clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

14 winners and losers from the 2018 MLB trade deadline

Bonus content: We have seven OK-sure-whateverers, which are somewhere between the winners and losers.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Miami Marlins v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Joseph Garnett Jr./Getty Images

It’s that time of year, where we all ignore the fact that the Major League Baseball postseason is nonsense. Baseball starts drinking on Oct. 1, and when it wakes up in the first week of November, the smoke alarm is going off and there’s a horse in the bathtub. There’s no rhyme or reason to it, but we’re supposed to pretend like we can predict winners and losers at the trade deadline.

Heck yeah, we’re supposed to pretend like we can predict winners and losers at the trade deadline. It’s fun. So even though you might be from the future and laughing at my simplistic analysis, just know that I’m more interested in being fun than right. Which is good, considering this won’t be right.

Thought the Astros should have traded for Yu Darvish instead of Justin Verlander last year, for example.

Hey, it could have worked, you don’t know.

But you clicked, so I’ll write. Here are the winners and losers from the 2018 MLB trade deadline:



Acquired: Tommy Pham, Austin Meadows, Tyler Glasnow, Jalen Beeks, bonus pool money, players to be named later

Traded: Chris Archer, Jonny Venters, Nathan Eovaldi, Matt Andriese, Justin Wilson, Genesis Cabrera, Roel Ramirez, Michael Perez, Brian Shaffer

They have the payroll of a medium-sized Quiznos now, which I guess is part of the point. I’m not a fan of baseball’s current economic structure, and I’m hesitant to heap too much praise on a team trying to cut costs.

Still, as long as this is the framework, the Rays are within their rights to exploit it. And, baby, they’re exploiting it with aplomb. They’ll have an outfield of Meadows/Pham/Kiermaier, which is built to win now and for the distant future. They won’t have their ace, but they’ll have pitchers who are majors-ready or close to it coming back.

These deals aren’t for toolsy A-ballers who are five years away. This is the Rays trying to buy their cake at a yard sale and eat it, too. It’s just crazy enough to work, and I’m very impressed by the their ability to walk this weird, thrifty tightrope.

Mmmmmm, yard-sale cake.


Acquired: Manny Machado, Brian Dozier, John Axford, Dylan Floro, Zach Neal

Traded: Yusniel Diaz, Dean Kremer, Zach Pop, Rylan Bannon, Breyvic Valera, Luke Raley, Logan Forsythe, Devin Smeltzer, Corey Copping, James Marinan, Aneurys Zabala

The Dodgers don’t like trading prospects if they don’t have to, and they certainly gave up a lot of interesting players, Kremer has the gaudy strikeout totals, and Bannon hasn’t stopped hitting as a professional. That’s before you get to Diaz, who is supposed to be the centerpiece of the deal. It’s a lot for two months of production and the postseason.

At the same time, this is a franchise that was a single lousy game away from a World Series win last year, which is something they haven’t had since 1988. They were extremely cautious when it came to trading their prospects just a couple years ago, but now they’re trying to add to a team that’s somehow powered by minor-league free agents and lesser trades and signings.

Oh, and Clayton Kershaw. Minor-league free agents, lesser trades and signings, and Clayton Kershaw. They might have the best team in the NL, still, so it makes sense to add a hitter with Hall of Fame talent in the middle of his best season, even if he’s just a rental. If Dozier has a Dozierific second half, this could be the best lineup in baseball. The Dodgers gave up a lot of prospects, but they had a lot to offer.

When it comes to the Machado trade, it doesn’t hurt that this is a preview of what it would be like to play for the Dodgers long term, either. The weather’s pretty nice, Manny.


Acquired: Lance Lynn, J.A. Happ, Zach Britton, Luke Volt, $2.75 million in international bonus money

Traded: Tyler Austin, Luis Rijo, Brandon Drury, Billy McKinney, Cody Carroll, Josh Rogers, Dillon Tate, Chasen Shreve, Giovanny Gallegos, Adam Warren

I’m not a huge fan of Lance Lynn, even as he’s been solid for the last two months, but he’s overqualified for what the Yankees are asking him to do, which is sit in a glass case and be ready. The Yankees have a starter with a wonky elbow in Masahiro Tanaka, one with a case of the mystery sucks in Sonny Gray, and a 38-year-old in CC Sabathia. They aren’t crossing their fingers; they’re preparing for the apocalypse. Good for them.

