The MLB trade deadline is a time for playoff contenders to add last-minute firepower en route to a crazy regular season finish. It’s also a time for fans to prepare themselves for the joy of adding a critical piece to their push, or for the agony of doing absolutely nothing. That being said, let’s take a look at those fanbases who left the deadline ecstatic, and those who didn’t.
Thanks to a late flurry of action following the deadline’s official close, the Stros’ stole the show. At first it seemed as if backup catcher Martin Maldonado was the lone addition to a sleepy deadline, then minutes after 4:00 had struck bullpen piece Joe Biagini joined, then former all-star Aaron Sanchez was acquired. Finally, to top it all off, news broke that GM Jeff Luhnow had pulled the trigger, trading for Diamondbacks star Zack Greinke and assembling arguably the scariest starting rotation in baseball. With the addition of Greinke, Luhnow and the Astros went out and got the best player moved at the deadline and became almost a unanimous World Series favorite, all while holding onto their two top prospects, Kyle Tucker and Forrest Whitley. Meanwhile, the addition of Sanchez adds a young, middle-of-the-rotation arm to the bottom of their staff, Biagini offers another solid bullpen option, and Maldonado is a great backup option and a plus defender. In sum, Houston shored up every hole possible through big name and under-the-radar additions alike, without totally depleting the farm, and furthering their status as the AL’s best. Luhnow did it again.
Although many fans were confused as to why Cleveland would trade their No. 2 starter while only three games out of first and leading the wild card race, it was a clever move, and one that turned them into winners at the deadline. In shipping away the ill-tempered Bauer and his one and a half years of control, Cleveland acquired solid assets that will help them compete far beyond next year and still sport a solid rotation that consists of young stars (Bieber and Clevinger), veteran all-stars (Kluber and Carrasco), and a surplus of young unproven talent (Zach Plesac, Logan Allen and Triston McKenzie). The main piece of the package, 24 year old Franmil Reyes, is under contract through 2024 and provides Cleveland with much needed power, as he’s already slugged 27 long balls this season (enough to lead the team), and supplies them with a solid bat to hit behind Lindor and Ramirez for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, the aforementioned Logan Allen is a quality pitching prospect who has a limited sample size in the majors and sits at #98 in MLB.com’s top 100 prospect rankings. Lastly, Yasiel Puig is in town and although he is entering free agency after this season, he fills the immediate need for corner outfield hitting and will play a chief role in the Tribe’s push for the playoffs. Cleveland wasn’t going to make that trade if it didn’t bring back young, major league ready talent, and that’s exactly what they got. Mike Chernoff and Co. flipped one and a half years of Bauer in exchange for five years of Reyes, six years of Allen and two months of a middle-of-the-order bat in Puig. Cleveland brought in an excellent balance of current and future talent for a relatively short term asset, which is why they won the second biggest trade of the deadline, and are labeled winners at its conclusion.
Bet you didn’t expect to see this team on here. Yes, the Miami Marlins had a spectacular deadline in terms of acquiring young talent and building for the future. Although it seemed as if Starlin Castro, Neil Walker, and Curtis Granderson were the most certain players to be dealt, it was middle-of-the-rotation, high upside starters Zac Gallen and Trevor Richards, along with reliever Sergio Romo, who were flipped for 3 prospects with even higher ceilings. To begin, Lewin Diaz was an excellent snag, especially considering it was for aging reliever Sergio Romo and 2 throw-in prospects. Diaz now ranks as the teams No. 13 overall prospect, according to MLB.com, and the top ranked first baseman in their system; so getting him for the team’s scraps was an excellent addition. Next, in a rare prospect for prospect trade, Miami sent young starter and No. 5 organizational prospect Zac Gallen to Arizona in exchange for the No. 59 overall and Diamondbacks top prospect Jazz Chisholm. Zac Gallen’s short major league success with the team wasn’t enough to lock him up, as GM Michael Hill and Co. seem to believed they bought low on the highly touted Chisholm, who assists in the team's push for high-end minor league talent. Finally, Miami cashed in on SP Trevor Richards and RP Nick Anderson as they grabbed top prospect Jesus Sanchez and 28-year-old RP Ryne Stanek. Stanek and Anderson pretty much cancel each other out, so when we look at it as Richards for Sanchez, the clear winner is Miami. Richards, who projects as a middle-of-the-rotation arm, currently holds a 4.50 ERA in 112 IP while Sanchez, a projected middle-of-the-order bat, continues to put up solid numbers, as he ranks as the No. 42 overall prospect in the league. Selling on these young starters allows room for the influx of young rotational talent (Sixto Sanchez, Edward Cabrera, Jordan Yamamoto, Braxton Garrett, etc.) currently in the system while also allowing Miami to continue their pursuit of young offensive talent. These moves perfectly align with the team's future plans, continue a spectacular minor league renovation, and stamp Miami as winners at the deadline.
