Another trade deadline has come and gone, and baseball continues to show why their trade deadline is the most exciting. While a plethora of mid-level players were strategically moved around the league, with prospects changing coasts at will, there were still some clear winners and losers at the trade deadline.
San Diego Padres
The San Diego Padres were arguably the most active during the deadline pushing their poker chips seemingly all-in for the short-term. They acquired Juan Soto, Josh Bell, Josh Hader and Brandon Drury while clearing most of their farm system. Soto was the biggest acquisition at the deadline and even with Bell in tow still cost San Diego six players from their organization. Even so, their moves showed that they are in win-now mode, but it remains to be seen what all of these moves do while they battle it out with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL West crown.
The Twins are making a strong push for the AL Central division, and their moves at the deadline show that. While you could argue that their lineup could have used some help, they took steps to at least upgrade their pitching staff. Minnesota acquired Tyler Mahle from the Cincinnati Reds and then closer Jorge Lopez from the Baltimore Orioles. They also added Michael Fulmer from the Detroit Tigers to continue improving their rotation.
Washington Nationals Front Office
Does losing Juan Soto hurt? Obviously, yes because he is one of the best players in the league. He did turn down a 15-year, $440 million extension that would have almost made him a Nationals player for life. When he turned down that deal, it almost seemed like he wasn’t interested in being with the organization long-term and with only two years of arbitration left, Washington needed to capitalize. And capitalize they did by getting six players for Soto and teammate Josh Bell. The Nationals received three major league players and three prospects that are estimated to be ready in the next two seasons. Great move.
The Reds are short-term losers as they complete the selling needed for their rebuild at the trade deadline. While I’m sure they can find more players to trade, they have shipped out Luis Castillo, Tyler Mahle, Tyler Naquin, Phillip Diehl, Tommy Pham and Brandon Drury. While it doesn’t seem like this is all that much to lose, Castillo was the organization’s best pitcher, and Drury was the best hitter on the big league ball club. Sure, Cincinnati got many prospects back in the deals, but you never know how or when they will pan out.
The Orioles are in a very tough division, so they were longshots to make a play for the AL East title. With the addition of a Wild Card spot this year, they had put together a nice win streak ahead of the All-Star break that suggested they could be playoff bound once again. They sent Trey Mancini to the Houston Astros and Lopez to the Twins at the trade deadline for prospects, suggesting they aren’t all-in for a playoff push. And no, acquiring position-player-pitching phenom Brett Phillips doesn’t relieve them of being losers. Add in the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays acquiring players to address needs and the Orioles really missed out.
Kansas City Royals
It has been understood for most of the season that the Royals wouldn’t contend in the AL Central this year. But, the Central is also performing below expectations and is one of the easier divisions in baseball. At the deadline, Kansas City had just gotten catcher Salvador Perez back from injury. They traded Andrew Benintendi, Carlos Santana and Whit Merrifield out and didn’t get any players of note back. Perez only has so many seasons left in him, and rookies Bobby Witt Jr., Vinnie Pasquantino, and MJ Melendez likely could have used those veterans around them next year. Kansas City always seems closer to contending than they act like, but they never seem to want to pull the trigger to go all-in again.
Los Angeles Angels
The Angels are starting to feel like an experiment you would do playing franchise mode on MLB The Show to see how you can rebuild a franchise. They have an injured Mike Trout and the phenom Shohei Ohtani, and they still are going full rebuild. I can’t really blame them for their horrible record, but how many more “we will contend this year” years can they have? They traded away Brandon Marsh, Noah Syndergaard and Raisel Iglesias at the deadline. They did get former number one overall pick Mickey Moniak in the deal, but if Trout and Ohtani can’t turn around a franchise, will he be able to?
The Cubs were sitting on Willson Contreras and Ian Happ and acting like they were the belles of the ball. Sure, both players were All-Stars this season, but this was the perfect time to sell and trade them off for a solid package. Sources around the league have all said that the asking price was too high for the players, even in individual moves. Contreras remaining on the Cubs and not being on his way to Boston, who has a glaring need at catcher after trading Christian Vazquez, is baffling.