Last week, a selection of Bat Flips & Nerds’ top contributors shared their predictions for what they thought their teams would do at the trade deadline.
Following the deadline passing at 11pm BST last night, here are some reactions to some of the most notable trades that occurred yesterday and in the days leading up to the deadline.
Los Angeles Angels
One thing was clear for the Angels this deadline; they were going all in to try and make the playoffs. Perry Minasian’s objective, directed from ownership above him, was to attempt through any means necessary to put a team on the field capable of breaking the Angels’ long run without postseason baseball.
The first big move by the Angels was to keep Shohei Ohtani, much to the disappointment of the East Coast media as the Halos made it clear Ohtani was an integral part of a team trying to win, despite being multiple games back in both the division and the wildcard.
Deadline week approached and Minasian went out and got the best rental starter on the market in Lucas Giolito, right before a crucial series in Toronto. Giolito bolsters a rotation that needed another arm and hopefully coming home to California gives him extra motivation down the stretch. In that deal the Angels also got flamethrowing reliever Reynaldo Lopez, who has already proven his worth in a win at Atlanta, and will work well at the back end of the pen with Carlos Estevez and Matt Moore. Minasian in the process gave up the Angels #2 and #3 prospects, and Edgar Quero in particular could sting down the line as he had the potential to be a good hitting major league catcher, but he would be somewhat blocked in Anaheim as it is.
Perry wasn’t done yet. Taylor Ward got a horrific looking facial injury in Toronto, so the Angels grabbed old friends Randal Grichuk, most famous for being drafted one spot ahead of Mike Trout by the Angels, and CJ Cron to get more production from an indifferent first base for the team all year.
Finally, in the most questionable move, journeyman reliever Dominic Leone was brought in from the Mets for the Halos #9 prospect Jeremiah Jackson. It feels like a bit of an overpay for a prospect with plenty of pop, but of course #9 in a weak Halos system doesn’t mean too much, and another arm in the bullpen is welcome, with Leone trending up recently.
Overall a B+ deadline for the Angels. They’ve continued to add to the major league team to plug gaps and give themselves the best chance to win. And with Brandon Drury, Mike Trout and Logan O’Hoppe all due back in August, the lineup is going to be stacked come September.
Atlanta came into the deadline without any major needs, so could afford to be frugal at the deadline.
The bullpen was understandably a key focus – there has been a barrage of injuries this year, with AJ Minter just coming off the injured list, and Jesse Chavez, Nick Anderson and Dylan Lee all currently injured. The arms they picked up were solid but not spectacular – Pierce Johnson and Brad Hand are two guys from the Rockies’ bullpen who will be glad to get out of Coors Field. Hand is a veteran who should be able to eat innings as a lefty in place of the inconsistent Lucas Luetge and Pierce Johnson is an intriguing player with great stuff who has been getting hit hard this year – if he’s able to keep his hard hits and walks down, he should slot in nicely to the seventh inning role in place of Nick Anderson.
The most interesting move was probably the acquisition and subsequent trade of Taylor Hearn. He got one out at the cost of four earned runs against the Brewers and was immediately flipped for the Royals’ Nicky Lopez, a utility infielder with elite defense.
This is the move I’m most excited about – Lopez had an excellent 2021, where he put together a slash line of .300/.365/.378 and led the league in Outs Above Average for a 6 fWAR season. I’m a sucker for great defense (Andrelton Simmons is still my all-time favourite Brave), and he’s being put in a position to succeed – he’s a very solid backup who might blossom in a new team environment.
Charlie Deeks is Bat Flips and Nerds’ Atlanta Braves contributor, and can be found on Twitter @Omashaft.
Speaking to the media after Tuesday’s deadline, Jed Hoyer revealed that the Cubs comeback win over the White Sox on July 26 and Mike Tauchman’s game-saving catch in St. Louis two days later convinced him to back this year’s roster rather than tear it down.
