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MLB Trade Deadline: Looking at the major moves and what they mean for the American League playoff race

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Photo credit:© Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Ryley Delaney
10 months ago
The trade deadline has come and gone, so let’s talk about what the Blue Jays and their rivals did and how things stand now…

Toronto Blue Jays:

The Blue Jays essentially had one massive trade with the St. Louis Cardinals, even though it was three separate trades. Let’s look at their biggest trade.
Biggest trade:
Toronto Blue Jays acquired: Génesis Cabrera, Jordan Hicks, and Paul DeJong
St. Louis Cardinals acquired: Sammy Hernandez, Sem Robberse, Adam Kloffenstein, Matt Svanson, cash considerations
Do these three trades help the Blue Jays in 2023? All three of these players are big leaguers, so that’s an automatic win for the season. Furthermore, DeJong (Matt Svanson + cash considerations) and Cabrera (Sammy Hernandez) have team control for the next two seasons.
Although Jordan Hicks is set to become a free agent after the 2023 season, the 26-year-old righty averages 101 mph and has been excellent since May 1st. With Jordan Romano out for the next two weeks or so, this is a much-needed move.
In a few seasons, this trade could hurt. Hernandez is a catcher with a great arm and has shown good pop for being so young. In fact, he was one of the youngest players in Single-A to start the season. He’s still a long way away, but the trade itself may not be great in the future.
The other trade that may not look so great in the future is the Jordan Hicks deal. If Hicks walks after the season, and Robberse and Kloffenstein reach their ceiling, the Cardinals just added two back-end of the rotation starters. Robberse might be even more than that in reality.
Other trades:
Toronto Blue Jays acquired: Mason McCoy
Seattle Mariners acquired: Trent Thornton
Trent Thornton was designated for assignment, so this is pretty much a nothing trade. McCoy is a good defensive middle infielder with a little bit of pop.

Baltimore Orioles:

Did anyone else have the Baltimore Orioles being the best team in the American League come the start of August? I sure didn’t.
Biggest trade:
Baltimore Orioles acquired: Jack Flaherty
St. Louis Cardinals acquired: Cesar Prieto, Drew Rom, Zack Showalter
The Orioles have a ton of Top 100 prospects, but they decided to go rather small at this year’s deadline. Flaherty is a 27-year-old right-handed pitcher whom the Jays could have acquired for Josh Donaldson after the 2017 season. After a Cy Young-esque performance in 2019, he struggled quite a bit over his next three seasons.
Flaherty has had a solid 2023, as he has a 4.43 ERA and a 4.22 FIP in 109.2 innings pitched, along with a 21.9 K% and an 11.1 BB%. He’s a fine starter and starter John Means could be back in the future as well.
Still, starting pitching remains a question mark for the Orioles.
Other trades:
Baltimore Orioles acquired: Logan Rinehart
Seattle Mariners acquired: Eduard Bazardo
Not to be confused with one of the Reinhart brothers (fOiler fans, I’m sorry). Rinehart is a 25-year-old who hasn’t made it above High-A.
Baltimore Orioles acquired: Shintaro Fujnami
Oakland Athletics acquired: Easton Lucas
Fujinami is an intriguing left-handed reliever who sits 99.4 mph. Command and control have been an issue in his first major league season, but the 29-year-old has a lot to like.

Tampa Bay Rays:

The Rays made as many trades as the Jays leading up to the deadline, so let’s look at their biggest.
Biggest trade:
Tampa Bay Rays acquired: Aaron Civale
Cleveland Guardians acquired: Kyle Manzardo
This was one of the bigger trades in the American League East. The Rays acquired the 28-year-old right-handed pitcher, who has a 2.34 ERA and a 3.55 FIP. His K% of 19% is rather low, while his 7.2 BB% is nothing outstanding, but he limits homers. He also has two more seasons of arbitration remaining.
Kyle Manzardo was one of the Rays’ best prospects but has struggled in Triple-A this season. He’s slashing .238/.342/.442 with 11 homers in 313 plate appearances as a 22-year-old at the highest level.
Other trades:
Tampa Bay Rays acquired: Adrian Sampson, Manny Rodriguez, IFA money
Chicago Cubs acquired: Josh Roberson
How did the Rays acquire international free agent money for a 27-year-old pitcher with a 4.50 in Triple-A? No idea.
Tampa Bay Rays acquired: Cash considerations
Chicago White Sox acquired: Luis Patiño
The Rays traded a former top prospect for cash considerations. Patiño has yet to figure it out in the big leagues, but he’s only 23 years old.
Tampa Bay Rays acquired: Alex Jackson
Milwaukee Brewers acquired: Evan McKendry
Some minor-league depth getting traded here.

