It looks like the dust has finally settled. What appeared to be one of the slowest, most boring trade seasons of recent years suddenly went nuclear just after the deadline officially passed, peaking with the Houston Astros’ blockbuster acquisition of ace Zack Greinke.
Even if top arms like Madison Bumgarner, Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard weren’t moved, the past few days have seen plenty of activity. With the Wild Card spots in both leagues very much up for grabs — not to mention tight division races in both the AL Central and NL Central — the deals that were (or weren’t) made will likely make a huge impact on the playoff picture.
So let’s take a look at each significant trade from the last week and its affect on not only the Oakland A’s, but the postseason landscape as a whole. Trades are listed in somewhat-chronological order.
Oakland Athletics acquire LHP Jake Diekman from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for OF Dairon Blanco and RHP Ismael Aquino
The A’s were aggressive early this summer, grabbing a much-needed rotation upgrade earlier in the month in righty Homer Bailey and striking again to add Jake Diekman. The 32-year-old came pretty cheap, as he’ll be a free agent following the 2019 season. The price here — two prospects that did not crack any of Oakland’s top prospect lists — was in line with what was paid for similar rental relievers in the deals that followed.
Minnesota Twins acquire RHPs Sergio Romo and Chris Vallimont and a PTBNL from the Miami Marlins in exchange for 1B Lewin Diaz
The Twins have had similar bullpen issues to those of the A’s, with lefty Taylor Rogers serving as Minnesota’s only reliable reliever this season. Sergio Romo is a nice addition, as he has been solid for his entire career, especially against right-handed hitters. Additionally, the Twins grabbed an interesting lower-minors starting pitcher in Chris Vallimont and a PTBNL. The price was Lewin Diaz, who is a 1B-only slugger that Miami is very high on.
For the A’s: Both on paper and in the standings, the Twins look like the team to beat in the AL Central. There’s a chance the Indians take the division and the Twins are left in the Wild Card race, but it appears most likely the A’s and Twins wouldn’t meet until the ALCS, if at all. That being said, the Twins face Cleveland and Boston 13 more times this season, and every win against one of those teams helps the A’s out.
Cleveland Indians acquire RHP Hunter Wood and INF Christian Arroyo from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for OF Ruben Cardenas and int’l bonus pool money
This was the first of many moves that Tampa Bay made this week in order to clear room on their 40-man roster, both to activate injured players in the coming weeks and to make room to protect prospects from the Rule 5 Draft in the offseason. This one is unlikely to have any real postseason impact, but Hunter Wood isn’t a bad addition to Cleveland’s bullpen.
Tampa Bay Rays acquire 2B Eric Sogard from the Blue Jays in exchange for two PTBNLs
The Rays made some of the most interesting moves of the last few days. They are only half a game ahead of Oakland in the Wild Card race and needed to add some offense, especially with second baseman Joey Wendle struggling offensively after his return from the injured list. They turned to versatile infielder Eric Sogard, who was having a breakout season with Toronto. The specifics of the return aren’t yet known, but seeing as Sogard is a rental, the two PTBNLs aren’t likely to be anyone of note.
For the A’s: While they were never explicitly linked, many here speculated that the A’s could turn to a fan favorite to help solve their own issues at the keystone. It would have been fun to bring Nerd Power back to Oakland, and he likely would have been an upgrade on both sides of the ball, but the A’s ultimately decided to stay in-house.
New York Mets acquire RHP Marcus Stroman and cash from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for LHP Anthony Kay and RHP Simeon Woods-Richardson
We should have known we were in for a weird deadline when the fourth-place Mets picked up one of the best starters on the market, righty Marcus Stroman. The deal cost New York two of their top pitching prospects in Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods-Richardson, and Stroman will be a free agent after the 2020 season, making this a curious fit. But they liked the price, and this trade allowed the Mets to move another starter before the deadline. It also gives the team plenty of options this offseason.
