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By Stephen J. Nesbitt, Andy McCullough and Grant Brisbee

Time’s up.

Pencils down.

The trade deadline has passed. All the buying, selling and needle-threading that began with an opening volley a month ago, when the Rangers acquired Aroldis Chapman, has ceased. Once the air clears, the baseball landscape will have a new look. Some of it will prove familiar. Jeimer Candelario is a Cub again. Justin Verlander and Kendall Graveman are Astros again. But now Max Scherzer is a Ranger, Aaron Civale a Ray, and Lucas Giolito an Angel.

We’re here to rate each team’s overall trade-deadline performance. Winners improved greatly without getting fleeced. Losers overpaid, misread the market or entirely missed the mark with their moves. Snoozers had fans prodding, “C’mon, do something,” but sleepwalked through the trade deadline, doing little or nothing at all to better their ballclub for this season or ones ahead.


Winners

Arizona Diamondbacks

They gave up a lot to get Paul Sewald, but you know how the old saying goes: Play screw-up-the-bullpen-construction games, pay gotta-fix-the-bullpen prices. The Diamondbacks are right to think that they’re still in the mix for an NL West title and all the glory that comes with that. They can’t start coughing up leads while trying to get there.

Tommy Pham’s batted-ball stats are absolutely goofy, so it’s not like his .472 SLG and .820 OPS are flukes. He’ll help with an outfield that can be a little susceptible to left-handers in the late innings. He can hit southpaws and do a lot of baseball things well.

However, the Diamondbacks needed another starting pitcher, too. The need was so acute that it was tempting to put them in the losers section. Maybe they could have traded Dominic Canzone and Ryan Bliss for Justin Verlander, with the Astros getting Pham? It would have made a little more sense for everyone involved, at least from here. As is, though, the Diamondbacks got a little better, which is the point of all this stuff. – Grant Brisbee

Jack Flaherty will slot into Baltimore’s rotation after being dealt by St. Louis. (David Banks-USA TODAY Sports)

Baltimore Orioles

They didn’t make a splash. They didn’t bundle up a bunch of prospects. They didn’t land Justin Verlander. But unlike last summer, when the Orioles thinned their big-league roster despite contending, the club added a legitimate starting pitcher. Jack Flaherty may never reach the heights he graced back in 2019, but he’s recovered from a rocky start to this season to post a 3.03 ERA in his last five starts. He might benefit from leaving St. Louis. And the Orioles should benefit from his presence. – Andy McCullough

Chicago White Sox

Celebrating the dismantling of a big-league roster, even a monumentally disappointing one, gives one a queasy feeling. But, yes, the White Sox walked away winners. They cashed in on the cadre of rental arms they employed (plus Kendall Graveman, who has one more year under contract) to add a handful of prospects now sitting in their top 30, per MLB pipeline: Edgar Quero (No. 2), Nick Nastrini (No. 4), Ky Bush (No. 6), Korey Lee (No. 13) and Jordan Leasure (No. 26). Jake Eder and Juan Carela, the prospects acquired in the White Sox’s trades of Jake Burger and Keynan Middleton on Tuesday, haven’t been reflected in the prospect rankings, but, in total, it’s a sizable haul for a miserable season on the South Side of Chicago. – Stephen J. Nesbitt

Cleveland Guardians

Writing from the heart, I’d say an organization owes it to its fans to make a run at the postseason when sitting just a game off of first place, and so trading your best healthy starter (Aaron Civale) is a disgrace. But, to be honest, the Guardians seem to have seen the writing on the wall for a while now, and I’m all right with their plan to punt on this season. Swapping Amed Rosario for Noah Syndergaard was a head-scratcher, but selling high on Civale immediately looked like a smart move. Bringing in stud first-base prospect Kyle Manzardo both provided an answer for next year and freed up the Guardians to move Josh Bell to Miami for Jean Segura and Khalil Watson — a swap of subpar free-agent signings plus a 2021 first-rounder. The Guardians aren’t any better than they were two days ago. In fact, they’re decidedly weaker without Civale. But Syndergaard is unbeatable now; the organization’s rotation depth remains a strength; and they’ll be better in the long run for these few moves. – SN

Colorado Rockies

THE ROCKIES DID NORMAL TRADE DEADLINE STUFF. REPEAT: THE ROCKIES DID NORMAL TRADE DEADLINE STUFF.

