How wild is it that a whole lot of huge trades went down the days leading up to the deadline? The MLB trade deadline is always crazy and jam-packed with big trades. This year, several big trades happened before the day of the deadline. Players like Max Scherzer, Anthony Rizzo, Starling Marte, and Nelson Cruz were all dealt days before the deadline. Most deals are finished as the 4 p.m. deadline has passed and some teams made drastic changes. Others might have missed out on an opportunity.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers are winners here simply because they were able to stop the Padres from adding Max Scherzer. Even if the Dodgers didn’t add Mad Max, the deadline was a win in what their rivals weren’t able to accomplish. What makes them perhaps the biggest winners this year is the fact that they stole Max Scherzer away from San Diego and added Trea Turner in the process.
The Dodgers possess a glut of multi-position players that provide big offense and versatile defense. If they weren’t the favorites before, they should be now.
Tampa Bay Rays
Tampa Bay is locked in a tight divisional race with the Red Sox and added possibly the best hitter on the market. Nelson Cruz has just a hair lower wRC+ (139) than Joey Gallo as the highest for any players traded this year. Adding Cruz gives them a truly formidable bat to pair with a lot of solid hitters. Moving Rich Hill is also a good deal because it keeps the farm-fresh and moves on from an aging veteran who was probably outplaying his skillset. If nothing else, these moves have set them apart from all the rest of the Wild Card hopefuls.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays find themselves battling back and forth with the Yankees for third place in the AL East and jockeying with several teams for the second Wild Card. This is even though as a team, they have the second-highest wRC+ (112). Pitching has been a huge letdown for the Blue Jays, so what did they do at the deadline? Trade for Jose Berrios and Brad Hand, both huge upgrades that might help them get to the playoffs again. Oh, and Berrios is under contract for another year. Great deadline move.
New York Yankees
Sure, it feels like the Yankees are ramping up to aggressively pursue the second Wild Card, but they addressed some glaring holes on the roster. The lineup was sorely lacking production and left-handed bats, so they added two. Anthony Rizzo fills the offensive chasm that was the first base position and anchors the defense. It also allows D.J. LeMahieu to play his best position. Adding Gallo may have been one of the best deals of the deadline as Gallo can play LF, CF, RF, 3B, and 1B. He leads all outfielders in DRS (14) and has the highest wRC+ (140) of any player dealt this year. A potential lineup of…
- DJ LeMahieu 2B
- Aaron Judge RF/CF
- Joey Gallo RF/CF
- Giancarlo Stanton LF
- Anthony Rizzo 1B
- Luke Voit DH
- Gio Urshela 3B
- Gary Sanchez C
- Gleyber Torres SS
is immediately one of the best in the league (on paper). Adding Andrew Heaney provides pitching depth and Clay Richards and Joely Rodriguez are two of the best ground ball pitchers in baseball pitching in front of a sorely improved defense. It may only get them a wild card spot, but Gallo will be around next year and they didn’t give up a lot in any of the trades and aren’t paying most of the players they added.
Chicago White Sox
Adding the best reliever on the market and adding Cesar Hernandez improves one of the best teams in baseball. Kimbrel is a historically good reliever in the midst of a very strong season and adding Cesar Hernandez helps offset the loss of Nick Madrigal.
Losing Gallo hurts because he is one of the best hitters in baseball and was under contract for another year, but getting back four prospects helps that. They needed to clean house and did: Kyle Gibson and Ian Kennedy both went to Philadelphia. The rebuild is underway and they’ve certainly sped up the process a bit with these deals.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants didn’t really have to make many moves. They just got Brandon Crawford back from injury and Buster Posey will be back soon as well. They’re in first place right now and just need to keep an arm’s length on San Diego and Los Angeles. While the Dodgers improved arguably the most of any team, the Giants adding Kris Bryant is a great addition and sets up the NL West battle to be a hot contest (even more so).
San Diego Padres
It’s got to be tough to be a Padres fan right now. Not only are they ever so slightly fading in the race for the NL West, but they also watched both their rivals get better. Sure, adding Adam Frazier is a great move for now and the future, but to be oh so close to adding Max Scherzer only to see him and his All-Star teammate move into LA really hurts. They improved, but not as much as they could have and not as much as their rivals did.
New York Mets
Sure, the Mets didn’t get any worse. Adding Rich Hill is a dicey move, but without deGrom right now, they do need pitching. Adding Javier Baez is normally a good move, but they just traded for and signed Francisco Lindor to a massive extension this offseason. It seems like they’ll put one of Baez and Lindor at second and move Jeff McNeil to the outfield, but it just doesn’t make a lot of sense. They’re in first place and didn’t need a shortstop of all things. Yeah, Lindor is hurt right now, but Javier Baez isn’t just an injury replacement.
Nico Hoerner and Cubs fans
The Cubs infielder had to watch the entire rest of his infield depart either yesterday or today. Bryant, Rizzo, and Baez are all gone, leaving him like Will Smith in an empty room. The Cubs weren’t going anywhere this year and the rebuild writing was on the wall, but it’s hard to imagine that three core guys that won a World Series five years ago all leaving at the same time.
As for Cubs fans, those are three massive fan favorites, especially Rizzo. Rizzo might be one of the most beloved Cubs of all time and although he was likely gone after the season, that doesn’t alleviate the sting.
Losing Ronald Acuña, Jr. for the season is a loss of a magnitude no other team has endured. What was once a probable MVP season is completely lost and the Braves, who were middling before he got hurt, are floundering. They’ve responded to fill the hole in the outfield with a million outfielders. Joc Pederson, Adam Duvall, Eddie Rosario, and Jorge Soler. What was once a glaring hole is now filled with too many options.
None of those guys are Acuña, Jr. and the Braves are going all-in on chasing the Mets, who are the clear favorites to win the division. Gearing up for that, which I believe to be a fruitless endeavor, makes little sense.
The Phillies are pretty close to the Mets, but the same logic applies here. Kyle Gibson has had a strong year and Ian Kennedy provides some much-needed depth, but they don’t move the needle that much. Why sacrifice prospects for guys that probably won’t push you ahead of the Mets, just to chase the Mets who are 3.5 games up?
Boston Red Sox
Hard to call a team with one of the best records in baseball a loser, but after watching the Rays, who are just behind the Sox, improve, and the Yankees improve greatly (though they’re probably non-competitive to the Sox at this point) hurts. Only adding an injured outfielder who is probably better suited as a designated hitter to a team that already has an outfielder who is absolutely better suited as a designated hitter. Again, if these are the only problems a team is having, they’re in good shape, but they still “lose” the deadline.
Yes, Starling Marte is a good player, but they paid a high price for him. And they had to watch the team they’re chasing in the Wild Card (Rays) get better and the teams chasing them (Toronto, New York, and Seattle) get better. All three teams arguably improved more than the A’s did. The only solace is that Houston didn’t do much this deadline either and Oakland trails them by 5.5 games.
St. Louis Cardinals
In a few of the last moves of the deadline, St. Louis added Jon Lester and J.A. Happ. But for what? They’re 51-51 and not close to winning the division or getting a wild card spot. Why does anything at all?