It’s an unusual season. Teams who have played less than 40 games needed to figure out whether they’re buyers or sellers, and contenders needed to figure out how much of the farm they were willing to sell off when the playoffs are more of a crapshoot than ever.
With the deadline past, a few trends emerged.
There wasn’t much activity from super teams. The Dodgers dealt away Ross Stripling, the A’s picked up Mike Minor, and the Rays dealt Anthony Banda whom they designated for assignment on Sunday. That was all from teams basically guaranteed a playoff spot. The Yankees stood pat as did the Astros.
Very few highly-touted prospects changed hands. Taylor Trammell is the exception, but for the most part, the prospects being moved were in the 40-45 FV range. For a while, this looked to be a seller’s market, and until we know who all the players to be named later are, it looks like plenty of teams received decent major leaguers for lottery tickets.
Most of the action was limited to a handful of teams. The Padres and Blue Jays were active buyers. The Diamondbacks and Angels were active sellers. The Cubs and Reds added a few pieces as did the Mets and Marlins. The Yankees, Braves, Cardinals, Nationals, Pirates, White Sox, Twins, Royals, and Astros all stood pat on Deadline Day. That’s over a third of teams who didn’t make a single trade on the final day.
Onto the trades.
Padres get Clevinger
Padres get: Mike Clevinger RHP, Greg Allen OF, PTBNL
Cleveland get: Austin Hedges C, Josh Naylor 1B/OF, Cal Quantrill RHP, Gabriel Arias SS, Owen Miller IF, Joey Cantillo LHP
It’s definitely a quantity over quality return for Cleveland who dealt away their biggest chip. If there’s a system to go for quantity with, it’s San Diego’s. True that AJ Preller got to hold onto the Padres’ top-five prospects, but Cleveland is still getting some decent upside from San Diego’s mid-tier.
Baseball Prospectus’s prospect team is higher on Gabriel Arias than FanGraphs or MLB Pipeline. His glove and arm both earned 70 grades, and Arias made adjustments at the plate.
Arias is a biiiiiiiig piece. You can't just look at his season-long lines. He made tons of adjustments as the season wore on and was really hitting the ball by the end of last year. That led to his inclusion on the Top 101 for us.— Cronk is good. (@cdgoldstein) August 31, 2020
For a deeper dive on the deal for both sides, check out Devan Fink’s reaction.
A’s key in Minor
A’s get: Mike Minor LHP
Rangers get: PTBNL, PTBNL
Mike Minor is coming off a career year, but he hasn’t had the same amount of success or luck in 2020. Minor’s strikeout and walk rates have been mostly consistent, so that 5.60 ERA is likely just small-sample nonsense. Minor’s fastball has lost a tick, and he’s not getting ahead of hitters like he used to. A 56.1 percent first-pitch strike percentage would be the lowest of his career. Still, it’s reasonable to assume that Minor can give the A’s quality, consistent innings while they figure out what’s eating Mike Fiers.
In a normal year, getting two players to be named later for a player who finished 8th in Cy Young voting would be unheard of, but this isn’t a normal year. Players on the 60-player roster can’t be traded, so it’s likely the Rangers and A’s have already agreed on which players are heading to Texas. They just can’t finalize the trade until the season in over.
According to Levi Weaver of the Athletic, that’s the case. These names were later confirmed by Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Robbie Ray becomes a Blue Jay
Blue Jays get: Robbie Ray LHP, cash considerations
Diamondbacks get: Travis Bergen LHP
A pitcher with a 7.23 FIP isn’t the sort of player a contender should be excited about getting, but Ray is an intriguing project. Sure, he’s walking everyone, and yes, hitters are pounding him, but Ray is throwing harder and with more movement and spin. The start to Ray’s 2020 has been nightmarish, but this is still only seven starts we’re looking at. Ray probably isn’t completely broken.
The question is whether he can right the ship before the season ends in 27 days. Teams interested in picking him up as a free agent in the offseason can more easily look past the awful beginning if shows some improvement down the stretch. The Blue Jays, though, aren’t employing a “wait and see” approach. They need Ray to his walk rate in half now.
Heading back to Arizona is lefty reliever Travis Bergen. Bergen got his first taste of the big leagues last year with the Giants as a Rule-5 pick, but couldn’t stick on the roster the whole season. He’s mostly a two-pitch pitcher, throwing a fastball and curveball.