Hear me out. Snagging Bauer at the deadline offers Cincinnati a one and a half year window of contention in the wide open NL Central, constructs a scary 1-2-3 punch in the rotation, and puts them one big bat away from legitimate World Series consideration next season. Although losing Trammell will definitely hurt up the middle, this was a win now move and one that may just pay off.
Atlanta had one of the worst bullpens in the league, while having one of the best overall teams. Well, the bullpen rebuild is complete as the team went out and got Chris Martin (3.00 ERA) from Texas, Mark Melancon (3.50 ERA) from San Francisco, and one and a half years of All-Star Shane Greene (1.18 ERA), while ripping off Detroit. Now with a reliable bullpen backing up a lethal offense and solid pitching staff, the Braves have a great chance to be the last team standing.
New York Yankees
Much like the NL-best L.A. Dodgers, The Yanks stayed put. But unlike the Dodgers, they shouldn't have. It wasn't as critical for LA as: a) they have their division locked up; b) won’t face the same level of competition in the playoffs; c) don’t have any legitimate holes that demand parting with top prospects; and d) didn’t watch their biggest threat add Zack Greinke. On the other hand, as constant rumors suggested, the Yankees needed to add a significant name to their starting rotation. But they didn’t. Now, with the Astros as the unanimous AL favorite, the Twins right on their tail, and a wildcard race that includes Cleveland, Tampa Bay, Boston, and Oakland, the Bronx Bombers will find competition no matter their placement. Not adding an effective starter to a rotation in need was simply the wrong way to go.
Boston Red Sox
Talk about a desperate need for pitching. The defending champs don’t currently possess a playoff spot, haven’t had an actual closer all season, and have David Price’s 3.86 ERA leading the team, while players such as Chris Sale and Rick Porcello continue to get shelled. So what do they do? Add Andrew Cashner’s 4.44 ERA to the mix and ignore the bullpen. Although they have the talent to make up for their struggles and stay in the wild card mix, something should have been done with all of the arms available at the deadline. If the rotation fails to get a grip, don’t be at all surprised to see a historic collapse.
Continuing on the theme of teams who definitely needed to make a move yet failed to make headlines, the Philadelphia Phillies are next up. Preseason expectations have certainly not been met, but the Phillies are still in the heart of the wild card race. However, outside of adding Corey Dickerson in an attempt to add outfield depth, and Jason Vargas to the bottom of the rotation, GM Matt Klentak and the Phills’ front office failed to excite the fan base with much-needed pitching additions to both the bullpen and starting five. On the other hand, in-division rivals Atlanta and Washington loaded up on bullpen depth, gearing up for the postseason push. While teams around them got better, the disappointing Phillies didn’t add much when they needed it most, which is why they are labeled losers at the deadlines close.
It was an ugly deadline for Milwaukee. To begin, they gave up a very solid player, and their No. 3 organizational prospect in Mauricio Dubon for the struggling Drew Pomeranz and Ray Black, a downright horrible trade. Also, adding Jordan Lyles and his 5.15 ERA to the rotation does virtually nothing. To sum it up, they failed to add an impact arm to reduce Josh Hader’s workload and did little to address their mess of a rotation.
*Stats Courtesy of Baseball Reference