/MLB Trade Deadline: Live Grades for All the Biggest Trades

MLB Trade Deadline: Live Grades for All the Biggest Trades

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    Trevor Bauer is now a Cincinnati Red. Let's talk about it.

    Trevor Bauer is now a Cincinnati Red. Let’s talk about it.Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

    Welcome, at long last, to the Major League Baseball trade deadline.

    Now go ahead and settle in for some trade grades.

    We’ve already graded the biggest trades from the final days leading up to Wednesday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline. We’ll be adding more as the day moves along.

    For buyers, we considered how well their new pieces fit in and how much they gave up. For sellers, we simply weighed whether they got enough back.

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    Yasiel Puig

    Yasiel PuigJohn Minchillo/Associated Press

    Date: July 30

    The Trade: Cleveland Indians get RF Yasiel Puig, RF Franmil Reyes, LHP Logan Allen, LHP Scott Moss and INF Victor Nova; Cincinnati Reds get RHP Trevor Bauer; San Diego Padres get OF Taylor Trammell


    For the Indians

    Somehow, someway, the Indians did it. They managed to get better despite trading their best pitcher.

    Although it’s been better recently, the Indians have been held back by their offense for much of the season. With Puig (who has a .925 OPS since May 24) and Reyes (who has an .847 OPS and 27 home runs overall) now aboard, Francisco Lindor, Carlos Santana and Jose Ramirez are surrounded by legit firepower.

    The Indians might still miss Bauer, but not if Corey Kluber (arm) and Carlos Carrasco (leukemia) make strong returns off the injured list in the coming weeks. That would point their path squarely in the direction of October.

    If not, they’ll at least get to keep Reyes, Allen, Moss and Nova for the long haul.

    Grade: A


    For the Reds

    The Reds almost certainly aren’t going to make the playoffs this year, so renting out Puig was the right thing to do. They won’t miss him.

    Yet it’s odd enough they wanted Bauer now even though they’re not in contention. It’s even odder they gave away Taylor Trammel in addition to Puig. According to MLB.com, he’s the No. 30 prospect in baseball.

    From here, the Reds will either have to flip Bauer for even better young talent or ride him, Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray to the playoffs in 2020. Because otherwise, this trade doesn’t make much sense for them.

    Grade: D


    For the Padres

    Why would the Padres give up a package headlined by a powerful hitter and the No. 98 prospect in MLB?

    In part because both Reyes and Allen were arguably superfluous to their long-term plans. The former is basically the same hitter as Hunter Renfroe, except with a lesser glove. The latter ranked behind MacKenzie Gore, Luis Patino and Adrian Morejon among the club’s top pitching prospects.

    Besides, Trammell is the real prize here. The 21-year-old isn’t yet a finished product, but his hit tool and speed could one day make him an ideal leadoff man for a lineup that’s already headed by Renfroe, Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr.

    Grade: B-

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    Marcus Stroman

    Marcus StromanBen Margot/Associated Press

    Date: July 28

    The Trade: New York Mets get RHP Marcus Stroman; Toronto Blue Jays get LHP Anthony Kay and RHP Simeon Woods-Richardson


    For the Mets

    There should be little not to like about the Mets’ end of this trade. Stroman has been one of the best pitchers in MLB in two of the last three seasons. That includes this one, wherein he has a 2.96 ERA over 124.2 innings. Plus, the Mets got him without having to give up their most cherished prospects.

    But even setting aside how the 28-year-old might not be happy with the deal, this is a weird one for the Mets. 

    Stroman is unlikely to help the Mets reach the playoffs this season, as they’re six games back in the NL wild-card race. They’ll have him in 2020 as well, but that may not mean much if they don’t build an infield defense more worthy of his ground-ball talent than what they have right now.

    Grade: B-


    For the Blue Jays

    In Stroman, the Blue Jays held a top-of-the-rotation starter who came with youth and club control. In theory, they should have been able to get at least one top prospect for him.

    In actuality, they got New York’s fourth- and sixth-best prospects, according to Baseball America

    One plus side is that the Blue Jays now have more pitching depth in a system that has been known more for its bats—e.g., Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio and Bo Bichette—in recent years. Another is that Woods-Richardson is potentially underrated. He’s put up an impressive 5.7 strikeout-to-walk ratio as an 18-year-old at Single-A this season.

