Michael Bourn went from the bottom of the NL Central in Houston to the top of the wild-card standings with Atlanta — and he wasn’t the only player who suddenly found himself in a pennant race.
Ubaldo Jimenez, Erik Bedard, Rafael Furcal and Mike Adams were also on the move at the end of a topsy-turvy weekend, when the surprising Indians, Pirates and Diamondbacks made some of the boldest moves at baseball’s trade deadline, shedding those longtime seller tags and shopping for immediate help.
All in all, it was a relatively quiet deadline day as the non-waiver cutoff came and went Sunday. The biggest deals came days earlier when All-Star outfielders Carlos Beltran and Hunter Pence changed teams.
Among the big names staying put after weeks of speculation: Padres closer Heath Bell, Tampa Bay outfielder B.J. Upton and Astros lefty Wandy Rodriguez.
And standing pat — unusually — were the New York Yankees, content to try and catch Boston in the AL East with a rotation that has reclamation projects Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia at the back end.
“I’m very confident with the position I’ve taken,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. “It’s not like I’m blowing smoke, trying to promote our guys. … No, I believe in our guys.”
Just 2½ games back of Detroit in the AL Central, the Indians completed their Saturday night deal with Colorado for Jimenez about a half-hour before the 4 p.m. EDT deadline. Until then, they were waiting for results of the pitcher’s physical.
“This was a rare and unique opportunity, especially in our market, which comes along few and far between,” Cleveland general manager Chris Antonetti said.
The Indians don’t seem concerned about recent reports that Jimenez, who was 19-8 and an All-Star a year ago, has seen his velocity drop and his ERA rise this year. He is 6-9 with a 4.46 ERA in 21 starts. He had a 2.88 ERA in 2010.
They paid a hefty price for the right-hander who spent much of April on the DL, giving up minor league pitchers Alex White and Joe Gardner, first baseman Matt McBride and a player to be named, expected to be lefty Drew Pomeranz.
White and Pomeranz were considered the top two pitching prospects in Cleveland’s organization.
“It was painful for us,” Antonetti said, “but we decided the time was right. We’re a better team than we were.”
Division-rival Detroit made a move, too, getting right-hander Doug Fister from Seattle on Saturday and will add him to the rotation. The Tigers also received reliever David Pauley for two prospects and a player to be named.
After a record 18 straight losing seasons, the Pirates are in the thick of it in the NL Central race, and they showed they’re serious in dealing for San Diego outfielder Ryan Ludwick — a day after acquiring Baltimore first baseman Derrek Lee.
The Diamondbacks bolstered their bullpen, adding Oakland submariner Brad Ziegler as they chase the World Series champion Giants in the NL West. On Saturday, Arizona obtained Jason Marquis from the Nationals.
“We’re trying to get better and trying to make the bullpen better,” Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. “I think you’re seeing an effort by the organization to try and let us continue to do what we’ve done and go beyond what we’ve done. So that part of it energizes you.”
In other deals Sunday:
— The AL East-leading Red Sox picked up Bedard after a deal for Rich Harden fell through late Saturday. Six prospects were involved in a three-team, seven-player trade involving the Los Angeles Dodgers.
— The St. Louis Cardinals acquired Furcal, a two-time All-Star shortstop, from the Dodgers for Double-A outfielder Alex Castellanos.
— Texas further bolstered its bullpen a day after adding Baltimore right-hander Koji Uehara by dealing for Adams, San Diego’s stellar setup man.
Adams, who was 3-1 with a 1.13 ERA in 48 games for the Padres, will be under Texas’ control through next season. The Padres received minor league pitchers Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland.
— Atlanta made a move to keep up with the NL East-leading Phillies, getting Bourn from the Astros, who also sent Pence to Philadelphia on Friday night.
Bourn, a two-time Gold Glove winner, is hitting .303 and leads the majors with 39 stolen bases. He goes from the last-place Astros to a playoff-contending team that has one of baseball’s best pitching staffs.
“I’m excited,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “He makes the defense do things they don’t want to do. Pitchers are going to throw pitches they don’t want to throw.”
The Astros received outfielder Jordan Schafer and three minor league pitchers, but the Braves didn’t give up any of their top prospects.
“We did not go to the mat to get Pence,” Atlanta general manager Frank Wren said. “If we had gone to the mat for Pence, we would have gotten him.”
Earlier this week, the Giants acquired Beltran from the Mets and Orlando Cabrera from the Indians; Toronto traded for St. Louis center fielder Colby Rasmus in a three-team deal that sent former White Sox pitcher Edwin Jackson to the Cardinals; the Brewers landed utility man Jerry Hairston Jr. from Washington; Detroit got infielder Wilson Betemit from the Royals; and Boston added Mike Avi les from Kansas City for infield depth.
Teams can still make trades for the rest of the season, but it becomes more complicated. Players must first pass through waivers, meaning any club gets an opportunity to claim them before a deal is done.
Trades must be completed before Aug. 31 for a player to be eligible for the postseason with his new team.