With the 2018 MLB trading deadline officially behind us we can finally look back at all the action. It was certainly a crazy last week or so as deals kept pouring in. Now that the dust has settled, who won and who lost?
Note that I am counting trades from the last week only, so trades from July 24-July 31 are the only ones being considered.
Yankees-The Yankees had few holes but they filled them very well. Their rotation was a real question, and J.A. Happ for what amounts to spare parts is a big way to fill the hole. Zach Britton was more of a luxury than a true need, but he strengthens the bullpen. It doesn’t end there as Lance Lynn is another possible starter to help fill the void behind the existing top three starters, and they sold off some extra pieces for more international spending room.
Pirates-The Pirates should probably be in a TBD category right now, but they added the best controllable reliever and best controllable starter dealt this year. Chris Archer really helps the front of their rotation and Keone Kela adds to their bullpen, but we need to see the two players to be named later. Giving up Taylor Hearn and Austin Meadows were big pieces, though Tyler Glasnow never was able to put it all together despite working with pitching coach Ray Searage.
Dodgers-It’s almost like they were trying to create a fantasy lineup. The Manny Machado move doesn’t qualify for the list, but adding Brian Dozier for very little was huge, and they also picked up John Axford to further strengthening the team.
Braves-The Braves didn’t get Chris Archer and they didn’t make any big moves, but they made a number of smaller moves to make slight improvements and didn’t give up any of their key prospects. They got help without pushing all of their chips to the center.
Phillies-The Phillies made more than just one move, but getting Wilson Ramos for almost nothing was huge. Ramos was an AL All Star this year and will be an immediate upgrade over Jorge Alfaro, and costs just cash or a player to be named later. Then the addition of Asdrubal Cabrera was a solid way to add some quality infield depth and Aaron Loup helps the bullpen.
Blue Jays-The Blue Jays added some nice pieces for J.A. Happ and Roberto Osuna, as buy low candidates Brandon Drury and Ken Giles alone would have been nice. Except they added some prospects as well in those deals. They also added a pair of intriguing prospects in the Seung-Hwan Oh to the Rockies deal.
Cubs-The Cubs not only added Cole Hamels, but more importantly they kept him away from the Brewers. That alone should get them on this list, but no, they added a solid veteran reliever in Brandon Kintzler as well.
Orioles-The Manny Machado deal doesn’t count because it was before the final week, but the Orioles still did well. They added a lot of international money to help make a run at Victor Victor Mesa, found Dillon Tate and Cody Carroll for a Zach Britton rental, and really cleaned up in the Jon Schoop to Milwaukee deal. I don’t love the return for Kevin Gausman, but Jean Carlos Encarnacion is a nice lottery ticket.
Nationals-The Nats aren’t going anywhere this year most likely, and could have helped to set the stage for next year by making some moves. No one thought Bryce Harper was moving, but they could have moved on from Kelvin Herrera, Gio Gonzalez, Matt Adams, and Jeremy Hellickson. The positive is that the Nats now have a chance to creep back up the standings, but selling may have benefited them more in the longterm as this team just doesn’t have the look and feel of a champion.
Brewers-The Brewers overpaid greatly to get Jon Schoop, and spent to land Mike Moustakas despite having Travis Shaw at third, but those aren’t the reasons they are listed as a loser. The Brewers biggest mistake was that they failed to land a starter despite trying to get a few of the guys on the market. Despite the Brewers rotation doing better than anyone expected, they don’t exactly have a formidable group of starters come October and adding a Chris Archer would have really helped there.
Mets-The Mets had almost the entire roster available and only made one move that deserves plenty of criticism. No one expected Jake deGrom or Noah Syndergaard to be dealt, and you could probably add Zack Wheeler to that list in recent weeks, but the Mets sat on Devin Mesorsco and Jose Bautista. More importantly they sold Jeurys Familia before Zach Britton came off the market, a full week before the deadline, and didn’t get much in return. Should the Mets have waited for Britton to be dealt and tried to see if that helped them get a little more, it wouldn’t have been as easy to criticize the choice to deal Familia for pennies on the dollar.
Reds-With a number of relievers that were drawing significant interest in addition to Matt Harvey and possibly Billy Hamilton, the Reds sat back and made only one minor move to send Adam Duvall to the Braves for three minor parts.
Astros-This is not at all related to talent. In terms of talent they probably underpaid for Roberto Osuna, but talent isn’t the story here. Osuna is in the end stages of a lengthy suspension for domestic violence and facing a criminal case against him for it. The fact that team leaders like Justin Verlander and Lance McCullers Jr. have spoken out strongly against former Astros prospect Danry Vasquez for domestic violence publicly adds a level of awkwardness to the clubhouse. Not to mention the attention being paid after they traded for him and then issued a statement which did not go over well publicly. On talent Osuna is a huge addition, but the team has to hope that this doesn’t hurt chemistry.
Big money teams-Those hoping Bryce Harper would be traded so that they could sign him without having to part with a draft pick are out of luck. With the Nationals not ever getting close to dealing Harper, it is all but guaranteed he will receive a qualifying offer this fall.