Happy Deadline Day! All trades for the 2019 season must be completed before 4PM Eastern, or else wait until November. In other words, this is each team’s last chance to add (or subtract) before the playoffs and, just as importantly, free agency.
I pledge to you, dear reader, to sit on my couch playing NCAA Football 13 and watching Netflix all day, hitting refresh on MLB Trade Rumors and Twitter after every first down, and pausing to write a few paragraphs about each trade as it happens (excluding the little ones). There may even be some Doritos to be named later. All this, I do for you.
Let this thread be your guide through the mayhem to come. With each major deal, I’ll update this post with quick analysis on what it means for the teams and players involved. Check back here often, excuse the typos, and revel in the chaos.
Scooter Gennett to the Giants, cash to the Reds
This is yet another weird one because it involves a side-stepping Reds team and a Giants team that is surging enough that is actually interesting in buying, despite (maybe) their better angels. Nonetheless it’s good to see a team playing well decide to commit early, and that’s what the new deadline is for. Gennett lost two months to a groin injury, but he has been pretty remarkable leading up to this season, hitting .303/.351/.508 from 2017 to 2018.
Astros snag Joe Biagini’s curveball, and also the rest of him
Now this is a juicy one! The Astros are known for acquiring pitchers with high spin spin pitches, helping them refine spin into movement, and then having them throw those pitches more often. See Ryan Pressly, Charlie Morton, Justin Verlander, Geritt Cole.
Joe Biagini is a perfect fit in this sense, as documented by Andrew Simon:
Astros getting a guy with 88th percentile curveball spin, and elite vertical movement, but who only throws the pitch 7% of the time ... https://t.co/Arwwf5JsWY— Andrew Simon (@AndrewSimonMLB) July 31, 2019
I look forward to reading articles in two months about how Biagini has magically transformed into the most dangerous pitcher in baseball heading into October.
All-Star relievers Shane Greene and Mark Melancon land in Atlanta
Shane Greene, who has yielded two earned runs since May 3, is southbound.
#Braves close to acquiring Shane Greene from the #Tigers, source tells The Athletic.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 31, 2019
Greene’s 1.18 ERA is backed up by an outstanding 67.7 DRA-. Devan Fink doesn’t write here anymore, but we’ll let him handle this one anyway.
Braves watch their bullpen blow a three-run lead, immediately trade for Shane Greene— Devan Fink (@DevanFink) July 31, 2019
Melancon has been thoroughly average since signing a huge contract in San Francisco three years ago. He’s owed $14 million next year, and it seems likely that the Giants will have to eat some of that. While he isn’t the dominant relief ace that was in Pittsburgh, he still improves Atlanta’s bullpen. Melancon and Greene join recently acquired Chris Martin in a suddenly dangerous Braves bullpen.
Stay tuned for the return packages.
Corey Dickerson to the Phillies
A few months after spending big on Bryce Harper and Andrew McCutchen, the Phillies have traded for corner outfielder Corey Dickerson. I’m not even being fair right now. This is a good addition for the Phillies, given McCutchen’s torn ACL. The team stands at 56-50, tied with the Cubs for the second Wild Card spot.
Dickerson missed the first two months of the season (save a few games in the first week), but he’s been on fire in June and July. He’s never hit much against left-handed pitching, and only has 20 plate appearances against them this year, but you know what? Most pitchers are right-handed! His 148 wRC+ vs. righties will more than suffice.
It appears Pittsburgh will get a player to be named and some international bonus slot money in return. I need to get an international bonus slot shirsey.
Zac Gallen headed from Miami to Arizona
Have you realized how good rookie Zac Gallen has been this year? The now former Marlin has a 3.58 FIP and 28.5 percent strikeout rate through seven starts. In 14 Triple-A starts, he featured a 6.59 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Now, his contract belongs to the Diamondbacks.
Prospect Jazz Chisholm will move to the Marlins organization in return. The young shortstop was a consensus top-100 prospect before the season, but has managed only a .305 on-base percentage in Double-A.
It’s a win-now move for the Diamondbacks, who are 54-54 at the moment (and leading the Yankees, 3-2 in the fifth inning), that still has an eye on the future. Strange to see from the franchise that traded Paul Goldschmidt a few months ago!
Usually, Marlins prospects sputter out after they’ve traded for them, not before. I suppose this just cuts out the middle step.
Tanner Roark to the Athletics, PTBNL to the Reds
Of all teams, the A’s are picking up rotation help (keep in mind that neither the Astros or Yankees have acquired anyone of significance), and now even Roark is off the board. Roark’s last three seasons of ERA look like this: 4.24, 4.34, and 4.67. What you see is basically what you get with about eight strikeouts per nine and 180-200 innings per year. The Athletics are very much in this wild card fight, and I think this is the exact deal a hard trade deadline actually produces—a small market team makes a decision to buy at least in part, even if it’s a budget alternative. All in all, very good for the American League playoff picture.
Drew Pomeranz and Ray Black heading to Milwaukee, Mauricio Dubon to the Giants
A pair of hurlers are headed from San Francisco to Milwaukee. Pomeranz, a lefty, has been fairly well-hammered this season. His 123.3 DRA- is rather ugly, but his 25.9 percent strikeout rate is his best since 2016.