It was always a long shot for them to trade Ryan McMahon, even though it was a thin infield market and he would have been one of the most valuable players available, but credit the Rockies for trading relievers (Brad Hand, Pierce Johnson) and position players (C.J. Cron, Randall Grichuk) for raffle tickets. They didn’t rebuild the farm system with these trades, or anything close to it, but they got something for players who were never going to be on the next good Rockies team, and that’s what an organization in this position should have been doing.

(Jackson Holliday’s kid might have a chance to be on the next good Rockies team, but be respectful. This is an article about the Rockies winning something. Let them enjoy it.) – GB

Los Angeles Angels

Does it make a ton of baseball sense for the Angels to go for it? No, not really. Baseball-Reference had them with an 11.9-percent chance at the postseason entering the deadline; FanGraphs had them at 16.9 percent. You can always quibble with postseason odds, but you can’t quibble with the idea that there’s a very real chance that the Angels will look back at this deadline in November with nothing to show for Shohei Ohtani but a compensatory draft pick and a whole lot of woulda-coulda-shouldas.

Does it make moral sense for the Angels to go for it? Yes. It was a moral imperative to try one last time with one of the greatest baseball talents the world has ever produced. It was a moral imperative to let the fans enjoy a chase for 60 home runs and get the chance for some teary standing ovations in September, if only as a way for the franchise to say, “We’re sorry that we haven’t done crap in the postseason since Rob Schneider starred in ‘The Hot Chick’ (2002). But we hope you’ll remember that Angels baseball still offered some of the greatest individual moments the sport is capable of offering. You deserve a little more time with it. Please enjoy.”

And if the Angels realize that one-percent chance of making the World Series? What a glorious victory for building a baseball team out of moral imperatives. Finally, a new Moneyball we can all agree on. – GB

Miami Marlins

The Marlins have defied the almighty Pythagoras for this long. Might as well see if it can last. Jake Burger has hit 25 homers, which would tie him with Jorge Soler for the team lead in Miami, and has done a lot of damage against left-handed pitchers. David Robertson has been a Proven Closer for nearly a decade. Josh Bell never found his power stroke in Cleveland, but the Marlins did manage to dump Jean Segura (minus-1.7 wins above replacement, according to Baseball-Reference) in the process. These are incremental upgrades that didn’t require mortgaging the future. And they can dream on Ryan Weathers — good luck, of course, but he was the No. 7 overall pick in 2018. – AM

Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies practiced restraint in reasonable fashion. They aren’t going to catch the Braves. They have more top-level talent than fellow wild-card contenders like the Brewers and Marlins. And their farm system lacks the sort of depth necessary to make a splash. But Michael Lorenzen, an All-Star because he pitched for Detroit, aids the rotation. He’s posted a 1.14 ERA in his last four starts. He is a perfectly fine pitcher. Every team can always use more perfectly fine pitchers. – AM

Seattle Mariners

Yeah, the Mariners ain’t doing it this year. They might do it next year, though. So what’s a team like that supposed to do? Simple, trade the spare parts for whatever, and trade high-leverage relievers for major-league-ready youngsters. Hold on to the bounty of young pitchers. Attack the offseason with renewed vigor. Come back next year with a better roster.

It’s a fancier magic trick to pull off than it sounds, but Jerry Dipoto did it. The Mariners wouldn’t be much worse off for the postseason if they suddenly decide to win 12 in a row, but they should be a little better off for next season. He was the likeliest showrunner to do something goofy at the deadline, if only because he’s been a long-time mod at the r/unexpected_transactions subreddit, but he had one of the most sensible deadlines possible. A clear win. – GB

St. Louis Cardinals

I am once again here saying it brings me no joy to grade an all-out seller as a trade-deadline winner. But here we are. Had the Cardinals traded Paul Goldschmidt or Nolan Arenado, the near-future fortunes of this ballclub would obviously feel very different. Instead, fans can look forward to a 2024 season in which St. Louis expects to be back in the race and reloading for another run. It’s entirely plausible. Look around the NL Central and tell me they’re miles away, from a talent perspective. They aren’t. And they took some steps forward at this trade deadline. In exchange for (chronologically) Génesis Cabrera, Jordan Hicks, Jordan Montgomery, Chris Stratton, Paul DeJong and Jack Flaherty, the Cardinals replenished their top-30 prospect list with a smattering of interesting prospects, most of them pitchers, who should be able to better the big-league club before long. It didn’t feel as if there was much more to be squeezed from these returns. They got good value for good ballplayers on (mostly) expiring contracts. And they did so without dealing Goldy or Arenado. All things considered, that’s a win in my book. – SN

