names, the best among them (in salutation and talent) Arodys Vizcaino, who arrived when Atlanta tried to solve its rotation woes with Paul Maholm. Vizcaino is a superb prospect. He also had Tommy John surgery in March and won't pitch again until the middle of next season. These are the sort of risks worth taking for a team rebuilding. Don't sell low on Matt Garza (like teams wanted them to). Don't be stubborn with a Dempster deal (because it was either what they got or nothing). Enough years of being WINNERS will start adding up. Hopefully to more than the …

22. Minnesota Twins got for Francisco Liriano in their lone deal: utilityman Eduardo Escobar and mediocre pitcher Pedro Hernandez. The Twins didn't have much to work with. They happened not to work very well with it and end up LOSERS for going mediocre on the one deal they needed to make. It was endemic throughout the division, as the …

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Chris Perez (Getty)

23. Cleveland Indians spent their deadline trading for utilityman Brent Lillibridge and holding on to closer Chris Perez, who could've fetched a pair of decent prospects if the market for relievers was any indication, and avoided the trouble of having to pay more than $100,000 per inning to a guy who only throws about 60 innings a year. Arbitration rewards closers with silly salaries, and a team like the Indians, with such a tight payroll, has better places to spend its money. The market for closers is always better during the summer than it is when so many exist on the free-agent market, and so inaction more than anything makes the Indians LOSERS. Such a problem was not shared by the …

24. Seattle Mariners and their wheeling, dealing GM Jack Zduriencik. The M's traded Ichiro and League and Steve Delabar, and in return they got, respectively, a pair of pitchers without the sort of stuff needed to succeed, a couple of fringy prospects and a hitter in Eric Thames with a distinct platoon split and trouble hitting anything this year. Granted, it's not like the Mariners gave up a whole lot, either, but in at least one of the three trades you'd like to think it was a good swap – and early returns from scouts have them as LOSERS because all three were misses. Hitting were the …

25. Toronto Blue Jays on the Delabar deal, snagging reliever Brad Lincoln (a safe play) for Snider (a risky one) and engaging in the most boring 10-player deal baseball has seen in ages. Seriously, it was full of mediocrity, and in that deal's honor, the Blue Jays are TWEENERS. GM Alex Anthopoulos dips his pen in every inkwell out there. Unlike last year, when Colby Rasmus joined the Jays, there was a lot of dry ink. Take, for example, the …

26. St. Louis Cardinals and their need for pitching. It's not nearly as acute as before the All-Star break, what with the Cardinals relief corps finally coming together. The injection of Edward Mujica into the middle of it isn't exactly a steel beam fortifying freshly poured concrete. He is more like a plastic straw that happens to fall in. Mujica's great strength is command, and he hasn't commanded the ball terribly well this year. Considering, too, the availability of pitching, and St. Louis' desire for it, they're just on the side of LOSERS, with a waiver trade all that's necessary to flip 'em the other way. The market may be flush because teams like the …

27. Arizona Diamondbacks still are trying to figure out if they're actually in the race. One day, the Diamondbacks traded away Ryan Roberts. Soon thereafter, they traded for Chris Johnson. A few days later, GM Kevin Towers tried to trade for Matt Garza from the Cubs. Not only do the Diamondbacks, now just 3½ games back, not know what the future may hold, the present confuses 'em mighty good, too. So calling them anything other than TWEENERS would be unfair. They would love, after all, to be in a position like the …

28. Atlanta Braves and know what they want. The Braves needed a starting pitcher. They targeted Dempster and got him before he used his 10-and-5 rights to reject the deal. The Braves didn't panic. They didn't get mad at Chicago. They regrouped, swung a deal for the dealing Paul Maholm and platoon king Reed Johnson, swallowed hard to give up Vizcaino and found themselves TWEENERS because he was a hefty price for a pair of guys the Cubs paid all of $5.9 million to sign this offseason. The Braves are still fairly loaded with pitching prospects, and if this is the move that can help them catch the Nationals in the NL East and not have to suffer through the one-game playoff crapshoot, all the better. They need to be at full strength for teams like the …

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Jonathan Broxton beefs up the Reds' bullpen. (US Presswire)

29. Cincinnati Reds and their mega-bullpen, fortified even more by the 300 pounds of thunder, the round mound on the mound, the scale-breakingest mamma jamma around, Jonathan Broxton. He'll slot in behind Aroldis Chapman, alongside Sean Marshall, with Alfredo Simon, Jose Arredondo and Logan Ondrusek, to form the most formidable bullpen in baseball. Granted, the Reds didn't need another reliever. They need a leadoff hitter who doesn't get out 75 percent of the time, and if that meant ceding Daniel Corcino or Tony Cingrani to get Denard Span from Minnesota, so be it. The Reds have the best record in baseball. That's right: The Cincinnati Reds are, as of today, without Joey Votto in their lineup, the best team around. While it's anatomically unlikely they could go bigger than Broxton, they could've avoided being LOSERS had they done so figuratively. Part of that tag, too, is the return the …

30. Kansas City Royals got trading a closer who they signed to a one-year, $4 million deal this offseason. Coming back are Donnie Joseph, a left-handed reliever who's almost sure to be a major leaguer, and J.C. Sulbaran, who becomes perhaps the third-best pitching prospect in an organization that needs more of them. It was one of the best returns of any trade, shocking considering that Broxton probably won't pitch more than 20 innings for the Reds. If Royals GM Dayton Moore had been able to unload Jeff Francoeur or Yuniesky Betancourt, we might've had to create a new category for him because WINNERS wouldn't have sufficed, but for now it's all we've got. And it's what brings us back to the …

31. Pittsburgh Pirates to round this out. The deadline was concocted for teams like the Pirates to distinguish themselves, and that they did. Maybe Snider will bomb out as he did in Toronto. Could be Sanchez is forever lost, even though he was hitting at Triple-A and still has the wonderful sort of platoon split against left-handers that should help. The Pirates are in this thing, and they announced it with aplomb as time ticked down to 4 p.m. ET on July 31, 2012, a busy, momentous day that three months from now we may look back on as the one that won a team the World Series.

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