BTV 2021 Trade Deadline Roundup
Welcome to the 2021 Trade Deadline Roundup. All trades will be added to this article as they are reported.
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Atlanta Braves acquire RHP Richard Rodriguez ($11.3M) from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for RHPs Bryse Wilson ($5.4M) and Ricky DeVito ($1.1M)
The Braves ended the deadline with a bang, acquiring one of the better controllable relievers we expected to be available. But Rodriguez’s stock has fallen drastically in recent weeks, a run of poor performance coinciding with the foreign substance crackdown. Our model likely hasn’t reacted to his struggles quickly enough, and that’s something we’ll take a look at for the future. As more of a contact pitcher, Rodriguez doesn’t have much more room to fall before he’s no longer a late-inning option.
That being said, if the Pirates see Wilson as a starter, this deal looks a lot closer. He hasn’t had much major league success, but was highly regarded as a prospect, and his prospect value alone stands at $8.3M before adjusting for his struggles. He’s a change of scenery candidate who should get plenty of time to figure himself out in Pittsburgh. DeVito is a likely reliever, but he’s pitching as a starter in High-A right now.
San Francisco Giants acquire LHP Tony Watson ($0.7M) from the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for LHP Sam Selman ($0.0M) and RHPs Ivan Armstrong ($0.3M) and Jose Marte ($0.6M)
The Giants beat the buzzer by reacquiring Watson, a serviceable lefty reliever. He’s an upgrade over Selman, who will be a depth arm for Los Angeles. Armstrong and Marte are decent relief prospects in Single-A and Double-A respectively. Overall, this is a solid return for a rental.
Boston Red Sox acquire RHP Hansel Robles ($0.2M) and cash ($0.5M) from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for RHP Alex Scherff ($0.2M)
Robles struggled mightily to start the season, but he’s been solid since. Still, he’s a nonelite rental reliever who was terrible in 2020. He’ll be middle-inning depth for Boston. The Twins get a little salary relief and Scherff, a Double-A reliever with success, but little reputation as a prospect.
Atlanta Braves acquire OF Jorge Soler (-$0.2M) from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for RHP Kasey Kalich ($0.8M)
Soler is the third outfielder the Braves added Friday and the fourth overall this month, and it isn’t clear how good any of them are or how they’re going to utilize them. Soler, Pederson, Duvall and Rosario each have clear strengths and clearer flaws, and it’ll be interesting to see if Atlanta can find a way to successfully deploy them. Soler specifically is a bad defender with huge power, so he may be best suited to a pinch-hitting role. He could go nuclear and hit double digit home runs next month, or the rental could be DFA’d before September.
Kalich is another lower-value minor league reliever, but Kansas City has done well with identifying and developing bullpen arms, so he might be a name to watch.
St. Louis Cardinals acquire LHP J.A. Happ (-$2.1M) and cash (unknown) from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for RHP John Gant ($0.0M) and LHP Evan Sisk ($0.1M)
Happ has been awful this year, but he still eats innings and this has been the first truly bad season of his career. The Cardinals might be hoping there’s something left in the tank based on track record alone. He’s underwater, but we don’t know exactly how much of his contract Minnesota is covering.
Gant had a run of success this year as a starter, but he’s walked as many batters as he’s struck out and the regression monster has been on his heels for weeks. The Twins may be best suited to move him back to the bullpen, where he’s historically had more success, to help them to decide whether to tender him a contract in his final year of arbitration. Sisk is a low-value, 24-year-old left-handed reliever in Double-A.
This deal will likely be accepted by our model, pending the cash value.
St. Louis Cardinals acquire LHP Jon Lester (-$2.5M) from the Washington Nationals in exchange for OF Lane Thomas ($2.7M)
We’re surprised that the Nationals were not only able to move Lester, but that they did so without eating any of his contract and received value in return. At this point in his career, Lester offers little more than innings and veteran experience, but the struggling Cardinals (who appear to be vying for one of the oldest rotations in recent history) may value those skills more than most.
Thomas was a decent prospect, but never got much of an opportunity in St. Louis. His major league struggles have limited his value, but he should get playing time in Washington down the stretch.
This deal was accepted as a moderate overpay by St. Louis.
Boston Red Sox acquire LHP Austin Davis ($1.8M) from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for IF Michael Chavis ($0.8M)
After adding Kyle Schwarber on Thursday night, the Red Sox made a pair of smaller bullpen additions leading up to Friday’s deadline. Davis is a high-strikeout lefty reliever who hasn’t been able to replicate his minor league success in the majors; perhaps Chaim Bloom sees a fix here.
The bigger name – but lower value – here is Chavis, who hasn’t done much of anything since an impressive first couple of months in the big leagues. He used to be a real prospect (45 FV) and Pittsburgh will give him plenty of playing time to see if anything is left in the tank.
Toronto Blue Jays acquire RHP Joakim Soria ($0.4M) from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for two PTBNLs
We likely won’t be able to evaluate this deal for a while, but on the surface it looks fair. Soria has been just OK this season, but has plenty of late-inning experience should he turn his season around.
San Diego Padres acquire OF Jake Marisnick ($1.0M) from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for RHP Anderson Espinoza ($1.6M)
Marisnick is a rental fourth or fifth outfielder who provides depth and injury insurance for the Padres. He also hits lefties well, which San Diego’s outfield has struggled with.
Espinoza has been a prospect forever, but he’s somehow still only 23. He was once one of the best pitching prospects in the game, but a pair of Tommy John surgeries and resulting command issues have left him relief-only.
Philadelphia Phillies acquire SS Freddy Galvis ($0.7M) from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for RHP Tyler Burch ($0.6M)
Galvis is returning from an injury, but once healthy he will provide infield depth to back up a struggling Didi Gregorius. Burch is old for his level as a nearly 24-year-old in High-A, but he’s been very good and could be a middle reliever some day. A simple, fair return for an uninspiring rental infielder.