This was never going to a ‘hard’ buy though and the Cubs had to settle for taking Jeimer Candelario (admittedly one of the best bats on the market) from Washington along with some additional bullpen depth in the form of Jose Cuas from Kansas City and Josh Roberson from Tampa Bay.
One of their biggest needs, namely a leftie reliever, went unfulfilled though, leaving some to wonder if the Cubs could realistically be labelled ‘winners’ come Wednesday morning, despite the fact that Candelario went 4-5 in Tuesday’s emphatic 20-9 win over the Cincinnati Reds.
Given what the Cubs gave up to land those reinforcements – Adrian Sampson, Trey Mancini (who was DFA’d to make room for Candelario) and some mid-range prospects the coaching staff weren’t too hot on – the Cubs are a little better today than they were a few days ago, which can’t be a bad thing given how weak the NL Central’s been this season.
Sean Guest is Bat Flips & Nerds’ Chicago Cubs contributor, and can be found on Twitter @SW_Guest.
I expected Cleveland and Minnesota to do nothing this trade deadline despite them both being locked in a tight but a bad division race. So, I was shocked that, in the end, the Guardians completed three trades;
- Amed Rosario for Noah Syndergaard
- Aaron Civale for Kyle Manzardo
- Josh Bell for Jean Segura and Kahlil Watson
The good – removing both Rosario and Bell who have combined for -0.4 fWAR over nearly 800 PA. Both had been poor this season and with Bell, their ‘big’ FA signing, having another year on his contract, it was good to get him off the books. The returns are interesting; Syndergaard isn’t the player of old but looked reasonable in his first game. Segura was immediately DFA’d so he was only part of the deal to eat some money from the Marlins and get a better prospect, with Kahlil Waston being said prospect. Watson had a 2022 to forget with a very high strikeout rate and an on-field incident which led to a month-long suspension, but still has the power that saw him be drafted no. 16 back in 2021. He will be added to the long list of middle infield prospects the Guardians have.
The bad – getting rid of a solid cost-controlled 3rd/4th starter when you’re in the middle of an injury crisis for starters. I can see the long-term value in this; Cleveland has an abundance of starting pitchers and will need to get rid of some at some point, but with the injuries, this really hurts their push to the postseason. Civale banked them a top prospect in Manzardo, who had one of the best prospect seasons in 2022. But his 2023 hasn’t gone as swimmingly. He’s been found out a bit in Triple-A, but as a 22-year-old, that’s ok. What’s not okay is that he’s a first base power prospect who’s starting to struggle against lefties and may only be a good platoon hitter. It will be worth checking his progress once he returns from the IL.
Cleveland has hopefully sold high on Civale and bought low on Manzardo, but only time will tell. And overall, Cleveland have made themselves slightly worse to gain some future talent. They are still in the race for this division and could still win it, but they tilted the odds even further in favour of the Twins.
Russell Eassom is the co-host of the Bat Flips & Nerds podcast, and can be found on Twitter @REassom.
Philadelphia found itself in an obvious buying position heading into the trade deadline, yet that was never going to be so obvious as to consider trading away blue-chip prospects such as Mick Abel or Andrew Painter.
Recent experience of emerging from a wildcard spot to come within two victories of a World Series crown has resulted in a fanbase hungry for more of the same; nonetheless, the front office is surely wise to be somewhat cautious given the competitive nature of the 2023 NL wildcard picture.
The flip side of that coin is that Philly’s roster is talented right now, and they’ll be hoping that they can get more from superstars such as Trea Turner, Kyle Schwarber and Bryce Harper in the final months of the season. Given the ability for this roster to catch fire on a whim, it might have been too cautious to stand pat. And so they didn’t.
Last night, they made their key move, and that came in the form of starting pitcher Michael Lorenzen. Sporting a 1.098 WHIP through 105.0 innings pitched thus far, Lorenzen is having a career year. He has surprised onlookers with a full transformation from outfielder/relief arm to full-time starter, and question marks are legitimate as he is entering uncharted territory in terms of wear on the arm. Still, the Phillies wanted help, given that the farm isn’t flush with ready-made long relief arms. They also don’t have to commit to Lorenzen beyond this year; it’s a fairly cheap one-year contract.
