Trade Deadline Hangover: Let’s Review, Shall We?
I can admit when I’m wrong. I don’t like to admit it, but I do have the ability to do so. When it came to the trade deadline, I only got one guess right (Mike Minor still pitches another day in Texas), but to be fair, pretty much EVERY major sports media outlet was under the assumption that the Yankees would buy all the starting pitchers and that Noah Syndergaard and Madison Bumgarner would be in a different uniform today.
Many teams seemingly missed the mark, unwilling to give up their futures by handing over all of their top prospects for rental players and decided not to play much in the trade game. Some made some pretty even trades. And there were some that decided to make a big fat statement. So which teams fell into what categories?
Big Darn Deals
Put these guys squarely into the big fat statement category.
I had initially assumed that the Tribe would hang onto ace Trevor Bauer, as they’re hot on the heels of the Twins for the top of the AL Central, especially with Corey Kluber on the IL. But then, he had a big baby meltdown and reminded everyone that he’s kind of a douche. Whether this was the final straw that tipped the Indians into trading him away is unclear, but what they got in return definitely made headlines as one of the biggest trades we saw.
In a three-team deal with the Reds and Padres, the Indians received 5 players – OF Franmil Reyes, LHP Logan Allen, INF Victor Nova, LHP Scott Moss, and most notably another hot-head, Yasiel Puig. (Puig got into a brawl on Tuesday, despite being traded mid-game.) The Reds ended up with Bauer, and the Padres ended up with OF Taylor Trammel. Cleveland is likely hoping that despite losing their ace, beefing up their power will rival the Minnesota Bomba Squad.
It’s tough enough for opposing teams to beat the Astros with their dangerous lineup and starting pitchers like Justin Verlander and Garrett Cole in the rotation. And despite their solid 8-game lead in the AL West, they decided to firmly cement their place in the postseason by adding 6-time all star and 2009 Cy Young winner Zack Greinke, who started the game Wednesday for the Diamondbacks going 5 innings before the rain delay, and was traded mid-game. In return, the D-Backs get 4 fairly promising prospects and are eating $24 million of the $74 million still owed on Greinke’s 6-year deal..
Houston also went for it by adding right-handed pitchers Aaron Sanchez and Joe Biagini, and outfielder Cal Stevenson, from the Blue Jays for outfielder Derek Fisher. They also got Martin Maldonado from the Cubs for a steady bat off the bench. The post season we will be seeing from the Astros will be the stuff of legend.
New York Mets
I know, I know. Everyone thought this part would revolve around Noah Syndergaard, including Thor himself. Turns out we were all so very wrong. Rather than waving the white flag on the season, the Mets and their sub-.500 record of 52-55 decided that being just 4.5 games out of the wild card race was worth keeping their ace for. The asking price was so high for Syndergaard – who is under team control for a couple more years and making just $6 million this season – that not even the Yankees decided to pay for him, which really says something.
Rather than trading their ace, the Mets added a crazy good arm with Marcus Stroman. We all assumed Stroman would be dealt, but to the Mets? They’re either really thinking that the wild card spot is still attainable or they’ve got their sights set on 2020.
The Braves were in desperate need of some bullpen relief after the rough last month they’ve had, and they landed it with the help of Shane Greene, Mark Melancon, and Chris Martin.
Martin has been solid, with a 3.08 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and 43 strikeouts in 38 innings pitched. Greene has also pitched 38 innings this season, with a 1.18 ERA, 43 strikeouts, and a .087 WHIP. With the Giants, Melancon has hurled 46.1 innings, posting a 3.50 ERA, 44 strikeouts, and an ‘eh’ 2.00 WHIP. In all, these guys promise to be just filthy heading toward the post season and staving off the all of the sudden red-hot Nationals. Martin was not the name expected to be dealt by the Rangers, with people assuming it’d be likely to be Mike Minor or Lance Lynn being involved in a trade, but the Rangers decided to part with Martin instead.. we’ll see how that turns out for them. As for the Braves? They likely made the best deals this trade season.
Playing it Safe
Most people expected the Twins to land a big name pitcher like Noah Syndergaard or Madison Bumgarner. Anyone familiar with the team knows that they have made some bonehead trades (Aaron Hicks for John Ryan Murphy??) and some serious steals in the past (AJ Pierzynski for Joe Nathan and Francisco Liriano). And with the asking price for Syndergaard reportedly asking for not only top prospects like Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff, but also Byron Buxton, the Twins decided to walk from the deal and look elsewhere to strengthen their questionable pitching staff.
The Twins had a giant lead in the AL Central and have seen it cut down to just two games over the Indians over the last month. Blame the extremely tough July schedule, blame injuries (all star pitcher Jake Odorizzi had a blister on his thumb, 1B slugger CJ Cron is still on the IL with a thumb injury, Buxton was out with a concussion), or blame Mercury in retrograde, the Twins started losing ground while the Indians just would not lose. August and September will be interesting, however, as the Twins schedule is about to be loaded with sub-.500 opponents, and the Indians will have to face some serious contenders.
