Heading into the MLB trade deadline, the baseball world was expecting to see big names change uniforms. 2014 World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner, 2018 reliever of the year Edwin Diaz, and other young stars such as Noah Syndergaard, Robbie Ray, and Matthew Boyd were expected to be on the move. Alas, none of those players were traded, though that didn’t mean the deadline was a thud. We still had our fair share of lopsided trades, which means that it’s easy to identify winners and losers from the trades made, as well as the trades that were NOT made. Who are those winners and losers? Let’s examine.
Winner: Chicago Cubs
Additions: OF Nicholas Castellanos, UTIL Tony Kemp, RP David Phelps, RP Brad Wieck
Losses: SP/RP Mike Montgomery, RHP Paul Richan, RHP Alex Lange, RHP Thomas Hatch, RP Craig Edwards
With a limited farm system and limited spending power, it was always going to be tough for the Cubs to make any splash acquisitions. Yet, they still managed to fill all their needs at the trade deadline. In outfielder Nicholas Castellanos, the team is receiving an above-average offensive producer with a much higher road wrc+ (125), suggesting his performance should elevate in Chicago. Furthermore, his ability to destroy left-handed pitching (166 wrc+) is a major bonus for a team that hasn’t been able to hit lefties all season long. They got him on the cheap for two low-ceiling pitching prospects in Richan and Lange, making this a no-brainer move for them. Then comes Tony Kemp, who struggled in Houston, but most of that is due to an unlucky .233 BABIP, and his ability to play the infield and outfield is useful for a team that was looking for a utility player. David Phelps wasn’t an ideal fix to the bullpen, but he’ll at least provide some depth for what is a rather thin bullpen, and Brad Wieck may give them the lefty reliever they needed. None of these are eye-popping moves, but Chicago was able to help them in the short-term without sacrificing long-term success, and that should be seen as a major win for them.
Loser: Washington Nationals
Additions: RP Daniel Hudson, RP Roenis Elias, RP Hunter Strickland
Losses: RHP Kyle Johnston, OF/RHP Elvis Alvarado, LHP Taylor Guilbeau, LHP Aaron Fletcher
Heading into the trade deadline, the Nationals had one objective: upgrade the bullpen despite their limited financial resources and prospects. Yet, their approach to doing so can best be described as puzzling. In acquiring rental Daniel Hudson from the Blue Jays, the team is receiving a reliever that has completely outperformed his peripherals, meaning he could be bound for future regression. Yet, that was the best trade made by the team. They targeted two controllable Mariners relievers in Roenis Elias and Hunter Strickland, but the problem is, both are below-average pitchers; there’s nothing particularly intriguing about Elias, who sports are 4.60 FIP, while Strickland has only pitched in 3.2 innings this season with a lat injury and had regressed significantly last year. Plus, the team gave up three of their top 30 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline, including two relievers in Taylor Guilbeau and Aaron Fletcher who could’ve been promoted to the majors and at the worst given similar results to the players they acquired. A head-scratching bundle of moves, to say the least.
Winner: Seattle Mariners
Additions: LHP Aaron Fletcher, LHP Taylor Guilbeau, OF/RHP Elvis Alvarado, INF Jose Caballero
Losses: SP Mike Leake, RP Hunter Strickland, RP Roenis Elias
I’m not sure how general manager Jerry Dipoto does it, but despite having practically no intriguing trade-chips, he was able to ship out three players in brilliant moves to acquire more young talent. As covered with Washington, Seattle could be receiving similar production from Fletcher and Guilbeau in the bullpen that they got from Strickland and Elias; those trades were brilliant. However, by being able to trade away a well-below average starting pitcher in Mike Leake, who had a poor 4.73 FIP, clear $6 million of his remaining salary and open up a spot for a younger pitcher, the team also was able to benefit their team in an indirect fashion, making this a practically flawless trade deadline for Dipoto.