Happ seems like the kind of starter who can give five solid innings in the postseason before giving way to a four-headed monster of bullpen doom, and look at that, Zach Britton is here to be another head. I don’t know what happened to Tommy Kahnle either, and there are no guarantees that Britton will be back to 2014-2016 levels, or anything close to it, but the Yankees have the kind of depth that wins championships.

It’s about time. They’ve had to wait nine years and endure two 84-win seasons, but now they’ve built their best shot at another title run.


Acquired: Brett Phillips, Jorge Lopez, Blake Perkins, Kelvin Gutierrez, Yohanse Morel

Traded: Mike Moustakas, Kelvin Herrera

A fair return for two beloved players, with deft timing executed on both. The Royals swooped back into the market to sign Moustakas, which might have cost them a compensatory draft pick. Unless it just meant that he wasn’t going to have to sit out until June, which would have been incredibly annoying and sad.

Phillips is the main snag, and there’s a strong chance that he’ll whiff his way out of starting consideration soon. Still, the tools are real, and they got him for a rental. Even if that rental will have pictures of him hanging around the ballpark for the next half-century.


Acquired: Yusniel Diaz, Dean Kremer, Zach Pop, Rylan Bannon, Breyvic Valera, Cody Carroll, Josh Rogers, Dillon Tate, international bonus space, Evan Phillips, Jean Carlos Encarnación, Brett Cumberland, Bruce Zimmerman, Jonathan Villar, Luis Ortiz, Jean Carlos Carmona

Traded: Manny Machado, Brad Brach, Zach Britton, Darren O’Day, Jonathan Schoop

It would have been more if they opened up shop in the offseason, or even better if they did this two years ago. Ah, the benefit of hindsight.

All told, though, it’s almost like having a full draft to yourself, right down to the first-round promise of Diaz. That’s a pretty sweet haul for players who weren’t going to be around for the next good Orioles team, even if it’s ultra-depressing that Machado won’t be on that team.

The part where the Orioles acquired international bonus money for Brach and Schoop made me laugh, though. They usually hold an International Bonus Money Day at the park, where they give international cap space to the first 20,000 fans, and now they’re acquiring it on purpose? I know there’s a good reason for it, but still. It’s ... almost like the organizational direction isn’t clearly defined.

Still, think of it like a free draft. Hey, free draft! If you’re going to trade away your middle infield, your bullpen, and the most reliable starter in a sea of unreliable misery, at least get 15 players so you can pretend you’re getting a free draft out of it.


Acquired: Luke Raley, Devin Smeltzer, Tyler Austin, Luis Rijo, Chase De Jong, Ryan Costello, Gilberto Celestino, Jorge Alcala, Jhoan Durán, Gabriel Maciel, Ernie De La Trinidad

Traded: Brian Dozier, Lance Lynn, Zach Duke, Ryan Pressly, Eduardo Escobar

Give me a list of the prospects the Twins were offered for Dozier two seasons ago, and I’ll tell you if they were winners or losers. As is, that’s a list of names that’s 11 players long, and there’s a fine chance that at least one or two of them will make a dumb “winners-losers” binary choice look silly in four years.

Dozier was traded too late, and the return wasn’t impressive. That’s how it goes.

Duke was traded at the perfect time, and any value he adds through trade is impressive.

Pressly is solid, even if his K-rate suggests he should be more than that. Dealing him as he’s getting deeper in his arbitration years is a good move, and while I’m not qualified to analyze the return too deeply, it sure looks like they got highly regarded prospects back, which is excellent value.

Escobar was an extreme sell-high player, and to the Twins’ credit, they sold high.

I’m leaning toward “WINNERS, ABSOLUTE WINNERS,” but as of now, I’ll turn the caps lock off. Looks good from here, and give them credit for deciding to sell so quickly after a surprise postseason run.

