The trade deadline has come and gone. Now we can focus on the important things: Picking out the best of the best and the worst of the worst.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Manny Machado trade was always likely to be the biggest deal that went down at the deadline. With the Mets opting to keep Jacob DeGrom, that took the only other likely candidate who could make as much of an impact off the board. As we already went over, the Dodgers aren’t going to settle for anything less than a championship and this was the biggest move they could make to get there. But it wasn’t the only move Los Angeles made to further their championship aspirations.
The Dodgers' situation at second base has been abysmal this season, with their players collectively hitting .215/.304/.287 for a 67 wRC+ and putting up -0.3 fWAR, tied for the third worst mark in MLB. Their presumed starter at the position, Logan Forsythe, has absolutely bottomed out at the plate this season, hitting .207/.270/.290 for a 55 wRC+. On deadline day, Los Angeles sent him to the Twins for the player they had originally coveted when they traded for h
Dozier isn’t the same hitter that he was when the Dodgers were trying to acquire him a couple of offseasons ago. He’s 31 now, and his .224/.305/.402 and 91 wRC+ are the lowest figures that Dozier has put up since his first full season in 2013, but the Dodgers only gave up a couple of lottery-ticket-ish prospects and Forsythe to get the deal done.
The Dodgers shelled out for the best player available and then got better at one of their biggest positions of need without giving up much. If there is clear on-paper winner of this year’s trade deadline, it’s surely the Dodgers.
Before we move on from the team that the Dodgers acquired Dozier from, it’s worth pointing out that they did pretty well for themselves. While they came into the season with a respectable chance to make it back to the postseason, things haven’t quite worked out that way and they’re now 10 games back in the division and 13.5 back in the Wild Card race.
The trade with the Dodgers was one of five different trades that brought back prospects for players who will be free agents after this season or were less-than-closer-level relievers. In exchange, they did a pretty serious restock of their farm, bringing in five prospects who now rank fairly high in their system (11, 14, 17, 19 and 23, to be precise). Not a bad haul, all things considered.
Tampa Bay Rays
If we were handing out actual awards for the deadline, the Dodgers certainly take home the Going for It Award. The Twins get the Throwing in the Towel Award. But this year’s Tampa Bay Award (aka We Made Smart Moves that Seemingly Keep Our Contention Window Open Indefinitely)® goes to Tampa Bay.
The spit-out-your-coffee move was the trade of Chris Archer, who was Tampa’s 2nd most valuable starter by fWAR (1.7) this season and under team control through the 2021 season, thanks to a couple of options in his team-friendly contract. But while Archer has been good this season, he hasn’t shown his previous ace potential. In return, the Rays got Austin Meadows and Tyler Glasnow, both of whom are extremely recent top prospects, controllable through at least 2023 and major-league ready.
While Glasnow has lately had trouble finding the strike zone, he’s still a potential middle-of-the-order starter who could benefit from a change of scenery. Meadows’ issue has been health and not walking enough. There’s a (potentially noteworthy) PTBNL on the way to Tampa Bay as well, but this trade already looks like a win for the Rays.
The Rays weren’t done dismantling their rotation, though, as they also got another near-ready starting pitcher in Jalen Beeks from Boston, who received Nathan Eovaldi. At this point, the Rays rotation is basically non-existent, but they turned a soon-to-be free agent into another pitcher who could help them be competitive next year. Beeks is another almost-there pitcher in a farm system full of them, and some of those those pitchers will be the next pitchers that get traded away for the next pitchers, and so on and so one, until we are all just rosin in the wind.
They also traded a few seemingly lackluster prospects to the Cardinals for Tommy Pham, who isn’t having an MVP-level season like he did last year, but has still been valuable (.246/.332/.395, 101 wRC+, 1.5 fWAR). Pham was unhappy with his playing time situation and the off-the-field stuff seems to have inspired St. Louis to sell low on an average-to-extremely-excellent outfielder with three more years of team control. I have no idea when the Rays will win a World Series, but it’s not for lack of creative deal making on the part of the front office.
Colorado Rockies (and a Shout Out to the San Francisco Giants)
We’re lumping them together because they’re both in the NL West and both stood pretty pat. The Giants have dealt with injuries and issues aplenty and they’re currently 5 games back in a very crowded Wild Card race, so it’s not surprising that they didn’t go all-in or anything, it’s just weird that they didn’t really do anything, one way or another. The lack of dealing is even stranger for the Rockies, who are currently only 1 game back in the Wild Card spot. The Dodgers and Diamondbacks got a whole lot better and the Rockies didn’t.
Grades: D for Rockies, C for Giants
Kansas City Royals
The Kelvin Herrera trade didn’t look great when Dayton Moore made it in mid-June, and it doesn’t look any better after seeing the return for other relievers leading up to the deadline. Their actual deadline move of Mike Moustakas for near-MLB ready talent also raised more questions for yours truly, because the Royals are probably going to be on the outside looking in for a while, meaning they should probably be stocking up the prospect larder.
The Astros made a “smart baseball move” when they acquired Roberto Osuna. The deal cost them Ken Giles, who has struggled with results during his tenure in Houston (even if the underlying numbers remained respectable), but he was pretty much out in Houston anyway thanks to non-pitching issues. The trade also cost them a couple of lesser prospects. In return they received an elite closer, as evidenced by his career 150 ERA+ and his placing third last season by both FIP (1.42) and fWAR (3.0) amongst eligible relievers.
The statistics, however, fail to take in to account that Osuna is set to return this weekend from a 75-game suspension under MLB’s domestic violence policy, which is the second longest penalty handed out to date. While these issues are clearly complicated, it’s worth noting that the language that the Blue Jays used when discussing Osuna’s suspension raised eyebrows among legal-oriented baseball observers and didn’t exactly do much to assuage anyone’s concern that this was just a minor misunderstanding.
Osuna’s trial for the incident giving rise to the suspension started yesterday. There are questions about what will happen going forward on a number of fronts. The outcome of his criminal trial for assault could certainly affect his ability to actually pitch for Houston and the fact that he hasn’t pitched all season could affect his ability to effectively pitch. But both of those are beside the point, in the grand scheme of things.
GM Jeff Luhnow and company chose this path when there were other, more palatable other options out there. Some of them would have involved giving up better prospects and some wouldn’t (looking at you, Herrera), but the path they chose will cause this Astros fan to have mixed feelings whenever Osuna is pitching.
A decision can be analytically sound and ethically dubious, and that’s exactly what we have here. This isn’t the first time we’ve talked about this on these here pages, thanks to Aroldis Chapman, and, while I wish otherwise, it likely won’t be the last. While it might be a “smart baseball move,” the very idea of a “domestic violence discount” is pretty repulsive.
Grade: F for “Eff This”