The trade deadline brought more activity than normal because of the elimination of the waiver deadline on August 31st. Evaluating winners and losers takes time, but that won’t stop us from giving our immediate opinions on the night of the deadline. Of course, there are buyers and sellers and in many instances the sellers actually win the deadline. We won’t really focus on them this time around. If you are a buyer you have two primary objectives. First, you want to solifiy your roster to make it to the postseason. Secondly, you want to swing some sort of deal that will change the landscape once you get to October. Hopefully, you can pull off both. We will try to focus on one winner per division and one loser per division.
The Braves added three bullpen arms at or near the deadline including the best reliever that ended up being dealt in Shane Greene. Greene will likely slot in as the Braves closer, but even if he doesn’t the Braves just made themselves a lot deeper by adding Greene, Mark Melancon, and Chris Martin. The playoffs is a lot about matchups and now the Braves have a handful of solid arms that have experience in high leveraged situations. Martin has had a handful of saves this season and Melancon is a former top-flight closer.
The Nationals also added three relievers at or near the deadline, but they aren’t quite as good as the guys the Braves brought in. Hunter Strickland comes with some upside, but he has been injured most of the season. Roenis Elias has served as the Mariners closer for most of the season, but he hasn’t been particularly effective. Daniel Hudson is probably the prize as he has been very effective in Toronto. The three might be enough to limp the Nationals through to a wild card, but they probably aren’t overtaking the Braves.
If we go back to the beginning of the period we can include Derek Holland and David Phelps in the Cubs haul. Neither are brilliant, but they give the Cubs more depth in their bullpen. The best move they made was the addition of Nicholas Castellanos from the Tigers. He will likely settle in right field, but he might be able to play some left field as well. He is probably going to become more valuable in October when you want some punch off the bench. Additionally, the Cubs added Tony Kemp from the Astros. Kemp can play left field, center field, and second base. Like Castellanos, he makes the Cubs bench that much deeper.
The Brewers aren’t losers in this deadline, but they certainly aren’t winners. They needed to add some pitching and they did in some sense with the addition of Jordan Lyles and Drew Pomeranz, but neither is having a particularly good season. I suppose there is a chance they could catch lightening in a bottle, but if their track records are any indication they are going to come up short.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants did a good job of walking the tight rope between buying and selling. I can’t blame them. They are essentially a .500 team, but they are also 2.5 games out of the wild card. They added Scooter Gennett from the Reds to give them a little more punch at second base. Joe Panik hasn’t been cutting the mustard and if Gennett can rediscover what he had in 2018 it could be enough to throw them over the top. At the same time, they dealt Mark Melancon and Sam Dyson to other contenders. Doing so will help them with future payroll flexibility. So, they were measured in their buying as a team in their situation should.
It’s hard to call the Phillies losers necessarily because they did add Jay Bruce earlier in the year, but we are grading the deadline and trades from later July. Bruce is hurt. Andrew McCutchen is out for the season with an ACL tear. So, the Phillies added Corey Dickerson. Dickerson is a decent player at this point in his career and he will help stem the tide, but he’s not changing the landscape any. In the same way, Jason Vargas gives them some pitching depth, but he doesn’t really move the needle either.
St. Louis Cardinals
Give them some credit for finding a taker for Jedd Gyorko. He really didn’t have a spot and he was taking up much needed salary on a middle market team. Tony Cingrani is a decent lefty and gives them some matchup help down the stretch, but they just got the lead in the NL Central. They should have added something more significant to their rotation or bullpen. They didn’t.
Los Angeles Dodgers
This is not particularly fair. The Dodgers will run away with the NL West and will have the best record in the National League by a wide margin. So, it’s hard to criticize them too much. Still, Jedd Gyorko and Tyler White really don’t change the landscape much. For a team that has lost two consecutive World Series titles you would think just getting back there is not enough.