I just want to know what they could have got for Dozier two seasons ago.



Acquired: Leonys Martin, Brad Hand, Adam Cimber, James Hoyt

Traded: Francisco Mejia, Willi Castro, Kyle Dowdy, Tommy DeJuneas

They’re not on the loser’s list because these trades won’t help them. These trades might send them to the World danged Series. The Indians’ bullpen was a mess, and they got two low-cost relievers with loads of team control. That’s a net positive.

It cost them one of their best prospects, though, and it came after an offseason where the Indians let several relievers go and replaced them with wishes and hopes and dreams. That’s not to say that Bryan Shaw and Boone Logan have been good, because they haven’t. But their plan was something like, “Neil Ramirez and Matt Belisle and uh we’ll get back to you,” and it cost them Mejia.

If it helps them even reach the World Series, it’s a successful trade. But it sure seems like one that could have been at least partially avoided with just a modicum of urgency this offseason.

It was a reasonable trade deadline strategy, sure, but it was also a strange offseason for a team that’s so close.


Acquired: Eduardo Escobar, Matt Andriese, Brad Ziegler, Jake Diekman

Traded: RHP Jhoan Duran, OF Gabriel Maciel, OF Ernie De La Trinidad, Brian Shaffer, Michael Perez, Tommy Eveld, Wei-Chieh Huang

It’s a lot of talent for underwhelming players. Eduardo Escobar might have figured out how to be more than a super-sub at the age of 29, but the seven years of an 89 OPS+ that came before it leave me skeptical. Andriese is the best example of Just A Guy in baseball right now, right down to the 4.36 ERA, and Ziegler is an old friend suffering through an erratic season.

Most of these players are trending in the right direction, but as a deadline strategy? I want something bolder if I’m a Diamondbacks fan. These are the kinds of moves I would expect from a team like the Red Sox or Astros, teams with recent success that are running away with their respective divisions.

A team like the Diamondbacks, scrapping with three teams and without a championship since Juan Soto was an infant, should seek out trades with just a teensy bit more oomph. These players should help, so I’m probably being overly nitpicky, but with a team like this, I want EXPLOSIONS.


Acquired: Seunghwan Oh

Traded: Forest Wall, Chad Spanberger, player to be named later

The team that spent the offseason building the Super Bullpen of Great Fortune had to go get a reliever because their plan failed. Not only did they have to get a reliever, but they got one they could have had for a pittance throughout the entire offseason.

If this isn’t a textbook lesson in bullpen construction, I don’t know what is. There are lot of ways to build a bullpen, but I’m pretty sure that throwing money at it is the absolute worst one.


Acquired: Not Gerrit Cole

Traded: Gerrit Cole

But, yeah, go get that late-inning reliever for this year and the next. That’ll shore things up.


Acquired: Chris Archer, Keone Kela

Traded: Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows, Taylor Hearn, players to be named later

This is the year they’re taking risks. This is the year they trade huge pieces of a potential future. This is the deadline where they vault ahead of their competition. The one where they’re seven freaking games back in the NL Central. The one after they traded Gerrit Cole for magic beans.

Let’s check in with the deadline action in 2014, when they actually made the postseason.

July 31, 2014

Selected Angel Sanchez off waivers from the Chicago White Sox.

What about 2013, when they won 94 games?

July 31, 2013

Traded player to be named to the Seattle Mariners. Received Robert Andino.

They did get J.A. Happ in 2015, and that was more inspired than anyone gave them credit for at the time. But this is the year to go bananas?

To be fair, though, if you’re going to go after a pitcher, one who has an owner-friendly contract is the way to go. Archer will be around for the next three years if the Pirates want him, so I don’t begrudge the Pirates for thinking he fits some sort of window for them. And if you’re making me bet on the cumulative WAR for Archer over the next three years and the cumulative WAR for Austin Meadows and Tyler Glasnow, I will probably choose Archer. If Meadows had boffo power or plate discipline, I’d be giddy about him, but he’s just shy on both fronts, and Glasnow has been erratic.