Tampa Bay Rays acquire OF Jordan Luplow ($18.2M) and RHP DJ Johnson ($0.1M) from the Cleveland Guardians in exchange for RHP Peyton Battenfield ($1.7M)
This is another obvious miss. Luplow fell through the cracks – he was previously a very valuable lefty mashing platoon bat, but he’s struggled to the point of a Triple-A demotion. Our model was initially too high on him as a short-side platoon outfielder and failed to react aggressively enough when his production declined. We’re taking a look at how to address this going forward.
That being said, Luplow has “Rays” written all over him and they’ll certainly extract value from him. Johnson 31-year-old journeyman reliever, so he might just be depth, but it’s the Rays, so I suppose we’ll need to keep an eye on him.
Battenfield is a Double-A righty whose minor league performance has significantly outpaced his prospect reputation. He’s a likely reliever, but he’s been dominating the minors as a starter this year, so he could be a riser in upcoming prospect rankings.
San Francisco Giants acquire 3B/OF Kris Bryant ($13.9M) from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for OF Alexander Canario ($10.1M) and RHP Caleb Kilian ($1.0M)
Farhan Zaidi saw the Dodgers going all-in on Thursday and refused to sit idly by. While a massive addition like Trea Turner never made sense for a Giants team that didn’t expect to contend yet, San Francisco still wants to win this year and it proved it by adding a top rental in Bryant. His versatility will allow the Giants to get creative and keep third baseman Evan Longoria in the lineup when he returns from the injured list, if they so choose. The Giants, by being one of the only teams in baseball to assume the remainder of a rental’s contract, kept the prospect cost affordable for their current timeline.
But this is still a solid return for Chicago, especially since Bryant was a non-tender candidate after a rough 2020 season. Canario is a young high-risk, high-reward outfielder with big power. He’s still a few years away from the big leagues, and he has as wide a range of future outcomes as anyone. Kilian is a command-first righty who might not have the stuff to succeed in the big leagues, but he also fits a mold the Cubs have been targeting in recent years.
The Bryant return is slightly under value, which makes sense as a market for him never seemed to fully develop. But this is still a fair deal. Between their handful of moves this week, the Cubs added plenty of upside and should be pleased with themselves.
New York Yankees acquire LHP Andrew Heaney ($3.6M) and cash (unknown) from the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for RHPs Elvis Peguero ($0.4M) and Janson Junk ($0.4M)
The Yankees wrapped up their busy deadline by finally adding a starting pitcher, though not one that many had on their radar. Heaney has been frustratingly inconsistent for his entire career, but the lefty has been better as of late and his peripherals are fine. He’s just a rental, and like the rest of New York’s deadline additions, some portion of his contract will be covered.
In return, the Angels receive a pair of Double-A righties. Both Junk and Peguero are a little old for their level (25 and 24 respectively), but have been performing well and may be receiving slight upgrades due to an adjustment from one of our prospect sources. Both are likely relievers long-term, though Junk has a chance to start.
This deal also opens a spot in the rotation for Angels 2020 first-round pick Reid Detmers, who has dominated the minor leagues this season.
Houston Astros acquire RHP Phil Maton ($3.2M) and C Yainer Diaz ($1.7M) from the Cleveland Guardians in exchange for OF Myles Straw ($16.0M)
This one was a clear miss by our model, and it’s easy to see why. Despite his strong defense and blazing speed, Straw’s bat limits him to a fourth outfielder role for most contenders. He’s been fine at the plate this season, but if his bat dips below his current 93 wRC+ (or if his defense or speed regress) he shouldn’t start for anyone. In this case, his solid fWAR likely isn’t too predictive of his future production. We’ll look into ways to correct values for players like Straw and Jordan Luplow (also a miss) going forward.
This is a curious trade for Houston, which already made moves to address its ailing bullpen and was previously starting Straw in center field most games. Maton is a cost-controlled middle reliever with high strikeout rates. Maybe the Astros pitching machine sees something more there. Diaz is an interesting young catching prospect who hits the ball hard.
Milwaukee Brewers acquire RHP John Curtiss ($4.7M) from the Miami Marlins in exchange for C Payton Henry ($1.2M)
The Brewers finished their productive, albeit unexciting, deadline by adding a controllable reliever in Curtiss. He’s in the midst of his second consecutive strong season, but he’s outperforming his peripherals by a bit and has no track record beyond those two years. It’s probably safest to expect him to be a middle relief arm going forward, which is all Milwaukee needs.
In return, Miami received a likely backup catcher in Henry. He was blocked in Milwaukee by Mario Feliciano, who has higher upside. But the 24-year-old Henry has some pop and could develop into an average defensive catcher.
Philadelphia Phillies acquire RHPs Kyle Gibson ($7.7M), Ian Kennedy ($1.6M), Hans Crouse ($4.9M) and cash ($4.0M) from the Texas Rangers in exchange for RHPs Spencer Howard ($20.9M), Kevin Gowdy ($0.3M) and Josh Gessner ($0.1M)
This deal is fascinatingly creative, as one would expect from two long-time executives in Dave Dombrowski and JD Daniels. Gibson looked like a new pitcher for the first few months of this season, and was on track to be one of the most coveted arms on the market. But a rough stretch in July raised some eyebrows, especially amid the foreign substance controversy. He has a high floor as a back-end starter and comes with an affordable year of team control in 2022, but as a contact pitcher, he’s a curious fit in front of a shaky Philadelphia defense. Kennedy has been a successful reliever this season thanks to an uptick in fastball velocity, but as an older rental who struggled in 2020, his value was limited.
In essence, Texas gave up those to veteran arms to upgrade from Crouse to Howard. Crouse is a high-upside Double-A arm, but one with plenty of injury and relief risk. Entering the year, Howard wouldn’t have been available in a deal like this, as the 25-year-old was previously one of the 30 best prospects in the game. But this season, questions have been raised about his stamina, and he now has his own share of reliever risk. If he can return to form, this is a steal for Texas; if not, he’s just an older Crouse. Again: fascinating!
