If you think that an exciting trade deadline is a foregone conclusion, feast your eyes on the 2013 deadline. Matt Garza. Jake Peavy. Ian Kennedy. Jesse Crain? I’m sure the rumors were pumping that summer, but the actual deadline didn’t exactly feature a torrent of All-Stars and MVPs.
So be thankful for the well-meaning entertainment this deadline provided. This was a wild deadline and the bananas were plentiful. Contending teams got better. Rebuilding organizations got better. Teams built for the future, even while they were contending. Really, there aren’t any losers this trade deadline because every team tried really, really hard to do the very best they could.
But, no, seriously, here are some losers of the 2016 MLB trade deadline. And winners! We’ll start with the winners, with the help of MLB Daily Dish.
(Please note that I’m not going to write about every team or trade because that would make me convulse. I’m sure your team will be very happy with Brandon Guyer or whomever, unless your team got prospects back, in which case they’re totally going to make the majors.)
Los Angeles Dodgers
ACQUIRED: OF Josh Reddick (from Athletics), LHP Rich Hill (from Athletics), RHP Bud Norris (from Braves), RHP Jesse Chavez (from Blue Jays), RHP Josh Fields (from Astros), OF Dian Toscano (from Braves)
TRADED: RHP Frankie Montas (to Athletics), RHP Grant Holmes (to Athletics), RHP Mike Bolsinger (to Blue Jays), RHP Jharel Cotton (to Athletics), LHP Philip Pfeifer (to Braves), RHP Caleb Dirks (to Braves), 1B Yordan Alvarez (to Astros)
Look for a starting pitcher and an outfielder, come away with both without trading any of your top four prospects. As a deadline strategy, that’ll do just fine.
That’s not to say there aren’t concerns. Rich Hill and Josh Reddick are both rentals. Even if the Dodgers get the first crack at re-signing both of them, we’re still talking about three months of guaranteed baseball for each. And for a team that’s dealt with injury after injury after injury to starting pitchers this year, do they really want to take a chance on a starter whose entire career was defined by an inability to stay healthy, including this year?
Yeah, probably. They didn’t need the next Bud Norris because they had the actual Bud Norris, so they needed a step above. They got it, and they didn’t have to ditch Julio Urias (which they probably weren’t going to do in the first place). They’ll worry about tomorrow tomorrow, and they’ll enjoy the improved roster today. That should have been the plan for the last few years, but Dodgers fans and players will happily accept it today.
They can figure out what to do with Yasiel Puig in the offseason. It’s not like that’s going to be an issue ...
Puig not on Dodgers' flight to Denver. Story:... https://t.co/idFQFslRY5— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) August 1, 2016
oh come on man
ACQUIRED: C Jonathan Lucroy (from Brewers), RHP Jeremy Jeffress (from Brewers), OF Carlos Beltran (from Yankees), RHP Lucas Harrell (from Braves), LHP Dario Alvarez (from Braves)
TRADED: OF Lewis Brinson (to Brewers), RHP Luis Ortiz (to Brewers), RHP Dillon Tate (to Yankees), INF Travis Demeritte (to Braves), RHP Nick Green (to Yankees), RHP Erik Swanson (to Yankees)
It’s rare to see a team try a new starting catcher on the fly, but the last time the Rangers tried it, they won the pennant. Jonathan Lucroy is worth the risk, a true All-Star, and he’s around next season, too. The price was steep, with Lewis Brinson being a top-25 prospect and tools-laden behemoth, but they also held on to Joey Gallo. For a team that’s had so much success and disappointment over the last few years, this might be the most talented Rangers team yet. That’s saying something.
Not quite as sure about the Carlos Beltran deal, considering his abominable defense, injury history, advancing age and pending free agency, but that’s the benefit of having a deep farm. You can pay tourist prices and still enjoy the pictures you took two decades later.
ACQUIRED: RHP Frankie Montas (from Dodgers), RHP Grant Holmes (from Dodgers), RHP Jharel Cotton (from Dodgers), OF Brett Eibner (from Royals)
TRADED: OF Josh Reddick (to Dodgers), LHP Rich Hill (to Dodgers), OF Billy Burns (to Royals)
The A’s have gambled millions in the past — think Ben Sheets and Billy Butler — with minimal returns. This past offseason, though, they climbed to the top of a crowded pile to sign Rich Hill, who made $6 million off four impressive starts. He was 36, and it all seemed like a wild risk for an uncertain reward.
Here’s the reward. I’m not sure what Josh Reddick would have netted on his own, but there’s no doubt that Hill’s inclusion made it easy for the Dodgers to give up three top prospects for players the A’s weren’t going to have on the roster in four months. It’s fair to wonder if the returns for Reddick would have been more substantial two offseasons ago, which would have fit with the organizational philosophy of preferring to trade a year too early rather than a year too late, but it was a fine haul, all around.
