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MLB Trade Deadline Winners and Losers

This year's trade deadline came and went with little fanfare. While there were a few big moves, there weren't earth shattering moves done on Tuesday. But that's not to say that contending teams didn't improve their chances of making it to the fall classic. Here are my opinions on the MLB trade deadline winners and losers.

Winner: Houston Astros

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The Astros faced a tricky offseason coming into the 2023 season. The Astros were unwilling to match the high price the Mets put on Ace. Justin Verlander. So they gambled and came into the season with the rotation that was solid but a far cry from their championship rotation. Well the Astros have had a solid season. Injuries have crippled them, as they are looking up at the first place. Texas Rangers. Starters Lance McCullers Jr. (flexor tendon/bone spur surgery) and Luis García (Tommy John surgery) are out for the season. José Urquidy has been working through a shoulder injury, Framber Valdez has struggled all season and Cristian Javier hasn't built on the strong postseason he had last year.

But not only do the Astros win back. Justin Verlander, who according to reports wanted to come back to Houston if the New York Mets weren't willing to keep him, but they don't have to pay the high price at the Mets paid. They gave up one of their top prospects to get him back, but the Mets are paying over $50 million of his remaining salary. A salary that includes a kicker in the third year. They basically got their starter back for the price that they were willing to pay. Add the fact that the Astros are getting back start Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman will avoid surgery, this is the same team that won them a chip. I said the Astros are coming, and here we go

Winner: Texas Rangers

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The Texas Rangers came into the season with high hopes, and they have delivered so far. They're in first place in the AL West, but I stated in previous articles that the Rangers needed to be busy at the deadline. The Rangers needed to make moves at the deadline to fight off the Astros who were getting healthy at the right time. Their lineup is solid but their pitching staff could use upgrades to content deeper into the playoffs.

Lefty Jordan Montgomery is an excellent 3rd it 4th starter that they acquired from the Cardinals. They can slot him in right away for depth and playoff experience. However, they landed a bigger fish in Max Scherzer on Saturday. Scherzer needed a little convincing from Jacob deGrom to drop his no trade clause, but if he works out and has a little left in the tank he might be able to get them over the hump in the playoffs. He struggled this year in New York, but maybe going to a contending team might give him the shot he needs. Giving up Luisangel Acuña will hurt as he instantly becomes the Mets top prospect, but the Mets are paying $35M of Scherzer's contract.

The Rangers also added some nice bullpen pieces in Aroldis Chapman and Chris Stratton. They also got some extra insurance at catcher by trading for Austin Hedges. The Rangers went all in as much as they could as they are well on their way to snapping their playoff drought. This should be their first appearance since 2016 but they didn't completely guy their farm system to do it.

Winner: Baltimore Orioles

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The Orioles are another surprise team that have come out of nowhere to be at the top of the AL East. Most expected them to take a small step forward in contend for a playoff spot, but they are ahead of schedule and are currently one of the best teams in baseball. I noted that they needed some help in their rotation to go with that solid offense, but to do it cautiously. Being a top. The best division in baseball means you need reinforcements to make sure you stay on top.

So the obvious upgrades are in the starting rotation. Currently, Dean Kremer and Tyler Wells are showing signs of fatigue as they both have reached career highs in innings pitched. Kyle Bradish is also nearing his career high but has held up well so far.

Kyle Gibson is a veteran on their staff but he has never shown her can be consistent. The only consistency is that he's inconsistent. Grayson Rodriguez is a rookie who you don't know if you can trust down the stretch. So for my money, adding two arms to this starting rotation would have been the smart move. I love acquiring Jack Flaherty from the Cardinals, he's a less expensive option but has starting and playoff experience. He has arm talent and is only 27 years old.

I really wish the Orioles would've been able to grab another starter Verlander or Eduardo Rodriguez. But Verlander's price was too high and the key for the Orioles was keeping the course without gutting. Their farm system. Rodriguez would have been a nice fit and I think they should have gone for him harder. But they keep their farm system intact and gamble on what they have at the big league level now. So I think that's a win that they have a future. But only slightly…

Other winners

Miami Marlins

The Marlins have struggled in July and find themselves a half game out of the last wild card spot. The markets are not going to roll the dice with what they have in house, they want to win in 2023. So they became buyers at the deadline and acquired power hitters Jake Burger from the Chicago White Sox and Josh Bell of the Cleveland Guardians. They also addressed their pitching staff as they grabbed pitcher Ryan Weathers from San Diego. It's hard to see if these moves can get them over the hump and compete with teams like the Braves and the Dodgers, but at least they're changing their mentality. This is a team that would have done nothing with Derek Jeter at the helm as they handcuffed him. It seems they learn something from the captain and they're going all in.

Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks are coming out of a terrible month of baseball. They finished July going 8-16, falling in the standings from first place in the NL West to fighting to stay in the wild-card race. But they made a serious push at the deadline to stop the bleeding. They landed a closer that the desperately needed in Paul Sewald from the Seattle Mariners, they acquired OF Tommy Pham to add some power in their lineup, and infielder Jace Peterson for depth. Unlike other overachieving teams, the Diamondbacks are going all in.