    Grade: C+

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    Jason Vargas

    Jason VargasFrank Franklin II/Associated Press

    Date: July 29

    The Trade: Philadelphia Phillies get LHP Jason Vargas; New York Mets get C Austin Bossart


    For the Phillies

    Phillies ace Aaron Nola has shrugged off a slow start to post a 3.02 ERA over his last 18 outings. But as one might glean from its 4.59 ERA, the rest of the Phillies starting rotation has struggled.

    Vargas isn’t a panacea for this predicament, but he should help. After flopping with a 5.77 ERA in his first year as a Met in 2018, the soft-tossing, pitch-to-contact southpaw has bounced back with a 4.01 ERA over 94.1 innings this season. And that’s despite having to pitch in front of a porous defense in New York.

    As for what the Phillies gave up to get Vargas, suffice it to say it wasn’t a blue chip.

    Grade: B


    For the Mets

    In short, Bossart is a 26-year-old non-prospect who profiles as a backup catcher. The 2015 14th-round pick is hitting .195 with a .638 OPS in his second straight season at the Double-A level. Per J.J. Cooper of Baseball America, Bossart’s defense is his only real hope of landing in the majors.

    Was Vargas worth more than Bossart? Maybe not, given that he’s a 36-year-old with an $8 million salary and a $2 million buyout due this winter. Yet it’s hard not to wonder if the Mets might have at least swung him for a younger player with more upside.

    Grade: C-

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    Jordan Lyles

    Jordan LylesGene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Date: July 29

    The Trade: Milwaukee Brewers get RHP Jordan Lyles; Pittsburgh Pirates get RHP Cody Ponce


    For the Brewers

    At the least, Lyles is a much-needed warm body for a Brewers rotation that’s presently missing Brandon Woodruff, Jhoulys Chacin and Jimmy Nelson. He’s also making only $2.1 million on a one-year deal.

    The Brewers must hope the 28-year-old can retain the strikeout spike he had been enjoying with the Pirates. Preferably, he’ll do so without his walk or home run rates getting any worse, and his ERA will only come down from its current post at 5.36.

    If not, the Brewers may regret giving up a guy they might have used in the near future.

    Grade: C+


    For the Pirates

    Ponce isn’t merely a piece of organizational depth. He’s spent 2019 as a full-time relief pitcher at Double-A and put up a solid 3.29 ERA with 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings.

    According to Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser, Ponce’s fastball (which sits 94-95 mph), cutter and curveball have all played up in relief. Such things should make the 25-year-old a solid major leaguer in the near future.

    Grade: B

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    Chris Martin

    Chris MartinBrandon Wade/Getty Images

    Date: July 30

    The Trade: Atlanta Braves get RHP Chris Martin; Texas Rangers get LHP Kolby Allard


    For the Braves

    Although the Braves have gotten plenty of grief for their bullpen, it actually ranks third in MLB with a 3.54 ERA since June 1.

    To this end, the rich are getting richer with the addition of Martin. In the second season of a two-year, $4 million deal, he’s found a rhythm with a 3.08 ERA and a 10.8 strikeout-to-walk ratio. If the move to the National League cures his homeritis, he’ll be a truly well-rounded relief threat.

    Per Baseball America, the Braves did have to give up their No. 12 prospect to get Martin. But while that’s not ideal, it’s some consolation that Allard was one of their lesser pitching prospects.

    Grade: B+


    For the Rangers

    Two years ago, the Rangers took a chance on Martin, hoping his success in Japan would translate to the majors. It did, and they’ve won a solid prize as a result.

    Allard probably isn’t a future ace. But if nothing else, the 21-year-old lefty is an MLB-ready hurler with a decent floor thanks to his ability to throw strikes. He might be seen in Texas in the near future, and he’ll stay under team control for many years to come.

    Grade: B

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    Jake Diekman

    Jake DiekmanEd Zurga/Getty Images

    Date: July 27

    The Trade: Oakland Athletics get LHP Jake Diekman; Kansas City Royals get RHP Ismael Aquino and OF Dairon Blanco


    For the A’s

    Once the A’s acquired Homer Bailey for their starting rotation on July 16, they turned their attention to a bullpen that hasn’t been as overpowering as it was amid last year’s 97-win romp.

    Diekman should help. Although the 32-year-old lefty has a 4.75 ERA, he’s struck out 63 batters and has allowed only three home runs through 41.2 innings. His sizzling 95.7 mph fastball deserves much of the credit for that.

    Diekman is earning only $2.8 million this year, and neither of the prospects the A’s gave up for him were among their best.