For the A’s: The A’s were linked to Stroman by Jim Bowden of The Athletic (subscription required), but ultimately were unable to make it happen. This isn’t too surprising — Toronto targeted young starting pitching pretty aggressively this week, while the A’s farm system is deeper offensively. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Blue Jays had asked for one of A.J. Puk or Jesus Luzardo in return, which Oakland would (wisely) decline.
Milwaukee Brewers acquire RHP Jordan Lyles from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for RHP Cody Ponce
The Brewers desperately needed at least one starter, and they decided to pick one up on the cheap in Jordan Lyles. Somehow just 28, Lyles had a strong start to the season, but he’s struggled mightily since the start of June. All he cost Milwaukee was a minor league reliever in Cody Ponce.
For the A’s: This one has actually had a direct impact on the A’s already, as Lyles faced them on Wednesday night, allowing just one run over five innings. But he looks like a step down from even Homer Bailey, so I’m not too disappointed Oakland chose not to get involved here.
Philadelphia Phillies acquire LHP Jason Vargas and cash from the New York Mets in exchange for C Austin Bossart
The Stroman deal left New York’s rotation crowded, and though they were still considering moving Wheeler and Syndergaard at the time, they ultimately decided to move Vargas and save a little money. He had been pitching fairly well, though, and should help stabilize a struggling Phillies rotation.
Chicago Cubs acquire RHP David Phelps and cash from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for RHP Thomas Hatch
This seems like just another minor bullpen deal, but David Phelps gives the Cubs an arm that can throw multiple innings of relief. This could be helpful down the stretch, especially since Chicago traded long man Mike Montgomery to the Royals earlier in the month. He also fits nicely into the Cubs’ tight budget.
Atlanta Braves acquire RHP Chris Martin from the Texas Rangers in exchange for LHP Kolby Allard
The Rangers looked like they might be big-time sellers, but instead this was one of their only moves. Chris Martin has been fantastic this season, striking out 35 batters against just two walks over his last 27.2 innings. He’s just a rental, making the price of Kolby Allard a little surprising, but the Braves have a surplus of young pitching to trade from and needed the bullpen help.
For the A’s: Martin seemed like a possible target for the A’s, but at this price, I’m glad they didn’t bite. His stock is down right now, but Allard is a former first-rounder and is still just 21 years old — not a bad return for a rental. The A’s get the benefit of not having to face Martin in their remaining six games against Texas, but could run into Allard often in the years to come.
Cincinnati Reds acquire RHP Trevor Bauer from the Indians in exchange for OF Yasiel Puig and LHP Scott Moss; Cleveland Indians also acquire OF Franmil Reyes, LHP Logan Allen and 3B Victor Nova from San Diego Padres; Padres acquire OF Taylor Trammell from the Reds
This one was wild, so we’ll take it team-by-team. The Reds added one of the game’s top starters in righty Trevor Bauer, who has one final year of arbitration before he will reach free agency in 2020. Cincinnati is gearing up for a postseason run next season, and with a rotation headlined by Bauer, Luis Castillo, and Sonny Gray, they’re off to a nice start. They appear to have overpaid for Bauer, however — despite a down year, Taylor Trammell is one of the best prospects in the game, and they gave up a solid rental in Yasiel Puig and an interesting prospect in Scott Moss, too.
The Padres, facing a similar 40-man roster crunch to Tampa Bay, consolidated some assets. At the major league level, San Diego dealt from a position of strength. They had Franmil Reyes, Hunter Renfroe, and Josh Naylor — all bat-first, power-hitting outfielders — so they decided to capitalize on Reyes while his value was high. They had a similar logjam of young lefties, allowing them to move Logan Allen, and threw in 19-year-old infielder Victor Nova to acquire a speedy, high-upside center fielder that they coveted in Trammell. There’s plenty of risk here, since Reyes has already established himself as a solid MLB hitter, but this could pay dividends down the road.
