Every year, there are the teams that do exactly what they wanted to at the trade deadline. Then, there are the teams that completely fall flat on their face at the deadline. The former would qualify as a winner, while the latter qualifies as a loser. Let’s take a closer look at the winners and losers from the trade deadline.
Winner: Los Angeles Dodgers
When you land the best player on the trade market, you’re automatically a winner at the trade deadline. When you land that player without trading any of your main prospects, that’s just unfair. That’s what happened for the Dodgers, who landed superstar Manny Machado for a package centered around prospect Yusniel Diaz. Diaz is a solid prospect with high upside, but the Dodgers could afford to lose him. They have lots of young outfielders, with Alex Verdugo, Joc Pederson, DJ Peters, Jeren Kendall, Yasiel Puig, among others. What they couldn’t afford to do was part with either of their top catching prospects, Keibert Ruiz and Will Smith. Ruiz has the potential to be an excellent two-way catcher while Smith has the versatility to play pretty much anywhere. They also held onto top pitching prospect Dustin May and didn’t have to offer either of their top pitching prospects in Mitchell White or Yadier Alvarez to complete this deal. That would’ve been enough to be satisfied, but the hungry Dodgers made more moves. They bought low on second baseman Brian Dozier, who’s only slashing .232/.310/.425. However, he already has two home runs in two games as a Dodgers and is notorious for dominating in the second half. Because they bought low on Dozier, they didn’t give any of their top 15 prospects to get him. That makes this trade a low risk-high reward type of move. If Dozier goes on a there, the Dodgers lineup will be unstoppable. If he doesn’t, they move on while still maintaining all their top prospects. To top it off, they added John Axford to provide bullpen depth. The Dodgers now have the best lineup in the National League and are the by far the best team in National League. The potential reward for making all these moves to improve their lineup? A World Series title, which they haven’t had in 29 years.
Loser: Baltimore Orioles
Now, let’s look at Manny Machado’s former team. The Baltimore Orioles came into the trade deadline with a chance to add premier young talent in exchange for their top players (Machado, 2B Jonathan Schoop, SP Kevin Gausman, RP Zach Britton, OF Adam Jones). Instead, they failed miserably and accomplished close to nothing from their firesale. Sure Diaz is a solid prospect, but he isn’t good enough to be the only main piece in return for a super star in Machado, who has coveted by several teams. (Full Analysis on Machado Trade) They then failed miserably in trading Zach Britton, settling on a deal that didn’t even net them a top five prospect in their farm system. The three guys they got in the Britton trade are all 24 or olders, which doesn’t match their window of contention, which is at least 5-10 years away. If things couldn’t get any worse, they traded arguably their best pitcher in Kevin Gausman, who has lots of upside and three years of control, for nothing more than four prospects who all earned a 45 overall grade from MLB.Com. That means all of these prospects aren’t likely to develop into anything beside role players. The Rays got three significant pieces for Chris Archer, who’s ERA isn’t much lower than Gausman. The Orioles should have been able to get at least one significant piece for Gausman, and they didn’t have to trade him if they weren’t getting thosetype of offers. The last trade they made, which they also screw up, was a trade that sent Jonathan Schoop to Millwaukee. They got two prospects, pitching prospect Luis Ortiz and infield prospect Jean Carmona, as well 2B Jonathan Villar. Ortiz will be nothing more than a #4 starter, Carmona will never hit .240, and getting Villar doesn’t matter because they won’t contend any way. Schoop was controlled through next year, so once again it doesn’t make sense that they’d settle on such a bad return.
Winner: Atlanta Braves
The Braves may have not filled immediate needs as well as they could have, but they continued to set themselves up for a bright future. They acquired two controllable players in OF Adam Duvall and Kevin Gausman. Now, neither are having good seasons, as Duvall is hitting .204 and Gausman has an ERA of 4.43. However, there is hope for both. Duvall’s expected average should be .245, meaning he an extreme victim of bad luck. He also is a great defender who already has 10 defensive runs saved this season and still has great power, as had over 30 home runs in both 2016 and 2017. Gausman’s high ground ball rate and low hard contact rate means he needs a good infield defense to succeed, which Baltimore didn’t have. Fortunately for him, Atlanta’s infield is one of the better ones defensively with Dansby Swanson, Ozzie Albies, and Freddie Freeman. He also had to play in the very tough AL East, so a move to the National League should help him tremendously. Because neither of these guys are having subpar seasons, Atlanta didn’t have to part with any of their top 10 prospects, so there isn’t any risk in acquiring these guys. The reward is tremdous though, as Duvall could be a middle of the order bat that helps the Braves outfield defense, while Gausman could be a front-line starter if his potential gets tapped into. They also added two relievers in Jonny Venters and Brad Brach, and only had to give up international bonus money that is insignificant to them. (They are barred from spending over $300K)
Loser: Houston Astros
When you’re the defending champs, 20+ games over .500, and have no glaring needs, who don’t need to make uneccesary trades. That’s exactly what the Astros did, as they acquired closer Roberto Osuna from the Blue Jays. Osuna is currently suspended for violating the league’s domestic policy, something that may not sit well with an Astros clubhouse that has zero tolerance for domestic violence. Despite all of their talent, the best thing the Astros have going for them is their excellent chemsitry. That chemsitry is getting put to jeopardy with this trade for Osuna. They also traded away two solid prospects for Ryan Pressly, who adds depth, but how much depth do you need in the bullpen when it ranks 3rd in the MLB with a 3.15 ERA. The only move they made to improve the offense was acquiring Martin Maldonado, who plays excellent defense but has a .215 average. He’s pretty much a clone of Brian McCan, but a worse hitter, who will be of no use come playoff time when he’s the third catcher on their depth chart behind McCann and Max Stassi. It feels strange to say this, but Houston should’ve looked to help their lineup, as they’ve gotten limited production from left field (.236/.314/.367) and could use some depth with Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa on the disabled list. Instead they decided to try to upgrade an already outstanding bullpen my making a contreversal trade that could deteriate the club’s chemistry that has built the foundation of their success.
