21 September 2020

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Assessing the 2020 MLB Trade Deadline

The 2020 MLB Trade deadline came and went with plenty of deals made. Past trade deadlines sawa good majority of the league making moves, but this one only had a select group of teams that were activel. Another constant throughout the deadline was the inclusion of “Players to be named later” (PTBNL) in many of the trades, but this seems likely due to the fact that only players from each team’s 60 player pool were eligible to be traded. Let’s look at each team that made moves individually to best size up how they did and what it says about them moving forward.

Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies made the first move 10 days prior to the deadline grabbing Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for Nick Pivetta and Connor Seabold. The Phillies desperately needed help with pitching. They had the worst ERA in MLB at the time (8.07) and needed bullpen help wherever they could. Workman’s first few outings for his new team didn’t go so well for him but he has been improving as of late. Hembree has been the opposite, having a good start to his time as a Phillie but struggling as of late. Workman is a rental who will be a free agent at the end of the season, and Hembree will still be with the team for the 2021 season. 

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The other move the Phillies made was acquiring David Phelps from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for 3 PTBNL. Phelps has never been the lights-out guy out of a bullpen and is more of a situational kind of guy. He’s been having a good season so far in Milwaukee so it makes sense that a team looking for bullpen help would want him. He’s gonna be another option out of the Phillies bullpen that even with the additions of Hembree and Workman, still needed the help. What makes the deal more interesting is the return for Milwaukee being 3 players to be named later, who will most likely be players not included in the Phillies’ player pool for 2020. He has a $4.5 Million option for 2021 so the exchange may hint that Phelps is planned to be a part of the 2021 roster.

Toronto Blue Jays

The Toronto Blue Jays are in the chase for a lower playoff seed and were very active during the deadline. Their first two moves were earlier in the week acquiring Daniel Vogelbach and Taijuan Walker from the Seattle Mariners in two separate trades, for cash and a player to be named later respectively. Vogelbach was the sole All-Star for the Mariners in 2019 and has been having a very bad 2020 which resulted in being DFA’d by the Mariners. Walker was signed as a free agent and was having a good enough 2020 for him to be moved for a prospect. 

In addition to Walker, the Blue Jays picked up Robbie Ray from the Diamondbacks for prospect Travis Bergen. Ray is a pitcher who’s been in trade talks for quite some time and was presumed to be going to the Yankees during 2019’s deadline, but that deal never came through. Ray has given up the most walks in the MLB for a starting pitcher and looks to rebound moving over to the AL East. He has shown in the past that he has great stuff, and as a pending free agent, his cheap price makes this move low risk for the Blue Jays. 

At the end of the deadline the Blue Jays also picked up one final starter, Ross Stripling from the Dodgers, to put a ribbon and bow on their pitching overhaul. Stripling was meant to be shipped off to the Angels in the offseason but that deal fell through. Stripling has not had a good 2020 season so moving him for two players to be named later didn’t seem like a big gamble for the Dodgers who didn’t really have a place for him anymore.

The Jays also acquired Jonathan Villar from the Miami Marlins to add lineup depth. Villar had a great 2019, but after being traded to the Marlins, hadn’t been performing at the level hoped. He leads the MLB in stolen bases with 9 and should be a solid bench option. He looks to take Bo Bichette’s role as the everyday shortstop until Bichette returns from injury.

Miami Marlins

For the first time in a very long time, the Marlins are in playoff contention. Due to the short season the Marlins are in a “win now” mindset. They went out and got Starling Marte from the Diamondbacks who has been having a really good year to start 2020. Marte was the D-Backs big acquisition over the offseason and has an option for 2021, but the D-Backs having a bad season signals that the Marte experiment won’t continue. Adding Marte into an already good Marlins lineup signals a playoff push for the Marlins, but whether or not they should’ve made more moves won’t come into question until the end of September.

Colorado Rockies

The Colorado Rockies have been a rollercoaster of a team this season. They have gone from being one of the best in the league to one of the worst in the span of a week. The Rockies decided to load up but also play it a bit on the safe side. For the pitching, they acquired Mychal Givens from the Orioles for prospects Tyler Nevin, Terrin Vavra, and a player to be named later. Givens has been having an incredible 2020 and the Rockies are the team that needs good pitching the most. This deal works out since they will have control over Givens through the end of the 2021 season. 

The Rockies also went out and got outfielder Kevin Pillar from the Red Sox for lineup depth. Pillar was having a good year with the Red Sox after signing as a free agent this past offseason. Pillar brings elite defense which will certainly be helpful with the massive outfield in Coors Field. As a pending free agent, he will be only a rental.