Rather than submitting to panic over their less than stellar July, and give away their future for a big-name rental player or two, the Twins played it safe and got a firecracker of a righty reliever Sergio Romo along with RHP Chris Vallimont from the Marlins and RHP Sam Dyson from the Giants. They didn’t give away the farm, and Romo has already come in against his former team to shut them down.
Tampa Bay Rays
Currently sitting in the number 2 spot in the wild card race, the Rays played it safe and got some bullpen help with the additions of RHPs Nick Anderson and Trevor Richards from the Marlins. They also added 1B Jesus Aguilar from the Brewers. With Oakland and Boston nipping at their heels, their hope is to add some solid relief innings and a bit of a pop off the right handed bat of Aguilar.
In their trade for Aguilar with the Brewers, they give up reliever Jake Faria. He’d previously been a starter for Tampa, but has been flip flopping between Triple-A Durham and a bullpen guy this season.
The Brewers are sitting just a half game out of the wild card race, and a game out of first in the NL Central behind the Cubs and Cardinals, both tied with 57-50 records. So with such a close race, they were hesitant to break up a solid team that is working out pretty well for them.
They bolstered their relief staff with LHP Drew Pomeranz and RHP Ray Black for infielder Mauricio Dubon, a promising hitter in his time in AAA. Pomeranz struggled as a starter, but has settled in more comfortably in a relief role. Black and his 99 mph fastball will likely be hanging out in Triple-A for a bit.
Milwaukee also added RHP Jordan Lyles from Pittsburgh, and has already made his debut for the Brew Crew, earning a win over the A’s on Wednesday. Lyles had a fantastic start to the season, but struggled badly over his last four starts with the Pirates and has seen his ERA climb to 5.15.
Will these additions be enough to take over the Cubs, Cards (or Phillies or Nationals in the WC race)? Only time will tell. The good news for the Brewers is they didn’t lose any significant arms or bats.
The A’s did what they do best and flew under the radar, acquiring RHPs Jake Diekman and Tanner Roark at the deadline, and RHP Homer Bailey from the Royals on July 14.
Diekman, despite his 0-6 record and 4.75 ERA with Kansas City this year, has some pretty solid stuff. In 41 2/3 innings with the Royals, he fanned 63. And you have to remember, the Royals are pretty bad this season, so he’s not entirely to blame for the losses he’s got tied to him, when he’s not getting run support or defense behind him. With the right team, he could have a really good run for the rest of the season.
Roark comes from the Reds in exchange for minor league CF Jameson Hannah. While his numbers aren’t exactly impressive this season with a record of 6-7 and an ERA of 4.24, he has managed to strike out 108 batters in 110 innings pitched. This is another one of those situations where he’s coming from a team that has struggled this season, so again, with the right team he could finish this year strong.
The Big Losers
New York Yankees
God it feels good to put the Yankees in a loser column. So. So. Good.
The Yankees failed to make the big splash everyone expected them too. Not usually a team to shy away from spending the moon for rental players, even they couldn’t land a big name among the pitchers on the block. It probably didn’t help their cause that they’re on the no-trade lists for players like Rangers hurler Mike Minor, who made it abundantly clear he was not happy with being trade bait. They were also part of Zack Greinke’s no-trade clause. And with CC “Captain Cheeseburger” Sabathia on his last legs on and off the IL this season and Masahiro Tanaka starting to fall apart, their starting rotation is starting to crumble. And let’s not Giancarlo Stanton and his mammoth deal have been a bust as he’s been injured all season, and Severino has yet to throw a pitch this year.
Despite their cushy AL East lead, after two agonizing series’ against the Red Sox and Twins in what could be post-season previews, Yankees fans are rightfully angry that their team failed to land anyone but a 20-year-old pitching prospect in this trade frenzy. The fans among the 29 other MLB teams are all breathing a collective sigh of relief.
Toronto Blue Jays
I’ve already covered the Jays losing Marcus Stroman to the Mets and Aaron Sanchez to Houston. They got a few people in return – including a couple of players to be named later. “Players to be named later” are the sad words you hear when a team just rolls over and dies.
The Jays are likely going to start touting their rebuilding years soon, with players like Baby Vlad, Cavan Biggio, and Bo Bichette. They’ve already started this by mentioning how they’ve turned 14 years of team control into 42 years of team control with those trades:
On a conference call, Jays GM Ross Atkins says the team's moves have 'turned 14 years of control into 42 years of control'.
gonna be tough for the marketing folks to work that into a slogan.
— Scott Stinson (@scott_stinson) July 31, 2019
Best of luck in 2021, Toronto.
So, who do YOU think made the best and worst deals?