MLB Trade Deadline Instant Winners and Losers

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MLB Trade Deadline Instant Winners and Losers

Chicago Cubs

The MLB trade deadline is in the books, and it featured the most significant trade we’ve seen in many years, with Juan Soto heading to San Diego for a bevy of top prospects heading back to Washington. It also featured some slam dunk winners and losers.

Deadline Winners

Some teams won because they expedited their future, some won because they solidified their future, and some won because they infused some hope into their future. That’ll be the theme of my three winners from this year’s trade deadline.

Here’s who I think had the best deadlines:

  1. San Diego Padres
  2. Cincinnati Reds
  3. New York Yankees

The Padres added one of baseball’s brightest superstars in Juan Soto. We haven’t seen a young star of his caliber traded since the Marlins shipped Miguel Cabrera to Detroit. While it cost the Padres the top end of their farm, they made it clear that they’re all-in, and that’s impressive, especially from a team in the league’s 27th largest media market.

The Padres also landed Josh Bell (2.5 fWAR this season) in the Soto deal and Josh Hader and Brandon Drury in separate deals. Oh, and they locked up Joe Musgrove (2.65 ERA in 115.1 IP) on a team-friendly five-year, $100 million extension.

The Padres are ready to rock and roll as we enter the stretch run, and they’re still waiting for Fernando Tatis Jr. to make his return, another significant addition to the Friars’ World Series hopes this season.

The Cincinnati Reds blew it all up again, but they’re sitting pretty after sending Luis Castillo, Tyler Mahle, Brandon Drury, and Tommy Pham packing ahead of the deadline and received an infusion to their farm system that will likely have them as a top-ten farm in baseball when the next rankings come out.

The Reds landed two of the Mariners’ best prospects for Luis Castillo. Shortstop Noelvi Marte ranks No. 12 on Keith Law’s midseason rankings, and Edwin Arroyo was an honorable mention in Law’s midseason Top-60. They also landed a pair of minor league arms in Levi Stoudt and Andrew Moore in the Castillo deal. That’s two potential difference makers and two lottery ticket arms in exchange for Castillo alone for Cincinnati.

In the trade of Tyler Mahle with the Twins, the Reds landed infielder Spencer Steer, lefty starter Steven Hajjar and third baseman Christian Encarnacion-Strand, three of Minnesota’s top 25 prospects according to MLB.com.

The Reds acquired 18-year-old shortstop Victor Acosta, whom Keith Law ranked as the No. 11 player in the Padres farm before the season.

The fruits of their labor won’t be harvested for some time, but the quality of the haul for the Reds is among the best in baseball, and they did it without trading away a generational talent like the Nationals.

Then come the Yankees, who have paced baseball all season and enter today with league-best 70 wins. They didn’t splash like the Padres, but they didn’t need to. The Yankees had some specific needs, and they addressed them, making the Death Star that is this year’s team fully operational heading into the fall.

New York landed Andrew Benintendi last week, giving them a left-handed hitting outfielder (2.0 fWAR this season) that they needed, and they shipped Joey Gallo out of town for a legitimate pitching prospect in Clayton Beeter on Tuesday.

The Yankees landed Frankie Montas to slot into the top of the rotation with Gerrit Cole and Nestor Cortes and Lou Trivino and Scott Effross for the bullpen. They also shipped struggling southpaw Jordan Montgomery to St. Louis for another outfielder, Harrison Bader. Bader is a major leaguer under contract through next season at $5.2 million and is one of the better defensive outfielders in baseball.

The best team in baseball all season got even better, and they did it in a calculated fashion that we’re not used to seeing from the Yankees, plugging their few holes as they prepare for October.

Deadline Losers

Then there were the losers of the deadline, and unlike the winners, all of these teams have a common flaw in their deadline approach… they either did nothing at all, or were too scared to make the big splash that they needed to make.