Gowdy and Gessner are a pair of lottery tickets, the former as a second-round pick still finding his way after Tommy John Surgery and the latter having little professional experience out of Australia.
Before Crouse and the cash were announced as part of this deal, this would have been rejected. But after waiting for the dust to settle, it’s accepted as a slight overpay by the Phillies, but one that can easily be remedied by a slight adjustment to Howard.
Oakland Athletics acquire UT Josh Harrison ($3.1M), C Yan Gomes ($1.0M) and cash (unknown) from the Washington Nationals in exchange for C Drew Millas ($3.6M) and RHPs Seth Shuman ($0.6M) and Richard Guasch ($0.4M)
The A’s added two more rentals in its last move of the deadline, this time upgrading their bench. Gomes is historically right around average both at the plate and behind it, providing a massive boost over backup Aramis Garcia (57 wRC+, -0.1 fWAR). Harrison will save left-handed hitters Seth Brown and Tony Kemp from having to start against lefties, and will help give regular starters days off at many different positions. Once Chad Pinder returns from the injured list, the pair may push the struggling Stephen Piscotty out of the lineup altogether, even against lefties.
In return, Washington adds three High-A prospects having solid years. Millas is the headliner, a switch-hitting athletic catcher with contact and discipline. Guasch is a likely reliever and Shuman is a pitchability potential fifth starter type. None of the three are lighting up prospect lists, but they aren’t bad additions in exchange for two rentals, and they add depth to a Washington system that looked thin before this week.
Once again, Oakland needed at least a portion of their targets’ contracts covered, and gave up talent to do so.
Milwaukee Brewers acquire LHP Daniel Norris ($0.6M) from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for RHP Reese Olson ($3.9M)
After reworking its infield, Milwaukee focused on the bullpen. First was Norris, a rental with a bloated ERA but solid peripherals this season. But he was solid in 2020 and is still only 28.
As a 45 FV at FanGraphs, Olson was more than we expected a player like Norris to cost, but the deal was still accepted as a minor overpay by the Brewers. Olson has four above average pitchers, but his awkward mechanics make him a likely reliever long-term.
New York Mets acquire SS Javier Baez ($8.7M), RHP Trevor Williams ($2.1M) and cash (~$5.0M) from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for OF Pete Crow-Armstrong ($17.5M)
This deal might feature two of the most polarizing players dealt this deadline between Baez and Crow-Armstrong. The Mets didn’t need Baez and aren’t necessarily the most natural fit, but he’ll form an electric double play combo with close friend Francisco Lindor, at least for the next few months. New York also adds a sorely needed back-end arm in Williams, and the Cubs are covering all but the prorated major league minimum for both players. Steve Cohen’s Mets felt significant pressure from other NL contenders to make a move, and this was their emphatic response.
The Cubs, on the other hand, deal a low-cost free agent signing in Williams and a player who looked untradeable back in May in Baez. In return – and largely because they ate money for a larger return, as they did in the Anthony Rizzo deal – Chicago adds a solid, albeit risky, prospect in Crow-Armstrong. The 19-year-old first-round pick utilizes his plus speed to play a great center field, but his hit tool will need to make strides over the next few years for him to be more than a Juan Lagares or Jakc Marisnick. But this is another high-ceiling talent the Cubs were able to pick up for just a rental, largely because of their decision to cover contracts. Well done, Jed Hoyer.
Chicago White Sox acquire RHP Craig Kimbrel ($6.3M) from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for 2B Nick Madrigal ($27.6M) and RHP Codi Heuer ($11.4M)
This was obviously rejected by our model. We were shocked cash wasn’t included, but even if it was, this still wouldn’t have been close. It seems like, this time, the Cubs were on the other side of an Aroldis Chapman-esque heist.
If you watched our deadline livestream, then you’re already familiar with Occam’s Razor (explained beautifully through the analogy of John’s lost cat). But for those who couldn’t attend, Occam’s Razor is the concept of the simplest solution usually being the right one. But how does that apply to baseball trades? Well, let’s use it try to figure out why this was such a big miss.
Let’s start with Kimbrel. He looks like the potential Hall of Fame Craig Kimbrel of old, owning a 0.49 ERA and leading all relievers in fWAR. But he’s also owed the remainder of his $16M contract this season and a $16M club option in 2022. The highest paid reliever in history, by AAV, was Wade Davis’s $17.3M on his three-year contract with the Rockies. That represents the high watermark for what an elite reliever is worth – or, at least, has been worth on the free agent market. Kimbrel’s $16M is right up against that. Even when adjusting for his dominance, October bonus and a potential bidding war, we aren’t comfortable saying he has much more than $6.3M surplus – especially when considering his age (33) and recent struggles (5.28 ERA in 2020, 6.53 ERA in 2019).
Next, the return. Nick Madrigal was last rated as a 55 FV prospect by FanGraphs and has done nothing on the field to tarnish that, posting a 114 wRC+ through 324 career plate appearances. But he’s missing the rest of the season with a hamstring injury – his second season-ending injury in as many major league seasons. His $27.6M value has already been manually adjusted down for that injury, as well as the negative positional adjustment of being a primary second baseman.
Finally, Heuer. The 25-year-old has struggled this season, but he was excellent in 2020 and throughout the minor leagues and was rated a 45 FV prospect, even as a reliever. Plus, despite his bloated 2021 ERA, his peripherals look fine, especially his 0.93 WPA. So he still looks like a solid mid-to-late-inning arm with four and a half years of team control remaining.
So, back to Occam’s Razor. Either we’re wildly wrong on all three of Kimbrel, Madrigal and Heuer – which would require multiple parts of our (consistently accurate) model and multiple prospect sources to be wrong – or the White Sox overpaid. We’re leaning toward the latter.