Tampa Bay Rays

This one is very challenging to grade, because it feels like there is a real chance the Rays regret dealing away Kyle Manzardo, especially if Aaron Civale regresses or gets injured. But you can’t call this deadline a snoozer. As always, the Rays were active on the margins. And the club made a legitimate challenge trade with Cleveland, betting on Civale’s upside over Manzardo’s future. Giving Tampa Bay the benefit of the doubt, we’ll call it a victory. – AM

Texas Rangers

Max Scherzer, Jordan Montgomery, Aroldis Chapman and Chris Stratton. Oh, and Austin Hedges, who isn’t just a backup catcher, but a headline in Texas Monthly when the state legislature doesn’t pass a bill. That’s a strong haul for a team that’s contending with the help of one of the more potent offenses in baseball, but needed a little more pitching. They had no problem getting OK-to-solid innings from a variety of sources, but as I wrote in my trade predictions bit, they needed pizzazz and va-va-voom. Who knows which version of Max Scherzer is still in there, but it’s not a stretch to think that the Rangers will look up in October and thank their lucky stars that the Mets were so lousy this season. Montgomery – especially so early before the deadline – was also inspired.

There weren’t a lot of top-100 prospects dealt at the deadline, so credit the Rangers for being as aggressive as any other team. Which is exactly as aggressive as they needed to be. – GB

Hicks was one of several Cardinals on his way north of the border from St. Louis. (Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports)

Toronto Blue Jays

It took some losses for the Blue Jays to earn this victory. And it is a small victory, but one that makes rational sense. They lost Jordan Romano to a back injury; they replaced him with Cardinals reliever Jordan Hicks. When Bo Bichette hurt his knee, Toronto executives discovered the phone lines could still connect them to St. Louis. A second trade brought infielder Paul DeJong to The 6.

The Blue Jays are in a weird spot. They are good enough to reach the postseason, but probably too far behind the Orioles and the Rays to consider a division title possible. So small moves made more sense, given the team’s general aversion to risk. – AM


Losers

Cincinnati Reds

I don’t know what happened here. Our beloved colleague C. Trent Rosecrans makes the point that the Reds’ scouting department has earned some benefit of the doubt, but clearly Trent hasn’t spent this summer in the war room drawing up mock Reds trades every day. The Reds are in the hunt for the division crown, which most figured would be incentive enough for them to go a little bananas adding to this young roster. After all, GM Nick Krall told reporters a month ago that the Reds wanted to add and that he had the flexibility to add payroll. They scouted the starting pitching market up and down, given the state of their rotation with Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo injured. And the net result of all that work? Sam Moll, a lefty reliever with great spin rate and some upside for the Reds bullpen. Meanwhile, the Reds rotation hinges on rookie Andrew Abbott, and the bench is still a collection of yikes bats. – SN

Eduardo Rodríguez exercised his no-trade clause and opted not to join the Dodgers. (Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)

Detroit Tigers

If the Tigers were, as a rival executive told Ken Rosenthal this week, “trying to be the last man standing at the ball,” they fumbled that ball at the goal line and saw it run back 100 yards the other way. Unless that’s not a football metaphor. But you get the picture.

When you have only two trade chips in hand, capitalizing on only one is a massive missed opportunity. So, while trading Michael Lorenzen for Hao-Yu Lee — the former Phillies infield prospect now slotted at No. 6 in the Tigers system, per MLB pipeline — is a successful conclusion to a one-year free-agent deal, retaining Eduardo Rodríguez is … potentially very costly. We’ll learn more in the coming days about why Rodríguez elected to veto a trade to the Dodgers, but, to be very clear, it was the Tigers who granted him a partial no-trade clause in the first place, so he has every right to exercise it as he sees fit. It’s unclear whether that spooked other suitors, or whether there simply weren’t many interested in the end.

And so the Tigers enter another uncertain chapter with Rodríguez. If he pitches well for the rest of this year and opts out of his contract, well, that’s that. If he opts in, likely because of poor performance or injury, the Tigers will have a decision to make about his future. Either way, they’ll have the names of a couple Dodgers prospects circled: the ones who got away. – SN

Houston Astros

Don’t wanna be a grump here, as Justin Verlander seems like a nice kid with a bright future, and he instantly makes the Astros better. And there’s a lot of utility that comes with acquiring a pitcher who already knows where all the bathrooms are. The Astros won’t have to waste precious time explaining to Verlander exactly how they want him to execute their gameplans; he’s in, he knows, he’s a plug-and-play pitcher. He’s also one of the rarest commodities in this market, a pitcher who can help in October even more than he’ll help in the second half of the regular season.