Still, it’s the timing that gets me, even if the trade might work out.




Acquired: Ryan Pressly, Roberto Osuna, Tommy DeJuneas, Martin Maldonado

Traded: Ken Giles, David Paulino, Gilberto Celestino, Jorge Alcala, Hector Perez, Patrick Sandoval, James Hoyt, their self-respect

Their bullpen is more talented now. Congratulations, Astros. Osuna can really wing it.

When I talked to people who worked for the Astros last year, I asked what about the team is it that they would want to read about. My answer was that the clubhouse was a diverse wonderland of ebullient personalities, one of the most cohesive teams ever assembled. So I wrote about it. They won the World Series. I was raised not to go overboard on the clubhouse stuff, but last year’s team sure got me wondering ...

Then they acquired a pitcher serving the second-longest suspension for domestic violence under the new rules. The ace pitcher clearly isn’t enthused, even as he tries to be a good employee. The Yankees acquired a reliever in the middle of a domestic violence suspension, and then they traded him for one of the best prospects in the game before giving themselves a better chance to win the World Series. So if you want to be cynical, you can look at this purely in baseball terms.

There were other relievers, but the Astros settled on Osuna because he was a buy-low guy. That’s extremely cynical.

Gross. And very much against the spirit of what got them their first championship. We’ll see how receptive the clubhouse is to a player who still has a court case pending because he allegedly did some repugnant shit.


Acquired: Jonathan Schoop, Mike Moustakas, Joakim Soria

Traded: Jonathan Villar, Luis Ortiz, Jean Carlos Carmona, Brett Phillips, Jorge Lopez, Kodi Medeiros, Wilber Perez

I don’t hate these trades in isolation. I hate them only because the Brewers now have an overstuffed infield, but they’re still counting on Wade Miley to shore up the rotation. Maybe he’ll have a 2.01 ERA forever.

RON HOWARD: Get the fuck out of here.

Yeah, I’m not a believer in Miley, and neither is the narrator. The Brewers adding to their already formidable bullpen depth was smart. Getting one more infielder was necessary. Getting two, but not a starting pitcher?

Dunno. Not what I would have done. We’ll see if the post-deadline waiver madness helps them in this regard, but I would have loved to see them with Archer instead of the Pirates.


Acquired: Jeurys Familia

Traded: Will Toffey, Bobby Wahl

The A’s are good, dang it. I wanted more. I wanted a sign to the clubhouse that the A’s are capital-G, capital-F, and Capital-I Going For It. I wanted a starting pitcher kicking down the door and screaming, “COME WITH ME IF YOU WANT TO LIVE ... IN A WORLD WHERE I PITCH SIX OR SEVEN STRONG INNINGS REGULARLY.”

Instead the A’s got a reliever. A good one! At a reasonable price! But I was looking for something more when it comes to the rotation, not to mention some help for poor, lost Jonathan Lucroy behind the plate.

The A’s probably aren’t in a spot to go all-in on this year’s surprising (TO SOME) contender, and I get that. But something a little bit more than a setup man would have been nice. This fun, scrappy team deserved it.


Acquired: Nope

Traded: Nah

Will Smith is absolutely dominant right now. Of all the relievers who were traded, Smith would have been the best one. Teams are clamoring for someone just like him — a lefty who can dominate hitters from either side of the plate and is under team control for next year, too. He would have brought back a hefty return.

The Giants are holding on to him, and they’ll use him to finish .500 this year, with some crossed fingers for next year.

That’s what the Giants had to trade, though. They had relievers, with Smith, Tony Watson, and Sam Dyson all having strong years. This isn’t like their mess from the offseason, where they couldn’t even hold a fire sale if they wanted to. All they had to do is trade relievers.

It’s been extremely nice to watch a team with a competent bullpen, so I get it. But the Giants are climbing out of the bottom of the organizational rankings, and one of the golden rules of building a farm system is that when you have a chance to flip relievers for prospects, you do it.

The Giants declined. They’re five games out of the second wild card, so maybe I’m the dummy. I have a feeling, though, that it would have been an exciting return for Will Smith.