It looks like a light return for the Diamondbacks, but Bergen’s max fastball velocity is nearly two mph faster than he ever showed in the majors last year. If that velocity sticks, he could be a solid arm in the bullpen for several years.
Marlins swipe Marte
Marlins get: Starling Marte OF
Diamondbacks get: Caleb Smith LHP, Humberto Mejía RHP, PTBNL
The Diamondbacks are down to just one Marte now that Starling has been traded to Miami. Arizona didn’t want to pick up Marte’s $12.5 million club option for 2021 though he has been as good as advertised during his brief time in the desert. Through Sunday, Marte is slashing .311/.384/.443 for a 124 wRC+. The Diamondbacks acquired Marte in a January trade with the Pirates for Brennan Malone and Liover Peguero who were both in Arizona’s top-30 according to MLB Pipeline.
Instead, Arizona flipped him for Caleb Smith, a 29-year-old left handed starter who doesn’t blow hitters away with high fastball velocity but rather with high spin. Smith’s fastball spin rate ranked in the 84th percentile in 2019. Smith has only made one start this year due to COVID-19. He was expected to return this week, but CBS Sports reported he wouldn’t start in the Marlins’ series against the Blue Jays.
If Smith returns soon, the Diamondbacks rotation is likely better than it was Monday morning, and the Diamondbacks have a long-term option for a middle-of-the-rotation starter.
Caleb Smith is a high spin fastball guy who, when getting that pitch up in the zone, had some success on it. Kind of fell off late last year after a really solid start:— Devan Fink (@DevanFink) August 31, 2020
First 17 starts: 31.1 K%, 8.1 BB%, 3.43 ERA
Last 11 starts: 18.6 K%, 11.0 BB%, 6.39 ERA
The Marlins, who are currently tied for second in the NL East and a half game back of the Wild Card are making a splash by getting Marte. The Blue Jays are another buyer that wasn’t figured to contend this year, but there’s a lot less competition in the American League. The Marlins are trying to claw their way through the scrum to get a postseason berth which means they’re about to win their third World Series before ever properly winning a division title.
Chafin comes to Cubs
Cubs get: Andrew Chafin LHP
Diamondbacks get: PTBNL or cash considerations
The Diamondbacks sold off another lefty with command issues by sending Andrew Chafin to the Cubs for a player to be named later. Chafin’s walk issues this year probably aren’t anything to worry about. He’s only pitched 6 2⁄3 innings in 11 appearances, but he’s only had two truly bad outings.
Chafin is a two-pitch pitcher who relies on a fastball/slider combination. Last season, he struck out 30.3 percent of batters while walking 8 percent.
Chafin is currently on the IL with a sprained finger, and the hope is that he returns soon. If he does, the Cubs will send a prospect back to complete the deal. If he doesn’t, the Cubs will only send back cash considerations.
For the Cubs, they’re getting some desperately needed help in the bullpen. Their relievers rank 25th in the majors as a group in FIP at 5.10. Chafin provides another left-handed option since the only lefties in the Cubs’ ‘pen are Kyle Ryan, who has really struggled this year, and José Quintana who is going back to the rotation with Tyler Chatwood injured.
Cubs add another lefty in Osich
Cubs get: Josh Osish LHP
Red Sox get: PTBNL
The Cubs added another lefty to shore up their bullpen by acquiring Josh Osich from the Red Sox for a player to be named later. Unlike Chafin, Osich is healthy and ready to go now, but Osich has been a lot less consistent in his big league career. Osich is a hard throwing lefty—his average fastball clocked in at 94.7 mph in 2019—and those are always good to have around. Osich has just never quite put it all together.
In 13 outings this year, Osich has the highest strikeout rate of his career at 28.6 percent, but he has also given up six homers in 15 2⁄3 innings. He struggled with the longball during his time with the White Sox surrendering 15 homers in 67 2⁄3 innings. If he can keep the ball in the yard, he’s an intriguing option for the Cubs. If he can’t, they likely aren’t giving up much for him.