Two complaints, though: First, just sign the guy in the offseason, then keep the prospects. Leave the Verlander, take the draft-pick cannolis. I get that they’re saving scores of millions doing it this way, with the Mets paying a huge chunk of Verlander’s salary, but it’s so much easier to just spend the money in the first place.

Second: This feels like a misallocation of resources. The Astros entered the deadline with the fifth-highest Wins Above Average total from their starting pitchers. They’re getting absolutely nothing offensively from catcher or first base, ranking close to the bottom for both positions. They ranked second in baseball in adjusted ERA entering the deadline, but only 12th in adjusted OPS. Sure, they’re a little scarier in the postseason if they keep their prodigal 40-year-old ace healthy and effective, but the difference doesn’t seem worth trading two top prospects from a thin system.

Kendall Graveman is a good get, sure, sure, but where is the lineup help? Man cannot dine on fastballs (and some pretty sweet off-speed pitches) alone. The Astros still need to find dingers somewhere. – GB

Minnesota Twins

The Twins, clinging to the AL Central lead by a game, seem to understand they’re being chased (that’s the wrong word) by four sellers. The Guardians made their position clear, moving their best healthy pitcher for a bat to help in 2024 and beyond, and so the Twins sat on their hands. Their only move was a change-of-scenery swap: Jorge López for Dylan Floro. It’s an astonishing lack of activity for a team with real flaws. Despite the prowess of their starting pitching — which Twins brass elected to keep together rather than flip for hitting help — the lineup has not clicked. The Twins are a middling team, by overall OPS, but they have the worst OPS against lefties in the majors. Guess nothing could be done about that. – SN

New York Mets

This one should spark conversation. We might deserve to get roasted for this down the road. So it goes. Such is the burden of instant analysis.

In a few seasons, perhaps as early as 2025, the Mets may look back at this deadline as the fulcrum that directed the franchise toward perennial contention. In selling off Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, David Robertson, Mark Canha and Tommy Pham, the team restocked its farm system, improved its upper-level pitching depth and netted a few consequential prospects. Billy Eppler did what he could.

But the Mets still qualify as losers, given the expectations and expenditures tied to this season. Steve Cohen did not fork over $445 million to finish behind the Marlins and sell at the deadline. The reunion of Scherzer and Verlander was a flop: Verlander took several months to round into form, and Scherzer never really did. The team played a dispiriting brand of baseball, marked by errors and inattention to detail, which forced the hands of Cohen and Eppler, who are pivoting toward using 2024 as a bridge year. That decision looks prudent. It still makes this season a failure. They might emerge from this deadline as winners. But they cannot claim that mantle any time soon. – AM

Yankees GM Brian Cashman’s lack of movement at the deadline will certainly be scrutinized for the remainder of the season and possibly beyond. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

New York Yankees

Perhaps you have heard this ancient proverb: He who snoozes also loses. The Yankees entered this deadline in an unfortunate position. The team was not particularly good enough to buy, and the team also lacked significant assets to sell. As our Brendan Kuty reported on Tuesday, the Yankees sent one of their top scouts to sit on San Diego heading into the deadline. But even if they had added Juan Soto, would that have changed the trajectory of this club? Rival evaluators have lamented the lineup-wide issues with the offense. These Yankees occupy last place in the American League East for a reason.

And yet the players the Yankees could have dealt away varied from brittle (Harrison Bader) to inconsistent (Gleyber Torres) to overpriced (Anthony Rizzo). A robust market did not await players this flawed. So the team got caught in between, able to only acquire middle reliever Keynan Middleton. The outlook for 2023 wasn’t improved. And the outlook for the future wasn’t, either. Hard to feel good about this one, if you are a Yankees partisan. – AM


Snoozers

Atlanta Braves

Owners of the best record in baseball, the Braves didn’t do much. Then again, did they need much? We will know more in the coming weeks, as Max Fried and Kyle Wright return from the injured list, and in October, when the bullpen gets tested. The team has a comfortable lead in the National League East. Nicky Lopez aids the bench. Brad Hand and Pierce Johnson deepened the bullpen. It’s a snoozer, alright, but Atlanta was good enough to slumber. – AM

Boston Red Sox

Pat, they stood. They were too good to sell and too flawed to buy. The Red Sox have Trevor Story, Chris Sale, Garrett Whitlock and Tanner Houck all working their way back from injuries. That doesn’t exactly qualify as midseason acquisitions — injured players got injured for a reason — but it does provide some hope for an improved shot at postseason contention. – AM

