IT’S FINALLY HERE!!! The trade deadline is 4PM EST today! It’s the baseball version of The Purge, when anything can and will happen. Well, by “anything” I mean lots of crazy trades.
This thread will be updated with instant reactions to all the major deals. Check back here throughout the afternoon as sleep-deprived GMs make half-baked decisions that alter the future of your favorite team!
Biggest. Trade. All. Day.
The Pirates are 3.5 games out of the second Wild Card Spot, and with a crowded field, drastic action is necessary. They’ve used six primary starters this season, but only two of them have FIPs under 4.00. Archer is a dramatic improvement, and immediately becomes the staff ace. He brings a 3.62 FIP, 24.7 percent K-rate, and 7.5 walk-rate to Pittsburgh. He’s also under team control through 2021, including two team options.
The Rays get a pretty sweet haul in return. Rookie outfielder Austin Meadows heads south, bringing a 115 OPS+ through 165 MLB plate appearances. He’s been a major prospect for a long time now, having ranked in the top 50 of the Baseball America and MLB prospect rankings in each of the last five seasons.
Tyler Glasnow is also a substantial part of the deal. The 6’8 righty also comes with impressive prospect pedigree. His outstanding stuff helped him strike out 29.6 percent of all batters as a reliever this season in the majors. However, he’s still working through control issues that have led to a 14.0 percent walk-rate.
The Rays have been threatening to sell Archer for a few years now. They certainly did well with the return package.
This is kind of a mess. The Brewers added Mike Moustakas a few days ago to be their new third baseman. That’s all well and good, except they also have Travis Shaw on the roster. The plan was to move Shaw to second base, where he’s never played as a professional.
Now, the Brewers bring in Jonathan Schoop, an actual for-real second baseman, and a good one at that. So how do Moustakas, Shaw, and Schoop all fit into the lineup? Does one of them sit everyday? Does Schoop move to shortstop, giving them a really ugly Schoop-Shaw double play combo? Is Shaw injured worse than we thought (he left the game yesterday with a foot injury)?
Erstwhile second baseman Jonathan Villar heads over to Baltimore in the deal. After a stellar 2016 season in which he posted a 117 OPS+ and led the NL with 62 steals, he’s managed just a 71 and 84 OPS+ in 2017 and 2018.
17-year-old pitcher Luis Ortiz and 18-year-old Jean Carmona are also included in the package going to the Orioles.
Remember when Kevin Gausman was a future-ace, all-world, mega-prospect? He hasn’t turned into the next Jim Palmer, but he’s a serviceable mid-rotation guy. He’ll be a stabilizing presence for the Braves, who have relied very heavily on their glut of young pitching talent. Max Fried, Luiz Gohara, and Kolby Allard are all young and gifted, but it’s probably too much to ask them to carry the team down the stretch.
Gausman’s 4.58 FIP in 2018 is within shouting distance of his 4.16 career mark. He’s under team control through 2021. Darren O’Day (and his mighty $9M annual contract through 2019) heads to the Braves as well.
Baltimore receives a quartet of youngsters in return. Evan Phillips is a right-handed reliever who enjoyed a short stint in the majors earlier this year. Jean Carlos Encarnacion, Brett Cumberland, and Evan Phillips are all in either A or AA.
Brian Dozier, tenth all time on the Twins career home run leaderboard (167), is headed to the Dodgers. Dozier is coming off a string of four excellent seasons, but has just a 91 wRC+ in 2018.
The Dodgers’ new double play combo is Manny Machado and Dozier, which is very different from Corey Seager and Logan Forsythe. It’s not exactly fair to say they’ve struggled to get production from the second base spot, as Enrique Hernandez and Max Muncy have both been spending time there lately. The question going forward will be how to fit all of these pieces into the same lineup.
Forsythe heads to the Twins in the swap, as do prospects Luke Raley (#19 Dodgers prospect on MLB.com) and Devin Smeltzer.