Blue Jays deal one of their sons for Jonathan Villar
Blue Jays get: Jonathan Villar 2B/SS
Marlins get: Griffin Conine OF
This trade is a classic case of team’s dealing from strength. Isan Díaz is returing from the injured list soon, so Jonathan Villar’s place on the Marlins roster is redundant. The Blue Jays nearly have a monopoly on sons of former major leaguers, so they were able deal away Griffin Conine, son of longtime Marlin Jeff Conine and second-round pick in the 2018 draft.
Jonathan Villar will fill in for Bo Bichette who was off to a terrific start before injuring his knee. The Blue Jays haven’t gotten much production up the middle from their bench, however. Joe Panik’s offensive woes have continued, and he’s currently hitting at Jeff Mathis levels. Santiago Espinal hasn’t fared much better at the plate. Villar also isn’t hitting as well as he did last year, but even at a 90 wRC+, it’s better than what Toronto was throwing out.
Griffin Conine is a 23-year-old who hasn’t played above Single-A. He has plenty of power but a lot of swing and miss. In 348 plate appearances, Conine slugged .576 last season, but he also struck out 35.9 percent of the time. Conine also served a 50-game suspension for PEDs in 2019.
Rockies acquire Pillar
Rockies get: Kevin Pillar OF
Red Sox get: PTBNL, international slot money
Kevin Pillar is currently having the best offensive season of his career. He’s slashing .274/.325/.470 for a wRC+. That, of course, comes with the caveat that this season is only a month old. Pillar had two better months in 2019, but the rest of the time, his production was abysmal. The Rockies are hoping that he can stay hot, and the wide open spaces of Coors should aid in that.
Pillar might have been a great fit in those wide open spaces a few years ago. Once an elite defender, Pillar’s glove has fallen off quite a bit since 2017. He’s put up -10 DRS in center over the last three seasons though his numbers were slightly better in right field.
The Rockies have Charlie Blackmon patrolling right, so Pillar will likely wind up in center. Colorado has been swapping between Sam Hilliard, Garrett Hampson, and David Dahl. Collectively, they’re hitting .225/.293/.364 for a 62 wRC+, so even Pillar should be an improvement on that.
Cubs get Cameron Maybin
Cubs get: Cameron Maybin OF
Tigers get: Zack Short IF
Albert Almora Jr.’s time with the Cubs may be coming to a close. The Cubs acquired Cameron Maybin from the Tigers in exchange for Zack Short. Maybin probably won’t bounce Ian Happ from center, but he could slot in nicely in left where the Cubs have either struggled to get production or have had to field Kyle Schwarber. Maybin’s defense isn’t head and shoulders above Schwarber’s but it allows the Cubs to keep Schwarber at DH.
Maybin’s bat has fallen off from 2019 which was a high water mark for him. This wasn’t unexpected as Maybin benefited from a high BABIP and worked around a high strikeout rate. Still, at a 95 wRC+, Maybin is an upgrade over Almora and he provides some more options while Steven Souza Jr. is injured.
Zack Short was the Cubs’ 21st ranked prospect according to FanGraphs. In 41 games, he struggled against Triple-A pitching last year, striking out 31.3 percent of the time.
Archie Bradley goes to the Reds
Reds get: Archie Bradley RHP
Diamondbacks get: Josh VanMeter OF, Stuart Fairchild OF
In their final trade of the deadline, the Diamondbacks sent Archie Bradley to the Reds in exchange for Josh VanMeter and Stuart Fairchild. Bradley has been a solid fixture in Arizona’s bullpen since 2016, and he won’t be a free agent until 2022, but the Diamondbacks figured the time was right to sell him.
In 10 2/3 innings, Bradley has struck out 12 and walked three while not allowing any homers. He immediately makes Cincinnati’s bullpen stronger, and they have desperately needed help in this area. Cincinnati rank’s 26th in reliever FIP at 5.20, and that’s with Raisel Iglesias boasting a 1.99 mark and with Amir Garrett and Lucas Sims turning in great performances as well.
Josh VanMeter hasn’t hit well in the majors, but he can play competent defense at the corner infield and outfield positions as well as second base. He never had many strikeout problems in the minors, but in 38 plate appearances this year, he struck out 16 times. It was an unusual amount of swing and miss for a player whose hit tool is his greatest strength.