Cleveland’s side of the deal might be the most interesting. Bauer was taking up a significant portion of their limited payroll and they knew that number would only increase in his final year of arbitration, so they decided to move him in order to upgrade their struggling outfield. They did so with a controllable slugger (Reyes) and a rental (Puig) while also snagging three legitimate prospects. This is a huge gamble, as they’ll now have to piece together their rotation as they wait for injured aces Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco to return. But from a pure value standpoint, I think the Indians did very well in this deal.
For the A’s: The Indians are one of Oakland’s main competitors in the AL Wild Card race, and you could certainly argue that losing an arm like Bauer makes them worse this season. But Bauer wasn’t repeating his 2018 dominance and ultimately might not be a huge loss, while Puig and Reyes are significant upgrades. Cleveland remains a strong contender, and could even threaten the Twins for the AL Central title.
Texas Rangers acquire RHP Nate Jones, int’l slot compensation and cash considerations from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for RHP Joseph Jarneski and RHP Ray Castro
It’s unlikely that Nate Jones will even throw a pitch for Texas, as he is out for the rest of the season with a flexor mass tear in his right forearm. He does have a club option for 2020, but this looks like a pure salary dump, with Texas taking on Jones’s contract and giving up two lower-minors relievers for international bonus pool money.
Tampa Bay Rays acquire 1B Jesus Aguilar from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for RHP Jake Faria
You don’t often see a trade like this between two contenders, but both the Rays and the Brewers did well here. Tampa Bay adds a big right-handed bat in Jesus Aguilar to their struggling offense, while Milwaukee adds a young swingman in Jake Faria to their inconsistent pitching staff. Both players have struggled this season, but fill a position of need with their new team and have significant upside.
For the A’s: Aguilar was fantastic in 2018, smacking 35 home runs in what was a breakout year for first baseman. But he’s been just bad in 2019, falling from a 134 wRC+ in 2018 to a 82 mark this year. Tampa Bay is a smart organization, and if they can turn Aguilar around, he could be a huge problem for the A’s as they battle the Rays for a Wild Card spot.
Houston Astros acquire C Martin Maldonado from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for INF/OF Tony Kemp
The Cubs picked up Martin Maldonado earlier in the month, but no longer needed the backstop after starting catcher Willson Contreras returned to action. This is the second year in a row the Astros have acquired Maldonado at the deadline, and this time it cost them recently-DFA’d utility man Tony Kemp (who was a thorn in Oakland’s side — good riddance!).
Los Angeles Angels acquire C Max Stassi from the Houston Astros in exchange for OF Raider Uceta and OF Rainier Rivas
After adding Maldonado, the Astros had a logjam of catchers on their roster and decided to move back-up Max Stassi. He wasn’t hitting well this season, but is under team control through 2022 and has some upside, as he posted a 100 wRC+ and 2.6 fWAR in 2018. All he cost the Angels was two teenaged lottery ticket outfielders.
Los Angeles Dodgers acquire INF Jedd Gyorko, int’l cap space and cash considerations from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for LHP Tony Cingrani and RHP Jeffry Abreu
This is another salary dump, but it isn’t hard to see it working out well for the Dodgers. Jedd Gyorko is currently injured, but seems like exactly the type of player that Los Angeles is frustratingly good at squeezing every last drop of production from. Tony Cingrani will likely miss the rest of the season with a shoulder injury, and Jeffry Abreu is a lower-minors lottery ticket.
Milwaukee Brewers acquire LHP Drew Pomeranz and RHP Ray Black from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for SS Mauricio Dubon
Led by former A’s executive Farhan Zaidi, the Giants had a really strong deadline. It began with their trade for highly-touted infielder Mauricio Dubon, who will likely see time at the major league level this season. The Brewers added to their bullpen, picking up flamethrower Ray Black and lefty Drew Pomeranz, who has pitched extremely well in relief this season. This seems like an overpay for Milwaukee, but Black has the stuff to make this a steal in their favor.