    Grade: B+


    For the Royals

    The Royals got a good deal on Diekman in February after he went bust with a 7.53 ERA for the Arizona Diamondbacks down the stretch of 2018. Yet they surely planned to flip him for prospects at some point.

    Now that they’ve done so, they deserve their due credit for landing Blanco. The A’s didn’t need the 26-year-old Cuban—who was their No. 26 prospect, according to Baseball America—but he’s opened a few eyes with an .811 OPS at Double-A. Further, his blazing speed fits well with the Royals’ priorities.

    Aquino, meanwhile, is a 20-year-old with a fastball that touches in the mid-90s. He might be a major league reliever someday.

    Grade: B

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    Sergio Romo

    Sergio RomoDrew Hallowell/Getty Images

    Date: July 27

    The Trade: Minnesota Twins get RHP Sergio Romo, RHP Chris Vallimont and a player to be named later; Miami Marlins get 1B Lewin Diaz


    For the Twins

    The Twins’ overwhelming home run barrage has kept them in first place in the American League Central, yet they’ve recently had a tough time covering up their pitching staff’s soft underbelly.

    This is where Romo, who’s making only $2.5 million on a one-year deal, comes in.

    While the 36-year-old isn’t the All-Star he once was, he’s been good enough to muster a 3.58 ERA this season. In light of his .632 OPS opposite same-side hitters, he profiles best as a right-handed specialist.

    Vallimont, meanwhile, is a 22-year-old who’s done well with a 3.16 ERA in the low minors this season. He could be either a back-end starter or a late-inning reliever, which makes him a nice throw-in.

    Grade: B


    For the Marlins

    It might seem like the Twins deserve a better grade for their end of this trade. They can’t get one, however, because Diaz is no mere throwaway talent.

    The 22-year-old was Minnesota’s No. 10 prospect, per Baseball America. Although he’s still a few years away from reaching The Show, he’s been teasing his impressive power potential with an .879 OPS and 19 home runs at High-A and Double-A this season.

    According to Cooper and Josh Norris of Baseball America, Diaz is also a “smooth” defender. If he straightens out a merely average hit tool, he’ll have star potential.

    Grade: A

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    David Phelps

    David PhelpsVaughn Ridley/Getty Images

    Date: July 30

    The Trade: Chicago Cubs get RHP David Phelps and cash; Toronto Blue Jays get RHP Thomas Hatch


    For the Cubs

    The Cubs seemed to stabilize their bullpen when they signed Craig Kimbrel, but that hasn’t been the case. Their bullpen has a 5.16 ERA since he made his debut on June 27.

    Now along comes Phelps to help get the Cubs pen back on the right track. Or at least, that’s what they hope.

    The 32-year-old was an underrated reliever in 2016 and 2017. However, he missed 2018 recovering from Tommy John surgery, and his return this season has been marred by reduced velocity.

    Phelps might be a better bet for 2020, in which he could earn between $1 and $7 million via a team option. But for now, the Cubs shouldn’t expect too much.

    Grade: D


    For the Blue Jays

    What makes the Cubs’ end of this deal even more suspect is that they gave up a perfectly capable and nearly MLB-ready pitching prospect.

    Hatch doesn’t have especially flashy stuff or sharp command, and he likewise hasn’t done much to impress in his two seasons at the Double-A level. Yet the 24-year-old does have a solid fastball/slider combination that could allow him to succeed in relief if starting doesn’t pan out.

    Grade: B

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    Eric Sogard

    Eric SogardJim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Date: July 28

    The Trade: Tampa Bay Rays get INF Eric Sogard; Toronto Blue Jays get two players to be named later


    For the Rays

    The Rays are missing Brandon Lowe and Yandy Diaz from their infield, so they needed a stopgap solution with some versatility.

    That’s practically been Sogard’s job description for his entire career. And yet to point that out now isn’t giving him his due credit.

    The 33-year-old has been a genuinely good hitter to the tune of an .840 OPS and 10 home runs. Consider this proof that anyone can join the Launch Angle Revolution.

    We don’t have a full picture of what the Rays gave up to land Sogard. But for now, his league-minimum salary fits nicely on their books.

    Grade: B+


    For the Blue Jays

    On one hand, the Blue Jays deserve credit for turning a notoriously light-hitting reserve infielder into two players.

    On another hand, well, who are these two players? It’s unfair to give Toronto a grade until that question is answered.

    Grade: Incomplete


    Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference, FanGraphs and Baseball Savant.