Atlanta Braves acquire OF Eddie Rosario ($1.9M) and cash (unknown) from the Cleveland Guardians in exchange for IF Pablo Sandoval (-$0.2M)
This is an odd one for Cleveland. After moving Cesar Hernandez earlier in the week, it was clear the Guardians were bowing out of the postseason race for this year. That made Rosario, another rental, a clear trade candidate. But this return doesn’t make sense. According to our model, Rosario has a bit of surplus, but instead Cleveland treated him like a pure salary dump. They already DFA’d Sandoval and they’re even paying some portion of Rosario’s remaining salary. It’s strange that they couldn’t at least get a 20-year-old reliever or something.
Before the cash, it’s a minor underpay by Atlanta. However much money actually changed plans will only make this look worse the Guardians.
Atlanta Braves acquire OF Adam Duvall ($3.6M) from the Miami Marlins in exchange for C Alex Jackson ($1.7M)
The Braves went bargain hunting for outfielders, starting with a reunion with Duvall. He’s a solid defender and lefty masher whom Atlanta is plenty familiar with. He’ll likely platoon with one of their other additions, either Joc Pederson or Rosario.
The Marlins, lacking any sort of production at catcher, take a chance on a former top prospect in Jackson. He’s likely nothing more than a backup, but he at least gives Miami another option besides the struggling Jorge Alfaro.
Toronto Blue Jays acquire RHP Jose Berrios ($42.9M) from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for UT Austin Martin ($42.6M) and RHP Simeon Woods Richardson ($14.5M)
Initially on the fence about trading him at all, the Twins capitalized on a bidding war for Berrios and ended up with an excellent return for a year and a half of the righty. Martin alone would have been a solid price, as the 5th pick in the 2020 draft looks like a solid hitter with positional versatility. But Minnesota also receives Woods Richardson, originally traded to Toronto as the centerpiece of the Marcus Stroman deal.
This deal was originally rejected by our model. But once again, one of our prospect sources announced after the trade broke that Woods Richardson was set to be downgraded in an upcoming midseason update list. That bumped his value from $22.3M to $14.5M, leaving the deal as a major overpay by Toronto, but now accepted by the model.
With Scherzer off the market, Berrios was the last frontline starting pitcher available before a large drop-off to Kyle Gibson and Jon Gray (who wasn’t actually available, we would later learn). A bidding war involving the Blue Jays, Mariners, Padres, Rays and others ensued, forcing Toronto to pay a high price for the much-needed rotation upgrade. But it’s also a price that hurts the Jays less than it would have hurt others; their system is stocked with talented infielders both at the MLB and minor league levels, leaving Martin – a natural infielder – somewhat expendable.
In total, Berrios netted a similar return to the package of Scherzer and Turner from Washington, but the two really aren’t comparable. Any team could have added Berrios, leading to the bidding war, while Scherzer’s no-trade clause allowed him to choose his landing spot and limited Washington’s leverage.
Philadelphia Phillies acquire LHP Braeden Ogle ($0.3M) from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for C Abrahan Gutierrez ($1.3M)
Happy 24th birthday, Braeden, and welcome to the Phillies. The Triple-A reliever has a good fastball, but his command is a work in progress. Philadelphia’s bullpen has been a mess for years, and maybe Dave Dombrowski thinks Ogle can be part of the solution. The Pirates clearly see something in Gutierrez, who they were originally set to acquire in the first iteration of the Tyler Anderson deal had it gone through.
San Diego Padres acquire RHP Daniel Hudson ($1.3M) from the Washington Nationals in exchange for RHP Mason Thompson ($1.0M) and SS Jordy Barley ($0.7M)
This won’t be AJ Preller’s only response to the Dodgers’ megadeal, but it’s a decent start. In 34-year-old Hudson, the Padres add one of the top rental relievers available. Hudson is enjoying a career year, but his recent placement on the COVID IL due to contact tracing may complicate matters. Once he returns, he should be a strong addition to San Diego’s bullpen.
For a rental, Washington got a solid return. Thompson has significant upside, but also plenty of injury/reliever risk. Barley is a young infielder with raw power and speed, but bat-to-ball issues that may limit him to a bench role.
Boston Red Sox acquire OF Kyle Schwarber ($2.0M) from the Washington Nationals in exchange for RHP Aldo Ramirez ($3.3M)
Washington’s front office didn’t sit on their laurels after the Scherzer/Turner megadeal. Instead, Mike Rizzo and co. stayed up late putting the finishing touches on a pair of deals to offload attractive rentals, the first of which was the injured Kyle Schwarber.
Originally, Schwarber’s value on the site was $8.0M, which would have made this deal a moderate underpay by Boston. But that was an error – we (I) had mistakenly coded Schwarber’s 2022 mutual option as a club option, which would have been exercised and added significant surplus. Switching it to the mutual option, which is likely to be declined and comes with a $3M buyout, brings his value down to $2.0M. That’s much more sensible for a straight rental and makes this a fair deal.
Schwarber’s historic June hot streak was cut short by a hamstring injury that is still keeping him on the sideline, giving him even less actual team control than the average rental. But he provides a big left-handed bat for Boston, which will reportedly give him some reps at first base, their weakest position.
Ramirez is a nice get for Washington, though one with some baggage. The 20-year-old was performing well in Single-A this season before a bout of elbow tendinitis. But he is reportedly back on a throwing program and has some upside if healthy.
Los Angeles Dodgers acquire RHP Max Scherzer ($12.1M) and SS Trea Turner ($67.3M) from the Washington Nationals in exchange for C Keibert Ruiz ($40.7M), RHPs Josiah Gray ($28.5M) and Geraldo Carrilo ($1.6M) and OF Donovan Casey ($0.9M)
First, a pat on the back is in order. Unless Friday is insane – and, given how the last few days have gone, it certainly could be – this will likely end up being the biggest deal of the deadline, and it was accepted by our model. With how complicated Scherzer’s situation is between his contract, deferrals, no-trade clause, age, the sticky stuff controversy and more, that acceptance is no small feat.