Washington Nationals acquire LHP Roenis Elias and RHP Hunter Strickland from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for LHPs Aaron Fletcher and Taylor Guilbeau and RHP Elvis Alvarado
This was technically two separate deals, but we’ll combine them here. As usual, the Nationals bullpen has been a huge problem, and they made a few moves to bolster their relief staff. Roenis Elias and Hunter Strickland give Washington a pair of decent, controllable middle relief options that they sorely needed. Neither would be a true late-inning option for most teams, but for the Nationals, they present significant upgrades. In return, the Mariners added three minor league relievers, headlined by Double-A lefty Aaron Fletcher.
Washington Nationals acquire RHP Daniel Hudson from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for RHP Kyle Johnston
Washington’s final relief addition was veteran rental Daniel Hudson. The right-hander was pitching fairly well out of Toronto’s bullpen (3.00 ERA) but might have gotten a bit fortunate (4.21 FIP, 5.27 xFIP). Like Elias, he has a high-spin fastball and experience in the late innings. He cost Washington 23-year-old righty Kyle Johnston, who has posted a 4.03 ERA in 20 High-A starts and was not ranked highly among the Nationals’ top prospects.
Atlanta Braves acquire RHP Shane Greene from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for LHP Joey Wentz and OF Travis Demeritte
Atlanta Braves acquire RHP Mark Melancon from the San Francisco Giants for RHPs Tristan Beck and Dan Winkler
The division rival Braves were just as active as the Nationals at the deadline, adding a pair of relievers of their own. They picked up one of the top relief arms on the market in Tigers closer Shane Greene, again dealing from their glut of talented young pitchers. Detroit did nicely here, adding Atlanta’s eleventh-best prospect (according to FanGraphs) in Joey Wentz and former top outfield prospect Travis Demeritte, who has a 137 wRC+ in Triple-A.
I don’t know how they did it, but the Giants somehow convinced the Braves to take on veteran Mark Melancon’s entire contract (roughly $18M through 2020) and give up a little talent in return. He’s still a decent reliever and certainly an upgrade to Atlanta’s bullpen, but really isn’t worth the money he’s owed, let alone a high-upside starting pitching prospect in Tristan Beck and a cheap, controllable reliever in Dan Winkler. Regardless, Atlanta did well at the deadline and still looks like the team to beat in the NL East.
For the A’s: I think Oakland could have used another right-handed reliever, but I’m ultimately glad they stayed away from Greene. He’s been fantastic in 2019 (1.18 ERA) but looks like a ticking time bomb (3.70 FIP) and has zero track record. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him pumpkin entirely with the Braves.
Minnesota Twins acquire RHP Sam Dyson from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for OF Jaylin Davis and RHPs Prelander Berroa and Kai-Wei Teng
The Giants’ final bullpen move of the deadline was their sale of righty Sam Dyson to the Twins. Dyson has been solid this year, and joins Romo in fortifying the back end of Minnesota’s ‘pen. He comes with an extra year of team control. In return, the Twins gave up three interesting pieces — slugging Triple-A outfielder Jaylin Davis and interesting young righties Kai-Wei Teng and Prelander Berroa. Davis in particular seems like exactly the kind of sneaky, Brandon-Moss-like addition that Zaidi would make.
Arizona Diamondbacks acquire RHP Zac Gallen from the Miami Marlins in exchange for SS Jazz Chisholm
Tampa Bay Rays acquire RHP Trevor Richards and RHP Nick Anderson from the Miami Marlins in exchange for RHP Ryne Stanek and OF Jesus Sanchez
The rebuilding Marlins went weird. First, they completed a good old-fashioned challenge trade with the Diamondbacks, swapping young righty Zac Gallen for Arizona’s top prospect, shortstop Jazz Chisholm. They’re placing a lot of faith in their scouting department here, as Gallen has been fantastic this season in Triple-A (1.77 ERA) and very solid in his first seven MLB starts (2.72 ERA), while Chisholm hasn’t been great offensively in Double-A (.732 OPS, 33.8% strikeout rate). But Miami’s system is deep with pitchers and lacking in offense, and Chisholm has the potential to be a franchise shortstop.
