Angels the biggest winners of trading season
Faced with challenges on two fronts, LA lands biggest Deadline prize in Greinke
When Arte Moreno took over as owner of the defending World Series-champion Anaheim Angels in May 2003, his focus was to expand the franchise's image beyond Orange County. He wanted to lay claim to being Southern California's team and two years later won a legal battle to change the franchise's name to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
The Angels enjoyed five American League West titles in Moreno's first six years of ownership, but never returned to the World Series. They did, however, take on a very significant role in the Southern California sporting community.
New challenges, however, have emerged.
In the AL West, the Texas Rangers, with one-time Angels right-hander Nolan Ryan in the role of team president, are now the two-time defending division and league champions, having advanced to the World Series each of the last two years.
And then, in the opening month of this season, the Los Angeles Dodgers shed the baggage of the financially challenged ownership of Frank McCourt, and regained instant credibility among the sporting public with a new ownership group anchored by the finances of the Guggehheim Partners, presence of basketball icon Magic Johnson and the baseball expertise of Stan Kasten.
The Angels faced new challenges, both within the AL West and their Southern California community.
Moreno and Co. aren't backing down.
When the signing of Albert Pujols to one of the richest contracts in Major League history, during an offseason that also involved luring Texas' lefty C.J. Wilson to Anaheim as a free agent, weren't enough to put the Angels back on top of the AL West, and with the Dodgers enjoying the sudden Magic of its new ownership, Moreno and the Angels once again reaffirmed that the focus is on today -- and winning.
While plenty of teams were drooling over landing an ace for their rotations, the Angels were the one team that got the deal done prior to Tuesday's Trade Deadline, acquiring former Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke.
The price the Angels paid for a pitcher who can walk in two months as a free agent underscored Moreno's emphasis on immediate results. A Milwaukee team trying to replenish its prospect inventory landed shortstop Jean Segura and right-handed pitchers Johnny Wellweg and Ariel Pena, who were ranked by MLB.com as the first-, seventh- and 14th-best prospects in the Angels system at the time of the trade.
The challenge, however, was answered both in Southern Cal and in the AL West.
The Dodgers, battling San Francisco and Arizona for the NL West title, filled voids in both the leadoff spot and in left field with the addition of Shane Victorino, who combined with Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp gives the Dodgers an elite defensive outfield. The switch-hitting Victorino should also provide another left-handed bat to go with Ethier and James Loney. That came after the Dodgers acquired Hanley Ramirez and left-handed reliever Randy Choate from Miami at the expense of Nate Eovaldi. The Dodgers then acquired former closer Brandon League from Seattle to add bullpen depth.
The Rangers, meanwhile, moved to fill developing voids in their rotation created by the lack of success of Roy Oswalt's in-season comeback attempt and right-handers Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz both needing elbow surgery. They sent two prospects, including highly regarded third baseman Christian Villanueva, to the Chicago Cubs for Ryan Dempster.
Texas caught the Cubs in a vulnerable spot, with the Deadline nearing and deals having already fallen through with Atlanta, where Dempster declined to go, and the Dodgers, who refused to part with either of their remaining top pitching prospects.
Here's a look at what teams did during the trade season:
Dodgers: Addressed needs without tearing apart future.
Rangers: Didn't overreact and wound up with a quality starter in Dempster and struggling catcher Geovanny Soto, who has upside if he bounces back.
Angels: Paid a high price in prospects but got Greinke, lone ace in the trade deck.
Giants: Hunter Pence provides an energy that the team had been lacking.
Tigers: Had to part with Jacob Turner but took advantage of Miami fire sale to land durable starter Anibal Sanchez and solid second baseman Omar Infante.
White Sox: Sitting atop AL Central, GM Kenny Williams found a needed starter in Francisco Liriano and bullpen arm in Brett Myers.
Pirates: Wandy Rodriguez added depth to a rotation that has carried the Pirates' hopes.
Astros: Focused on adding depth to weak farm system, acquiring 13 Minor Leaguers, nine of whom were ranked among the top prospects in their former systems.
Mariners: Moving Ichiro Suzuki eliminated the offseason distraction of his pending free agency.
Brewers: Started a rebuilding process with impact package in return for Greinke.
Phillies: Five-year run in NL East is over, rebuilding has begun. Payroll cut below luxury-tax threshold.
Rockies: Saved a couple million by moving Jeremy Guthrie and Marco Scutaro, but didn't get much in return.
Royals: Turned Jonathan Broxton into LHP Donnie Joseph and RHP J.C. Sulbaran, both legit prospects.
Twins: Back to rebuilding, shipping Liriano to division-rival White Sox.
Yankees: Provided new life for Ichiro.
Braves: Paul Maholm has the potential to be the Deadline sleeper.
Reds: Broxton provides protection for Aroldis Chapman.
Cardinals: Edward Mujica helps strengthen the bullpen bridge to Jason Motte.
Blue Jays: Sudden injury problems left Toronto mixing and matching to fill voids.
Stayed the course
D-backs: Tested interest in Stephen Drew and Justin Upton, but wound up making only a cosmetic change.
Rays: Treading water, careful not to disrupt their talent depth.
Mets: Their season took a drastic U-turn in midst of trading season, leaving them on hold.
A's: Kicked a lot of tires but a limited budget kept them from making a deal to help continue a surprising season.
Nationals: Sitting atop the NL East, they were the only team that didn't make any deal, but the front office believes it had already done what was necessary.
Marlins: Added veteran Carlos Lee in late June, but a month later, they were moving veterans and looking toward next year.
Padres: Team in major rebuilding mode opted to sign contract extensions with veteran closer Huston Street and outfielder Carlos Quentin.
Indians: Decided against a repeat of trying to jump-start a team, which last year led to the acquisition of Ubaldo Jimenez.
Red Sox: Addded left-handed reliever Craig Breslow and shipped Kevin Youkilis to the White Sox, but backed off moving the likes of Josh Beckett.
Cubs: Had several interesting players for contenders, but hang-up involving Dempster kept them from dealing Matt Garza and/or Alfonso Soriano.
Orioles: Moved early to add the bat of Jim Thome but couldn't find agreeable partner in effort to make an impact addition to the rotation.
Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.