On a very entertaining deadline day, the big market teams go for broke, while many legitimate prospects are traded around the league.
The MLB trade deadline came and went Friday afternoon, and some teams clearly came out on top, while others left much to be desired. In a year when everyone is starved for some excitement, the league delivered with a high number of blockbusters. Here are the winners and losers from the deadline.
Winner: Minnesota Twins
The Twins made the best deadline deals by getting big prospect returns without severely hurting their chances to compete in 2022. Jose Berrios is under contract for one more year, but everyone else they traded will be a free agent at season’s end. Trading away their ace certainly hurts, but they got a huge haul that they could not turn down. Simeon Woods Richardson and Austin Martin are both Top 100 prospects, and I think Martin was the best prospect traded in any deal. I thought Martin would be Toronto’s only untouchable prospect. It is worth noting that FanGraphs lowered his evaluation this year, so perhaps the front office saw the same thing.
Going back to trading Nelson Cruz a week ago, the Twins fully committed to selling off their assets, and they significantly improved their farm system as a result. Minnesota is set up well for the next few years.
Loser: Colorado Rockies
Colorado, on the other hand, is not set up well for the next few years. Obvious sellers since Opening Day, the Rockies traded…no one? Okay, they sent Mychal Givens to Cincinnati a few days ago, but two low-level pitchers will not turn the franchise around. Their farm system is one of the worst in baseball, and bafflingly they did nothing to improve it. In fact, the prospects they traded away at last year’s deadline are better than who they got back for Givens or Nolan Arenado during the offseason.
And now, they hold on to Trevor Story just to get a compensation pick. Keeping Jon Gray is defensible since he has expressed interest in signing an extension, but Story has to go. Acting GM Bill Schmidt is really a scouting director, and he is clearly overvaluing how much a draft pick in the 30’s is worth. Story was a compensation pick, but Schmidt can’t assume he will get another superstar in that slot. Plus, Friday’s trades show that rental position players are still worth more than a comp pick. Anthony Rizzo is older and plays a weaker position, and the Cubs got a fringe-Top 100 guy and another prospect for him. They got a former first rounder for Javier Baez and Trevor Williams, and a comparable return for Kris Bryant. The Rockies definitely could have gotten a solid return for Story, if only they saw it that way.
Winner: Contenders going for it
Unlike what the Blue Jays gave up for Berrios, most contenders did well improving their current roster without ruining their future chances. I personally would have backed up the trucked to get a a year-plus of Trea Turner, so the Dodgers did very well only sacrificing their top two prospects and two others for Turner and Max Scherzer. I thought they would have to give up at least one more Top 100 player, but I feel pretty good that one of my predictions came true.
The contenders who did best are the ones who jumped ahead of the market and made moves before Deadline Day. The Padres getting Adam Frazier for one good prospect and two throwaways is a no-brainer, and the Yankees did not break the bank for Joey Gallo. Neither player is a rental, so I expected their prices to be higher. Apparently A’s fans are mad at trading Jesus Luzardo, but Starling Marte is a serious upgrade in the outfield.
Loser: Teams stuck in the middle
Most of the teams hovering around .500 didn’t do much, and that is almost always the wrong decision. Since the current roster is going nowhere, middling teams have to make moves to shift the direction of the franchise in some way. I wrote two weeks ago that the Braves would have been better off selling, but I commend them for sticking to their plan and making purposeful additions. The same is not true of teams like the Cardinals or Angels.
The St. Louis deadline consisted of trades for J.A Happ and Jon Lester. How are they supposed to help, with negative WAR? Wouldn’t trading away Andrew Miller or Paul DeJong make more sense going forward? The Angels traded Andrew Heaney for a small but fair return, but they held onto Raisel Iglesias for no reason. Cleveland merely dumped a salary and AAAA guys. The Mariners angered the clubhouse by trading Kendall Graveman to the rival Astros, but their trades were at least meaningful. For most others with single-digit playoff odds, the deadline brought more confusion than answers.
Winner: Injured Players
Conventional thinking says players who are hurt can’t be traded because they will not play in the immediate future. Well, this year’s deadline proved that school of thought wrong. The Red Sox got Kyle Schwarber as a key lefty. The Dodgers got Danny Duffy for long relief. The Braves got Eddie Rosario for a platoon. Nick Madrigal is the main return for Craig Kimbrel even though he is out for the rest of the year. The Phillies got Freddy Galvis to shore up their defense. Teams have two months to make the playoffs, but their betting on only a few weeks from these guys to make a difference.
After a few years of GM’s hesitant to pull the trigger at the deadline, we got a whole week of shocking trades. At last year’s relatively tame deadline during the shortened season, the top prospect traded was Taylor Trammell, and MLB.com only ranked him at #100. This year, four guys in their Top 100 were traded, and so were many other prospects who would be in the next 100. Every serious contender made at least one notable trade, so it is safe to say that the deadline will impact the pennant race. Professional sports are meant to be entertaining, and baseball fans got two straight days of non-stop entertainment. October here we come.
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