ACQUIRED: LHP Andrew Miller (from Yankees), OF Brandon Guyer (from Rays)
TRADED: OF Clint Frazier (to Yankees), LHP Justus Sheffield (to Yankees), RHP Ben Heller (to Yankees), RHP J.P. Feyereisen (to Yankees), INF Michael Martinez (to Red Sox), OF Nathan Lukes (to Rays), RHP Jhonleider Salinas (to Rays)
You can read a longer version here, but the truncated version goes like this: The Indians have acted like a cool, calm and collected team for decades, when their lamentable franchise history suggests that they should be total hyperactive freaks the second they get a chance to reach the postseason. The Andrew Miller trade balances both sides nicely.
They also got Brandon Guyer, who is an underrated player and fits perfectly with what the Indians needed, and aw, man, you got me talking about Brandon Guyer even though I declared that I wasn’t.
ACQUIRED: RHP Mark Melancon (from Pirates)
TRADED: LHP Felipe Rivero (to Pirates), LHP Taylor Hearn (to Pirates)
Dusty Baker is one of my favorites, the manager of a team that helped me fall in love with baseball all over again. He’s also not someone I would let near my Bullpen Simulator 2016 game because he’d catch my laptop on fire. Letting him be the steward of a crumbling Jonathan Papelbon was always a bad idea. It would have taken a burning bush and messages in the stars for Baker to swap his veteran closer out.
Instead, Mark Melancon will make the decision for him. Felipe Rivero has nasty, raw stuff and five years of team control left, so that’s a fair return in another world for a closer. But because this is the Year of the Very Expensive Reliever, they had to include a quality Class-A prospect, too. Stings for a rental, but this is a team whose last postseason memories involved blown saves and nuclear disappointment. They couldn’t afford to wait for Rivero to come around in 2019, when their rotation might feature Jeff Suppan and four 21-year-olds with a 6.00 ERA.
The Nationals were good now, and the bullpen situation wasn’t. Problem solved. In case you can’t tell, I’m pretty much in the tank for good teams making win-now moves, even though just one of them is actually going to win the World Series. The best part is that I still get to make fun of the All-Stars everyone gave up in a couple years. It’s not my job to be fair or face consequences, and I love it so.
Tampa Bay Rays
ACQUIRED: INF Matt Duffy (from Giants), SS Lucius Fox (from Giants), RHP Michael Santos (from Giants), C Jonah Heim (from Orioles), OF Nathan Lukes (from Indians), RHP Jhonleider Salinas (from Indians)
TRADED: LHP Matt Moore (to Giants), INF/OF Steve Pearce (to Orioles), OF Brandon Guyer (to Indians)
They had the pieces that everyone wanted, a rotation to dream on, but it was a sell-low rotation in a sell-high market, which was a completely bizarre dynamic. They had to hope another team believed in the sell-high value of one of the struggling pitchers.
They got one. Look, almost all of these prospects are going to be losers. Baseball will eat them and play hacky sack with their skulls. Metaphorically speaking. If any of them has a five-win season, that’ll be a huge coup for their new teams.
Matt Duffy already has a five-win season, and he’s under contract for five more seasons. The Rays are moving him back to shortstop, where he was blocked by Brandon Crawford, and he should be more than capable there. They also nabbed a bonus baby from the Giants (albeit a teenager with unimpressive stats), along with talented pitchers to complete the Matt Moore and Brandon Guyer trades, even though both players had years of team control left, including Guye ...
Oh, you almost got me. Not this time. Still, the Rays were caught between holding on to Moore for too long and trading him for pennies on the dollar, and they found a very comfortable middle bowl of porridge.
New York Yankees
ACQUIRED: RHP Tyler Clippard (from Diamondbacks), OF Clint Frazier (from Indians), RHP Adam Warren (from Cubs), SS Gleyber Torres (from Cubs), RHP Dillon Tate (from Rangers), LHP Justus Sheffield (from Indians), RHP Ben Heller (from Indians), OF Billy McKinney (from Cubs), RHP Nick Green (from Rangers), RHP Erik Swanson (from Rangers), OF Rashad Crawford (from Cubs), RHP J.P. Feyereisen (from Indians)
TRADED: LHP Aroldis Chapman (to Cubs), OF Carlos Beltran (to Rangers), LHP Andrew Miller (to Indians), RHP Ivan Nova (to Pirates), RHP Vicente Campos (to Diamondbacks)
They got to sell! They got to sell. And while I still don’t quite understand the Tyler Clippard trade, they received about as much for Andrew Miller as they might have hoped. Clint Frazier is the picture in the middle of Scout Beat that scouts tape to the inside of their lockers, and credit goes to Brian Cashman for convincing ownership that it was the kind of deal they couldn’t turn down.