Oakland Athletics

As current leaders of the AL West, the Oakland A’s didn’t have much they needed to do aside from adding depth. Like the Rockies, they added one pitcher and one hitter (both coming from division rivals). The first player they acquired was infielder Tommy La Stella from the Angels for prospect Franklin Barreto. La Stella put together his first career All-Star season before dealing with a season-ending knee injury. He hasn’t been as dominant as last year, but he’s still having success and is putting together a solid 2020 season. He looks like he might be the new starting 2B for the A’s over current options Tony Kemp and Chad Pinder. 

The pitcher they got was Mike Minor from the Texas Rangers for 2 players to be named later. Minor had a phenomenal 2019 with the Rangers but has failed to follow up in 2020. Minor looks to be slotted as a depth piece in the starting rotation which has already been very strong this season. Both Minor and La Stella are free agents at the end of the 2020 season.

Tampa Bay Rays

Over in the AL East, the Tampa Bay Rays may have the lead over the Yankees, but have been dealing with a mass amount of injuries to their pitchers. Despite this, the Rays have been plowing through the AL East no problem with a ragtag group of players. The Rays are typically pretty active during the deadline but they only made three moves: two for buying and one for selling. The first pickup was Brett Phillips from the Kansas City Royals for prospect Lucius Fox, and the second was getting reliever Cody Reed from the Reds for prospect Riley O’Brien. Both Phillips and Reed have never been that successful in their careers and both have been having underwhelming 2020s. The Rays thrive on guys like these and tend to turn these types of players into high-quality players, so it’s at least on-brand for them. The player they sold off was Jose Martinez to the Cubs who didn’t really have a place on the roster to fit in anymore, combined with his underwhelming performance.

Cincinnati Reds

Despite being at the bottom of their division and having a losing record, the Reds decided to buy at the deadline and make a push for the playoffs. Their first acquisition was Brian Goodwin from the Angels in exchange for prospect Packy Naughton. Goodwin has been having a good season with the Angels and he’s always been more of a backup outfielder, so he will most likely fill the same role for the Reds. What the Reds needed most was bullpen help. Like the Nationals in 2019, they have an outstanding starting rotation that gets their outings ruined by a bad bullpen. The Reds made a big splash by acquiring Diamondbacks’ closer Archie Bradley for Josh Van Meter and prospect Stuart Fairchild. Bradley is a proven closer over the past few years and will definitely bring much-needed help to the Reds’ back end of the bullpen who also is under club control through 2021. This signals that the Reds want to make a push for the playoffs this year despite their bad record, but in a 1-month stretch, anything is possible.

Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs have been at the top of the NL Central since the season began and nearly everything is going right for them. All the Cubs needed was some added depth and they made four moves to get what they needed. The first was slugger Jose Martinez from Tampa Bay for two players to be named later. Martinez was traded to the Rays by the Cubs division rival St. Louis Cardinals during the offseason and Martinez looked to be the perfect Designated Hitter for the Rays. Had the universal DH rules been  known before December, the Cardinals probably would’ve held onto him. Martinez wasn’t performing at the level the Rays had hoped and didn’t serve a purpose for that team anymore. With the Cubs’ lineup performing at the level they currently are, Martinez will probably be nothing more than another bench bat. He won’t be a free agent for a while, so he may be a part of the Cubs’ future plans.

The second and third moves the Cubs made were to help improve their lackluster bullpen with two lefty arms: Andrew Chafin from the Diamondbacks and Josh Osich from the Red Sox, both for a player to be named later. Both Chafin and Osich haven’t had a good 2020 but they’ve both shown in the past they can be reliable guys out of the bullpen. The Cubs bullpen is a very big weakness of the team so while adding these two guys won’t solve it for good, they’re at least improvements nonetheless. Chafin is a free agent at the end of the year and Osich is signed through the 2022 season.

The final move the Cubs made was getting outfielder Cameron Maybin from the Tigers for prospect Zack Short. Maybin is going to be a defensive replacement/bench bat whenever the Cubs will need him. He’s been an averagehitter across his career but never a guy that’s gonna be a threat every time he’s at the plate. He also brings with him years of experience, so adding a veteran bat for the team isn’t that bad of a move. Maybin is a free agent at the end of the year.

San Diego Padres

For the first time in a very long time, the Padres are a serious contender in the league. Everything is going right for them and General Manager AJ Preller was not gonna let this opportunity go to waste. The Padres are the “winners” of the trade deadline. They didn’t just make moves to add depth, they went and made so many moves that it felt like for a time they were the only ones even doing anything. With a minor league system as deep as theirs, they had enough prospects to meet asking prices and they delivered.

