Another year, another extremely active MLB trade deadline. We saw superstars, rentals, players needing a change in scene, pitchers with multiple years of control, and many more traded at the trade deadline. After all of these moves, here are my five biggest winners.
- San Diego Padres
A.J. Preller is known to be one of the most aggressive executives in Major League Baseball and his acquisitions at this year’s trade deadline showed why. After inconsistency from former closer Taylor Rogers, the Padres announced that they would be using a closer by committee for the foreseeable future. This plan started and ended in one game when Luis Garcia notched his first save of the season on July 31st. On August 1st the Padres acquired 3x NL Reliever of the Year Josh Hader. Quite the way to make their closer situation stable again. One day later, Preller pulled off one of the biggest trades in MLB history by acquiring Juan Soto and Josh Bell. Soto is already a World Series champion, 2x All Star, 2x Silver Slugger, 2x All-MLB First Team selection, 1x NL batting champ, and 1x Home Run Derby winner all before turning 24 years old. Oh, and he has at most 2.5 more years of team control before he likely signs the first $500 million contract in MLB history. That’s an impressive way to improve the team’s horrible right field situation that has combined for -0.6 fWAR this season. And, oh, by the way, they also received Josh Bell — whose 142 wRC+ is the same as new teammate Manny Machado’s — in the same trade. Bell’s impressive bat from both sides of the plate is a massive upgrade over Eric Hosmer and Luke Voit who are now both on new teams. Don’t worry, that wasn’t enough for Preller. Preller also acquired utility man Brandon Drury from the Reds. Drury has hit a fantastic .274/.335/.520 (132 wRC+) and is capable of playing all four infield positions as well as manning the corners in the outfield. The Padres have drastically improved their team and with a healthy Fernando Tatis Jr. set to return, this team might win the World Series.
2. New York Yankees
As we all know, Joey Gallo was awful with the Yankees in his tenure with the team. To replace Gallo (before he was even traded to the Dodgers), the Yankees acquired All Star and Gold Glover Andrew Benintendi from the Royals. Although he’s somewhat struggled in his limited action in pinstripes, Benintendi’s mix of a high average, great plate discipline, and good defense all fit in perfectly with the Yankees. After Michael King suffered a season-ending elbow injury, the Yankees had a big hole to replace in the bullpen. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman did this in two separate trades by acquiring Scott Effross from the Cubs and Lou Trivino from the A’s. Effross pitched brilliantly with the Cubs pitching 44.0 innings to a fantastic 2.66 ERA. Effross is under team control through 2027, so he can become a core piece of the Yankee bullpen for years to come. While Lou Trivino had struggled with the A’s to a 6.47 ERA, many of his peripherals have been elite. With a little help from the great Yankees pitching development led by Matt Blake, Trivino could soon become a quality late-innings arm. In addition to Trivino, the Yankees acquired Frankie Montas from the A’s. Montas has been great this season pitching 104.2 innings to a 3.10 ERA. In a potential postseason series, Montas would likely be the Yankees’ game 2 starter. Lastly, the Yankees acquired center fielder Harrison Bader from the Cardinals in a somewhat questionable trade that sent Jordan Montgomery to St. Louis. Bader is among the best defensive outfielders in the game, an amazing base runner, and is around league average offensively. Bader is currently on the IL, so we’ll have to wait and see how much playing time he and Aaron Hicks will receive. The American League’s best team got better and the chase for 28 is on.