Winner: Pittsburgh Pirates
When the Pirates traded their franchise player in Andrew McCutchen to the Giants and ace Gerrit Cole to the Astros, they looked like they were heading towards a long and grueling rebuild. Instead, a recent hot streak put them in the race for the second wildcard, which prompted them to be buyers at the trade deadline. They added two controllable pitchers in starter Chris Archer and reliever Keone Kela. Archer is a two-time All Star and Kela has 2.98 FIP. Both also have three years control, so they’ll be a big part of the Pirates past this season. When you’re a small market team like the Pirates that want to contend, you need the acquire pitching at a low cost because you don’t have the money to sign a big name pitcher in free agency. They gave up four signifcant pieces for Kela and Archer, as they had to give up their #7 ranked rospect in LHP Taylor Hearn for Kela and OF Austin Meadows, SP Tyler Glasnow, and a significant player to be named later for Archer. However, all have their red flags that made it reasonable for the Pirates to use them to get their coveted targets. Hearn only has two effective pitches, and coule be headed towards being stricly a reliever. Meadows has injury history, barely walks, and plays below average defense, while Glasnow has flopped and has career 5.7 BB/9. Unless the player tob be named later is either of their top pithcing prospects Mitch Keller or Shane Baz, or either of their top position player prospects 3B Ke’Bryan Hayes or OF Travis Swaggerty, they also did a tremdous job in the Archer trade. The Pirates acquired the two most coveted pitchers at the trade deadline that are both cheap and controlled for a more than reasonable price, which sets them up excellent for this year and beyond.
Loser: Colorado Rockies
The Colorado Rockies have a legit chance to make the playoffs, as they’re two games outof the NL West and 2.5 games back of the second NL Wildcard. They’re also running out of time, with Nolan Arenado set to be a free agent after next season, Charlie Blackmon starting to regress, and DJ LeMahieu set to be a free agent after this season. They also have a strong enough farm system to add an elite reliever, an extra bat, or a front-line starter. Therefore, it would make sense for the Rockies to make a big trade at the deadline right? Not if you ask Rockies general manger Jeff Bridich, as the only move they made was acquiring RP Seungwhan Oh from the Blue Jays to add depth. That’ll help fix a bullpen that ranks 29th in the MLB with a 5.23 ERA, but it doens’t fix it. Closer Wade Davis already has five blown saves this season, so adding closer Keone Kela would’be been a great move. Kela has experience pitching in a hitters ballpark with the Rangers and doesn’t rely on his breaking ball. That’s important consdeirng how hard it use to use your breaking ball in the altidue in Denver. Instead, Kela was sent to the Pirates for an average pitching prospect. The Rockies also could use some help in the lineup at catcher (.202/.290/.339) and first base (.231/.317/.426). They were several solid options at catcher, with Wilson Ramos headling the group. Ramos was sent to Philadelphia for cash or a player to be named later, an offer Colorado surely could’ve matched. At first base, they could’ve pursued a trade for Justin Smoak of the Blue Jays, Jose Abreu of the White Sox, Justin Bour of the Marlins, or even a rental such as Danny Valencia of the Orioles. Instead, Colorado chose not to add any offensive firepower to their lineup. Lastly, they could’ve used some help in a young rotation that has just a 4.25 ERA, good for 19th in the MLB. There were several solid options out there. JA Happ uses his fastball alot, so he would’ve been a great fit. Instead, the Yankees acquired him in a deal the Rockies could’ve matched. If they wanted to pay the price, Chris Archer, Zack Wheeler, or even star pitcher Jacob deGrom woud’ve instantly become the ace of the Rockies pitching staff and would’ve come with years of control if Colorado wanted to pay the price. Even if the price proved to be too high, rentals such as Matt Harvey or Nathan Eovaldi would’ve helpe their rotation. Colorado has four glaring holes (bullpen, catcher, first base, rotation) and they didn’t fix any of them despite having an excellent chance to make the playoffs as they’re running out of time to make a playoff push. Colorado will regret not making a significant move at the trade deadline, as they may have washed away their last chance to make a World Series run.