Andrew McCutchen is shaving his beard for a possible World Series run. Ryan Madson is switching bullpens, trying to help another team win a title. And Josh Donaldson is hoping he’s healthy enough to contribute.
The Milwaukee Brewers? They were a busy bunch, swinging trades to get starter Gio Gonzalez, outfielder Curtis Granderson and reliever Xavier Cedeno.
Several contending teams swung into action Friday, making trades to bolster potential playoff rosters. A player must be on a club by Aug. 31 to be eligible for the postseason.
“I think what happens in September is that the whole calculus of this thing changes,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said.
Counsell spoke after the Brewers acquired Cedeno, and before they beat Washington 4-1 at Nationals Park. After the win, Milwaukee said it had gotten Gonzalez from the Nats and Granderson from Toronto.
All three of the Milwaukee trades were for minor leaguers. So, too, were the swaps that sent Donaldson from Toronto to Cleveland, Madson from Washington to the Los Angeles Dodgers and McCutchen from San Francisco to the New York Yankees.
The Dodgers, who acquired star infielder Manny Machado and Brian Dozier in July, made a late deal to get infielder David Freese from Pittsburgh. The Yankees also added one more player deep into the night, acquiring shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria from the Pirates.
The Indians’ trade for Donaldson might’ve been the most intriguing of the day. Cleveland is running away with the AL Central, but it’s not certain how Donaldson, a third baseman who was the 2015 AL MVP, might be used.
Donaldson hasn’t played in the majors since May 28 because of a strained calf and only began a minor league rehab assignment this week. When he’s healthy, he’s fiery and fearsome.
“I’m going to miss him,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said shortly before the trade was announced. “We had our battles. He is a high-strung player, but he did a lot for us.”
Gonzalez simply shifted clubhouses and changed from a Nationals uniform into a Brewers sweat shirt and hat.
“I grew up here. I had my family here, my wife and my kids. It’s just sad but I’m happy,” Gonzalez said. “I’m really happy. I’m getting a second chance to redeem myself and I think this is a perfect opportunity with a team like the Brewers. I see there’s a hopefully a brighter future for me.”
The 32-year-old lefty is 7-11 with a 4.57 ERA in 27 starts this season.
“You’re surprised because you never know what’s going to happen. You hear all kinds of rumblings and things. There’s no reason to get worked up over anything until something happens,” said the 37-year-old Granderson, who had a pinch-hit single and scored in a 6-5 win at Miami.
The 37-year-old Granderson is batting .245 with 11 home runs and 35 RBIs in 104 games this season. He has reached the playoffs with four teams in his career – Detroit, the Yankees, the New York Mets and the Dodgers.
Clubs can start calling up reinforcements from the minors on Saturday. But it’s who they added before September that could really count in October.
McCutchen, one of several players to pass through waivers after the July 31 trade deadline, was sent from San Francisco to the New York Yankees for a pair of minor leaguers.
The 2013 NL MVP was hitting .255 with 15 home runs, 55 RBIs and 13 stolen bases for the Giants. McCutchen will take over in right field – that was slugger Aaron Judge’s spot in the Bronx, but he hasn’t swung a bat since a fastball broke his wrist five weeks ago.
The 31-year-old McCutchen was expected to be in the lineup Saturday at Yankee Stadium to face Detroit. Before he plays, though, he must adhere to the Yankees’ strict rule on facial hair, and that meant shaving the beard he’s sported for almost his whole career.
“Just gonna take me a sec to get used to my freshly shaved face,” he posted on Twitter.
The Dodgers, having seen closer Kenley Jansen wobble since coming off the disabled list, got Madson from the Nationals for a minor league pitcher.
Madson was 5-5 with five saves and a 4.08 ERA in 69 games for Washington. The 38-year-old recently came off the disabled list after being sidelined by nerve irritation that caused pain in his neck and back.
“Feels like a fresh start, especially to a year I’ve struggled a little bit,” Madson said as he was leaving Nationals Park. “Now none of that matters. All that matters is from this point forward and helping that team win games. That’s it.”
Madson helped Philadelphia win the World Series in 2008 and Kansas City do the same in 2015.
The 35-year-old Freese hit .283 with nine homers and 41 RBIs. The 2011 World Series MVP with St. Louis was acquired for a minor league infielder.
“We made the difficult decision to trade David to give him an opportunity to pursue a World Series championship this season,” Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said.
Hechavarria batted a combined .245 with 29 RBIs for Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh.
The Oakland Athletics, who finished last in the AL West the past three years, tried to improve their playoff chances by getting right-handed reliever Cory Gearrin from Texas Rangers for a pair of minor league pitchers.
Gearrin was a combined 2-1 with a 3.51 ERA and one save in 56 appearances for the Rangers and San Francisco.
“I know he’s excited about being here. I talked to him for a while today. He said, “I’ll do whatever you ask me to do,'” A’s manager Bob Melvin said.
In another deal, the Colorado Rockies got backup catcher Drew Butera from Kansas City for a minor league lefty.
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