The first move they made was getting closer Trevor Rosenthal for their bullpen from the Royals for prospect Edward Olivares and a player to be named later. Rosenthal, after a nightmare season with the Nationals and Tigers, signed a 1-year contract with the Royals and quickly became his old, dominant self. His addition to the bullpen helps give the Padres some more breathing room and allows current closer Drew Pomeranz to return to his role as a situational guy that he’s used to. 

The second and third moves they made were to improve their lineup. The first was acquiring1B Mitch Moreland from the Red Sox for prospects Hudson Potts and Jeisson Rosario, and the second was getting catcher Jason Castro from the Angels for prospect Gerardo Reyes. Moreland is a lefty power hitter that benefits from a National League team like the Padres getting a DH this year. Moreland was having a great start to the year for the Red Sox and was an All-Star in 2018. Castro, who is best known for being a more defensive player, was having a bad year with the Angels and figures to likely be slotted as the backup catcher rather than a starter. Both Moreland and Castro are free agents at the end of the year.

The Padres then made a big trade with the Seattle Mariners. The Padres got catcher Austin Nola, and pitchers Austin Adams and Dan Altavilla for major leaguer Ty France, and prospects Taylor Trammel, Andres Munoz, and Luis Torrens. The Padres pick up yet another catcher in Austin Nola, who is having a great year so far and looks to be their new regular starting catcher. They also get Altavilla and Adams for their bullpen, however Altavilla hasn’t been that good so far in 2020, and Adams is dealing with an injury. Both are under club control for a long time (same with Nola) and will be part of the Padres going forward. The Padres made an additional separate trade with the Mariners to get reliever Taylor Williams for a player to be named later. Williams is also struggling in 2020, and is also under club control for a long time to come.

Even on the day of the deadline, the Padres were not done yet. The Indians were shopping their starter Mike Clevinger, who has been a top 15 pitcher in MLB for the past 2 seasons. Clevinger was the best pitcher, if not player, on the market and he was being shopped because teammates were mad at him for not only breaking COVID protocols but also for lying about it. The Padres needed a starting pitcher and they struck the deal that landed them Clevinger. The full deal saw the Padres get Mike Clevinger, along with outfielder Greg Allen, and a player to be named later and in return the Indians got three major league players: pitcher Cal Quantrill, catcher Austin Hedges, and outfielder Josh Naylor and three prospects: Gabriel Arias, Joey Castillo, and Owen Miller. In the long run, the Indians will probably win this trade with all the young talent they acquired from it, but the Padres got their guy for the present and look to not only make a playoff push but possibly dethrone the Dodgers from the NL West. The Padres have control over Clevinger all the way through the 2022 season.

New York Mets

The final team to talk about made all three of their moves at the very end of the deadline. It wouldn’t be a trade season without Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen making some moves. Despite being out of playoff contention and struggling this year, the Mets decided to try and make a push for the playoffs. The first move was getting reliever Miguel Castro from the Orioles for prospect Kevin Smith, who’s been having an ok year so far. The Mets bullpen has been very up and down so far this year, so adding his arm isn’t that bad of a move and he’ll be under team control through the 2021 season. The other two players the Mets received were both hitters from the Texas Rangers: Catcher Robinson Chirinos and infielder Todd Frazier for two players to be named later. Chirinos has been having a bad year and has been the backup catcher for the Rangers in a year where he was projected to be their starter. The Mets are desperate for catching help but if anything it’s a step backward from their current options. Todd Frazier was with the Mets from 2018-2019 and was pretty average during those two years. Both Chirinos and Frazier are free agents at the end of the year

Other Moves that were made:

  • Chicago White Sox get Jarrod Dyson from the Pittsburgh Pirates for international signing money
    • The White Sox are in a dogfight for the top of their division and are a strong all-around team. It would’ve made more sense for them to go for a pitcher over an outfielder, but Dyson brings great defense and speed and will certainly be useful for extra innings. He will be a free agent at the end of the year
  • Atlanta Braves get starter Tommy Milone from the Orioles for a player to be named later.
    • The Braves are comfortably at the top of the NL East and were a team that had everything they needed to make a splash at the deadline and they did next to nothing. The only move the Braves made was to bring in Tommy Milone for their starting rotation, which aside from Max Fried has been abysmal. They desperately needed starting pitching but got only Milone, who has never been a top pitcher in his career and remains the same in 2020. The Braves were in the running to get Lance Lynn from the Rangers, but the Rangers didn’t pull the trigger and kept Lynn. Atlanta not getting anyone aside from Milone is a hugeloss for them this deadline and could very well cost them come playoff time. Milone is a free agent at the end of the year.
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