The July 31st Trade Deadline finally arrived at 4:00pm on Monday, with teams buying and selling as they prepare for a postseason run or for the distant future. Several rumored deals came to fruition, bolstering lineups, rotations, and bullpens. Let’s take a look at some of the major deals that took place on Monday, and in the days leading up to it.
Sonny Gray: After over a week of speculation, the A’s and Yankees finally came to an agreement, as Gray heads to New York in exchange for three prospects: outfielder Dustin Fowler, pitcher James Kaprielian, and shortstop/outfielder Jorge Mateo. Gray joins a Yankees rotation that has an ERA of 4.06, looking for a jolt after Michael Pineda went down for the season with a UCL tear requiring Tommy John surgery. Gray, enjoying a bounceback season in Oakland (6-5, 3.43 ERA) will help a rotation that also just acquired southpaw Jaime Garcia from the Twins (the Twins acquired Garcia from Atlanta just five days prior).
The prospect package going back to Oakland is lighter than some expected, as the A’s were pestering the Yankees to include Clint Frazier or Gleyber Torres in a deal. James Kaprielian is three months removed from Tommy John surgery to his right throwing elbow, his second elbow injury in two years. Dustin Fowler injured his knee in the first inning of his MLB debut last month, and no one knows what position Jorge Mateo is supposed to play. Even though the Yankees gave up three top 30 prospects (according to MLB.com), they were able to get a front of the rotation arm with two years of team control without giving up any of their top prospects. GM Brian Cashman has to be thrilled about that.
Yu Darvish: The Dodgers acquired the Japanese Ace from the Rangers for second baseman/outfielder Willie Calhoun, pitcher A.J. Alexy, and infielder Brendon Davis. Those three prospects are all listed in the top 30 in the Rangers organization now (according to MLB.com). Los Angeles, in return, adds to their dangerous rotation as they try to win a World Series championship for the first time in almost three decades. Darvish would join the injured Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood, Rich Hill, and Kenta Maeda in the rotation. Darvish hasn’t been his usual self this year, as the man with a career 3.42 ERA has pitched to a meager 6-9 record with a 4.01 ERA, and a career low K/9 rate (9.7 strikeouts per nine innings this year). Still, he figures to give the Dodgers a boost as they make a run for the post season.
The Dodgers weren’t done there, adding relievers Tony Watson and Tony Cingrani in an attempt to improve their bullpen. The Dodgers have a team ERA of 3.01, good for first in the NL, so it’s not like they needed to add to it, but you can never have enough firepower in the ‘pen. Watson was delivered to the Dodgers from the Pirates in exchange for prospects Oneil Cruz and Angel German. MLB.com ranks Cruz as the 16th best prospect in the Pirates organization, now. Cingrani arrived from Cincinnati for outfielder Scott Van Slyke and catching prospect Hendrik Clementina.
Addison Reed: A big storyline heading into deadline day: who will the Mets trade? Along with first baseman Lucas Duda (we’ll get to him), the Mets dealt current closer Addison Reed to the Red Sox in exchange for three pitching prospects: Gerson Bautista, Jamie Callahan, and Stephen Nogosek, the latter two now ranking in the top 30 prospects in the Mets organization. Reed has been superb for the Mets over the past three seasons, pitching to a sterling 2.09 ERA, striking out 156 batters over 142 frames. He figures to be the set-up man for Boston’s Craig Kimbrel.
Lucas Duda was acquired by the Tampa Bay Rays, sitting 2.5 games back for the second AL-Wild Card slot and looking for offensive help. In return, the Mets received pitching prospect Drew Smith, ranking as their 30th best prospect. Duda has enjoyed a solid year at the plate, with 19 HRs and 40 RBI, plus a career high .909 OPS. He will split time at first base and DH for the Rays.
The Nationals bullpen has struggled mightily this season, sporting a team ERA of 4.76. It has been the NL East powerhouse’s only weakness thus far, and they worked hard to improve it at the deadline, adding Minnesota’s closer in Brandon Kintzler. The Twins received minor league hurler Tyler Watson and international pool money in the trade. Kintzler, an All-Star in 2017, has pitched to a 2.94 ERA with 45 saves over 101 frames in one and a half seasons with the Twins.
He joins a formidable duo brought over from the A’s a few weeks ago in Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle. The Athletics received reliever Blake Treinen, and prospects Jesus Luzardo and Sheldon Neuse, who currently rank as the number 7 and 15 prospects in the A’s system, respectively. Madson missed three seasons due to a major elbow injury between 2012-2014, but has come back strong since, helping the Royals win the World Series in 2015. He’s had a strong year in Oakland, throwing to a 2.06 ERA in 40 games. Doolittle, on the other hand, has been serviceable thus far, pitching to a 3.38 ERA in 23 games. Kintzler, Madson, and Doolittle figure to form a strong combo at the back-end of the Nats bullpen.
The Rockies probably could’ve afforded to add a starter at the deadline (their rotation has a 4.60 ERA) but they felt that they needed to add a set-up man for All-Star closer Greg Holland. Enter Pat Neshek. The two-time All-Star was the only bright spot for the Phillies this year, pitching to a 1.43 ERA in 47 games. He joins Colorado whose team ERA ranks 12th in the NL at 4.71. The Phillies received prospects Jose Gomez (now the number 19 prospect in the Philadelphia system), Alejandro Requena, and J.D. Hammer.
Colorado wasn’t done there, acquiring catcher Jonathan Lucroy from the Rangers for a player to be named later. To see why this is noteworthy, let’s rewind one year. At last year’s deadline, the Rangers acquired Lucroy and reliever Jeremy Jeffress for outfield prospect Lewis Brinson, pitcher Luis Ortis, and a player to be named later (who turned out to be outfielder Ryan Cordell). Brinson now ranks as the top prospect in the Brewers organization. So, Lucroy went from being the centerpiece of a blockbuster deal to being traded for scraps in just one calendar year. How? Lucroy, a free agent at the end of the season, has been real bad in Texas this year, slashing .242/.297/.338 and just 4 HRs in 77 games. The Rockies are hoping that he simply needed a change of scenery, as he’s been pretty much identical to the production that they’ve received from Ryan Hanigan, Tony Wolters, and Dustin Garneau so far (combined .242/.312/.338).
Lastly, the reigning World Champion Cubs made a splash, acquiring reliever Justin Wilson and catcher Alex Avila from the Tigers for third base/first base prospect Jeimer Candelario, shortstop prospect Isaac Paredes, and a player to be named later OR future cash considerations. Here, Chicago gets a lefty reliever enjoying the best season of his career (Wilson has a 2.68 ERA and 55 K’s through 40.1 innings with Detroit) and a veteran back-up catcher, which they’ve needed since the Miguel Montero debacle. In return, the Tigers get Candelario and Paredes, who rank third and eighth among prospects in their farm system. Candelario, a highly touted prospect who plays third base and first base, was blocked in the system by All-Stars Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. Now, he projects to battle Nick Castellanos for the third base job in Spring Training next season. Paredes, a shortstop who some believe will fit better at second base, too was blocked by Addison Russel and Javier Baez. Now, there is a clear opening for him in the future (current Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler is a free agent at the end of the year, and shortstop Jose Iglesias is a free agent after next year).
Which one of these moves will pay off the most? Will the defending champion Cubs repeat on the strength of their improved bullpen? Will the Yankees title hopes come sooner than expected after a handful of big moves? Can Colorado surprise after picking up a set-up man and a catcher? Will the Nationals finally make it past the NLDS after building up their bullpen? As always, we’ll see at the end of the season who came out as winners and losers in these trades.
By: Chris Perkowski