The MLB trade deadline has come and gone, with many players finding new homes. What was once thought to be a very active trade deadline thanks to the new rule that ended the Aug. 31 waiver trade deadline ended up being one of the more quiet deadlines in recent memory. That said, there were still some pretty significant deals that took place.
We’ll start with a bit of a head scratcher. On July 28, the Toronto Blue Jays dealt starting pitcher Marcus Stroman to the New York Mets for pitching prospects Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods-Richardson. Kay and Woods-Richardsone were the Mets’ top two pitching prospects. For the Blue Jays, this is a good trade because they aren’t competing right now and Stroman is having a career season, posting a 2.96 earned run average (ERA), which is fifth-best in the American League. However, it seems like they could have gotten a little more for him, considering he is under team control through next season. For the Mets, it’s very puzzling as to why they would make this deal. They aren’t competing this year, as they are four games under .500 at the time this is being written. They just traded two of their best prospects from what was already a very weak farm system. Wouldn’t it make sense to sell off some pieces to build up the farm system rather than buy and tear it down even more? From the looks of it, it seems like Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen is trying to make one last all-in push for next season, and he wants Stroman to be a part of it. Overall, this was a very confusing trade.
Things went quiet for a couple of days. There were some minor trades that weren’t really worth discussing, but it just seemed odd that no trades were being made. Then on the night of Sunday, July 30, less than 24 hours before the trade deadline, we finally got our first blockbuster.
There were three teams involved: the Cleveland Indians, the Cincinnati Reds, and the San Diego Padres. The Indians sent starting pitcher Trevor Bauer to the Reds. The Reds sent top prospect Taylor Trammel to San Diego. The Indians received outfielder Yasiel Puig and pitching prospect Scott Moss from the Reds, and outfielder Franmil Reyes and prospect Logan Allen (starting pitcher) and Victor Nova (infielder) from the Padres. Let’s start by looking at this from Cincinnati’s perspective. You just got a very solid pitcher, one of the best in the American League last season. He finished sixth in the Cy Young Award voting a season ago, one in which he finished with a 2.21 ERA. So far this year he hasn’t been as good, posting a 3.79 ERA in 24 starts. However, the Reds biggest problem the last few years has been their pitching, although it has been better this season. But Bauer gives them that ace they so desperately needed.
For the Padres, their stacked farm system just got even more stacked. Trammel is ranked as the 30th best prospect in all of baseball according to mlb.com. Although he has struggled in Double-A this season with a .236 batting average, he is still a highly touted prospect. And at just 21 years of age, there’s no reason to get too worried about Trammel’s struggles this season, as he has plenty of time to figure it out.
Now for the Indians’ side of the trade. Their outfield has been horrendous this season. They’ve starting guys like Oscar Mercado, Jordan Luplow, and Mike Freeman out there. Ever heard of either of these guys? I haven’t. This is one of the reasons why they got off to such a slow start this season. Due to this, most people thought the Indians would sell at the deadline, but they were hot in the month of July. They still sold in a way, dealing away one of their best pitchers, but they sure got a heck of a return. Puig is known as one of the more flashy and charismatic players in league from his time with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He never really got a chance to be an every day player in LA, as they always had a pretty crowded outfield. He finally got his chance to shine this year with the Reds, and despite a slow start, he is having solid season offensively. Puig is currently batting .252 with 22 home runs (HR) and 61 runs batted in (RBI) on the season. He has a chance to hit 30 HR for the first time in his career. He has a bit of an attitude issue, as evidenced by the many brawls he’s been involved in, including one on the night of the trade, but the talent can’t be denied.
Franmil Reyes is an interesting player. The dude has massive power, with already 43 career HR in 186 games, including 27 HR in 99 games this year. His bat plays. However, his glove doesn’t. He is a butcher in the outfield, committing five errors already on the season. That’s a lot for an outfielder. He would be best served as a designated hitter (DH). With the two bats they got in this trade, plus the prospects, it’s hard not to love this trade for the Indians.
On deadline day, July 31, things were pretty quiet again. There were more small trades, such as the Washington Nationals going on their annual deadline shopping spree for relief pitchers, and the Pittisburgh Pirates sending outfielder Corey Dickerson to the Philadelphia Phillies. But another team that went on a bullpen shopping spree was the Atlanta Braves. One of the relievers they acquired was closer Shane Greene from the Detroit Tigers for pitching prospect Joey Wentz and outfield prospect Travis Demerrite. Greene has been one of the few bright spots for a really bad Tigers team this year. He’s been nothing short of dominant, posting a 1.18 ERA with 22 saves on the year. He’s under control through next season as well. They just so happened to blow a save in Wednesday’s game, minutes before trading for Greene. For the Tigers, Wentz will join an already stacked Double-A pitching rotation, joining the likes of top prospects Casey Mize and Matt Manning. It sounds like Demerrite is going to head straight to Detroit, as GM Al Avila has stated that he believes he’s hit well enough in Triple-A to warrant a call-up. It may not have been the return that Tigers fans wanted, but it could have been worse.
As the 4 p.m. deadline rolled around, it seemed as though everything was done. No more trades were to be made. As it turns out, everyone just waited until the last minute.
Continuing with our beloved Detroit Tigers, they flipped outfielder Nicholas Castellanos to the Chicago Cubs for a couple of pitching prospects. Getting anything for Castellanos is a win for the Tigers. He’s a free agent at the end of the season, and much like Franmil Reyes before him, he’s a defensive liability, so the bat is his only calling card. For the Cubs, much like the rest of the National League, they’re chasing the Dodgers, who are in a league of their own. One of the things that makes them so tough is their dominant left-handed pitching. Luckily for the Cubs, Castellanos feasts off of lefties, hitting .347 against them this season. This is a great bat for the north siders to add to their lineup.
The last big trade that went down was the Arizona Diamondbacks sending starting pitcher Zack Greinke to the Houston Astros for a slew of prospects. These include 1B/OF Seth Beer, RHP J.B. Bukauskas, RHP Corbin Martin, and INF/OF Josh Rojas. It’s kind of hard to believe that Greinke has been around since 2004, when he came up with the Kansas City Royals. A Cy Young Award and many all-star game appearances later, he’s still pitching great in his age 35 season. Greinke has a 2.90 ERA in 23 starts for the Diamondbacks this season. He now joins a rotation that already included Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. With this acquisition, the Astros may have just became the favorites to reach the fall classic in the American League.
There were many more trades that happened around the league, but these are the ones that are likely to make the biggest impact. It’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the season plays out.