The Craziness of the 2021 MLB Trade Deadline
I realized long ago that the prediction business was not for me. So many unknowns, such a low success rate, and so much shame in a completely-misguided guess. So, when it came to this year’s Trade Deadline in the MLB, I decided rather than try to tell y’all where everyone is going to end up, I’d just wait for the deadline to pass and react to the trades that went down. It’s a foolproof strategy!
There was a ton of action this year, so it would be a little over-ambitious (even for me, the man of 2,000 words) to try and break down every transaction. Part of this crazy cluster of clubs commanding cohorts of prospects (sorry) was that a near-record 10 current All-Stars were traded during the past month (the all-time record is 11). All-Stars tend to be good and they tend to be important, so let’s look at each move that involved one and what it means for the team that got ‘em.
Minnesota Twins send DH Nelson Cruz to Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays’ deadline strategy has been...heck, I won’t even pretend like I understand what they’re doing. We know how people from Florida tend to act. Back to baseball, Tampa has sold off some of their key contributors (Rich Hill, Diego Castillo) but also brought in the power-hitting Cruz to supplement their lineup. They have a firm hold on the first Wild Card spot in the A.L. so they’re obviously looking to make a push, but trading two very good pitchers doesn’t seem like it would help that goal.
Arizona Diamondbacks send 3B Eduardo Escobar to Milwaukee Brewers
To put it frankly, the NL Central sucks. The only team besides the Brewers that has any chance to even come close to the playoffs is the Reds, and I wouldn’t place any bets there (though I have an affinity for my Ohio-based team). This move gives the Brew Crew some nice pop and positional versatility, two things which would help pretty much any contender. It’s a solid trade with eyes towards making a World Series run.
Pittsburgh Pirates send 2B/OF Adam Frazier to San Diego Padres
I guess the Padres’ plan is to acquire as many offensively-gifted infielders as they can get their hands on. They already have Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado on the left side of the infield, and their right side isn’t too shabby with first time All-Star Jake Cronenworth and World Series champ Eric Hosmer. Oh, and did I mention they signed top international player Ha-seong Kim this offseason? Frazier gives them even more depth and the ability to rack up hits, and he can play the outfield. Great move for a San Diego squad that will need to be great to keep up with their NL West counterparts (who will appear in this blog later).
Texas Rangers send SP Kyle Gibson to the Philadelphia Phillies
On paper, this is actually a great trade for Philly. They need pitching, especially bullpen help, and this trade addresses that directly. However, what doesn’t look so great is the Phils’ .500 record. Nevertheless, they’ve somehow managed to stay just 3.5 games back of the division-leading Mets, so this move could help them catch up.
Washington Nationals send RF Kyle Schwarber to Boston Red Sox
Do the Nationals even have a team anymore? My goodness, they’ve sent just about their entire starting nine across the country, and even a guy on the IL like Schwarber couldn’t avoid such a flurry of swaps. Before he did happen to strain his hamstring, Schwarber was the hottest hitter in baseball, crushing 12 homers in 10 games. If he comes back full force, he’ll be a great boost to an already scary Boston lineup.
Texas Rangers send RF Joey Gallo to New York Yankees
But guess who was the first AL East team to acquire a powerful corner outfielder? Gallo is long-documented as a power first, strikeouts second type of hitter, but that power is something to behold. Plus, he plays Gold Glove defense in right field, making him one of the more intriguing pieces that was on the market this July. But the biggest plus Gallo brings to the Bronx? He hits from the left side of the plate. The Yankees have been starved for left-handed power, or even any sort of left-handed hitting in general, and with that short porch in right expect some fireworks from the newest man in pinstripes.
Chicago Cubs send 1B Anthony Rizzo to New York Yankees
Wait, you thought the Yankees would be content with just one lefty basher? They’re not even in the playoffs as of right now for pete’s sake! GM Brian Cashman knew they needed to swing for the fences, and they did so by acquiring Rizzo. And while he wasn't an All-Star this year, the now former Cub has been arguably the best first baseman in the league over the past half decade-plus. The move gives New York even more of that wonderful left-handed hitting they so desperately needed, and it will certainly provide a spark to the offense.
Chicago Cubs send CP Craig Kimbrel to Chicago White Sox
Bravo White Sox, bravo. Pairing Kimbrel with Liam Hendriks is quite possibly the scariest bullpen duo in the history of ever, and I think it’s safe to say the White Sox really only have to play seven innings of baseball from now on. The last two are locked down with these guys.
Chicago Cubs send SS/2B Javier Baez to New York Mets
How poetic. Just last week, Baez said he would love to play with his fellow Puerto Rican Francisco Lindor, and now that dream is becoming reality. The move gives the Mets one of (if not THE) best middle infields in the MLB, but it comes with a catch. Lindor has had an uncharacteristically bad season in his first year as a Met, and Baez’s offense has been, well, interesting to say the least. He has already slugged 22 home runs, yet his WRC+ (a measure of how many runs a player produces for his team) is only 102, just two points above the league average of 100. He doesn’t get on base a lot and strikes out a ton, but there’s a reason they call him El Mago. This duo could be scary if they get right.
Washington Nationals send SP Max Scherzer AND (!) SS Trea Turner to Los Angeles Dodgers
WHOA. Like, whoa. We’ve seen some blockbusters over the years, but for the defending World Series champs to go out and acquire not only a three time Cy Young winner but also the second best shortstop in all of baseball??? Ludicrous, straight insanity. If you didn’t already have the Dodgers as a favorite to win it all this year, you’d better now. This trade gives them arguably one of the most stacked rosters we have seen in baseball in recent memory, and it would be a colossal disappointment if this team doesn’t repeat as champions.
Chicago Cubs send 3B/OF Kris Bryant to San Francisco Giants
Not to be outdone by the Nationals here, the Cubs also decided to pretty much sell the whole team, and the latest beneficiary was the Giants. After seeing the L.A. megadeal, San Francisco might be feeling a little less confident about their current three game division lead, but bringing in a former MVP ain’t too bad. Bryant checks so many boxes for SF: he’s young, he can play multiple positions, and the dude hits bombs. All these things will make the Giants a better team, but one wonders if they should have done more after watching what San Diego and Los Angeles pulled off. Either way, the NL West will be one heck of a fun watch for the stretch run.