The New York Yankees look forward to getting Andy Pettitte and Alex Rodriguez back from the disabled list in September. The team looked at their anticipated return as improvements better than any major trade would provide. (Image: Noah K. Murray/THE STAR-LEDGER via US PRESSWIRE)

MLB Trade Deadline: Did the Yankees measure up with the rest of the AL East?

On Tuesday at 4:00 pm, the New York Yankees made a minor yet important trade getting Casey McGehee from the Pittsburgh Pirates for soon to be DFA’d reliever Chad Qualls. It was the second deal completed by the Yankees in advance of the non-waiver deadline. The first, which you can see analysis of here, was getting Ichiro Suzuki and cash from the Seattle Mariners for two minor league pitchers, D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar. The Yankees through Brian Cashman stated time and again that they would not make any major moves because of the cost factor and because they felt that they were in a good position with the roster, not to mention they expected to have Joba Chamberlain back soon (he of course has since returned) and Alex Rodriguez and Andy Pettitte back in September.

The Yankees’ moves provided depth to the outfield and the corner infield positions. It also relegated players who were playing left field, Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones, to DH where the team anticipated them playing. Covering the corner infield positions is important not only to help Eric Chavez cover third base but to fill in at first base should Mark Teixeira‘s wrist injury linger.

How did the rest of the American League East handle the trade deadline? Did any of the teams make moves which should concern the Yankees? Let’s check it out in alphabetical order.

Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles stood pat at the deadline, but general manager Dan Duquette has mentioned that there is a chance that he could try to make a waiver deal this month. The Orioles had been linked to Joe Blanton of the Philadelphia Phillies leading up to deadline day, but they couldn’t come to terms. The Orioles has also tried to get Paul Maholm from the Chicago Cubs, but he ended up in Atlanta. So, the Orioles tried to get a starter to help with a rotation that has a 4.81 ERA.

The Orioles are 6 1/2 games back in the American League East standings and just 1 1/2 games behind the Oakland A’s for the last spot in the wild card race. The Los Angeles Angels are 1/2 game ahead of the A’s in the first wild card position.

Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox made two minor deadline deals as well. They sent Lars Anderson to the Cleveland Indians for minor leaguer Steven Wright and they acquired left reliever Craig Breslow from the Arizona Diamondbacks for Matt Albers and Scott Podsednik. Breslow is a very good lefty reliever who touted a 2-0 record, 2.70 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 43 1/3 nnings with the D’Backs. The trade for Breslow will allow the Red Sox to move Franklin Morales (also a lefty) from the bullpen to the rotation and still leaves the Sox with two lefties in the pen (Andrew Miller is the other).

The Red Sox were also dangling Josh Beckett out there but, he left his most recent start, which will temper teams desires to take on his salary. He would probably clear waivers giving the Red Sox the ability to trade him this month. There was speculation as a whole that Red Sox may try to move more salary as a rumor of a deal of Carl Crawford for Hanley Ramirez, formerly of the Miami Marlins, was circulating.

The Red Sox moves are significant in that they try to stymie the Yankees’ left-handed bats with a starter and a reliever by making only one move. The Red Sox were in a similar situation as the Yankees in that they had/have players who just returned or will return soon from the disabled list (Crawford just got back and David Ortiz is due back soon) who can help jump start the Red Sox. Boston stands 8 1/2 games back of the Yankees in the division race and 3 1/2 behind in the wild card chase.

Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays were not very active during most of the trade season. They were in a spot where it was hard for them to determine if they should be buyers or sellers. They were willing to listen to offers for James Shields, but would have been looking for a package in excess of the one the Milwaukee Brewers received for Zach Greinke.

The Rays did make a move for Ryan Roberts from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for minor league second baseman Tyler Bortnick. Roberts will mostly see time at third base, though can play second as well.

The Rays are 6 1/2 games back of the Yankees in the AL East and only 1 1/2 games back in the wild card race.

Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays have been decimated by injuries this season, especially to their pitching staff. The Blue Jays finally cut bait with Travis Snider, who had multiple chances to hang with the big club but could never put together the type of numbers he produced at Triple-A. The Blue Jays received relief pitcher, and former starter, Brad Lincoln from the Pirates for Snider. Lincoln was having a very nice season for the Pirates (4-2, 2.73 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 60 K in 59 1/3 IP) and will see some time as a right-handed set-up man. The Jays also sent outfielder Eric Thames to the Seattle Mariners for reliever Steve Delebar.

The Blue Jays, who never seem completely out of the race no matter the season, were linked to Josh Johnson of the Miami Marlins, but the ace right-hander stayed put in Miami for the time being. Within the Blue Jays organization, the antics of Yunel Escobar have caused the team to sour on their shortstop and he was shopped around, but there were no takers.

The Blue Jays are ten games behind the Yanks in the East and five back in the wild card race.

So, what does all of this mean? Well, I still feel that the Orioles will fall back some once their negative run differential catches up with them and because they didn’t do anything to improve a glaring weakness in the rotation. The Rays and the Red Sox still represent the toughest opposition to the Yankees in my opinion. Each team made small moves which improved their team, but the Red Sox trade for Breslow could directly affect the Yankees.

That said, each of the teams in the division behind the Yankees have a realistic chance of making a run at the wild card, but I’m not certain any of them did anything which will help them catch the Yankees in the American League East. I’m not saying none of them can accomplish the feat, but I am suggesting that if they do catch the Bombers it will be because of the players already on their teams and not because of any of the deadline or pre-deadline deals they completed.

The Yankees on the other hand addressed needs without giving up much, if anything at all. The two relievers they dealt for Suzuki are not projected to be anything but bit pieces at the major league level. Getting anything for a player who was going to be designated for assignment, let alone actually finding a player who filled a necessity at the corner infield positions, was a coup by general manager Brian Cashman. They were small moves, but the Yankees transactions should help them maintain their lead in the AL East and can still provide assistance when Rodriguez and Pettitte return.

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Tags: AL East Alex Rodriguez American League East Andruw Jones Andy Pettitte Baltimore Orioles Boston Red Sox Carl Crawford Casey McGehee Chad Qualls Hanley Ramirez Ichiro Suzuki James Shields Joba Chamberlain Josh Beckett Josh Johnson Mark Teixeira MLB Trade Deadline New York Yankees Raul Ibanez Ryan Roberts Tampa Bay Rays Toronto Blue Jays Travis Snider

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