The White Sox, mired in muck after a tremendous break from the April gates, slipped from 60/1 to 100/1 to win this year’s World Series after the 2016 MLB trade deadline came and went Monday afternoon. The move, in part, can be attributed to the significant improvements made by other American League clubs like the Indians, Rangers and Blue Jays as well as, in part, to the overall dysfunction demonstrated by the White Sox over the last few weeks.
But it’s time to forget about Sale and the White Sox! Today is all about the Major League Baseball clubs that improved their respective rosters in the build-up to Monday’s trade deadline. So let’s take a look at the Vegas World Series adjustments that went down Monday afternoon when the dust finally settled on a very busy day of wheeling and dealing.
Texas Rangers (from 10/1 to 6/1): With a six-game lead in the A.L. West and currently tied with Cleveland for the best record in the American League, the Rangers got ultra aggressive prior to the August 1 trade deadline by shipping seven prospects and a player to be named later off to various clubs in exchange for six players, most notably catcher Jonathan Lucroy, reliever Jeremy Jeffress and outfielder/DH Carlos Beltran. Lucroy owns the third-highest WAR (2.8) in baseball at the catcher position and only landed in Texas after nixing a trade to the A.L. Central-leading Cleveland Indians over the weekend. Jeffress boasts a 2.22 ERA with 27 saves in 28 opportunities and Beltran is hitting .304 with 22 homers at the ripe old age of 39. Only the Chicago Cubs (7/2) have more favorable odds to win this year’s World Series than Texas at the moment.
San Francisco Giants (from 6/1 to 6/1): No move in Vegas as it pertains to the Orange & Black despite the acquisitions of reliever Will Smith (22 saves, 3.68 ERA), infielder Eduardo Nunez (2016 All Star) and lefty starter Matt Moore (7-7, 4.08 ERA). General Manager Bobby Evans proved to be a cold blooded assassin after sending third baseman Matt Duffy to Tampa Bay in the Moore trade despite telling Duffy in the wake of the Nunez acquisition that he wasn’t going anywhere. The Giants paid a hefty price to get better (SPs Phil Bickford and Adalberto Mejia, catcher Andrew Susac and infielder Lucius Fox), but that’s exactly what the club was trying to accomplish. Perhaps more importantly, it’s the player who wasn’t traded that sends the biggest message, as minor league infielder Christian Arroyo is still a Giant.
Los Angeles Dodgers (from 14/1 to 10/1): General Manager Farhan Zaidi added another lefty starter to the rotation by acquiring 36-year-old Rich Hill (9-3, 2.25 ERA) and outfielder Josh Reddick (.296, 8 HRs in 68 games) from the Athletics in exchange for three minor league right-handed pitching prospects in Grant Holmes, Frankie Montas and Jharel Cotton, a move that significantly bolsters the Oakland farm system…and all it cost was two players who were set to be free agents at the end of the year anyway. Perhaps the bigger news in Tinseltown at the moment was the report that outfielder Yasiel Puig would be either traded (didn’t happen) or sent to the minor leagues by the end of the day, which was bolstered by the fact that the Dodgers left Puig behind before traveling to Colorado on Monday. Of course, all of this will likely be for naught if Clayton Kershaw (herniated disk) fails to get healthy for the impending playoff push.
Toronto Blue Jays (from 14/1 to 10/1): Toronto has won eight of their last 12 outings and spent the last week improving the roster by acquiring a bevy of diverse talent including SP Francisco Liriano (6-11, 5.46 ERA), relievers Scott Feldman (2.90 ERA), Joaquin Benoit (4.61 ERA) and Jason Grilli (3.68 ERA) and outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. (.251, 16 HR). The cost was relatively high (SPs Drew Hutchison, Wade LeBlanc and Hansel Rodriguez, RPs Drew Storen and Sean Ratcliffe, among others), but the Blue Jays are clearly sensing a weakness in the A.L. East and believe the division is ripe for the picking. Additionally, it’s not as if big-time bats Troy Tulowitzki, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are getting any younger. Clearly, Toronto understands the time is now.
Cleveland Indians (from 7/1 to 7/1): Catcher Jonathan Lucroy nixed a trade to the Tribe that would have significantly vaulted this club’s chances of claiming its first World Series crown since 1948, and it had to sting even worse when the former Milwaukee backstop landed in Texas before the close of business on Monday. But Cleveland still landed the best reliever on the market in former Yankee Andrew Miller (1.39 ERA) and has sent a very clear message to its fan base that they’re finally ready to go for it all. Despite no playoff experience whatsoever, the Indians should head to the postseason with the best rotation in baseball.
New York Mets (from 20/1 to 25/1): Interesting to see the Mets slide on the Vegas odds board despite the acquisition of outfielder Jay Bruce (.265, 25 HR, 80 RBI), but the team is still 2.5 games back of the Marlins and 6.5 games back of N.L. East-leading Washington. And that’s before we begin to discuss other wild card contenders like the Dodgers and Cardinals, both of whom are currently ahead of New York in the standings as well.
Chicago Cubs (from 3/1 to 7/2): Everybody’s favorite lovable losers got a whole lot better in the wake of the Aroldis Chapman acquisition, but honestly, there wasn’t anywhere left to go in terms of climbing the odds board, as the Cubs already found themselves on top of the mountain prior to that successful phone call to Gotham City.
Washington Nationals (from 6/1 to 7/1): Dusty Baker and company landed Papelbon insurance in the form of former Pirate Mark Melancon (1.51 ERA, 30 saves), but still saw their World Series odds slide from 6/1 to 7/1 as a result. The Marlins and Mets both got better, as did the Cubs, Giants and Dodgers, so the big question for Washington is whether or not they did enough to overcome a loaded National League.
Houston Astros (from 10/1 to 20/1): They’re six games behind Texas in the A.L. West and stayed relatively quiet at the deadline while the Rangers armed up for a deep postseason run. The good news for Houston is that with its bevy of young, cost-controlled talent, there is no reason at all to mortgage the future (which is very bright) for short term gains.
2016 WORLD SERIES ODDS (as of Monday, August 1)
*Odds courtesy of the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas.