Wow! That was epic. All 30 teams were involved. Let’s get to it.
Huh? Given the humiliating .317 win percentage, I expected wholesale changes in Phoenix, but D-Backs general manager, Mike Hazen, had other plans.
Asdrubal Cabrera, free agent at the end of the year, must have been able to bring in something. Kole Calhoun could easily have moved to the outfield-deficient Braves or White Sox. David Peralta and Merrill Kelly both have one affordable year of control left.
But credit to Hazen for sticking to his guns, he refused to give away players for “little or nothing.”
It looks like the only two moves were shipping off Joakim Soria and Eduardo Escobar. I don’t know much about the two guys, Cooper Hummel and Alberto Ciprian, they got in return, but neither appear on the revised Top 30 prospects list. Given the gulf between the top three and bottom two teams in the division, it could be a tough couple of years for Arizona.
All three outfielders have game-changing potential, so added to the new addition of Pirates’ closer Richard Rodriguez, who will take over the eighth-inning role, the Braves have significantly improved their chances without giving away too much.
It is interesting that general manager Mike Elias is content with his roster that he did not want to entertain offers for bullpen arms Tanner Scott, Dillon Tate or Paul Fry, or the higher-profile names of Cedric Mullins or Trey Mancini.
Boston Red Sox
I’ve long given up trying to fathom the Red Sox. To me, they’re like the Rockies with money. As a neutral fan, I can’t forgive them for dumping Mookie Betts. We all know they could have extended him had they wanted. Anyway, I digress. The Red Sox addressed their void at first base by signing injured OF/DH Kyle Schwarber, who I don’t think has ever played first.
They also picked up excellent reliever Hansel Robles and lefty Austin Davis, to bolster the bullpen, but it was a shame to see Michael Chavis go. He was one of the most compelling characters of the London Series, and one of the few on the Red Sox roster who can play first base.
They also cashed in on the dominant form of Craig Kimbrel.
It was kind of disappointing that the Cubs didn’t extend one of their core trio, but 2021 marks the end of an era. An era that brought the World Series to the north side of Chicago after a record-breaking 108-year absence. In Saturday’s game, only Willson Contreras and Jason Heyward remained from the victorious Game 7 lineup, although I still regard Heyward as more of a Brave than a Cub.
The most well-known of the players acquired by the Cubs is Nick Madrigal. The second baseman is a high-contact, high on-base hitter who seldom strikes out.
The other high-profile player is outfielder, Pete Crow-Armstrong, Mets’ first-rounder from 2020 who now looks like the Cubs lead-off hitter of the future.
Chicago White Sox
Since the start of the millennium, there had only been one cross-Chicago trade, the legendary deal which sent Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease across town for Jose Quintana. And then, we had two deals in two days with the White Sox raiding the Cubs bullpen twice.
A bullpen with more holes than a woodpecker’s Swiss cheese sandwich was patched by the arrival of Luis Cessa and Justin Wilson from New York for a player to be named later. They were joined by Mychal Givens from the Rockies.
With numerous players set to return – Nick Castellanos, Mike Moustakas, Nick Senzel, Lucas Sims, Tejay Antone, Michael Lorenzen, the Reds did not need to make any big splashes, but it looks like a tough ask to catch the Brewers for the division or the Dodgers/Padres for the Wild Card.
Pablo Sandoval. Huh?
Oh my! Where to begin?
The Rockies are 13 games below .500 in the toughest division in MLB. You would imagine something drastic needs to happen in Colorado to prevent the team from becoming stranded in the Doldrums for the rest of the decade.
I’m not going to take the easy narrative, so instead, I’ll cut them some slack. Pitching is always hard for Colorado to acquire, so maybe they expect to work out an extension with Jon Gray and Daniel Bard. Maybe this was never an option for Mychal Givens who wanted to be traded to a contender (Reds) for which the Rockies got back a couple of prospects.
Maybe the same confidence in agreeing to an extension stretched to C.J. Cron, who with 14 homers and .801 OPS has exceeded expectations of the Rockies $1 million investment.
Maybe there were no suitable deals for Charlie Blackmon and German Marquez. Maybe the front office feels that the core of Ryan McMahon, Brendan Rodgers, Raimel Tapia, Yonathan Daza and Garrett Hampson is a solid base from which to work.
And then you get to Trevor Story. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Yes, they should have traded him 18 months ago, but who knew what a COVID-19 season would look like. Yes, they should have traded him at the last deadline, but maybe they really thought they would be more competitive. And yes, they should have traded him before this deadline, but maybe they really do value a compensatory pick over anything they were offered.
“With the way the system is set up, there’s a financial component to it. Depending where the pick is, it’s probably a couple million dollars added to your signing pool money that you’re able to use throughout the Draft. So it’s just not that player. It might be a couple other players.
“But with that pick, that was where Trevor was drafted. Nolan Arenado was in the vicinity, Ryan McMahon — we’ve had some success. We’ve had some misses, but we’ve had a lot of success in those areas.”
interim GM Bill Schmidt
It’s not apples for apples, but the Mets coughed up Pete Crow-Armstrong, the 19th pick in 2020, for shortstop Javier Baez. You have to admire the Rockies confidence that they will draft someone of better value than that sort of player.
It appears that no one wanted Wily Peralta or Jonathan Schoop, both free agents at the end of the season. The only piece of business the Tigers did was shipping off pitcher Daniel Norris for Brewers’ prospect Reese Olson.
The memo on James Click’s desk read “Get bullpen help”, so he did.
Kansas City Royals
Apparently, Bjork’s favourite city in Missouri is Kansas City.
And it was very quiet, with the exception of moving Danny Duffy to the Dodgers for a player to be named later. And just before the trade deadline, the Royals shipped Jorge Soler to the Braves for a player who looks to have the ceiling of a mid-pen reliever, Kasey Kalich.
Los Angeles Angels
Hmmm. Great trade sending Andrew Heaney to the Yankees. It’s been a rough season for the left-hander, but he makes starts and eats innings. I don’t know anything about the two prospects they got back: Janson Junk and Elvis Peguero, but they slot into 21 and 22 in the Angels prospect list, which probably says more about the talent on the farm than the generosity of the Yankees.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Favourites for one of the NL Wild Card berths, the Los Angeles Dodgers went big in their attempt to secure their first World Series without an asterisk for 33 years.
It certainly seemed that Ken Rosenthal was Laura Kussenberg-like duped into revealing incorrect information, that prodded the Dodgers into action.
Whether these additions will prevent drubbings like the 5-0 humiliation at the hand of division leaders, Giants, on Thursday, or Friday’s extra-innings loss to (checks notes) the Diamondbacks, I just don’t know.
On Thursday, the Dodgers had Albert Pujols, Billy McKinney and Austin Barnes. That’s not good enough. When everyone is fit, it’s an awesome team… which is exactly what I say each year about my fantasy baseball team.
The Dodgers also acquired Danny Duffy from the Royals, but maybe the biggest benefit of the deadline dealing was keeping Scherzer out of San Francisco and San Diego.
Almost every team in the league had a need for an outfielder excelling like the 2021 version of Starling Marte, but the Marlins held out until a Corleone offer they couldn’t refuse of young, talented, controllable Jesus Luzardo. Damn, the Marlins’ 2022 rotation is looking good.
I don’t think the Brewers are that good, but they continue to dominate the NL Central, and this is without Christian Yelich firing. Milwaukee picked up Daniel Norris to bolster their pitching, and Eduardo Escobar to… well, actually I don’t know where he will play. The 32-year-old, an All-Star in 2021 for the first time, has flashed brilliance this season between second and third base. The Brewers biggest need is at first base, so we will wait to see. It’s not that hard to play first base.
I didn’t want the Twins to trade Jose Berrios, as he still has another year of control after this season, but the return of Austin Martin (first-rounder from 2020) and elite pitching prospect, Simeon Woods Richardson looks an excellent piece of business.
I don’t understand how they were able to acquire major-league starter John Gant (and prospect Evan Sisk) from the Cardinals for J.A. Happ. Gant’s results (3.42 ERA, 5.11 FIP) are better than he deserves, but the 28-year-old has decent stuff, so it is a head-scratching move. A good one for the Twins, though.
New York Mets
It wasn’t this decade, but I’m old enough to remember seeing Javier Baez post an on-base percentage over .300. We saw El Mago, desperately trying to prove the Cubs weren’t up the creek without a paddle. He was wrong.
The double-play team of Baez with fellow Puerto Rican, Francisco Lindor will be a joy for neutrals to watch, but it doesn’t address their miserable +2 run differential.
Trevor Williams also came over in the deal that sent the Mets’ first-round pick from 2020, Pete Crow-Armstrong the other way.
It’s difficult to know whether the rotation additions of Williams and Rich Hill will be sufficient to keep the Phillies and Braves at bay.
New York Yankees
I pictured Brian Cashman saying “We need to close the gap on the Rays and Red Sox. Go get me Joey”
Instead, they settled for the second-best Joey in the game, but it will be fun watching Joey Gallo introduce the concept of three true outcomes to the Yankees’ outfield. We know Gallo can hit, but his defence is often overlooked. He will be a star in the Big Apple.
Joining Gallo is Cubs talismanic, HBP magnet, Anthony Rizzo. With last season’s home run leader, Luke Voit, still out, Rizzo brings stability to first base, and another much-needed lefty bat to the lineup.
The additions of Gallo and Rizzo will make it harder to dislike the Yankees… but I’ll try.
New York picked up Andrew Heaney (and his 5.27 ERA) and will subject him to the short-porch of Yankee Stadium. Ouch!
In typical fashion, the A’s made solid moves involving less flashy names – looking at you Andrew Chafin, Josh Harrison and Yan Gomes. The real difference-maker could be Starling Marte, arguably the best bat available on the market. The A’s had to pay a pretty penny to secure his services, in the form of Jesus Luzardo, but the 32-year-old outfielder is enjoying a stellar season, snuggled with Joey Gallo, just between Nick Castellanos and Bryce Harper in fWAR
It looks like a good bit of business from the Phillies to dramatically improve both their rotation and bullpen. Kyle Gibson slots in below Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola, while Ian Kennedy looks set to take over the closer role.
The price demanded by Texas was steep – Spencer Howard, the one-time “next big thing” was deemed dispensable by Philadelphia in their win-now mode. Although, with some shrewd negotiation, the Phillies somehow managed to get the Rangers to include highly-rated pitching prospect, Hans Crouse in the deal.
The final new face in Philadelphia is also an old face. Infielder Freddy Galvis returns to where he started. Currently injured, the 10-year MLB veteran is enjoying his most productive season, albeit 97 OPS+.
It was a productive deadline day for the Pirates as they secured the services of a young starting pitcher who will slot straight into the rotation (Bryse Wilson) and a multi-position, power-hitting 25-year-old (Michael Chavis).
Chavis, who was originally drafted in the first round by Pirates’ general manager Ben Cherington when with Boston, has untapped talent, so this looks like a great opportunity.
The two big names to leave Pittsburgh were Adam Frazier and Richard Rodríguez, but an array of talent has come back the other way, including: Tucupita Marcano, Jack Suwinski, Michell Miliano, Diego Castillo (not that one), Hoy Park, Carter Bins, Joaquin Tejada and Ricky DeVito,
San Diego Padres
Imagine being a Padres fan in the UK going to bed with the knowledge that Max Scherzer was on his way to Petco, and then waking to find out that your main rivals in Los Angeles had not only swooped to grab Scherzer, but the Nationals also threw in superstar shortstop (and former Padres’ first-rounder), Trea Turner.
But it wasn’t all bad news. The Padres brought in Adam Frazier to join the plethora of versatile infield/outfield guys vying for at-bats. Daniel Hudson will fortify the bullpen and Jake Marisnick will act as fourth, fifth, sixth or seventh outfielder.
San Francisco Giants
I love the deal which took Kris Bryant to the Giants. If they can work out a deal, the third baseman could assume Buster Posey‘s “Face of the Franchise” role. Obviously, the move also helps the Giants this year with Bryant’s ability to play anywhere.
