The 2018 MLB trade deadline is officially in the rear-view mirror. The Oakland A’s stayed relatively quiet this month, making an early splash for lockdown reliever Jeurys Familia and then standing pat from there. They didn’t get the starting pitcher they could have desperately used, but they got the next-best thing in another top-notch arm to share the load in the bullpen. They took a genuine step forward in their surprising playoff push, and did so without mortgaging even one ounce of their meaningful future on the farm.
Opinions will vary on the A’s deadline performance. They made one substantial move but they also could have done far, far more, and we’ll never truly know what the best call would have been nor what specific offers and opportunities they passed up. We’ll only ever know how this timeline works out, with Familia as the sole addition to a team that has played .574 ball for four months.
Personally, I’m OK with this. I would have liked a new starting pitcher for depth, but there is a sixth option waiting in Triple-A so it’s not necessarily the end of the world. I’m particularly protective of the farm after sitting through three unwatchable seasons to rebuild it, and if the worst thing that happened is I didn’t lose any of my favorite prospects then I can live with that. The A’s success most often comes when built from within anyway, and at this point I’m happy to see what this 2018 Team of Destiny can do in its current form.
And of course, this isn’t necessarily the true last call for trades. Teams can still swap players in August, it’s just trickier to pull off since everyone has to pass through waivers. For those hoping for a relatively cheap depth SP addition, that’s something that could maybe still be found next month. Indeed, Julian McWilliams of The Athletic reports that the club will “continue to try and be opportunistic into August.”
Among the moves the A’s didn’t make, the closest they came to a trade appeared to be for SP Mike Fiers from the Tigers (more info). They were also briefly linked to SP Dan Straily (link) and OF Derek Dietrich (link) of the Marlins, RP Craig Stammen of the Padres (link), and big-ticket SP Chris Archer of the Rays (link).
Did the A’s do enough at the trade deadline?
This poll is closed
Yes, Familia was enough of an upgrade
No, but there wasn’t another realistic deal out there I wanted
No, they should have added depth like Fiers or Dietrich
No, they should have gone big for Archer or more
Mariners go Full Dipoto
What about the competition? There are three teams who are imminently relevant to the A’s playoff chances. The Mariners top the list, as the club Oakland has to catch for the second Wild Card. After them, the Astros only lead the A’s by five games in the AL West and the Yankees are up by seven for the first Wild Card, and both of them are currently missing central stars on the disabled list (Judge, Altuve, Correa).
Let’s begin with Seattle. Under general manager Jerry Dipoto, the Mariners have replaced the A’s as the team known for making massive quantities of transactions. Dipoto has a fever, and the only cure is more tradez. He already made one deal back in May, adding RP Alex Colome and OF Denard Span from the Rays. True to form, he pulled off another four swaps in the last five days. All told, the M’s acquired:
- RHRP Sam Tuivailala from STL
- RHRP Adam Warren from NYY
- LHRP Zack Duke from MIN
- OF Cameron Maybin from MIA
That’s two righty middle relievers, a LOOGY reliever, and a fourth outfielder who could wind up seeing some starts. They’re all rentals, except for Tuivailala who has four more years of team control. In exchange, they gave up the following: a strong relief prospect who has Bobby Wahl-type numbers in High-A at age 22 (for Tuivailala); young, controllable, but fringe pitching depth in Chase De Jong (for Duke); their 3rd-round pick from 2016 (for Maybin); and a bunch of international bonus slot money (for Warren and Maybin).
The Mariners picked up a lot of quantity, and some or all of it may end up helping them this season. However, none of the players they added are anywhere near as good as Familia, so whereas they made more moves, the A’s still made the single best and most impactful trade. Still, I wouldn’t have minded seeing the A’s picking up Duke or Warren at those prices — especially Warren, who required only international slot money that the A’s can’t spend anyway.
It’s tough to say who had the better deadline because they were both so different. In the end, though, and with full recognition of my bias, I prefer the A’s strategy of keeping it simple with a true impact move rather than frittering away assets on a big pile of marginal upgrades. That said, only time will tell who did the most to help their fortunes. What do you think?
Who had the better trade deadline?
This poll is closed
A’s, with one big impact move
Mariners, with several small depth moves
Astros, Yankees load up
As for the other two relevant heavyweights, both Houston and New York made some serious additions. First up, the Astros:
- RHRP Roberto Osuna from TOR
- RHRP Ryan Pressly from MIN
- C Martin Maldonado from LAA
That’s two excellent relievers and a Gold Glove catcher. Osuna in particular is a top-level relief talent, in a similar tier as Familia. Also like Familia, he has domestic violence issues on his recent resume, and as such he’s barely pitched this season while suspended. Only Maldonado is a rental, as the two pitchers have team control remaining after this season.
In exchange, the Astros gave up disgruntled and oddly ineffective reliever Ken Giles and a couple more pitching prospects, including former Top 100 prospect David Paulino (for Osuna); two of their top 15 org prospects (for Pressly); and a lotto ticket (for Maldonado). All told those losses are more than nothing, but Houston didn’t part with any top-end prospect talent and the bullpen additions will help next year too.
As for the Yankees:
- LHSP J.A. Happ from TOR
- RHSP Lance Lynn from MIN
- LHRP Zach Britton from BAL
That’s some serious pitching help: An All-Star starter, another starter, and a lefty reliever. Lynn is having a bad year and Britton is a shell of his former All-Star self right now after a major injury last summer, but still. All three are pure rentals. (They also traded away a few fringe players, mostly in exchange for int’l slot money.)
In exchange, New York sent away several notable assets, and they also took on a hefty chunk of salary in each deal. They lost a couple of their better pitching prospects, led by Dillon Tate (for Britton); a controllable MLB infielder in Brandon Drury, plus another solid prospect in Billy McKinney (for Happ); and Quad-A first baseman Tyler Austin and a lotto ticket (for Lynn). Happ was one target I was interested in for the A’s, and you have to wonder what the equivalent package would have been for Oakland to get him — perhaps Boog Powell and Ramon Laureano?
The Astros and Yankees are both in full win-now mode, as well they should be. Both clubs made strong additions, and while they definitely paid for those trades they also didn’t lose anything too crucial — no current Top 100 prospects, nor anything they’ll miss from their MLB rosters.
To wrap up, some quick notes on the rest of the AL West. The Angels traded away Maldonado and also 2B Ian Kinsler (to BOS), both impending free agents (whom the A’s now won’t have to face in their final nine meetings with the Halos). Meanwhile, the Rangers dumped four pitchers — starter Cole Hamels (to CHC), swingman Jesse Chavez (to CHC), setup man Jake Diekman (to ARZ), and closer Keone Kela (to PIT). The only pure rental from that group was Chavez, though Hamels only has a team option remaining on his own contract. Texas appears to be fully rebuilding.