Alright, now back to the trade itself. The Dodgers might be the only team in baseball that could pull this off. There is no cash involved, pushing the Los Angeles budget all the way up to a cool $275M. It cost two incredible nearly MLB-ready prospects in Ruiz and Gray, plus two other interesting pieces. But the juggernaut Dodgers still have plenty left on the farm to deal, either before the deadline, in the offseason or in the future. Talented young players like Gavin Lux, Dustin May, Diego Cartaya, Bobby Miller, Michael Busch and Andy Pages all but guarantee the Dodgers reign of terror isn’t ending any time soon.
All of that talent means constant 40-man issues, similar to the Rays and Padres. But in this deal, the Dodgers remove Ruiz, Lux and Carrillo, making room for Scherzer and Turner, as well as infielder Corey Seager’s upcoming return from the 60-day IL.
Scherzer is just a rental, but is also one of the biggest arms in baseball and has extensive postseason success. Turner is an underrated superstar with an additional year of control. His presence relieves any pressure the Dodgers might have felt to retain Seager, a pending free agent, especially since Clayton Kershaw is also set to hit free agency after the season.
The Nationals, on the other hand, start their rebuild with a bang. After winning it all in 2019, they tried again in 2020 and 2021, but it just wasn’t going to happen after losing Rendon to the Angels and Strasburg to injury, among others. Turner was their biggest piece, and packaging him with Scherzer maximized the return for both. They add two elite prospects in Ruiz and Gray, both of whom instantly rank among the best in Washington’s weak system.
The Nationals still have work to do this week as they look to trade Daniel Hudson, Yan Gomes and Josh Harrison, and listen to offers on Josh Bell, Joe Ross and Kyle Schwarber. But their biggest looming question is that of Juan Soto. Will they be able to extend the generational talent to a megadeal so he can anchor their next great core? Or will we be talking about him as a Turner-esque trade chip in a year or two? Only time will tell.
Los Angeles Dodgers acquire LHP Danny Duffy (-$0.6M) and cash (unknown) from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for a PTBNL
There isn’t much to say here since there’s still so much we don’t know about this deal, but from the surface level it looks fair. Typically a back-end arm, Duffy has been fantastic this season. But he’s a rental owed roughly $5.4M the rest of the way and he’s currently on the injured list with a left flexor strain. He also had to waive his 10-5 rights to even be traded in the first place. Once healthy, Duffy will either slot into the back end of the Dodgers’ rotation or work as a multi-inning reliever, where he is likely to end up in the playoffs.
The caliber of the PTBNL and will change based on how much money is involved and how long it takes Duffy to return from the IL. We’ll update the values in this deal on Twitter once those are publicized, so stay tuned.
Seattle Mariners acquire RHP Diego Castillo ($20.8M) from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for 3B Austin Shenton ($6.3M) and RHP JT Chargois ($0.6M)
This deal was rejected by our model, because of course it was – it’s the Rays! In the last two years, we’ve only had 11 real-life trades rejected, and most have involved either the Rays, the Padres or both.
Even if the numbers didn’t line up, the rationale here is clear. Jerry Dipoto told Mariners fans (and the team) that he wasn’t giving up after trading closer Kendall Graveman, and here, he proved it. He turned Graveman, a rental, into infielder Abraham Toro, whose presence likely made him more comfortable trading third base prospect Shenton. All he had to add was a reliever he’d signed to a minor league deal in the winter to acquire an arm similar to Graveman in Castillo, but with three additional years of team control. Well done, Jerry.
Meanwhile, the Rays did what they always do – trust their scouting and player development staff. Chargois has been great this year, but has no track record. If this is just a hot streak, Tampa Bay probably loses this deal. But if it’s the start of a breakout, then the Rays just added a cheaper version of Castillo and picked up a solid prospect for their troubles. That’s just the type of risk Tampa Bay often takes with relievers, and it seems to work out more often than not.
New York Yankees acquire 1B Anthony Rizzo ($8.6M) and cash (~$6.3M) from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for OF Kevin Alcantara ($11.9M) and RHP Alexander Vizcaino ($5.4M)
The Yankees aren’t done. Rizzo is another left-handed power bat to take advantage of the short porch, and also offers a notable defensive upgrade at first base. Rizzo’s value is limited by his relatively poor season (by his own lofty standards) and status as a rental, but it’s also buoyed slightly by the Cubs’ ability to give him the Qualifying Offer had they kept him, and either snag a draft pick or keep him around another year.
But perhaps the most important part of this trade is the money. Once again, the Yankees improved their prospect package in exchange for coverage of their target’s entire contract. They still have room under the luxury tax and could still add more, especially since incumbent first baseman Luke Voit – owed $1.6M down the stretch himself – is now without a starting role, and seems likely to be dealt.
For Chicago, parting with fan favorite Rizzo isn’t easy, and is likely just the precursor to losing Kris Bryant, Craig Kimbrel and others. But by paying down his contract, the Cubs add two strong prospects to a thin system. Alcantara, a high-ceiling 19-year-old outfielder, is already the no. 2 prospect in the system according to FanGraphs. He joins the four prospects acquired in the Yu Darvish trade as young international talent the Cubs can form their next great core. Meanwhile, 24-year-old Vizcaino has a live arm and could be a dominant late-inning reliever.
This deal was accepted by our model.
Chicago White Sox acquire RHP Ryan Tepera ($2.4M) from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for LHP Bailey Horn ($1.0M)
In Tepera, the White Sox added their second rental upgrade of the day, and again at a low cost. Their farm has been weakened by promotions and previous trades, and the major league club is already very strong, so it makes sense for them to make smaller upgrades like this one. After second base, the bullpen was the most obvious part of the roster to upgrade, and after adding a decent late-inning arm in Tepera, the White Sox have done what they needed to and can stand pat if they wish.