The A’s are two games out of the second Wild Card spot, so it makes sense for them to buy at the deadline. But they’re also the A’s, so it makes sense that they’d get someone cheap. Mike Fiers fits the bill.
Fiers doesn’t strike out many batters and allowed 20 home runs in 20 starts, but at least he only walks 2.0 batters per nine innings. He has a 3.54 ERA, but you know ERA kind of stinks. Nevertheless, Oakland has already used 12 different starters this year, and only four of them are currently on the 25-man roster.
UPDATE: This might not actually be happening. Who knows.
After years and years as a top prospect, then a few more years as a post-hype sleeper, Jorge Alfaro finally showed what he can do as a starting catcher. The answer is...not enough. Wilson Ramos heads from the Rays to the Phillies.
Ramos, who recently made the All-Star Team, is free agent at season’s end. His 130 wRC+ is third best among all MLB catchers. That’s a major offensive upgrade over Alfaro’s 85.
The Rays receive a player to be named later, which makes this the first PTBNL of the day! If you have that on Trade Deadline BINGO, congratulations! Also, next year we need to do Trade Deadline BINGO because that is an awesome idea I just had.
The Diamondbacks acquire 63-year-old reliever Brad Ziegler to bolster their bullpen. The notorious ground ball specialist (career 66.7 percent ground ball rate) previously pitched in Arizona from 2011-16. Their bullpen is already pretty well-stocked, but with three teams separated by a single game in the NL West, they’ll need all the ammunition they can get.
Ziegler leads the NL in appearances this year, but his overall numbers aren’t great. However, according to Steve Adams in the MLBTR piece (linked in the headline), “He’s been on absolute fire over the past two months, working to a sterling 0.93 ERA with a 22-to-11 K/BB ratio and an otherworldly 80.3 percent ground-ball rate through 29 innings dating back to June 1.”
Tommy Eveld, a AA reliever, goes to the Marlins in exchange. He has a pretty nice 5.88 strikeout to walk ratio this year, but undoubtedly the primary reason for the trade is to clear as much payroll as possible. After all, they are the Marlins.
Unlike the Pham deal, this trade is pretty easy to understand. The Tigers were big sellers a year ago, and are committed to the rebuild. Leonys Martin is a serviceable center fielder, both offensively and defensively. Even though it seems like he’s been around forever, he still has a year left of team control after 2018.
Cleveland has the largest division lead in baseball (the other four AL Central teams are under .500), but there’s a glaring hole in the middle of the outfield (not literally, though that would be pretty fun). They’ve primarily used four center fielders this year: Greg Allen, Rajai Davis, Tyler Naquin, and Bradley Zimmer. Their OPS+ are 42, 69, 73, and 63. Besides, Naquin and Zimmer are currently injured.
Willi Castro, Cleveland’s #8 prospect according to MLB.com, headlines the return. The 21-year-old shortstop has struggled a bit in AA this year (.653 OPS), but he’s young for the level and hit pretty well in A+ ball last season.
Cleveland also receives 25-year-old RHP Kyle Dowdy in the deal, who has spent the year between AA and AAA.
This one is a bit of a head-scratcher. The Rays aren’t a very good team and they jettison talent with abandon. This past off season they flat-out released Corey Dickerson. In spite of themselves, they currently post a 53-53 record, but stand no chance of making the playoffs. That’s not the profile of a deadline-buyer.
Tommy Pham was one of the best players in baseball last year, though he’s only slashing .248/.331/.399 at present. He heads into arbitration for the first time this winter, which makes him exactly the kind of player the Rays usually avoid (see Stephen Souza).
In return, the Cardinals get three prospects that don’t really seem all that special. MLB.com lists OF Justin Williams and LHP Genesis Cabrera as the #14 and #25 propsects in the Tampa Bay system. RHP Roel Ramirez is unranked in the top 30. That seems like an underwhelming return for a normally-good hitter with three years of team control.
Daniel R. Epstein is an elementary special education teacher and president of the Somerset County Education Association. In addition to BtBS, he writes at www.OffTheBenchBaseball.com. Tweets @depstein1983