The price paid was infield prospect Hao-Yu Lee. It looks like he might settle at second base, and Philly is in love with Bryson Stott, so perhaps that played a part in feeling like he was expendable. Lee has a .380 career minor league OBP, so he’s definitely interesting, and this feels like a mutually beneficial trade with rebuilding Detroit.
Many felt Philadelphia should have sought a right-handed outfield bat, though it appears they are confident in what they’ve seen from Johan Rojas, and must expect Cristian Pache to return at some point.
This wasn’t a flashy trade deadline for Philadelphia, but it was suitably cautious; they’ll be hoping to secure a wildcard berth, and then let the magic take over again.
A disappointing but not surprising deadline day from the Reds. The only addition was left-handed reliever Sam Moll from the A’s, who is probably better than his 4.50 ERA suggests, but is unlikely to be a difference maker.
Jonathan India landing on the IL probably helped quash any potential deals, so I’m pleased he’s still in Cincinnati.
Feels like a missed opportunity.
Gavin is Bat Flips & Nerds’ editor and webmaster, and can be found on Twitter @GavTramps.
Milwaukee Brewers (also by Gavin)
Perhaps the best deal could be the acquisition of Andrew Chafin from the Diamondbacks. The 33-year-old was lights-out in 2021-22 with 126 innings for 2.29 ERA and more than a strikeout per inning. It just didn’t work out for him in Phoenix, but he could thrive in the Brewers’ pen.
St Louis Cardinals (also by Gavin)
The difference between the Mets rebuild and the Cardinals rebuild is that the Cardinals still have an incredible team, anchored by Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, with Jordan Walker, Nolan Gorman, Lars Nootbaar, Brendan Donovan, and Dylan Carlson all pre-arbitration. It was surprising that Tyler O’Neill wasn’t moved but maybe he can use the next twelve months to increase his value.
In our preseason podcast, we highlighted that pitching could be St Louis’ Achilles heel, and the pitching staff took a trade deadline battering with Jordan Montgomery, Jack Flaherty, Jordan Hicks, Genesis Cabrera, and Chris Stratton all leaving. Paul DeJong also went in one of three trades with the Blue Jays. Fingers crossed that at least a couple of the pitching prospects (Tommy Saggese, Tekoah Roby, Matt Svanson, Drew Rom and Zack Showalter) can become bona fide starters.
Pittsburgh Pirates (also by Gavin)
Given that some teams were unable to move players on expiring contracts, the Pirates had a successful, albeit uninspiring, trade deadline day.
The flipping of Rodolfo Castro to the Phillies for LHP Bailey Falter was an unusual move that seems to help Philadelphia more than Pittsburgh.
Boston Red Sox
After a lot of talk and hyperbole, we find ourselves in familiar territory once again; attempting to skirt the line between the luxury tax threshold and a competitive on-field product.
Ultimately, I believe the actions of the 2022 deadline and not getting below the luxury tax has led us to this year’s outcome which, while not surprising, is still disappointing for a lot of Red Sox fans when the team has overcome low expectations and is very much in the hunt for the postseason.
A lot now rests on the remainder of this season and beginning of the next because, if the front office doesn’t show ambition and drive to move this franchise forward, to make deals and to spend on areas of need regardless of the financial implications, then the pressure from a vociferous Boston fan base will be difficult to handle.
The lack of action shown by the current Chief Baseball Officer during the 2023 trade deadline will need to be addressed in the winter or I would highly doubt he will be in the position to oversee the next one.
Richard Banks is Bat Flips & Nerds’ Boston Red Sox contributor, and can be found on Twitter @GloveIsLife.
The Marlins, and specifically GM Kim Ng, have called 2023 an all-in year.