Any deal involving the Mariners, Rays or A’s is usually far more complex than meets the eye. Initially, trading the core of the bullpen to division rivals – Kendall Graveman and Rafael Montero to the Astros – seemed bizarre, especially given Graveman’s career-year 0.79 ERA and 0.67 WHIP. Both guys are free agents at the end of the season, so to convert the relievers into five years of control of Abraham Toro was a good move (on paper). Toro went yard in his first at-bat for the Mariners.
Starting pitcher, Tyler Anderson, was added to the rotation as a short-term rental, while the Mariners get three years of control over new closer, Diego Castillo, and add another rental to the bullpen in the form of Joe Smith.
St Louis Cardinals
In a bizarre deal, the Cardinals flipped 28-year-old John Gant and minor league prospect, Evan Sisk, for 38-year-old J.A. Happ. The 15-year veteran leads the league with 74 earned runs which manifests into a career-worst 6.77 ERA.
It is unclear whether it was the President of Baseball Operations, John Mozeliak, or General Manager, Mike Girsch, who made the call to Jeremy Corbin, but it was obviously unfruitful. So, next on the Cardinals list of old lefties to approach was Jon Lester, who was far easier to coax to Missouri.
Tampa Bay Rays
While most playoff contenders were selling the farm to pick up useful pieces, the Rays, currently top of the AL East, were stocking up on even more prospect talent.
They started the season with a three-headed closing monster of Nick Anderson, Pete Fairbanks and Diego Castillo, which has now been completely decapitated. Anderson and Fairbanks are injured, and Castillo was surprisingly shipped to Seattle for JT Chargois and Austin Shenton. Watch out for Shenton to become a stud.
They snapped up the game’s best designated hitter, Nelson Cruz. You should not bet against Cruz outperforming all other deadline-trade hitters. Minnesota’s price for Cruz was two prospects (Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman), but they sent reliever, Calvin Faucher, back the other way. Watch out for Faucher to become a stud.
It was heartbreaking for Rangers fans to see Joey Gallo move. And even more heartbreaking when the return did not include any Top-100 prospects. In fact, the package received from the Yankees didn’t include any of New York’s Top-10 prospects. Time will tell whether Glenn Otto, Ezequiel Duran, Josh Smith or Trevor Hauver make this seem less of a lopsided deal.
The big name to arrive in Arlington was Spencer Howard. Just last season, Bryce Harper was lobbying for Howard to make the Phillies rotation. Philadelphia’s former top prospect stuttered in his development, so gets a chance for a new start in new surroundings. It’s a great deal for the Rangers in exchange for veterans Ian Kennedy and Kyle Gibson. I don’t understand why the rebuilders had to include one of their prospects (Hans Crouse) to get the deal done.
Toronto Blue Jays
Twins’ starter, José Berríos, was the best pitcher on the market. Yes, Scherzer was available for a couple of months, but Berríos has the skills to be elite for many years and is under team control until the end of next season. The price tag was high (Austin Martin, fifth overall pick last season, and Top-100 starting pitching prospect, Simeon Woods Richardson). It could be argued that the Blue Jays gave up more to get Berríos than the Dodgers did to get Turner… and two months of Scherzer.
To be honest, I don’t think they will make the Wild Card, but it’s great to see them going for it.
It was an “Everything must go” extravaganza in DC.
To be honest, I don’t know much about many of the players acquired by the Nationals. Lane Thomas, the outfielder from St Louis, always looks promising. I accept that his 1.093 OPS in 34 big league games in 2019 is the outlier, but I still think there is a lot of potential in the 25-year-old.
The highest-ranked prospects are catcher Keibert Ruiz and right-handed pitcher, Josiah Gray, both sent from the Dodgers in the Turner/Scherzer deal. These two sit first and second in the Nationals farm system.
It is the end of an era for the Nationals, but it has been a blast. We’ve seen Scherzer outperform a mega-contract. We’ve seen an exciting, baby shark-obsessed team come back from 12 games below .500 to become World Series Champions. We’ve seen Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, Juan Soto and Trea Turner in the same lineup. And from the ashes of the fire sale, the Nats still have Soto to lead the next great Washington team.
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