Loser: Cincinnati Reds
Additions: SP Trevor Bauer, OF Jameson Hannah, PTBNL, Cash Considerations
Losses: OF Taylor Trammell, OF Yasiel Puig, SP Tanner Roark, 2B Scooter Gennett, LHP Scott Moss
The Reds may have a positive run differential, but they’re well out of the division and wildcard races. Competing in 2020 isn’t out of the question, but if the team was going to do so, the one place they didn’t need to upgrade was in the rotation that ranks in the top ten in FIP (4.16). Yet, somehow, the team thought it would be a good idea to make an aggressive, yet foolish trade in which they acquired starting pitcher Trevor Bauer in a three-team trade. Yes, Bauer is a very talented pitcher who may have won the Cy Young if he didn’t get injured last season, but he has a FIP of 4.15, has regressed in practically every category, and outside of one quality season, has been more of an average pitcher than an ace. Moreover, they gave up one of the better prospects in baseball (Taylor Trammell) to get him, while foregoing the opportunity to acquire more prospect in a Puig trade. So, not only did they overpay for an inconsistent starting pitcher when they’re already out of the playoff race and have a strong rotation, but they couldn’t even act as “sellers” properly, just because they had to make a trade just for the purpose of making one.
Winner: San Diego Padres
Additions: OF Taylor Trammell, RP Carl Edwards Jr.
Losses: OF Franmil Reyes, SP Logan Allen, INF Victor Nova, RP Brad Wieck
The Padres simply could’ve stood pat the trade deadline, as they’re not a bad enough team to sell of controllable assets, but a not a strong enough team to make any aggressive acquisitions. Yet, they somehow were able to get involved in the Bauer trade, thanks to general manager AJ Preller’s aggressive techniques, and they actually came out as winners. By trading a defensive liability in Franmil Reyes and a low-ceiling pitching prospect in Logan Allen, they received potentially another superstar to their abundance of young talent in Trammell, and since he’s almost major league ready, he fits their timeline as the possible final piece to the puzzle. Additionally, in acquiring Carl Edwards Jr., they receive a reliever that has been above-average for his entire career, and they’re able to get him on the cheap because of a small sample size this season. Keep an eye out for this team as a contender in 2020, 2021, and beyond; the future is as bright as it gets.
Loser: New York Mets
Additions: SP Marcus Stroman, C Austin Bossart
Losses: SP Jason Vargas, LHP Anthony Kay, RHP Simeon Woods Richardson
The Mets fall under a very similar category to the Reds; they expected to be a contender heading into the season, and seemingly couldn’t handle reality. They acquired one of the top players on the trade market in Marcus Stroman, most likely hoping to build a formidable rotation for 2020. However, Stroman isn’t exactly a star player; he needs a good infield defense since he doesn’t strike a lot of batters out, but the Mets have one of the worst infield defenses in baseball. Plus, they’re giving up arguably their top two pitching prospects in Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods Richardson, which they couldn’t afford to do. As for Jason Vargas, they traded him for a 26-year-old catcher who has struggled in the majors and are paying some of his salary, despite the fact a similar pitcher in Homer Bailey brought back a legitimate prospect (Kevin Merrell) for the Royals. It’s safe to say that the trade deadline was a mess for general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, which can be said about his entire tenure with New York.
Winner: Miami Marlins
Additions: OF Jesus Sanchez, RP Ryne Stanek, SS Jazz Chisholm, 1B Lewin Diaz
Losses: RP Nick Anderson, SP Trevor Richards, SP Zac Gallen, RP Sergio Romo, Chris Vallimont, PTBNL
The Marlins have been heavily criticized, as they should be, for the light returns they received when they traded their star-studded outfield of Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton, and Marcell Ozuna. However, they got creative at the trade deadline, and as a result have added two premium, high-upside prospects. By selling high on reliever Nick Anderson and his five extra years of team control, in addition to Trevor Richards’ club control, they received an elite offensive producer in Jesus Sanchez, who is moving quickly through the minors, as well as reliever Ryne Stanek, whom the team could possibly capitalize on next season as a potential trade chip. Furthermore, they dealt a high-floor starting pitcher in Zac Gallen, who is solid but most likely just a #3 or #4 starting pitcher, for a high-end talent in Jazz Chisholm, who has the potential to be a dynamic two-way shortstop down the line. Heck, even shipping Sergio Romo and pitching prospect Chris Vallimont could pay dividends, if Lewin Diaz eventually realizes his potential as a two-way first baseman. All of a sudden, Miami has gone from having a bleak future to having one of the best collections of young talent in all of baseball.