The Cerberus bullpen was a shooting star, and we’re all just delighted that we got to watch it, even for a couple months. This roster had no business hanging onto a luxury item, though, and that’s exactly what power relievers are. They’re for the teams with nothing left to add.
Also, the Yankees got two players to be named later for Ivan Nova, which is about one player to be named later more than I thought they would get. Fine work, there.
ACQUIRED: OF Lewis Brinson (from Rangers), RHP Phil Bickford (from Giants), RHP Luis Ortiz (from Rangers), C Andrew Susac (from Giants), RHP Aaron Wilkerson (from Red Sox), INF Wendell Rijo (from Red Sox)
TRADED: C Jonathan Lucroy (to Rangers), RHP Jeremy Jeffress (to Rangers), LHP Will Smith (to Giants), INF Aaron Hill (to Red Sox)
For the second year in a row, the Brewers had a trade nixed because of surprises and unexpected bureaucracy. Last year it was Carlos Gomez, who went to the Mets before he didn’t. This year Jonathan Lucroy exercised his no-trade clause to stay away from Cleveland. In both cases, the Brewers came away with a better package from a second team.
So the lesson is ... wait? Wait until closer to the deadline and see if another team panics? Seems so. That’s two years in a row that the Brewers have enjoyed a little deadline ex machina that came out of nowhere. They deserved that break.
2013 - 2015 Los Angeles Dodgers
ACQUIRED: Like, Mat Latos or something
Wait, wait, wait this is the year the Dodgers go all-in on some rentals? Not the time that David Price was traded, or Jon Lester, or Johnny Cueto? You get a pitcher you could have had for a phone call last year? This is the year? The year Zack Greinke isn’t picking up Cy Young votes to complement Clayton Kershaw, who hasn’t pitched in months?
That’s not to say that they shouldn’t have done it now. But, good gravy, where was this kind of moxie last season? The Dodgers got Josh Reddick and Rich Hill at the deadline, but they also picked up some lingering regrets to be named later.
ACQUIRED: LHP Wade Miley (from Orioles), INF/OF Steve Pearce (from Rays)
TRADED: LHP Ariel Miranda (to Orioles), C Jonah Heim (to Rays)
They could have just signed Steve Pearce in the offseason instead of banishing him to the Rays. That would have helped. They also could have just traded for Wade Miley this offseason instead of waiting to see if he was actively bad and then trading for him.
The bad news is that Miley is an improvement over current options. The good news is that they don’t ... well ... okay, there isn’t a ton of spin to put on this one. Miley had troubles pitching in Safeco, which doesn’t bode well for his time in Baltimore.
It's funny, but Wade Miley is one of the biggest upgrades this deadline. An 85 ERA+ over Lovecraftian nightmares is an improvement.— Dan Szymborski (@DSzymborski) August 1, 2016
It is an improvement! Would have liked to see, oh, I don’t know, a better improvement? But that’s picking nits. As is, it was a quiet deadline for a team that’s been hearing fluttering blue wings and socked feet behind them for a month now.
Los Angeles Angels
ACQUIRED: RHP Ricky Nolasco (from Twins), RHP Alex Meyer (from Twins), RHP Jesus Castillo (from Cubs)
TRADED: LHP Hector Santiago (to Twins), RHP Joe Smith (to Cubs), RHP Alan Busenitz (to Twins)
It’s bad when a team has the 30th-best farm system in baseball. It’s very bad when that team doesn’t have a lot of talent on the major league roster. It’s almost unheard of when that team gets just one measly prospect out of an entire sell-sell-sell deadline.
It’s unfathomable to make the pitching staff worse by taking an older, less effective pitcher back. In this market — in this market — there wasn’t anyone willing to trade a better prospect for Hector Santiago than Alex Meyer? What about this offseason, when Gil Meche and Darren Dreifort are the top free agent pitchers available?
Nope! Here’s Ricky Nolasco. He’s 33 and he’s been irredeemably awful for three years now. Enjoy.
Look, I know this entire article, this concept of winners and losers, is a total joke. It’s a great place for knee-jerk reactions, nothing more substantial. This trade was an absolute dog. Unless Meyer turns into something special, which he could, considering he’s young with latent first-round talent. But that’s the fine print. I’m just appalled that Santiago, young, cheap, and underrated, was traded in a weird veteran-for-veteran salary-quagmire relief.
I’m curious to see if the Twins explore the Santiago market in the offseason. They’d be silly not to.