There’s a gap in the values here, but this is well within our margin of error and the deal is accepted by our model. Horn was a fifth-round pick last season and adds pitching depth to a Cubs system that can definitely use it. They’ve dealt their fringe pieces in Tepera, Chafin and Joc Pederson, and now it’s time for the Cubs to focus on the big names: Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Craig Kimbrel.
And, hey, the White Sox just added a 2020 NL MVP vote recipient! The fanbase should be thrilled!
Toronto Blue Jays acquire LHP Brad Hand ($0.3M) from the Washington Nationals in exchange for C Riley Adams ($2.1M)
The Blue Jays have been active all season, trying to repair a damaged pitching staff, but this is the first true impact arm they’ve added. Cleveland sparked controversy when it DFA’d Hand after a seemingly productive season rather than pick up his relatively affordable team option, but when no team claimed him, it was clear his market had soured. His 2020 success came with a diminishing fastball velocity and varying peripherals, perhaps scaring teams away.
But then the Nationals swooped in to grab him on a one-year, $10.5M deal, and he’s been … OK. His numbers have taken a step back across the board, but his fastball velocity is back up, and he was one of the only decent left-handed relievers available this deadline. He’s still owed about $3.5M down the stretch, so we were surprised Washington didn’t include any cash in the deal, but this is still accepted by our model.
Then again, they got a decent return for him without doing so. Adams looks like an MLB-ready backup catcher with pop, but not enough hit tool to start. Washington’s future behind the plate is murky at best, while Toronto has a handful of catchers to sort through, so the fit makes a lot of sense. Next, the Nationals will focus on moving Max Scherzer and Daniel Hudson, and potentially Kyle Schwarber and Josh Bell.
Chicago White Sox acquire 2B Cesar Hernandez ($1.3M) from the Cleveland Guardians in exchange for LHP Konnor Pilkington ($0.5M)
Second basemen just aren’t worth what they used to be. Hernandez has received some of the most aggressive positional downgrades in our system, and even then, he went for a slightly lower return than our values would suggest. This was still accepted by our model, seeing as it is well within a normal margin of error, but it further emphasizes how teams are handling the second base position. If teams can utilize shifts to make players like Mike Moustakas and Travis Shaw work at second base, then there’s no reason to overpay for a league average primary second baseman like Hernandez.
That being said, he’s still a useful player, and he plugs a hole for the White Sox. He shifts everyone on the depth chart down a peg, moving Leury Garcia into a utility role where he belongs. Chicago has enough firepower to survive with “just average” production at the keystone.
Meanwhile, Cleveland has a glut of interesting high-minors middle infielders that they can now take a look at. Hernandez has a team option for 2022, but it was unlikely to be exercised as the Guardians have a 40-man crunch of their own coming up. Instead, their pitching development machine will get a chance with Pilkington, a former third-round pick whose stock has since fallen.
New York Yankees acquire OF Joey Gallo ($43.4M), LHP Joely Rodriguez (-$0.6M) and cash (~$3.0M) from the Texas Rangers in exchange for IFs Ezequiel Duran ($18.5M), Josh Smith ($8.5M), Trevor Hauver ($2.1M) and RHP Glen Otto ($0.7M)
OK, there’s a lot going on here. When news of this deal first broke, reports had lefty John King ($5.8M) in place of Rodriguez and OF Everson Pereira ($2.1M) and RHP Randy Vasquez ($0.6M) joining the Yankees’ prospect package. That deal was rejected by our model as an underpay by New York. But according to later reports, that news broke well before negotiations were complete (and King’s shoulder may have caused issues), causing the deal to be reworked and agreed upon later Wednesday evening.
This new agreement is just barely accepted by our model as a moderate underpay by New York, but that comes with a caveat. Similar to Joe Ryan in the Nelson Cruz deal, we had missed an update from one of our prospect sources on Smith and mistakenly had his value lower than it should have been. Additionally, another source of ours tweeted that Duran and Smith were set to move up in an upcoming midseason prospect list update that has yet to be released. We went ahead and adjusted these values to be as accurate as possible. We aren’t fudging the numbers here – we just care more about the model’s overall accuracy than the human error and timing issues that can sometimes get in the way.
With all that being said, this is still less than we expected Gallo to go for, especially considering the notable interest from a handful of teams leading up to this deal. It’s worth noting that our median trade values are just that – median values. If Texas views Duran closer to the high end of his value ($22.2M) and the market views Gallo closer to his lower end ($34.7M), then this looks really close. Granted, the latter may not be likely, given the high interest and probable bidding war for Gallo, but the point stands that this isn’t an exact science.
It seems many are viewing this trade as a win-win. The Yankees added a lefty slugger who can play center field and is under control through 2022, without moving top prospects Anthony Volpe, Oswald Peraza, Deivi Garcia or Clarke Schmidt. They even convinced Texas to eat the entirety of both Gallo and Rodriguez’s 2021 salaries, helping them keep some breathing room under the luxury tax for future additions. But many are praising the Rangers’ return as well, especially Duran and Smith. So despite the roller coaster it took to get here, this looks like a successful exchange for both clubs.
Milwaukee Brewers acquire IF Eduardo Escobar ($2.7M) from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for IF Alberto Ciprian ($1.6M) and OF/C Cooper Hummel ($1.1M)
Just a few weeks ago, it seemed like Escobar was headed to the Chicago White Sox to replace an injured Nick Madrigal at second base. But that deal obviously never came to fruition, and instead the Diamondbacks’ lone All-Star rep will join a reworked infield in Milwaukee. Escobar is a switch-hitter having a solid year who can help the Brewers all over the infield, particularly at first base against left-handed pitching. He is also regarded as a good clubhouse presence.