Loser: Toronto Blue Jays
Additions: LHP Anthony Kay, RHP Simeon Woods-Richardson, RHP Kyle Johnston, RHP Thomas Hatch, 2 PTBNLs, OF Derek Fisher
Losses: SP Marcus Stroman, RP Daniel Hudson, RP David Phelps, SP Aaron Sanchez, RP Joe Biagini, UTIL Eric Sogard, OF Cal Stevenson
Coming into the season, the Blue Jays looked to be in prime position to capitalize at the trade deadline; they had controllable trade-chips in Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, and reliever Ken Giles. However, the team didn’t receive a highly-regarded prospect for Stroman despite the fact he’s having an All-Star season; they acquired a 24-year-old who’s struggling mightily in Triple-A (Kay) and an intriguing, yet risky pitching prospect in Woods-Richardson. Furthermore, Sanchez’s value plummeted amid a horrible season, and the team had to ship him, reliever Joe Biagini’s 3 extra years of club control, and one of their better outfield prospect in Cal Stevenson for a 25-year-old outfielder in Derek Fisher who has a lot of talent, but has yet to carve out a role at the major-league level. Even worse, Giles dealt with elbow inflammation ahead of the trade deadline, and the team wasn’t able to trade him as a result. They did fine in trades that sent veterans Daniel Hudson, Eric Sogard, and David Phelps to contenders, but they had a chance to add the missing pieces to what has the makings a powerhouse down the line, and they failed miserably.
Winner: Arizona Diamondbacks
Additions: SP Zac Gallen, 1B/OF Seth Beer, SP Corbin Martin, RHP JB Bukauskas, INF Joshua Rojas, SP Mike Leake, Cash Considerations, $53 Million
Losses: SP Zack Greinke, SS Jazz Chisholm, INF Jose Caballero
The Diamondbacks certainly didn’t have a flawless trade deadline. It’s definitely somewhat risky to trade their top prospect for a middle of the rotation type starter in Gallen without the same prospect pedigree, and acquiring an aging, below-average at best pitcher in Mike Leake was also strange. However, Arizona came out as the winners of the biggest trade at the trade deadline. Yes, the team is still in wildcard contention and Zack Greinke is a fantastic pitcher, but he’s also 35-years-old and was set to make $77 million through 2021, which is troubling for a small-market team. They were able to get 2/3 of that salary of the books AND receive a tremendous package of prospects. Seth Beer is one of the best hitters in the entire minor leagues and could be in the majors very soon, while Corbin Martin (Tommy John surgery) and JB Bukauskas (poor command) are risky prospects, but they also have high-upsides and could easily be in their rotation for years to come, while Joshua Rojas should at least be a valuable utility player. The team went from being mediocre with an okay farm system to still competitive with an elite farm system, just by making the one trade that always seemed to be inevitable for them.
Loser: Milwaukee Brewers
Additions: RP Drew Pomeranz, RP Ray Black, SP Jordan Lyles, SP Jake Faria
Losses: 2B/SS Mauricio Dubon, RHP Cody Ponce, 1B Jesus Aguilar
The Brewers were in a tricky spot entering the trade deadline, as they were close enough to contention to warrant going all-in, but had a negative run differential, which meant they probably should keep their top prospect. In the end, they did neither. Yes, Drew Pomeranz’s small-sample size numbers as a reliever are intriguing and could help the team, but he’s a complete unknown, as is Ray Black, who has struggled in Triple-A this season. Meanwhile, Mauricio Dubon is already 25-years-old, but he’s a young asset that could step-in for them in the infield as soon as next season, and now they’ve shipped him for two flips of a coin. Somehow, the team’s search to upgrade the rotation led to Jordan Lyles, who had been miserable since a solid April with the Pirates, and to acquire him, the team shipped out an intriguing minor-league reliever in Cody Ponce. Didn’t think it could get worse? The team traded first baseman Jesus Aguilar, despite the fact he was showing obvious signs of returning to his 2018 form, when he was one of the best first basemen in baseball, for a pitcher in Jake Faria who’s struggled in the minors the past couple seasons. There’s little upside with the trades President of Baseball Operations David Stearns made, but the potential downside is significant; Milwaukee had a very confusing trade deadline, to say the least.