The deadline moves, therefore, came as a surprise. They moved expiring deals and moved money while acquiring players with control rather than pure rentals. The lack of an additional rotation piece that could help now feels like a mistake. Likewise only adding one late inning reliever in Robertson a few days ago feels light.
With a stable of young developing starters and the controllable additions to the team, in addition to potential talk of Jorge Soler extending his deal, this deadline may have more impact in a 2024 push than for this year.
Shaun Barrett has been a Marlins fan since 2003, and can be found on Twitter @shaunbbarrett.
New York Yankees
Well that went well. Picking up one relief pitcher (note our relief pitching is the least concerning aspect of the Yankees right now) was disappointing to say the least. Nothing done on the clear areas of need, notably the outfield.
Not sure why this is, but my hypothesis is that we were being asked to part with Dominguez and Peraza, and Cashman was just refusing to do so. He’s talked in the past about his frustration of the ‘Yankees premium’ that other teams impose on various trades and I reckon it was more of the same this deadline.
Nick is right; it’s clear that the Angels are going all-in in a bid to finally make the playoffs, and I, for one, respect their ambition.
In response, the Texas Rangers seem to be trying to consolidate their position atop the AL West, and fend off the challenge of the Angels, by also adding some depth and quality. Max Scherzer has been brought in from the Mets, and by getting him to opt-in to his deal for next season, the Rangers have effectively replaced Jacob de Grom, who it seems will be out until the end of next season (when Scherzer’s contract ends), in their starting pitching rotation.
As Sean highlights, the Cubs, having previously been assumed to be in ‘sell’ mode as we approached the deadline, also made some moves to improve their line-up amid the final stretch for playoff and wild card berths and it will be interesting to see if they can make up the ground needed.
In contrast, their neighbours on the South Side, the White Sox, have been sellers at the deadline, and seem to have said ‘goodbye’ to much of the depth and quality previously contained in their starting pitching rotation and bullpen. Given who they have received in return, let’s keep an eye on them in the off-season to see what their intentions are for the 2024 season.
Perhaps surprisingly, given how much they had invested in the off-season, the Mets were also in ‘sell’ mode as the deadline approached having not performed as well as they expected thus far this season. While the team had the biggest payroll in all of MLB, and it perhaps being prudent for them to trim it back given they likely won’t make the playoffs, I do have to question effectively burning down what they were building towards by trading away so many pieces that added to the depth and quality of the roster – particularly given that they are still paying $71million towards Max Scherzer’s and Justin Verlander’s contracts this season and next, and are ‘only’ (in the context of a projected £365million payroll) saving around $45million in 2023 salaries and luxury taxes. In addition, the Mets will also pay an additional $17.5million of Verlander’s deal if he takes up the 2025 option in his contract.
Scherzer and Verlander were the centrepieces of a Mets pitching corps that I called arguably the best in the league at the start of the year. Therefore, while the Mets have received some very good prospects in return and some feel they are still well-placed to contend next season, it is maybe short-sighted to trade away pitchers of their and David Robertson’s calibre when the Mets could have instead regrouped and refocused on making a push for the World Series next season with a group of guys that would have a season of playing together and complimenting each other’s efforts under their belts.
As for my team – the Oakland Athletics – I’m frankly surprised that they only traded away Jace Peterson and Sam Moll. If anyone was going to commit a fire sale at the deadline, recent history dictated it would have been the A’s rather than the Mets or White Sox.
It will be interesting to see how the rest of the season and the post-season now plays out following these moves.
Some teams that were already strong have added even more depth and quality, while others, having performed better than expected thus far, have taken the bull by the horns and are going for it in the hope that they might surpass expectations even further.
All the best to them, I say!
And finally, not content with providing reactions to the deadline dealings of four teams, our editor and webmaster Gavin has also compiled a full list of all the trades made in the run-up to the deadline.
Brett is the Oakland Athletics contributor for Bat Flips & Nerds, and can be found on Twitter @BrettChatsSport.
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