Ray Black is best decribed by the scouting grades on his FanGraphs page:
The fastball touches 103, but it hasn’t translated to much success just yet. Including Jake Faria from an earlier trade (see below), Milwaukee has certain restocked their pitching staff with quantity if not necessarily quality.
In return, the Giants receive Mauricio Dubon— a well-regarded middle infielder— currently ranked the third best in the Milwaukee system by MLB Pipeline. He’s major league ready, and has two games played with Milwaukee so far. There’s every reason to believe he will play regularly right away in San Francisco.
It appears the Giants received almost as much for two fringe major league pitchers as the Blue Jays got for Marcus Stroman!
Daniel Hudson to the Nationals, Kyle Johnston to the Blue Jays
Roenis Elías to the Nationals, Elvis Alvarado and Taylor Guilbeau to the Mariners
Hunter Strickland to Nationals, Aaron Fletcher to Mariners
The Nationals are rightfully bulking up on reliever depth, as they’ve snagged Hudson from the Jays in exchange for Johnston, who has a 4.03 ERA over 20 starts in Potomac. Hudson, on the other hand, has a 65 ERA- over 48 innings this season, easily his best year so far. He’s traditionally leaned into his high-spin fastball, and now even more so.
AH! But the Nats didn’t stop there, scooping up yet another solid reliever in Elias.
RHP Elvis Alvarado and LHP Taylor Guilbeau going from #Nationals to #Mariners in Elias trade, source tells The Athletic.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 31, 2019
Though sporting a below-average ERA, he still shows excellent promise after putting up a stellar 2.65 ERA in 2018. Unfortunately he’s a fly ball pitcher who pitches to contact, and that’s not a great position to be in in 2019. That being said, the Nats have certainly thrown their chips down in that they are looking to make a run at an easily attainable wild card spot, contention window be damned. Good.
The Nationals have acquired Hunter Strickland from the Mariners for Aaron Fletcher, per sources. Deal is pending physicals.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) July 31, 2019
Martín Maldonado to the Astros, Tony Kemp to the Cubs
Remember waaay back when Martín Maldonado was traded to the Cubs? You know, like two weeks ago? Well, he’s on the move again.
#Astros acquire catcher Martín Maldonado from #Cubs, sources tell The Athletic.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 31, 2019
The Cubs will surely retire his number, singing songs of his glorious four game, 0-11 stint on the North Side for generations to come.
Maldonado is a former (deserving) Gold Glove winner, but with a career 72 wRC+, is he really an improvement for Houston? Their starting catcher is Robinson Chirinos, a bat-first backstop who’s cooled off lately, and the backup is Max Stassi, a good defender slashing .167/.235/.211. Baseball Prospectus ranks Stassi 14th, Maldonado 16th, and Chirinos 73rd out of 98 total MLB catchers in catcher defensive adjustment.
While Maldonado and Stassi are comparable defensively, the former isn’t quite as automatic an out. Stassi is out of options, so there is a good chance he’ll be designated for assignment. Otherwise, Houston will have to carry three catchers. Maldonado and Chirinos should have something like a timeshare for the starting job.
Tony Kemp saw his utility role diminish with the emergence of Myles Straw, and was designated for assignment on July 26. He’s competent at several positions and isn’t a terrible hitter (better than Maldonado, in fact). This makes him ideal for a bench role.
Jesús Aguilar heading to the Tampa Bay Rays
And we’re off! The Brewers have sent first baseman (and soon to be DH) Jesús Aguilar to the Rays. Milwaukee gets right-hander Jake Faria in return.
First baseman Jesus Aguilar has been traded from the Milwaukee Brewers to the Tampa Bay Rays, sources tell ESPN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 31, 2019
Right-hander Jacob Faria is headed back to the Milwaukee Brewers in the Jesus Aguilar deal, a source tells ESPN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 31, 2019
Aguilar’s offense cratered from a 134 wRC+ in 2018 to an 82 this season. He lost his starting gig to Eric Thames, and was relegated to pinch hitting duties. It’s clear he had become unnecessary to the Brewers, and so it’s no surprise to see him traded.
However, he could fill an important role for Tampa Bay. Their primary first base/DH tandem is Ji-Man Choi and Nate Lowe, both of whom bat left-handed. With Yandy Díaz sidelined indefinitely with a foot injury, the club didn’t have a right-handed bat to platoon. While Aguilar is something a of a reclamation project, and has only slashed .205/.290/.325 against lefties this season, the Rays will hope turn him around. Besides, he’s controllable through 2023, so it’s a long term play as much as short term.
Faria is a versatile arm who can start or relieve for Milwaukee, and can be team-controlled through 2024. After experiencing success as a rookie in 2017, his swinging strike rate plummeted from 12.0 percent to 8.3 last season, and his peripheral numbers all declined. In 2019, he’s spent more time in the bullpen than the rotation, and in Triple-A than the majors. His average fastball velocity jumped from 92.2 mph to 94.2, and his slider and changeup are a little harder as well. Milwaukee will probably keep him in the bullpen for now, but could play around with him as a starter at a later point in time.
Yasiel Puig, Trevor Bauer, and an insane three-team deal
Let’s start things off with what may be the juiciest deal of the deadline. Rather than provide my own commentary, you should check out Kenny Kelly’s excellent breakdown from this morning. I will merely add that Bauer may literally throw a baseball to Kentucky.
Daniel R. Epstein is an elementary special education teacher and president of the Somerset County Education Association. Tweets @depstein1983