Does it surprise you that Lance Lynn now has a career ERA+ under 100? It still surprises me. An ERA+ of 97 is still valuable out of the rotation—Baseball Reference has him at 1.3 wins above average for his career—so it's not exactly a renunciation of Lynn-ism, but but he's now underperformed his peripherals two years running.
On the other side: A.J. Burnett, who is somehow achieving a career-high strikeout rate at 36 years old. Maybe we should just assume that all change-of-scenery analysis is hokum except when a player is coming from the Yankees, at which point he can be safely expected to do exactly what it was that caused the Yankees to overpay him in the first place.
We already talked about the Cardinals' last-second trade, but the Pirates got a package deal of veterans from the Mets in their own attempt to shore up the roster and escape the Wild Card. They cost an actual prospect—19-year-old Dilson Herrera, who's hit .270/.335/.423 in the low-A South Atlantic League while playing second base.
Buck is just a weird way to carry three name-brand catchers, but Byrd, somehow, is an upgrade on what the Pirates were previously doing in right field. At 35, having looked totally done last year, he's hit .284/.328/.519 in 2013. He's set career highs in home runs (22) and strikeouts (127, 29 times more than his previous career high), and in general looks like one of the more volatile career-year-havers of 2013. Sign him as a free agent at your own peril.
But in the meantime he replaces erstwhile Blue Jays prospect Travis Snider, who's hit .219/.287/.322, and erstwhile Pirates prospect Jose Tabata, who's hit .270/.339/.409. I don't know how Byrd's done what he's done, or how long he'll do it, but with Starling Marte injured the Pirates took advantage of their super-low replacement level at one position to make a meaningful upgrade.
Axford's certainly a worthwhile, cheaper attempt at the same move. I don't know whether there's a 35-year-old shortstop Marlon Byrd out there, but I wouldn't have minded a slightly larger-scale attempt at the same thing.