The Marlins continued their interesting day by sending another young MLB starter, righty Trevor Richards, to the Rays, along with reliever Nick Anderson. In return, Miami picked up another stud hitting prospect in outfielder Jesus Sanchez, along with flamethrower Ryne Stanek. I like this deal a lot for the Marlins, who have suddenly built a strong position player core to add to their impressive collection of young arms.
For the A’s: On the other hand, I really don’t love this for Tampa Bay. I don’t think this deal improves them considerably in 2019 or beyond. Anderson has posted an insane 14.22 K/9 in relief, but Stanek was no slouch himself and had been very successful as the Rays’ opener. Through his first two MLB seasons, Richards has pretty much been an average starter and doesn’t appear to have a ton of upside beyond that. I could see this one backfiring big time, especially if Sanchez (who is already in Triple-A as a 21-year-old) becomes a star.
Los Angeles Dodgers acquire LHP Adam Kolarek from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for OF Niko Hulsizer
Tampa Bay’s 40-man roster purge continued with their trade of Adam Kolarek to the Dodgers. Los Angeles chose not to meet the lofty asking price for Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez, and instead added a lower-profile lefty reliever in Kolarek. He’s no star, but he’s been particularly tough on left-handed hitters for his career and could definitely provide some value. The Dodgers gave up 22-year-old outfielder Niko Hulsizer, a former 18th-round pick experiencing a big power breakout in the lower minors. He’s interesting enough, but doesn’t get much love from prospect evaluators.
San Diego Padres acquire RHP Carl Edwards Jr. and int’l bonus money from the Chicago Cubs for LHP Brad Wieck
Chicago Cubs acquire OF Nicholas Castellanos and cash considerations from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for RHPs Paul Richan and Alex Lange
The Cubs continued their own bargain hunting, moving struggling righty Carl Edwards (and his $1.5M salary) to the Padres in exchange for lefty Brad Wieck. Edwards will be out of options next season and had fallen out of favor in Chicago, while Wieck, a huge, 6’9” left-handed reliever, has a lengthy track record of minor league success.
Chicago wrapped up their deadline by adding Tigers outfielder Nicholas Castellanos, a big right-handed rental bat. The 27-year-old has improved defensively from “unbelievably awful” to “just kinda bad” in the outfield, and has always destroyed lefties (career 132 wRC+). The Cubs could platoon him with lefty slugger Kyle Schwarber. In return, the Tigers picked up former first-round pick Alex Lange, whose stock has fallen considerably, and 2018 compensation pick Paul Richan, who’s having a strong year as a starter in High-A.
Oakland Athletics acquire RHP Tanner Roark from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for OF Jameson Hannah
Despite adding one of the deadline’s top arms in Bauer, the Reds did sell off a pair of rentals, starting with their trade of Tanner Roark. The veteran righty has established himself as a reliable innings eater and instantly becomes one of Oakland’s best starters. The A’s sent over outfield prospect Jameson Hannah, their second-round pick in 2018. He profiles as a solid (but unspectacular) all-around outfielder but hasn’t yet tapped into his power in High-A.
San Francisco Giants acquire 2B Scooter Gennett and cash from the Cincinnati Reds for a PTBNL
The Reds and Giants wrapped up their respective deadlines with this small deal that sent second baseman Scooter Gennett to San Francisco for a PTBNL. Gennett was a huge power breakout in 2017-18, but spent the first half of 2019 on the injured list and hasn’t hit at all in his 20 games since being activated. But this seems like a shrewd, cheap gamble for a team like the Giants that is sitting on the periphery of the playoff picture.
For the A’s: I wouldn’t have minded picking up Gennett on the cheap as a potential solution to Oakland’s second base issue. The A’s current tandem of Jurickson Profar and Franklin Barreto hasn’t impressed on either side of the ball, and Gennett could have really been an upgrade. But I’m guessing either the A’s weren’t comfortable taking on as much of Scooter’s contract, or they have a contingency plan involving Jorge Mateo and/or Corban Joseph that they might switch to in the near future.
