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Recapping the trade deadline around the AL East

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The Rays and Red Sox got better, but by how much?

Arizona Diamondbacks v Miami Marlins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

It was an underwhelming trade deadline for the Yankees, and how could it not be? After months of speculation as to who the team might add, the Yankees swapped minor league pitchers with the Rockies but didn’t get anything close to resembling big league help. Perhaps the blow is softened a bit by the fact that the other teams in the division didn’t make much deadline noise either. Still, the Red Sox and Rays both addressed their team’s deficiencies in some ways, which is something Brian Cashman can’t say about his ball club.

The Yankees were one of the few teams around the league to not make a deadline deal. Here’s a fun graphic:

Baltimore and Boston made a swap near the deadline that sent Andrew Cashner to the Red Sox and sent a pair of minor leaguers to Baltimore. Cashner is by no means a top-of-the-rotation talent, but he’s at least a slightly above average pitcher. Plus, Boston really needed a fifth starter since Nathan Eovaldi hasn’t been able to fulfill those duties this season.

As long as the Red Sox rotation stays healthy, there’s little chance of Cashner being in their playoff rotation. Even with a struggling Rick Porcello, Cashner is probably the fifth-best starter in Boston. He wouldn’t be a pitcher the Yankees should fear even if he comes out of the bullpen in the playoffs. The Bronx Bombers have really gotten to him the last two seasons, and Cashner has over a 5.50 ERA against them this season.

The Red Sox didn’t do anything else at the deadline. Last week’s series showed that the Red Sox are still a great team, but their inactivity at the deadline most certainly helps the Yankees.

On the other hand, the Tampa Bay Rays became a decidedly more dangerous team than they were a few weeks ago. They made a flurry of moves that addressed team needs while sacrificing pieces from places of depth.

The Rays brought in 2018 All-Star first baseman Jesus Aguilar from the Milwaukee Brewers, infielder Eric Sogard from the Blue Jays, and pitchers Nick Anderson and Trevor Richards from the Miami Marlins.

The Rays rank in the back half of the league in isolated power, so they bought low on a power bat, Jesus Aguilar. He’s not having a great year to this point, sporting a paltry .225/.320/.374 slashline with just eight dingers. However, the Rays are banking that a change of scenery could help the 29-year-old slugger, who is just a year removed from a 35-homer, .274/.352/.539 campaign. The Rays sacrificed Jake Faria, a Triple-A reliever to bring Aguilar into town.

Eric Sogard has already played a couple games for the Rays, but he’ll undoubtedly be an important piece for them down the stretch. Currently, two Rays infielders, Brandon Lowe and Yandy Diaz, are out of action and without timetables for their return. The 33-year-old Sogard was the starting second baseman for the Blue Jays but can fill in all around the infield. Plus, he’s having himself a career-best season. He’s hitting .297/.361/.471 with 10 homers. Sogard might not keep that up in the second half of the season, but the Rays only gave up two players to be named later for him. They didn’t give up anything and got some big league help in return.

Last but certainly not least was the Rays’ trade for Nick Anderson and Trevor Richards from the Miami Marlins. Anderson is a very interesting arm and could give the Yankees fits down the stretch. The 29-year-old rookie is having himself a pretty solid year so far, despite some ugly-ish numbers. He’s got a 3.92 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP, but he also strikes out hitters at a 37.1% clip. Plus, he’s got a big-time fastball that averages about 96 MPH with elite spin and a curveball that hitters really struggle to put in play -- just a .171 xBA.

The other pitcher in the deal, Trevor Richards is quite a bit different from Anderson. For one, Richards is a starter but definitely more of a finesse pitcher too. His fastball averages about 91 MPH and he throws it just about as often as his changeup (about 42% and 38% respectively). Richards hovers right around league average. He’s likely not going to take the AL East or the Yankees by storm, but with Blake Snell on the shelf, the Rays need somebody to give them some length. Richards ought to do just that.

Unsurprisingly, the Rays had to pay a little more to land these two arms. They gave up Jesus Sanchez, a top-40 prospect in baseball according to Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com, and Ryne Stanek, one of the Rays’ go-to opening arms.

The Rays and Red Sox represent the biggest and only threats to the Yankees’ division lead. The only move the Orioles made was to send Cashner away. The Blue Jays made a couple of deals too. They sent Marcus Stroman packing for what looks to be a puzzlingly bad return -- two non-top-100 prospects. Plus, they sent Joe Biagini, Aaron Sanchez, and a prospect to the Houston Astros for Derek Fisher, a fringe-y outfielder. Like the Stroman deal, the return is very underwhelming.

It would have been great for the Yankees to land something at the deadline, to be sure. However, their primary division rivals didn’t exactly make huge splashes either. Maybe the rotation will start pitching to their talent level and Luis Severino will be healthy enough to pitch this season, and not landing anyone at the deadline won’t hurt as bad. Maybe! But I’m not holding my breath.