Boston Red Sox:

The Red Sox sold, but are they sellers? Probably not. They only sit 2.5 games back as I write this
Biggest trade:
Boston Red Sox acquired: Nick Roberston and Justin Hagenman
Los Angeles Dodgers acquired Enrique Hernández
The Red Sox traded a big-league player for two prospects, which is usually seen as a seller’s move. However, Hernández has not been good this season, slashing .225/.280/.324 with six homers in 332 plate appearances for a -1.4 fWAR.
Both Robertson and Hagenman are in Triple-A and have sub-3.00 ERAs at the level.
Other trades:
Boston Red Sox acquired: Luis Urias
Milwaukee Brewers acquired: Bradley Blalock
This was a pretty big trade in its own right, as Luis Urias had a wRC+ of 112 in 2021 and 110 in 2022. He’s struggled this season, slashing .145/.299/.236 with a home in 68 plate appearances. Good utility addition here.

New York Yankees:

Oh, those Yankees. The team made two trades, neither of which moves the needle. Perhaps they’ve given up on contention?
Biggest trade:
New York Yankees acquired: Keynan Middleton
Chicago White Sox acquired: Juan Carela
This is your biggest trade of the trade deadline? Evil Empire no more, I guess. Middleton is a 29-year-old right-handed reliever who has a 3.96 ERA and a 4.59 FIP in 35.1 innings pitched. Despite having a career 23.7 K%, it’s gone up to 30.1% this season. This is still rather embarrassing after going for it the past two seasons.
Other trades:
New York Yankees acquired: Spencer Howard
Texas Rangers acquired: Cash considerations
Howard is a 26-year-old pitcher who has pitched 115 innings in the major leagues, and has a 7.20 ERA and a 5.79 FIP. Sure. They may like what they see in his mechanics or something.

Texas Rangers:

Moving to non-American League East teams, we have the Texas Rangers who by far had the most deals. We’ve already looked at the cash considerations they received from the Yankees, so let’s look at their other moves.
Biggest trade:
Texas Rangers acquired: Max Scherzer,  ash considerations
New York Mets acquired: Luisangel Acuña
There could have been a few deals here that were their “biggest deals,” but I’ve chosen the Scherzer deal. The Mets moved the 39-year-old righty along with a metric fuck ton of cash for Ronald Acuña Jr.’s brother. Scherzer has a 4.01 ERA and a 4.72 FIP in 107.2 innings pitched.
The funny part of this is the stuff Scherzer said after he was traded, which you can read in the embedded Tweet below.
Other trades:
Texas Rangers acquired: Jordan Montgomery and Chris Stratton
St. Louis Cardinals acquired: Thomas Saggese, Tekoah Roby, and John King.
The Cardinals did pretty well cashing in on expiring free agents at this deadline. Montgomery has a 3.42 ERA and a 3.74 FIP in 121 innings pitched with the Red Birds this season and has been consistent throughout his career. Stratton has a 4.36 ERA and a 3.05 FIP in 53.2 innings pitched. The Rangers gave up quite a few of their top 30 prospects to make this trade happen.
Texas Rangers acquire: Austin Hedges
Pittsburgh Pirates acquired: International signing bonus pool space
Austin Hedges is the best defensive catcher in the league, even though he can’t do a thing with the bat. Good pick-up for a backup catcher that can win you games.
Texas Rangers acquired: Cash considerations
Atlanta acquired: Taylor Hearn
I guess Texas likes money? Hearn’s tenure in Atlanta didn’t last long, as he had a 108 ERA in 0.1 innings, now in the Royals organization.