Stuart Fairchild is a 24-year-old outfielder who likely would have been in Triple-A this year if it weren’t for COVID-19. Fairchild has hit well at every level of the minors, but he hasn’t hit for power. According to Eric Longenhagen, he improved on getting the ball off the ground more, so that will be something to monitor when he gets back into games.
Dodgers trade Ross Stripling but for real this time
Blue Jays get: Ross Stripling RHP
Dodgers get: PTBNL, PTBNL
After a trade to the Angels fell through over the winter, the Dodgers have traded the ever under-utilized Ross Stripling to the Toronto Blue Jays. The Dodgers will receive two players to be named later in exchange.
Even without landing Lance Lynn, the Dodgers’ rotation is deep enough that they didn’t need to hang onto Stripling. Tony Gonsolin, who has also been under-utilized, will likely take his place in the rotation.
Stripling is the third starter acquired by Toronto in the last week. They also acquired Taijuan Walker from the Mariners as well as Robbie Ray. Stripling has struggled this year over seven starts. In 33 2/3 innings, he’s only struck out 27 while giving up 12 homers. Though he had never had a FIP over 4.00 in a full season, Stripling’s FIP sits at 7.23. Stripling hasn’t been getting nearly as many swings and misses with the curveball as he’s been leaving the pitch up more often. Keeping the curve down should help him find success once again.
Mets can’t quit Todd Frazier
Mets get: Todd Frazier IF, Robinson Chirinos C
Rangers get: PTBNL, PTBNL
In two separate trades, the Mets acquired Todd Frazier and Robinson Chirinos from the Texas Rangers. The Rangers will receive two players to be named later and cash considerations.
It’s not immediately obvious why the Mets wanted to go after Todd Frazier. The 34-year-old is having his worst year at the plate, hitting to the tune of .241/.322/.380. Perhaps J.D. Davis’s injury is worse than has been let on. Davis is day-to-day with a hip injury that he sustained during a double header on Sunday. If Davis is headed for the IL, Frazier is fine fill-in. Otherwise, Frazier doesn’t seem to add anything the Mets don’t already have.
In 14 games, Chirinos has been absolutely lost at the plate. He’s currently hitting .119/.224/.143 for a -2 wRC+. It’s a pretty startling drop off for a catcher who had posted five straight above-average seasons at the plate. Chirinos is a poor framer, so New York must be hoping for a rebound.
Reds go for Goodwin
Reds get: Brian Goodwin OF
Angels get: Packy Naughton LHP, PTBNL/cash
Brian Goodwin was one of a handful of Angels not trying to waste Mike Trout, but his efforts were for naught. Instead, it’s up to Naughton. Packy Naughton.
Goodwin began 2020 hitting .242/.330/.463 for a 113 wRC+, but his decent performance hasn’t been enough to keep the Angels from going into a tailspin. On the Reds, Goodwin will eke out playing time between Shogo Akiyama, Nick Senzel (currently on the IL), Nick Castellanos, and Jesse Winker. Aristedes Acquino was also called up after the deadline passed.
Akiyama has had a slow start to his major league career, so perhaps Cincinnati is feeling some urgency to replace his bat and get back into the playoff picture.
Packy Naughton ranked 22nd in Cincinnati’s system according to FanGraphs. Naughton doesn’t have an exceptional pitch, but he throws strikes and his fastball can hit 94 though it only averaged 89 mph last year.
Mets add Miguel Castro to bullpen
Mets get: Miguel Castro RHP
Orioles get: Kevin Smith LHP
Edwin Díaz is back to normal, and Seth Lugo has been excellent, but the Mets needed more solid options. The Mets have already used 17 relievers, but the addition of Miguel Castro could help stabilize things. Castro, who has never been a strikeout pitcher, has put down 24 batters on strikes in 15 2⁄3 innings.
Castro has sensational stuff, but he has struggled to throw strikes, so he’s never made the most of it. It’s a small sample, but Castro has thrown 68.6 percent of his first pitches for strikes, and being able to get ahead has likely made his pitches play up. Hitters are more likely to chase when they’re behind and hitters are chasing at a career-high 36.2 percent of his pitches.
The Orioles are getting back Kevin Smith, a left-handed starter who ranked 16th in the Mets’ system according to FanGraphs. Per MLB Pipeline, Smith has struggled against righties and he needs to develop a better changeup if he’s to stick as a back-of-the-rotation starter.