3. Minnesota Twins
The Twins’ 111 wRC+ is the sixth best in Major League, but their 4.04 ERA is the 20th best. In order to win games in October, you need to be able to pitch and hit, not just one. Knowing this, the Twins went out and acquired Tyler Mahle, Jorge Lopez, and Michael Fulmer. Although his 4.40 ERA is a bit high, Tyler Mahle has pitched very well this season. His 8.9 BB% is below average, but Mahle’s 25.9 K% and 28.8 CSW% are well above average. Additionally, opposing hitters haven’t had much success against Mahle as his 3.20 xERA is in the 76th percentile. Mahle is not necessarily an ace, but he joins Sonny Gray and Joe Ryan to form a potential solid postseason rotation. Outside of Johan Duran and Griffin Jax, not many relievers have had success out of the Twins bullpen. The first reliever the Twins acquired is 2022 All Star Jorge Lopez. Lopez has had a career year in his first season as a full-time reliever pitching 48.1 innings with the Orioles to a 1.68 ERA. Lopez has done a great job striking batters out (27.6%, 80th percentile), keeping balls off the barrel (5.0%, 85th percentile), and keeping the ball on the ground (60.0%, 97th percentile among qualified relievers). Additionally, the Twins added Michael Fulmer. Like Lopez, Fulmer has had much more success as a reliever than as a starter. Fulmer had a 3.20 ERA in 39.1 innings with the Tigers this season and has a 2.80 ERA in 96.1 career innings out of the bullpen. Fulmer is set to become a free agent after this season, but Mahle and Lopez are controlled through 2023 and 2024 respectively. With their pitching staff greatly improved, look out for the Twins to make a run in October.
4. Houston Astros
The Houston Astros have been one of the best offensive teams in Major League Baseball with a 112 wRC+ and their lineup got even better at the trade deadline. Before acquiring Christian Vazquez from the Red Sox, Astros backstops combined to have the lowest fWAR among all backstop tandems in the league. With the Red Sox, Vazquez hit a very impressive .282/.327/.432 (110 wRC+) while comparing similarly to Maldonado’s advanced defensive metrics. Without much of a drop-off defensively and a drastic offensive improvement, the Astros’ catching situation might be the most improved single position by any team at the deadline. In addition to Vazquez, the Astros acquired Trey Mancini from the Orioles. Mancini had a good offensive season with the Orioles hitting .268/.347/.404 (114 wRC+), but his numbers could be even better had Camden Yards not changed their ballpark dimensions. Mancini hit 10 homers with the Orioles this season, but had he played all of his games at Minute Maid Park, he would have 21. Mancini is an offensive upgrade over Yuli Gurriel at first base and is capable of playing the outfield, so look for him to get starts all over the diamond. Lastly, the Astros acquired Will Smith from the Braves. Smith has struggled so far this season with a 12.3 BB% and 4.38 ERA, but there has been some good. Smith has been able to strike out 24.0% of batters and generate a good 28.6 CSW%. Additionally, Smith has been able to limit solid contact as his xERA is 3.94. If the Astros are able to fix Smith’s command, they will add a much-needed elite left-hander out of their bullpen. The Astros are in a great position to again compete for the World Series.
5. Atlanta Braves
The reigning World Series champs have added reinforcements to help the team compete for another ring in 2022. The first move the Braves made was trading for familiar face Ehire Adrianza. At the moment, it doesn’t look like Adrianza will amount to anything more than a depth piece and could be DFAd by the time Ozzie Albies is healthy. Next, the Braves brought in Jake Odorizzi from the Astros. Odorizzi has pitched well this season with a 3.75 ERA across 60.0 innings pitched. Odorizzi does a good job missing barrels and limiting walks, but his low strikeout rate limits his upside. Odorizzi will likely be used as a starter, but once it’s October, he’ll likely be a bullpen arm. To improve their outfield, the Braves acquired Robbie Grossman. Grossman was great in 2021 as he had a 23 homer/20 stolen base season and accumulated 2.4 fWAR, but has struggled greatly in 2022. Grossman has -0.7 fWAR in 2022, but he hasn’t been at full strength as he’s dealt with groin, neck, and knee injuries this season. While Grossman’s 77 wRC+ is very unimpressive, he has a fantastic 189 wRC+ against lefties this season, so he’ll likely be in the lineup every day against southpaws. Lastly, the Angels acquired star reliever, Raisel Iglesias. Iglesias has had some ups and downs this season leading to a 4.04 ERA, but his 3.41 xERA, 3.17 FIP, 3.06 xFIP, 2.44 SIERA, and 32.7 CSW% are fantastic. When considering how good his peripherals are this year and his 2.61 ERA from 2020-2021, it’s fair to assume Iglesias should dominate to finish 2022.