1. Philadelphia Phillies: They didn't get Halladay, but they got Cliff Lee, who promptly threw a complete-game four-hitter in his Phillies debut. The Phils, who didn't have to give up any blue-chippers coveted by the Jays, have greatly improved their chances of winning a second straight title.
2. Detroit Tigers: They desperately needed pitching help, and they landed Jarrod Washburn, who, after Halladay and Lee, was the best arm available. Yes, they gave up two young pitchers who should help the Mariners, but this is the kind of risk-reward move that contenders have to make.
3. Seattle Mariners: Jack Zduriencik threw the whole buyer-seller paradigm out the window with moves designed to help them now and later. They filled a huge void at shortstop with Wilson, gambled on the high upside of troubled Snell, got another starter (Luke French) for their current rotation, and a potential future stud in Mauricio Robles. For those who argue that trading Washburn was like giving up on the playoff race; face reality: They were essentially out of the playoff race already.
4. Florida Marlins: As usual, the Marlins are a stealth contender. Their shrewd general manager, Larry Beinfest, landed Nick Johnson, who will hit right in front of Hanley Ramirez, where his .408 on-base percentage will provide a major boost to the Florida offense. And the Nationals are paying almost all of Johnson's salary, always important to the cost-conscious Marlins.
5. Chicago White Sox: GM Ken Williams was tenacious in his pursuit of Peavy and landed a pitcher who, when healthy, was one of the top three in the National League. He's out with an ankle injury, but the White Sox are confident he'll be back for September — still time to help them in their pursuit of the Tigers. And the White Sox have Peavy under contract through 2012 (with an option, at a cool $22 million, for 2013). It's a gamble, but one with grand-slam potential.
Honorable mention: St. Louis Cardinals.
1. Pittsburgh Pirates: Perhaps they made the greatest haul of young prospects in the history of baseball. Perhaps GM Neal Huntington truly has a coherent plan to lead the Pirates out of the wilderness. Nevertheless, they have yanked the heart and soul out of another disillusioned group of fans, who have been told to be patient for nearly two decades, with no tangible reward.
2. Cleveland Indians: Mark Shapiro is one of the best GMs around, and much of their dismantling was financially driven. He pulled off a successful reshaping of the Indians once before, and could well do it again. He got a lot of good, young talent, particularly from the Phillies and Red Sox. But for a team that just two years ago was one win away from the World Series, embarking on another complete teardown is a big, big comedown.
3. New York Yankees: It had to have killed the Yankees to watch the Red Sox land Victor Martinez and Casey Kotchman, and counter only with Jerry Hairston. But the Yankees might be so loaded, they don't need much help.
4. Toronto Blue Jays: After all the hoopla over Halladay, they are now left with an exceedingly awkward situation. First, they have an ace that knows his team wanted to deal him. And two, they have decreased bargaining power when Halladay again, inevitably, goes on the market at the winter meetings.
5. Kansas City Royals: Two words: Yuniesky Betancourt. That they actively sought him as the answer to their shortstop needs makes one question the wisdom of their brain trust.
Honorable mention: The do-nothing contenders: Angels, Mets, Astros, Rangers, Brewers.