Arizona Diamondbacks acquire RHP Mike Leake and cash considerations from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for infielder Jose Caballero
Former Sun Devil Mike Leake is headed home, as the Mariners dealt him to his hometown Arizona Diamondbacks. He’s struggled a bit this season, but is incredibly reliable, having made at least 30 starts in each of the last seven seasons with an ERA usually hovering around 4.00. He’ll eat some innings for Arizona for the next year and a half, and won’t cost them much — Seattle is eating most of his contract.
For the A’s: If I knew the price would be this low and the Mariners would eat this much money, I would have been all in on Leake. The 31-year-old isn’t exciting, but he could provide stability to an A’s rotation that has been battered with injuries over the last few years. Maybe he’s redundant in a rotation that already includes Roark and Mike Fiers, but I think he’s pretty underrated.
Houston Astros acquire RHPs Aaron Sanchez and Joe Biagini and OF Cal Stevenson from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for OF Derek Fisher
Houston Astros acquire RHP Zack Greinke and cash from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for 1B/OF Seth Beer, RHPs Corbin Martin and J.B. Bukauskas, and INF/OF Josh Rojas
The Astros wrapped up the 2019 trade season with a bang. First, they made a relatively small trade with the Blue Jays to add some relief help. Aaron Sanchez was a former top prospect and was incredible as a starter in 2016, but has since struggled, and the Astros will likely be moving the 27-year-old to the bullpen. He’s still very talented and his stuff could certainly play up in shorter stints. Joe Biagini stands out for his high-spin curveball and has the highest swinging strike rate of his career. Either of these two could be Houston’s next breakout reliever. Their third piece, Cal Stevenson, is an interesting low-minors lottery ticket with decent contact skills and speed.
In exchange, Toronto added a former Top 100 prospect in outfielder Derek Fisher. The 25-year-old really hasn’t been given much of an opportunity in the big leagues, as he was unable to force his way onto a loaded Astros roster. But he still has big time power/speed potential and walks a fair bit. With consistent ABs at the major league level, perhaps he can tap into his lofty upside and make Houston regret this deal.
And then there’s the big one. In the last moments before the deadline, the Astros and Diamondbacks finalized a deal to send ace Zack Greinke to Houston. The 35-year-old has been incredible, showing almost no signs of his age. He’s posted a 2.87 ERA this year and has been incredibly durable throughout his whole career. He is owed roughly $77M through 2021, but Arizona will pay $24M of his contract.
He didn’t come cheap. The Astros gave up their third-, fourth-, and 18th-best prospects according to FanGraphs’ preseason rankings, as well as a fourth piece (Josh Rojas) that is crushing Triple-A to the tune of a .988 OPS. The headliner, Corbin Martin, has an excellent track record in the minor leagues and made his MLB debut earlier this year. However, he recently went under the knife and will miss the next year while he recovers from Tommy John Surgery. Righty J.B. Bukauskas was Houston’s first round pick in 2017, but has struggled mightily this year. The 22-year-old still has big upside and could debut as soon as 2020. Rounding out the quartet is slugger Seth Beer, who provides no defensive value but is a huge left-handed bat that seems certain to hit for power in the majors.
For the A’s: The rich get richer. Not only did the Astros patch up their bullpen with two arms that are bursting with potential, but they also picked up one of the best — and most consistent — pitchers in the game. It looked like Oakland’s window might be opening up in 2020 with Houston likely losing Gerrit Cole to free agency, but Greinke is huge insurance for such an outcome.
If there’s a silver lining here, it’s Greinke’s age. He’s 35, while Justin Verlander is 36. Neither is showing any signs of slowing down, but it’s certainly dangerous investing so much money and resources in two old starting pitchers, even if they’re likely Hall-of-Famers. This doesn’t kill Oakland’s chances of stealing a division title either this year or next, but it certainly doesn’t help them.