As a non-elite rental, Escobar only had $2.7M in surplus over the approximate $2.9M remaining on his contract. But Arizona received two moderately interesting lower-level prospects in 18-year-old DSL infielder Ciprian and 26-year-old Triple-A catcher/outfielder Hummel. Both are hitting well this season, and as Kiley McDaniel of ESPN notes, Hummel has a chance to stick behind the plate if the automated strike zone is implemented.
Neither prospect was in our system at the time of the trade because they hadn’t yet been ranked by our prospect sources. However, both are having solid seasons, and we expect them to fall in the 35+ territory when evaluators add them. Hummel is Rule 5 eligible this winter.
Houston Astros acquire RHP Yimi Garcia ($0.2M) from the Miami Marlins in exchange for OF Bryan de la Cruz ($0.2M) and RHP Austin Pruitt ($0.0M)
Houston continues to bolster its lone weakness, the bullpen, by adding a rental reliever in Garcia. He’s no late-inning star, but adds depth to a relief corps that desperately needed it.
The Marlins, meanwhile, get a bit of a return on their $1.9M free agent investment. Outfielder Bryan de la Cruz has a 112 wRC+ in Triple-A, while Pruitt, who was DFA’d by the Astros just before the trade, is a zero-surplus arm who can backfill for Garcia in Miami’s bullpen.
Oakland Athletics acquire OF Starling Marte ($8.9M) and cash ($4.8M) in exchange for LHP Jesús Luzardo ($23.1M)
This deal was rejected by our model as an overpay by Oakland, which is in line with the industry consensus. Marte is having a great season, making him one of the top rental bats available. But as a 32-year-old rental – and one currently overperforming his last few seasons – his value was understandably limited. Still, Marte will provide an impact bat at the top of Oakland’s lineup and an immediate upgrade over the struggling Stephen Piscotty. He and Ramon Laureano will share time between CF and RF.
The Marlins are also reportedly covering the remainder of Marte’s contract, roughly $4.8M. Oakland’s financial issues are well documented, especially after a pandemic-shortened season and during a seemingly never-ending stadium saga. As was the case in the Andrew Chafin deal, the A’s gave up more talent in exchange for salary coverage.
The Marlins, on the other hand, take a gamble on a struggling arm who was previously one of the best pitching prospects in the game in Luzardo. The lefty dazzled during his brief rookie debut out of the bullpen in 2019, but was merely OK in 2020 and has been unable to get outs in either the big leagues or Triple-A in 2021. His velocity and stuff still look great, but he does come with a lengthy injury history. His struggles have tanked his value from the ~$60M range to $23.1M, and he could be seen as a falling knife. But he’s also a massive talent and only 23, adding to an impressive collection of young pitchers Miami has collected (and may now deal from to add a long-term outfield solution).
Cincinnati Reds acquire RHP Mychal Givens ($0.5M) from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for RHPs Noah Davis ($0.7M) and Case Williams ($0.1M)
Cincinnati adds its third reliever in two days in Givens, a rental who has outperformed his peripherals this season but has a high strikeout rate and has been a consistent middle-to-late-inning reliever for his career. Colorado reacquires 19-year-old Williams, whom they traded to the Reds last winter for Robert Stephenson, and adds 24-year-old Davis, who profiles as a borderline starter.
Seattle Mariners acquire LHP Tyler Anderson ($1.7M) from the Pittsburg Pirates in exchange for C Carter Bins ($1.8M) and RHP Joaquin Tejada ($0.1M)
Anderson was originally ticketed for Philadelphia, in a deal for C Abrahan Gutierrez ($1.3M) and RHP Cristian Hernandez ($0.1M). But there was an issue with one of those two prospects, and later in the day he was instead dealt to Seattle in a deal that looks even closer according to our model.
Anderson is the quintessential back-end rental starting pitcher, and he’ll help eat innings for a Mariners team trying to sneak into the Wild Card conversation. He’s nothing special, but he doesn’t need to be. The Pirates, meanwhile, are rewarded for a low-cost free agent signing. Bins is a 22-year-old catcher with power and discipline, while Tejada is an 18-year-old DSL lottery ticket.
Cincinnati Reds acquire RHP Luis Cessa ($0.0M) and LHP Justin Wilson (-$1.9M) from the New York Yankees in exchange for a PTBNL
The Reds addressed their awful bullpen by adding two potentially serviceable arms, more or less for free. Cessa’s 2.82 ERA hasn’t been supported by his peripherals and Wilson has been a mess, but if they’re even league average, they’ll be massive upgrades for Cincinnati.
Meanwhile, the Yankees save roughly $1.2M, which has significant luxury tax implications. They were previously right up against the tax, so this gives them breathing room for other additions. All it cost was a pair of nonessential veteran relievers. The PBTNL shouldn’t have too much value, but could be a free lottery ticket or depth piece.
Houston Astros acquire RHPs Kendall Graveman ($2.5M) and Rafael Montero ($0.0M) from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for IF Abraham Toro ($6.9M) and RHP Joe Smith (-$1.8M)
This deal reportedly ruffled a lot of feathers within Seattle’s clubhouse, and rightfully so. After taking three out of four from Oakland and vaulting into the AL Wild Card race, the Mariners chose to sell high on their star closer. But according to Jerry Dipoto, this move cannot be judged on its own, and instead will need to be viewed in the context of other trades currently in the works.
We’ll have to wait for those, but in the meantime, let’s judge this one. Graveman has been fantastic, but is a rental who doesn’t have any kind of track record, limiting his value. Montero has been terrible this season, but his peripherals tell a different story and he was at least serviceable the last two seasons for Texas. These two should lengthen a thin Houston bullpen.
Meanwhile, Seattle takes a chance on Smith, who is in the midst of his first truly bad season. If he bounces back, he can easily replace Montero and may even come close to Graveman’s production. But the prize of the deal is Toro, a corner infielder whom the sabermetrics community has loved for years. While he doesn’t have an obvious fit in Seattle, Kyle Seager could be a free agent after the season and, if Toro continues his current hot streak, he could be in line to start at third base as Seager’s replacement.