Houston Astros:

The Astros didn’t have a busy deadline, but both of their moves were significant.
Biggest trade:
Houston Astros acquired: Justin Verlander
New York Mets acquired: Drew Gilbert, Ryan Clifford
The Mets’ strategy of signing late 30s to early 40-year-olds is an… interesting decision to say the least. Both he and Scherzer are making $43,000,000 this season and next, and this forced the Mets to trade a bunch of cash as well.
Verlander has had more success than Scherzer, as he’s rocking a 3.15 ERA and a 3.81 FIP in 94.1 innings pitched, along with a 21 K% and an 8 BB%. He’s not your typical 40-year-old, as Verlander won the American League Cy Young in 2022 with the Houston Astros.
Drew Gilbert has struggled since his promotion to Double-A, but he’s legit, and Ryan Clifford was selected in the same draft.
Overall, it was actually a pretty good deadline for the Mets, while Houston added a pretty good starter (and a lot of money to pay him.)
Other trades:
Houston Astros acquired: Kendall Graveman
Chicago White Sox acquired: Korey Lee
Graveman was selected in the 2013 draft by the Jays but was involved in the Josh Donaldson trade. This season, he has a 3.40 ERA and a 4.82 FIP in 45 innings pitched. Two seasons ago, he had a 1.77 ERA in 56 innings pitched with Seattle and Chicago.

Los Angeles Angels:

What a confounding team the Angels are. They were initially thought to be sellers, decided to go for it by keeping Ohtani, but then lost two of three to the Jays. Still, they find themselves three games behind the Jays, albeit with the Blue Birds owning the tiebreaker.
Biggest trade:
Los Angeles Angels acquired: Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez
Chicago White Sox acquired: Edgar Quero and Ky Bush
First, they decide not to trade Shohei Ohtani, then they decide to trade quite a few of their top prospects for Lucas Giolito (a rental) and Reynaldo Lopez (also a rental).
Giolito is the main piece going the other way, and he has a 3.85 ERA and a 4.55 FIP in 126.1 innings pitched, along with a 25.7 K% and an 8.1 BB%. He certainly regressed after the sticky-tack ban, but he’s put together a solid contract season. Lopez has had an iffy season with a 4 ERA and a 4.32 FIP in 45 innings pitched. He has a big arm averaging 98.6 mph on the fastball, (30.5 K%), but has struggled with command (12.6).
Giving up your second and third-best prospects for rentals while the best player that has ever played is likely to leave is an idea, Los Angeles.
Other trades:
Los Angeles Angels acquired: C.J. Cron and Randal Grichuk
Colorado Rockies acquired: Jake Madden and Mason Albright
Believe it or not, Grichuk actually has had a solid season in 2023, especially against left-handed pitchers. The former Blue Jay also happens to be a former Angels farmhand, who picked one selection before Mike Trout in 2009. Madden ranked as the Angels’ eighth-best prospect while Albright ranked as their 28th-best. The Angels better hope they make the playoffs.
Los Angeles Angeles acquire: Dominic Leone
New York Mets acquire Jeremiah Jackson
Dominic Leone is a former Blue Jays player as well, pitching with the team in 2017. This season with the Mets, he has a 4.40 ERA in 30.2 innings pitched.
Los Angeles Angels acquired: Cash considerations
Kansas City Royals acquired: Tucker Davidson
Cash considerations got traded once again, poor guy. Davidson has a 6.54 ERA and a 3.37 FIP in 31.2 innings pitched with the Angels in 2023.

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So, where do the Blue Jays stand?

Did the Blue Jays improve? I believe so. Pitching wins championships, and although it would have been nice to add a right-handed batting outfielder, it didn’t seem like many bats were available on the market (other than Hernández).
Did other teams improve? I’d argue that the Angels, Astros, and Rangers definitely improved more than the Jays. The Orioles also improved, but I think it’s fair to say that the Jays improved more. The Rays adding Civale is pretty big, while the Red Sox and Yankees essentially stood pat.
It’ll be a dog race to see who makes the playoffs, but it’d be ideal for the Jays to finish in the third Wild Card spot to avoid all the teams mentioned above.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Threads @Brennan_L_D.

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