Major League Baseball’s trade deadline has come and gone, leaving teams and fates changed permanently. In this article, we look at the winners and losers of the deadline and how your outlook on MLB betting on both futures and individual games should be altered.
If you already know how to bet on baseball and use a baseball betting strategy, it is important to understand what the trade deadline means for MLB betting. Good trades could lead to a positive increase in performance while bad trades, or a lack of trades, could see teams struggle to compete.
What is the trade deadline?
For the uninitiated, 2 p.m. PST was the deadline for major league team to trade players without interference from other clubs. It’s like soccer’s transfer period, though in MLB, players are exchanged for one another without the need of cash.
For the month following the deadline, teams can still trade for players who can be added to playoff rosters, but those players must first clear waivers. That means only players with poor-value contracts will move from this point forward. Most of the heavy lifting we’ve seen is already done.
MLB betting: Trade deadline winners
Los Angeles Dodgers
Prior to making any moves, Los Angeles was on pace for a 114-win season, which would be the third-most in MLB history. Apparently, that wasn’t good enough, with LA trading for three pitchers who figure to factor into its postseason plans.
Yu Darvish, the biggest-ticket starting pitcher immediately slots into the Dodgers’ postseason rotation, but bettors should be wary of betting based on that trader for at least the next month.
Good trades could lead to a positive increase in performance while bad trades, or a lack of trades, could see teams struggle to compete.
Darvish has been hit hard of late and while the Dodgers can afford to take a patient approach to getting him ready for the playoffs, his name recognition in the wake of this deal should artificially inflate his market value. It’s also worth mentioning here that the hype on the Dodgers will be huge down the stretch, and while the team’s depth is off the charts, bettors should be careful as LA sits on its massive record to rest regulars as playoff preparation.
As futures go, the Dodgers only improved. Newly acquired lefty reliever Tony Watson will give the Dodgers’ pen (already perhaps the best in the game) a reliable option match up against Washington lefties Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy and Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo. Darvish, combined with Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood and Rich Hill will form one of the strongest playoff rotations in recent history.
New York Yankees
The Yankees’ offence has been phenomenal all season; the additions of starters Sonny Grey and Jaime Garcia and relievers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle has made their pitching even more formidable.
New York’s bullpen is built for playoff baseball with five shutdown options; winning the division would take its futures a long way.
With divisional rivals Boston floundering of late (more on this in the losers section), the Yanks have caught up in the standings and you can bet that their odds of winning the division will have done the same in predictive models. New York’s bullpen is built for playoff baseball with five shutdown options; winning the division would take its futures a long way.
It’s been an amazing three weeks since the All-Star game for the defending champions. In addition to moving from 6.5 games back of Milwaukee to 2.5 ahead, the Cubs traded for potentially the team’s new best starter in Jose Quintana, a shutdown lefty reliever in Justin Wilson and a strong backup catcher/lefty bench bat in Alex Avila.
With the team already having seemingly awoken from its season-long slumber, showdowns with the Washington and (potentially) LA loom in what look to be wars in the making - Quintana could be crucial to any potential success in those kinds of games.
With the acquisitions of Jonathan Lucroy and Pat Neshek, Colorado is a better team today than it was a week ago and if nightly lines aren’t reflecting that, you should take advantage. That said, the Rockies are still probably the underdog in the wildcard game if Zack Greinke starts (and if the game is played in Arizona), so its futures odds didn’t change much.
Neither positive nor negative
Washington’s biggest need coming into July was bullpen help and trades for Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madsen and Brandon Kintzler helped in that regard, but none of the three is a sure-fire shutdown option. Still, the Nats are certainly an improved team for game-to-game betting (and potentially unders).
Washington’s World Series potential actually worsened this trade period thanks to the leaps and bounds forward made by both the Dodgers and Cubs and the injury woes that befell starter Stephen Strasburg are troubling.
Cleveland was rumoured late to be making a move for Orioles closer Zach Britton who would have combined with Cody Allen and Andrew Miller to form the core of a formidable bullpen. Ultimately, they settled on fallback option Joe Smith; a solid citizen, but one who’s had injury issues this year.
Smith plays into the shutdown bullpen strategy the Indians employed a year ago, and while the team didn’t make massive steps forward neither did the teams chasing them for the AL Central title.
A notable feature of this year’s trade deadline was how changes to the collective bargaining agreement created a change in value of rental players, specifically in the position player market. Arizona’s acquisition of JD Martinez represented a huge upgrade in right field, yet coming at a minimal cost.
Unfortunately for the Diamondbacks, the upgrades made with Martinez and reliever David Hernandez don’t change much for futures; the Dodgers won’t be caught.
Unfortunately for the Diamondbacks, the upgrades made with Martinez and reliever David Hernandez don’t change much for futures; the Dodgers won’t be caught which means the lottery ticket of the wildcard game is the best Arizona can hope for, and the concussion suffered by co-ace Robbie Ray leaves the DBacks short for the playoff rotation should they advance.
Tampa Bay Rays
Tampa helped its pitching (Steve Cishek, Jan Jennings) and its offence (Lucas Duda), but in typically understated ways while those around them made bigger leaps. Ultimately, the Rays are likely looking at a best-case scenario of being the visiting team in the AL Wildcard game.
Kansas City Royals
Like Tampa, the Royals made marginal improvements that could keep them in the AL central and wildcard races but don’t appear to have vastly improved playoff odds.
Who lost out after the MLB trade deadline?
To say Houston were trade deadline "losers" is probably a bit harsh; they are still the favourite to reach the World Series from the AL, but the injury to starter Lance McCullers hurts and the lack of starting pitching acquired at the deadline must be disappointing for Astros fans. On a game-to-game basis, betting Houston is still a great way to go, but while the Astros were co-World Series favourites heading into July, it’s clear that LA has since moved ahead.
Boston Red Sox
Boston futures values are always questionable due to the team’s popularity, but the general lack of activity at the deadline has to be troubling for Red Sox supporters.
Yes, the team did get a much-needed bullpen piece in Addison Reed and utility infielder Edwardo Nunez, but the offence is floundering badly and the Yankees’ additions seem likely to leave the Sox in a wildcard spot. That’s bad news for a team that had shorter World Series odds than any other before the start of the season.
Remember when Milwaukee was leading the NL Central at the All-Star break? They barely do themselves. The Cubs have breezed past and improved while Milwaukee stood mostly still despite plenty of rumours to the contrary. It feels safe to predict a long, cold winter in Milwaukee.
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