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Wednesday, January 15
Updated: March 13, 5:06 PM ET
A team-by-team view of the Colon deal

By Dave Campbell
Special to ESPN.com

The offseason Bartolo Colon sweepstakes is finally over. The White Sox acquired the 20-game winner Wednesday in a deal involving the Yankees and Expos. The trade's details are as follows:
Players White Sox get: starter Bartolo Colon, minor-league infielder Jorge Nunez (from Expos)
Players Yankees get: reliever Antonio Osuna, minor-league pitcher Delvis Lantigua (from White Sox)
Players Expos get: starter Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez (from White Sox via Yanks), pitcher Rocky Biddle, outfielder-first baseman Jeff Liefer (from White Sox)

Some cash was involved besides the players, but I'll leave that aspect of the deal to the accountants. Here's how I see the trade helping (or hindering) the three teams from an on-the-field perspective:

Yankees: Playing keep away
The underlying motivation for the New York Yankees, I believe, is they were afraid Colon might end up with the Boston Red Sox. Had the Red Sox acquired Colon, the dynamic of the AL East would have shifted. Imagine a Boston rotation featuring the formidable trio of Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe and Colon?

I'm sure New York's front office imagined that as well -- and didn't want that imagination to become a real-life nightmare. I wasn't a fly on the wall in the negotiations surrounding this deal, but I'm figuring all three teams were up-front about their intentions. Thus, the Yankees saw an opportunity to unload El Duque and, at the same time, keep Colon from going to the rival Red Sox. The prospect of facing Boston with that rotation 19 times a season had to factor into New York's rationale for this deal.

Besides the Yankees' preventative motivation, they resolved some other issues. They had eight starting pitchers, so we knew they'd make a move there. Plus, New York acquired a right-handed reliever, Antonio Osuna, to offset the loss of Ramiro Mendoza (to Boston via free agency). The Yankees had already picked up free-agent left-hander Chris Hammond to replace left-handed reliever Mike Stanton (who signed as a free agent with the New York Mets). So the Yanks' bullpen still has good depth.

White Sox: Will stud starter mean division title?
This is a tremendous trade for the Chicago White Sox, who filled perhaps their greatest need. The deal places Chicago, a disappointing club last season, squarely in the mix in the AL Central. With Colon, the White Sox now have the second-best starting rotation in the AL Central. The Minnesota Twins still have the division's best staff (with Eric Milton, Brad Radke, Joe Mays, Rick Reed and Kyle Lohse).

Assuming Mark Buehrle is still Chicago's No. 1 starter, Colon becomes the No. 2, making the White Sox a legitimate challenger to defending AL Central champion Minnesota. After Buehrle and Colon, the performance of starters Jon Garland and Dan Wright will be key for Chicago in 2003.

Let's look at what Chicago gave up. Pitcher Rocky Biddle has shown some promise, but hadn't taken the same steps forward that Garland and Wright had. Jeff Liefer has the potential to be a solid hitter, but the White Sox weren't able to find him a regular spot in the lineup. So the risk-reward scale tips clearly in the favor of Colon, a proven commodity and 20-game winner in 2002.

Expos: Wild card holds key to deal
This is a decent deal for the Montreal Expos, but I believe it ends their hopes of contending in the NL East in 2003.

Losing a player of Colon's magnitude would be difficult for any team, but the Expos were already short on star power. With two great starters -- Javier Vazquez and Colon -- along with Vladimir Guerrero and Jose Vidro, the Expos had a chance to challenge the Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves and New York Mets. Without Colon, that chance evaporates.

Jeff Liefer holds the key to this deal for Montreal. Some observers believe that if he gets 500 at-bats, he could produce some big numbers. He played both outfield and first base with the White Sox -- and the Expos certainly need a first baseman.

A left-handed batter with power potential, Liefer is the wild card. If he blossoms, this will be a good trade for Montreal. Plus, Biddle could contribute in the rotation, and the money the Expos save by losing Colon's salary might enable them to afford another significant player.

Dave Campbell, who was a major-league infielder for eight seasons (1967-74), is an analyst for ESPN's "Baseball Tonight" and ESPN Radio.

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