Who other contenders got
The Red Sox improved their team before the trade deadline. Unfortunately, so did their competition.
The New York Yankees stole a primary target from the Red Sox, acquiring Baltimore Orioles closer Zach Britton. They paid a steeper price than Boston would have been comfortable with but it may pay off for the Yankees if Britton returns to his pre-injury form. His control has been shaky following a long layoff recovering from an Achilles injury but it wasn’t long ago that Britton was one of the game’s elite closers.
The Yankees needed starting pitching depth and they found a solid option in J.A. Happ. While his All-Star selection this year overstates Happ’s production, he’s been an above average starter the last few years. Happ also has a great track record against the Red Sox, which should concern their rivals with three regular-season series and a potential postseason matchup on the road ahead.
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The trade for Lance Lynn was a bit surprising given his struggles this season. He’s a veteran who gives the Yankees depth and could potentially help in a bullpen role in the playoffs. Relying on him could also blow up in their faces as spectacularly as last year’s trade for Sonny Gray did.
The Cleveland Indians addressed their biggest weakness by trading for San Diego Padres relievers Brad Hand and Adam Cimber. The Indians have one of the worst bullpens in the league, ranking 14th in the AL with a collective 5.00 ERA. Now they have added two trustworthy relievers who will help shorten games for one of the best starting rotations in the majors.
Cleveland still has holes they failed to address. Is Leonys Martin the answer for their outfield? They certainly aimed higher but he’s the best they could get. Several second base options were moved at the deadline yet the Indians couldn’t find one to upgrade on the struggling Jason Kipnis.
The Indians will cruise to a division title but we have to wonder if they upgraded enough to hang with the top trio in the AL.
A stacked Houston Astros bullpen got deeper when they acquired Ryan Pressly from the Twins, a reliever once linked to Boston. Houston also made a risky move by trading for former Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna, whose pending domestic violence case threatens to be a distraction and potentially could prevent him from pitching again this season if he’s convicted.
The Astros could have used an upgrade in left field, as their current options have combined to hit .239 with a .688 OPS. Bench depth would have been ideal for a team currently dealing with injuries to Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and George Springer.
Assuming they don’t catch the reeling Astros, the Seattle Mariners remain in the driver’s seat for the second Wild Card spot. They didn’t make any flashy moves at the deadline but the Mariners did add a couple of bullpen arms in Adam Warren and Zach Duke. While Cameron Maybin is well past his prime, he’s still an upgrade over Guillermo Heredia in the outfield. Seattle will also get Robinson Cano back from his suspension soon.
All the AL contenders did something prior to the trade deadline. Cleveland, Houston, and Seattle addressed some of their weaknesses but may not have done enough to catch the Red Sox. The Yankees arguably had the best deadline among these contenders, yet Boston wasn’t far behind with their own upgrades. As long as the decision to not upgrade their bullpen doesn’t come back to haunt them, the Red Sox remain the top team in the league in the wake of the trade deadline.