Loser: Cincinnati Reds

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This is a tough one to classify as a loser, because this team is achieved so much in the last few months. The Reds weren't expected to do anything and since their late May early June push have found themselves at the near the top of their division as they are currently 1/2 game out of first. They're poised to make a playoff push, but if you read Mr Harvey's article on who needs to make moves, The Reds are front and center. But I also know the Reds couldn't go all in and risk their future by cutting their farm system.

The Reds have major rotation issues and they didn't do anything to upgrade for the playoffs push. Other division leaders like Baltimore and Texas made sure to at least add one arm to the rotation, so doing nothing to fix their weakness could prove to be a big mistake. But the Reds are clearly looking at 2024 as their year rather than 2023. The Reds are getting back Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo this month as internal upgrades. The Reds are in the division race, yes, but they don't have enough to contend with the Braves and Dodgers. Patience might hurt them this year, but it'll serve them well in the years to come.

Loser: New York Yankees

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Remember when the Yankees were the evil empire and money was no object for them? Remember when? George Steinbrenner would sell anything. He had to win a World Series? Remember when getting free agents at the trade deadline or in the off season was like breathing for the Yankees? Well these ain't those Yankees!

I noted in my buyers and sellers article that the Yankees needed upgrades on offense. This offense ranks near the bottom and all major categories like batting average, average OPS and slugging. The Yankees did make two trades at the deadline but decided to address a bullpen that is one of the better ones in the league instead of an offense that struggles to even put the ball in play. An offense that in one game struck out 18 times, but their manager said they had good at bats. Yes, that offense.

I understand not trading away your future prospects for average at best position players at the deadline. There were no big fish available like Cody Bellinger, Nolan Arenado or Juan Soto. The Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres both went on many winning streaks towards the deadline, and that put them in a position of not being sellers. The Yankees got their star Aaron Judge back from injury as a much needed shot in the arm. So the Yankees banked on the fact that Giancarlo Stanton, DJ LeMahieu and Anthony Rizzo will snap out of their season-long funk. Well, it may be sound thinking, but as a Yankee fan we want to put our heads through a wall.

Loser: Minnesota Twins

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Remember what I said about the Reds being a division leader and not making any moves at the deadline? The same can be said for the Minnesota twins as they lead their woeful division, but decided not to make any moves. What really hurts is that the second place Cleveland Guardians are only 2 and 1/2 games out of first place entering Friday, but decided to sell.

The Twins added no bats to an offense that is struggling to hit. To be fair, the hitters available at the trade deadline were not team shaking players. The Yankees didn't like who was available and possibly the twins didn't like it either. Like I said, the Cubs and the Padres bats were not available and news that Peter Lonzo was available at the trade deadline but at a high asking price is what you were getting. Nolan Arenado was available also, but his asking price was way too high. Regardless, the twins should have been in on a hitter that could be a little cheaper, but add to an offense that is woeful. It looks like a missed opportunity for me.

You can also say that there isn't much needed to win the worst division in the league. The twins could stay pat and still be the best team in a division with only one team over .500. But they are headed to the playoffs and easily to a first round exit. Making trades would have been nice to secure a division, but it wasn't necessary. Also a trade would have been nice to get them into World Series contention, that likely isn't necessary either.

Loser: Los Angeles Angels

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Why am I saying that the angels are a loser? Because they still have Shohei Ohtani on their roster. I believe that the best player in baseball will not be in an angel's uniform in 2024. I might be dead wrong, but I don't see any reason for him to stay with the angels other than they cater to him. They do anything that he asked and he is more than comfortable in Los Angeles.

Shohei Ohtani not being traded at the deadline means they are going to try to win with him. They are going to try to keep him for this season, milk him for all he's worth in home ticket sales, and maybe get a little extra attention as he approaches. Aaron Judge's home run record. A smart business mover for 2023, but a mistake for 2024 and beyond.

Yes, the Angels would be a fool to trade the best player in baseball. But they would also be a fool to think that he would absolutely come back without reassurances that he's coming back. Now. You could have traded otani for a king's ransom, rebuilt your farm system, and set yourself up for a very bright future. Now you're betting on red that he'll be back and possibly lose him for absolutely nothing. He hit his 40th home run last night, but left the game with an injury. The Angels are currently four games back in the wild card, which puts them in the playoff hunt but they just can't seem to win games.

They added Lucas Giolito, C.J. Cron and Randal Grichuk to show that they are in win now mode with the best player in baseball. They still have a shot to make the playoffs and a playoff push might be enough to interest Ohtani. They missed a golden opportunity to totally rebuild a terrible farm system, and made it even worse by making trades for Giolito/Cron. This team will be a 500 ball club until they figure out how to run an organization around the star player.

Other losers:

Seattle Mariners

The Mariners finished July on a got streak with a 17-9 record, tied for the best July record. They currently sit 3½ games behind the last wild-card berth. Impressive since I thought they should pack it in. But instead of adding reinforcements, they respond by waving the white flag. They trade closer Paul Sewald for two Diamondbacks outfield prospects, essentially making it harder to sneak into the playoffs.

Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox are another team that used to be buyers in years past but this year have a tempered philosophy. They have clearly over achieved this year but still sit 2 and 1/2 games out of the last wild card spot. They are in the toughest division in baseball like the Yankees, but they decided to make little to no moves at the deadline. They're banking on getting healthy and just being prepared to make a serious run in 2024. Not the worst option but being so close to the playoffs they should've made it interesting at the deadline.

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