OK, sure, whateverers

Red Sox

Acquired: Ian Kinsler, Nathan Eovaldi

Traded: Williams Jerez, Ty Buttrey, Jalen Beeks

OK. Sure. Whatever. That seems nice. Kinsler has a glove, and the bat won’t kill you. Eovaldi is still working his way back from Tommy John, and he’s always had great stuff. The Red Sox are a million games over .500 are are making the postseason regardless.

OK. Sure. These are reasonable, if boring, moves.

Not everybody is a winner or loser, dammit.


Acquired: Adam Duvall, Kevin Gausman, Jonny Venters

Traded: Lucas Sims, Matt Wisler, Preston Tucker, international bonus money

Duvall still has some believers, especially if you believe in the batted-ball stats. Gausman has a solid arm that’s always been behind his results. Maybe he’ll be better served with a different coaching staff and a ballpark that isn’t unfair to fly balls.

OK. Sure. These are reasonable, if boring, moves.

Not everybody is a winner or loser, dammit.

White Sox

Acquired: Kodi Medeiros, Wilber Perez

Traded: Joakim Soria

Always take fliers on relievers when you’re a rebuilding team. Always, always, always. Pay the extra millions. Insert yourself into the offseason deals. Then turn around and wish for a happy trade-deadline raffle ticket to pay off.

Still, these are reasonable, if boring, moves.

Not everybody is a winner or loser, dammit.


Acquired: Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilson Ramos, Aaron Loup

Traded: Franklyn Kilome, Jacob Waguespack, PsTBNL

No Machado. No Archer. No flashy win-now pieces, no flashy win-later pieces. Just a couple of guys who could have been solid deadline moves nearly a decade ago, too.

OK. Sure. These are reasonable, if boring, moves.

Not everybody is a winner or loser, dammit.

It’s hard to judge the Ramos trade without knowing the prospects going back to the Rays, but it seems like a light price. I have no idea how the A’s, Red Sox, or even Nationals couldn’t meet it.


Acquired: Cole Hamels, Brandon Kintzler, Jesse Chavez

Traded: Jhon Romero, Ricky Tyler Thomas, Eddie Butler, Rollie Lacy, PTBNL

Hamels got his swing-and-miss back, and there are reasons to believe that he’s still a more valuable contributor than his Texas stats suggest. They added depth in the bullpen, and you wouldn’t be wrong to think that Yu Darvish coming back is like the real deadline addition.

They’re rich. They’re young. They’re good. Sure, add the pricey veteran. Take him for a spin.

These are reasonable, if boring, moves.

Not everybody is a winner or loser, dammit.


Acquired: Lucas Sims, Matt Wisler, Preston Tucker

Traded: Adam Duvall

I’m stuck in 2014, so this seems like a fantastic package of prospects to me. Mostly, though, I like how they took a chance by trading on a cheap, under-control player who was not hitting, which limited the return. The Reds have outfielders coming out of their ears; it was a risk they could afford to take, even if it was a little bit of a buy-low trade.

The Reds have made an interesting roster out of hardly noticed trades (just look up who they got in return for Alfredo freaking Simon), and this could be a fine addition to the legacy.

This is a reasonable, if boring, move.

Not everybody is a winner or loser, dammit. Except for the Reds, who definitely aren’t winners these days, ha ha, just a little joke as I near the end of this hellpost.


Acquired: Jhon Romero

Traded: Brandon Kintzler

There were whispers about Bryce Harper getting traded, but in the end, the Nationals traded nothing but a complementary bullpen piece, and they acquired several future moments of autocorrect-inspired confusion.

Good. They probably should have dealt Gio Gonzalez and possibly a couple of other short-timers, but at least they made a rational move, while keeping intact their desire to build a young outfield of the gods.

This is a reasonable, if boring, move.

Not everybody is a winner or loser, dammit.

Except for the Nationals if they reach the NLDS. Maybe they still will. They certainly have the talent. But of all the stand-patters, the Nats were the stand-pattiest. It just made sense for them to double down on the idea that they weren’t wrong, but baseball was. They’ll regroup next year if needed.