The MLB Trade Deadline is a thing of beauty. It’s a time when general managers scramble like headless chickens on phone calls while trying to put together trade after trade. At least that’s what “Moneyball” taught me.
The bottom line is that August 2 is the last day teams in playoff contention were able to get better, and teams with nothing left to play for could sell off their stars for prospects. Last year’s deadline produced fireworks. Max Scherzer and Trea Turner became Dodgers. The Cubs sent off Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez and Kris Bryant. Plenty more players hopped on planes and donned new uniforms, too.
Thankfully, this year’s deadline didn’t disappoint either. The headliner was Juan Soto heading to the west coast, while Shohei Ohtani stayed put on the Angels. Here are this year’s biggest winners and losers from every baseball fan’s favorite glued-to-Twitter day.
Winner: San Diego Padres
Uhm, DUH! The San Diego Padres owned this trade deadline. They added a future Hall-of-Famer in the 23-year-old Juan Soto and All-Star first baseman Josh Bell from the Washington Nationals in exchange for a prospect haul — remember, prospects are simply prospects until proven otherwise. The Friars also added the game’s best closer by swapping Taylor Rodgers for Milwaukee Brewers flamethrower Josh Hader. Oh, and they also locked up Joe Musgrove to further solidify the rotation. Plus, Fernando Tatis Jr. is expected to return to the lineup soon. Is it too late to become a Padres fan?
Loser: Shohei Ohtani and Everyone Else Stuck in Anaheim
I almost want to cry for Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout. They are the two best talents in baseball right now and they’re stuck on a team 16 games under .500 in August. Baseball needs those two playing under the bright lights in October. The Angels made it clear they weren’t going to trade their international superstar at the deadline, and they didn’t. It’s too bad, because his Ruthian talent is being completely wasted.
Loser: The New York Mets
If the Mets didn’t make it clear that they were set with their lineup heading into the home stretch, they certainly made it clear at the trade deadline. The Mets were attached to multiple big names including Willson Contreras, JD Martinez, Christian Vazquez, Trey Mancini, Josh Bell and even Juan Soto for a hot second. None of those players are coming to Queens. Instead the Mets opted to overpay for Giants hitter Darin Ruf, sending three prospects and J.D. Davis to the Giants. Not great, Bob. If the Mets don’t make it deep into the playoffs, a large portion of the Flushing Faithful will be questioning the lack of deadline acquisitions. It’s a bold strategy, Cotton. Let’s see if it pays off.
Winner: New York Yankees
The Yankees didn’t make the big move everyone usually expects them to, but they did improve their roster. A rotation upgrade in the form of Frankie Montas — the 29-year-old with a 3.18 ERA — from the Oakland A’s could pay off in the playoffs. They also traded for Cubs reliever Scott Effross, a 28-year-old with a 2.66 ERA who isn’t a free agent until 2028. Then there was the deal for Kansas City Royals All-Star outfielder Andrew Benintendi, who is having one of the best seasons of his career. The Bronx Bombers also ridded themselves of…
Winner: Joey Gallo
I mean, Joey Gallo is out of New York. That’s really all that needed to happen for this to be a win. The dude who is striking out in nearly 40 percent of his at-bats and has less hits than Aaron Judge has home runs this season needed a scenery change. Sure, he’s heading to a similarly large market with just-as-big expectations in Los Angeles, but at least he won’t be cyberbullied to death anymore.
Loser: Eric Hosmer
After reportedly exercising his no-trade clause in the Soto deal — can you blame him for not wanting to go to a 35-69 team? — Hosmer pretty much had to be traded if he didn’t want to be booed into oblivion over the next three years of his contract. Plan B wasn’t much better, because he was traded to a last-place Boston Red Sox team. Still, Beantown ain’t a bad place to end up.
Winner: The Washington Nationals
Say what you want about the Nationals dealing Juan Soto, they got what they came for: prospects. The San Diego Farm system has long been touted as one of the best in the game, and the Nats can be found at the other end of the spectrum. With this deal, and the ability to sell high on Soto, Washington was able to have their pick of the litter. Mackenzie Gore and CJ Abrams have MLB-ready talent. On top of that, snagging the No. 1 and 3 prospects from San Diego is not a bad way to end your deadline. Washington was dead in the water anyway. This gives them potential for years to come.
Loser: The Los Angeles Dodgers
The first-place Dodgers, the same team with the best record in baseball, all but stood pat while the team trailing them got light years better.
Los Angeles’ biggest move was acquiring Cubs reliever Chris Martin, a 36-year-old with a 4.31 ERA albeit with pretty good strikeout numbers. If that wasn’t enough to excite fans out west, they pulled off a not-so-Hollywood blockbuster for…Joey Gallo. The same Joey Gallo who was probably hated in the Bronx more than Joe Kelly, which is saying something. The Dodgers are already full of All-Stars and MVPs, though, so maybe they’re rolling with the “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it” adage.
Loser: Christian Vasquez, For The Most Awkward Trade Realization Ever
Seriously, I can’t believe this was a real thing. Red Sox catcher Christin Vasquez was traded to the Houston Astros while he was taking batting practice…against the Astros. He seemingly found out while on field, which prompted this pretty bizarre response as he was processing it all. A PR person smartly pulled him from reporters, but this was a loss because it’s probably the last way a player wants to find out they’ve been traded. Red Sox slugger JD Martinez also pointed out the Vazquez had sat in on the Red Sox hitters meeting, so we was well aware of how Boston was planning on pitching his new teammates. At least all he had to do was move his gear to the other dugout?