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2014 MLB trade deadline recap: Looking back at a day full of big swaps

The Tigers and A’s stock up for a potential postseason clash, the Red Sox added some pieces to the 2015 puzzle, and the Rays may have just flat-out given up on this year.

The Sox dealt Jon Lester to the A's for Yoenis Cespedes.
The Sox dealt Jon Lester to the A's for Yoenis Cespedes.
Rich Schultz

Last year, the biggest transactions of the MLB trade deadline were, arguably, Jake Peavy being sent from the White Sox to the Red Sox and Bud Norris being picked up by the Orioles from the Astros for a pair of prospects.

To say this year’s deadline was more active would be a vast understatement. It wasn’t so much the number of deals (twelve compared to seven a year ago) as it was the names that were involved: In a matter of hours, David Price, Yoenis Cespedes, and Jon Lester found themselves with different teams than the ones that they woke up with this morning.

Here’s a look at the key deals from a busy Thursday

Detroit Tigers get: David Price from Rays
Tampa Bay Rays get: Drew Smyly, Willy Adames from Tigers; Nick Franklin from Mariners
Seattle Mariners get: Austin Jackson from Tigers

The AL Central leader adds the 2012 AL Cy Young winner to a rotation that includes the 2011 AL Cy Young award winner—Justin Verlander, who finished second to Price in the 2012 Cy Young voting—and the 2013 AL Cy Young award winner—Max Scherzer, who may win it again this year. Oh, and Rick Porcello is on his way to a career season. Think it’s clear who came out on top here.

Tampa Bay may have thrown up the white flag on 2014. Granted, they did get another arm in Smyly, a nice-hitting middle infielder in Franklin, and a chance to develop Willy Adames, who was the Tigers’ #3 prospect, but if they intend to compete in 2014 they would definitely have been better served to keep Price on board for the stretch run. Seattle may just be the victim of circumstance with Oakland running away with the AL West and Toronto heating up out of the break, but they nevertheless add a veteran center fielder in Jackson.

Boston Red Sox get: Yoenis Cespedes from Athletics
Oakland A’s get: Jon Lester, Jonny Gomes from Red Sox

So here was the A’s rotation this morning: Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel, Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir, Jesse Chavez. I think they’d be pretty happy with bringing on board a sub–3.00 ERA guy with a sparkling postseason resume, as well as Gomes, a familiar face to the dugout that should contribute to the A’s quest for a third-straight division crown and, they hope, a return to the World Series.

The Sox needed some more pop to help them make a run back at it in 2015, and Yoenis Cespedes would fit that description. Which prompts the questions: a) who does Sox GM Ben Cherington bring in during the offseason to complement the addition (Scherzer? James Shields?), and b) do they hang onto Cespedes beyond next year (he can be a free agent after 2015).

Boston Red Sox get: Allen Craig and Joe Kelly
St. Louis Cardinals get: John Lackey and LHP minor league prospect

This wasn’t a huge deal, but it’s pretty significant nonetheless. The Lackey era ends in Boston, and while the temperamental hurler had his low moments in Beantown, he was actually putting together a decent season on the mound. St. Louis should benefit from his services as they make their push toward a postseason berth, while tacking on a decent prospect that could pan out down the road.

Kelly won’t have the same impact as a guy like Jon Lester had on Boston, but he had a strong 2013 before battling injuries this year. Craig, if he can recapture the form that he had in 2012 and 2013, could definitely stand to be the highlight of this particular deal from a long-term standpoint. He’s still only 30 years old and is under contract through 2018.