Here’s who I think had the worst deadlines:

  1. St. Louis Cardinals
  2. Chicago White Sox
  3. New York Mets

The St. Louis Cardinals were in the mix for Miguel Cabrera when the Marlins were looking to trade the eventual Hall of Famer, and Colby Rasmus was where they drew the line on that return. Cabrera went to Detroit, and the rest there is history.

On Tuesday morning, it was reported that the Cardinals were one of three finalists to land Juan Soto, the most valuable player to be traded since Cabrera. Again, they drew a line in the sand at a very odd place … Dylan Carlson. Sure, Carlson is having an excellent season (2.1 fWAR), but he’ll never be Juan Soto. He also doesn’t make the Cardinals an immediate contender in October this season. Juan Soto would have.

Carlson wasn’t it; I’m sure other prospects like Nolan Gorman and Jordan Walker were involved in the package, but still, it’s Juan-freaking-Soto. The Cardinals could have had Juan Soto, Paul Goldschmidt, and Nolan Arenado as the heart of their order for the next few seasons.

Instead, the Cardinals walked away from the deadline with Jordan Montgomery and Jose Quintana as their haul. Quintana has been solid for the Pirates this season (3.50 ERA in 103 innings of work), but he’s struggled in recent years and will be a free agent and 34 next season. Jordan Montgomery has pitched to a 3.69 ERA this season and is only 29. Still, Montgomery cost St. Louis Gold Glove award winner Harrison Bader who posted a 3.9 fWAR season in 2021 and is regarded as one of the better defensive outfielders in baseball.

Quintana and Montgomery are OK, but the Cardinals had a chance to make a franchise-altering trade for Juan Soto, and they balked at it, making them one of the big losers of the deadline.

Then we have the White Sox, pre-season favorites, to repeat as AL Central champs and make their third consecutive postseason appearance, floundering in the standings behind the Twins and the Guardians at 51-51 on Tuesday.

If the White Sox wanted to add and go for it this season, they had glaring needs at right field, second base, the bullpen, and the back of the rotation. Needs that Rick Hahn has failed to address successfully for years. If they wanted to re-tool their flawed roster, they could have moved veterans like Jose Abreu, Josh Harrison, or any one of the bullpen pieces that they have north of $50 million invested in this season.

Instead, they did nothing.

Jake Diekman for Reese McGuire was their only move, one that helps the bullpen but doesn’t move the needle. All the while, the Twins were aggressive and added All-Star closer Jorge Lopez, starter Tyler Mahle, and reliever Michael Fulmer.

The Guardians stood pat at the deadline but simply stuck to their plan. They weren’t expected to win; they’re in the position they are now merely because the AL Central stinks, and they opted to stick to their plan rather than add. I can’t blame them for that.

Ultimately, I’m glad that the White Sox didn’t send the few notable prospects their terrible farm has to another organization for a few half-assed acquisitions simply for lip service, but that doesn’t make them losers in this deadline.

The White Sox’s window of contention will be much smaller than many had hoped for if drastic changes don’t come this winter, and Tuesday’s deadline was a stark reminder that makes them one of the biggest losers at the deadline.

“Scared money don’t make money.”

That’s the way we can summarize the New York Mets trade deadline. The Mets have a narrow lead on the Braves in the NL East, and they were in the mix for big names leading up to Tuesday. Big names that would have helped them assert themselves as the genuine contenders they fancy themselves.

Instead, they ended up with Mychal Givens, Darin Ruf, Daniel Vogelbach, and Tyler Naquin as the sum of their deadline haul.

Why?

According to Sports Illustrated’s Stephanie Apstein, because they “were a little gun-shy after trading top prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong, a potential Gold Glover who has been raking in Class A, for two months of Javy Báez, plus Trevor Williams, last year.”

Like I said, “scared money don’t make money.” The Mets failed to live up to the moment and netted an underwhelming return because they were scared. That’s a failure, plain and simple.

Meanwhile, Atlanta acquired closer Raisel Iglesias and starter Jake Odorizzi and locked up Austin Riley with a 10-year, $212 million extension.



Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is a Staff Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.