ACQUIRED: INF Dilson Herrera (from Mets), LHP Max Wotell (from Mets)
TRADED: OF Jay Bruce (to Mets)
Finally. FINALLY. The rebuilding Reds finally get a break when it comes to timing.
Never mind. Brandon Nimmo wasn’t in the deal. It’s not that I dislike Dilson Herrera’s potential — his power is rather developed for a middle infielder as young as he is — it’s that I was waiting for that one big ooooomph of a trade that the Reds haven’t had throughout this entire rebuilding process. Nimmo was the player who was going to make that happen.
I guess I could warm up to Herrera. I’m just more of a Nimmo fan than most, so the Reds better have found a set of car keys in his stomach during the physical.
New York Mets
ACQUIRED: OF Jay Bruce (from Reds), LHP Jon Niese (from Pirates)
TRADED: LHP Antonio Bastardo (to Pirates), INF Dilson Herrera (to Reds), LHP Max Wotell (to Reds)
I’ll be careful with how this comes across, because the last time I made fun of the Mets’ outfield defense, they won the pennant. But this outfield defense is going to be incredible. Jay Bruce is somehow less valuable in the field than Matt Kemp, according to advanced statistics, and he’s going to a team without a centerfielder who can fly over and help him out, like Billy Hamilton. That’s a chunk of his value right there.
He is left-handed power in a park that helps that a little, so he made more sense for the Mets than the Giants, but for a team that can’t rely on strikeouts as much as they were hoping because of injuries, Bruce will need to hit an awful lot to make the defense worth it.
Nothing? Not even Jeremy Hellickson? Seems like a bold move for a team that can still use every prospect it can get. They’ll probably get something back when Hellickson turns down the qualifying offer for the hilarious riches he’ll get in this offseason wasteland, but what about Jeanmar Gomez? Were the offers really that awful?
We’ll never know, so I guess that makes it unfair to put them in the loser column. If a bunch of frat-boy GMs called up and made prank calls instead of legitimate offers, okay, fine, stand pat. You’d have to think there was at least one offer on the table that would have made more sense than nothing at all, though. Maybe the Phillies just overplayed their hand.
Or maybe they started every phone call like ...
Matt Klentak: Hey, Matt, here, was just wondering if you would have any interest in Ryan H
Phone: LOST SIGNAL
Matt Klentak: Ugh, AT&T is the worst.
Matt Klentak: Hey, Matt, here, was just wondering if you would have any interest in Ryan H
Phone: LOST SIGNAL
Matt Klentak: Guess you’ll just have to keep at it, Matty, old boy.
Nothing? Not even Jeremy Hellickson? Seems like a bold move for a team that can still use every pitcher it can get. While it’s almost refreshing to see the Tigers exercise some measure of patience, what happens if they reach the postseason again? Just let the bullpen ride again?
Probably. The market wasn’t there for a half-in/half-out team looking for pitching. It was overpay or get the heck out of the way, and the Tigers certainly didn’t want to thin out the post-Dombrowski system even more.
You can still be a loser when you’re pragmatic and rational. It’s just not a lot of fun. Ask my college roommates about that.
San Francisco Giants
ACQUIRED: LHP Matt Moore (from Rays), INF Eduardo Nunez (from Twins), LHP Will Smith (from Brewers)
TRADED: INF Matt Duffy (to Rays), RHP Phil Bickford (to Brewers), LHP Adalberto Mejia (to Twins), SS Lucius Fox (to Rays), C Andrew Susac (to Brewers), RHP Michael Santos (to Rays)
I actually had them in the win column in the first draft, and I’m tempted to make a whole separate category for them. The Giants picked up ...
- An All-Star infielder who will be around for next season
- A starting pitcher who will be around for the next three seasons.
- A left-handed reliever with one of the highest strikeout rates in baseball over the last few years, also around for the next three seasons.
Quite a haul! But just eyeballing it, it looks like the Giants gave up about as much talent as any team in baseball, with Matt Duffy and his five years of team control going for the enigmatic Matt Moore, along with a high-profile international free agent from last year and a projectable, hard-throwing right-hander. That’s before they gave up an almost-ready pitcher to get Eduardo Nuñez, and that’s before they gave up their best pitching prospect and a starting-caliber catcher for a reliever.
The Giants are banking on this being their deadline deal for this year and their offseason deal for December, too. If you think of it like that, bundling all of your trade assets together to get long-term help, it makes sense. And it’s not like there isn’t upside with everyone up there. Now I want them back in the winners section.
It’s just a lot to give up from a team that didn’t have a lot to give up. They’re banking an awful lot on Matt Moore. That sentence would have been obvious in 2011. It’s terrifying right now.
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