This deal was accepted by our model as a minor overpay for the Astros, but one which makes sense for a team that is clearly all-in. Houston’s window appears to be closing, with Carlos Correa, Zack Greinke and Justin Verlander set to hit free agency this offseason.
Oakland Athletics acquire LHP Andrew Chafin ($1.6M) and cash (unknown) in exchange for OF Greg Deichmann ($4.9M) and RHP Daniel Palencia ($1.6M)
The cash value in this deal has not yet been reported, but at most, it could be the $0.8M Chafin is owed in 2021 plus the $0.5M buyout on his 2022 mutual option. Regardless, this deal looks like a minor overpay by Oakland. Chafin has been solid and will be a nice addition to an inconsistent Oakland bullpen, but he is almost certain to be a rental. Mutual options are rarely exercised by both sides.
Meanwhile, the Cubs add two very interesting prospects. Deichmann has plus raw power, but it has yet to show itself in games this season, even in extremely hitter-friendly Las Vegas. Instead, he has shown impressive plate discipline, with more walks than strikeouts against right-handed pitching. He is a bit of an older prospect, but should have a future as at least a platoon or bench bat. Palencias, meanwhile, is an international lottery ticket who has touched triple digits as a starter.
In this deal, it appears the A’s gave up additional talent to save money, as they often do.
New York Yankees acquire RHP Clay Holmes ($0.9M) from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for IFs Hoy Jun Park ($0.3M) and Diego Castillo ($0.2M)
This trade sparked considerable outrage from the Yankees fanbase, though we don’t see why. Holmes is a serviceable middle reliever with high strikeout and walk rates who could be used as a spot starter. He is making the major league minimum.
Meanwhile, Park has obliterated Triple-A pitching this season, but prospect evaluators don’t love him and he was DFA’d before this trade. Castillo is a fringe infield prospect with a likely ceiling as a utility player. Neither of these prospects are particularly significant, but Park’s loud Triple-A numbers likely were the cause of the New York fanbase’s consternation.
San Diego Padres acquire UT Adam Frazier ($14.4M) and cash ($1.4M) from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for IF Tucupita Marcano ($2.6M), OF Jack Suwinski ($0.8M) and RHP Michael Miliano ($0.4M)
This trade was not accepted by our model. Frazier’s value has spiked this season; despite his BABIP-driven success and a notable downgrade for being a primary second baseman, our model still sees significant value here.
His presence in San Diego means fewer plate appearances for well-paid veterans Wil Myers and Eric Hosmer. Rumors have even circulated that the Padres are trying to find a way to move the latter, though such a move would likely require San Diego eating a significant portion of his contract and attaching a significant prospect, as his median value is currently -$58.3M.
Pirates fans have speculated that Marcano has a chance to be a Frazier-like player, and they might be onto something. He is a contact-oriented left-handed hitting infielder with some versatility, but not enough athleticism to play shortstop. However, he struggled in his short major league stint this season, and even by prospect numbers alone, he would only have $4.1M in median trade value. His ceiling is limited and it is much more likely he ends up as a utility player than an everyday bat like Frazier.
Suwinski has been incredible in 2021, but as a 15th-round pick with no track record before this season, neither prospect evaluators nor our model are buying into him yet. Miliano is a likely reliever. It is shocking that, even despite a lackluster prospect return, the Pirates still had to kick in cash here.
For this to be a fair deal, both our model and our prospect sources would have to be very wrong on multiple players. Instead, it seems much more likely that AJ Preller has done it again.
New York Mets acquire LHP Rich Hill ($0.2M) from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for RHP Tommy Hunter ($0.1M) and C Matt Dyer ($0.1M)
After adding Nelson Cruz’s contract, the Rays saved a little cash by sending Hill to New York. Hill had been serviceable for Tampa Bay, but with Chris Archer returning from an injury and plenty of pitching prospects waiting in the wings, he was superfluous. Instead, the Rays add Hunter, who could provide value out of the bullpen if he can return from a back injury later this season, and Dyer, a fringe catching prospect who won’t need to be added to the 40-man for a few years.
Hill is a curious fit for the Mets, given the organization’s struggles with keeping pitchers healthy. But they only need a couple months of him, and maybe even less – he could move to the bullpen if/when Noah Syndergaard is healthy. At worst, he was a low-cost source of league average innings; at best, his curveball is still nasty and can rack up strikeouts at an impressive rate.
Tampa Bay Rays acquire DH Nelson Cruz ($4.5M) and RHP Calvin Faucher ($0.1M) from the Minnesota Twins for RHPs Joe Ryan ($11.4M/$6.0M) and Drew Strotman ($2.4M)
Tampa Bay kicked off trade season with an uncharacteristic deal. The players themselves make perfect sense – the Rays have been connected to Cruz for years, and also add a relief prospect they seem to like, while giving up two non-elite pitching prospects who would have clogged their 40-man roster. But the penny-pinching Rays surprisingly assumed the entire remainder of Cruz’s 2021 contract, approximately $4.9M.
This deal was rejected by our model as an overpay, but it isn’t quite that simple. Most importantly, two values are listed for Ryan above – the $11.4M figure was mistakenly entered into our system, while the $6.0M value is where Ryan should have been based on evaluations from our prospect sources. After making this correction, the deal is accepted as a mild to moderate overpay. And even that makes sense; Tampa Bay is constantly battling a 40-man crunch, and at times, clearing names from that logjam takes precedence over giving up exactly fair value in a deal.
As a result, the Twins did very well here. Ryan and Strotman are both nearly MLB-ready, and with Minnesota likely trying to contend again next season, it isn’t hard to picture one or both of them throwing important big-league innings in 2022. And if the Twins move any of their starters at the deadline, they could even debut later on this year. Additionally, Cruz loved Minnesota, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him return in free agency this offseason.