Chicago Cubs

This one depends on your perspective. The Cubs were winners in the sense that they improved as a ballclub and did so without dipping too deeply into their prospect reserves. They were losers if you were hoping they’d sell, extracting maximum value for Marcus Stroman and Cody Bellinger before they reach free agency. And they were snoozers if you felt, as I did, that they are still a few pieces short of a postseason contender. The Cubs rode a hot streak back into the NL Central conversation, and it’s not as if the Brewers or Reds bought their way out of reach, but adding Jeimer Candelario didn’t feel like the only major move Chicago would make, and it was. Candelario is having an excellent year and fills an important need for the Cubs. Miss out on him and this deadline would have been a disaster. But even if Candelario keeps up his current form at bat and at third base, the Cubs will need a whole lot else to fall their way in the final two months of the season to sneak into the playoff field. – SN

Kansas City Royals

You’d think a team awake and active at the trade deadline would avoid being labeled a snoozer. Alas. The Royals roster simply didn’t have enough to attract especially compelling returns. The Aroldis Chapman trade was a good move made early, bringing back Cole Ragans and Roni Cabrera. But the Nicky Lopez deal was a little embarrassing, and the other players dealt — Ryan Yarbrough, Scott Barlow and Mike Mayers — didn’t bring back a whole lot. – SN

Los Angeles Dodgers

Remember when the Dodgers traded for Max Scherzer and Trea Turner in the same deal? That was a Molotov cocktail of a deadline. Getting Lance Lynn in the hopes of halving his 6.00-plus ERA is a single sparkler in an otherwise quiet backyard on Fourth of July. Amed Rosario and Kiké Hernandez are those things with sparks that spin, but don’t hop. And, of course, Eduardo Rodríguez is a roman candle that was confiscated by police.

Rodríguez is also proof that the Dodgers didn’t want to be in the snoozer category, but it’s not always about what a team wants. They’ll have to tinker with Lynn to get that ERA closer to the one his strikeout rate suggests, but there won’t be any fireworks this deadline. Although, to be fair, the Dodgers snuck another deal in shortly after I finished this capsule, acquiring Ryan Yarborough from the Royals. Was that enough to get them out of the snoozers category?

No. It actually makes me want to buy one of those comically large nightcaps and walk around an empty mansion with a little candleholder. Honk shoo, honk shoo. – GB

Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers didn’t have a bad deadline. They just didn’t do nearly enough — which, now that I think of it, feels like the m.o. of every buyer in the division. Trading for Carlos Santana and Mark Canha began to address deficiencies in Milwaukee’s young lineup, and Andrew Chafin bolsters the bullpen with a proven lefty having a so-so season. But these aren’t game-changing, season-making moves. This Brewers lineup still leaves much to be desired. In their current situation, buying did seem like a better route than selling, and the market for hitters was thin, but Brewers fans surely would’ve preferred more significant lineup upgrades at the deadline. – SN

Oakland Athletics

I mean, it’s not like there was any way for them to set the deadline on fire and become winners or losers. I guess they could have traded Tyler Soderstrom for Michael Lorenzen for no apparent reason, but the A’s are so bad because they don’t have a lot of players that other teams would want. They made a couple of minor deals for minor prospects, and that’s all they were ever going to do. It’s not a slam or a dig to put them in this category; it was always the only possible landing spot for them and this roster.

(Sell the team.) – GB

Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates followed the plan they intended to execute at this trade deadline, and it was, as was foretold, a snoozefest. They listened on Mitch Keller and David Bednar, two controllable All-Star arms who drew significant interest, but decided against moving either. Trading them would have been anything but boring, but, in this case, perhaps taking the boring route was prudent. Instead, the Pirates moved rentals — Carlos Santana, Rich Hill, Ji-Man Choi and Austin Hedges — and booted Rodolfo Castro from their crowded infield mix. None of the prospects acquired are overly compelling, but for an organization needing to add controllable pitchers, 6-foot-7 left-hander Jackson Wolf, a Double-A starter who went to West Virginia, is a guy to watch. – SN

Rich Hill now joins the 13th team of his MLB career. (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

San Diego Padres

As I wrote in my trade grade for this deal, there are reasons to want Rich Hill on a roster. There are reasons to want Ji-Man Choi on a roster. But there aren’t too many reasons for the Padres, specifically, to want them on their roster. They already have a rotation filled with steady, competent pitchers. They already had Jake Cronenworth as the left-handed first base option, although Choi is probably a (minor) upgrade on Matt Carpenter as a left-handed DH.

But there isn’t a lot of excitement here. Not when it comes to trading the starters that everyone wanted (Blake Snell, Joe Musgrove), and not when it comes to making a wacky “uh oh, A.J. Preller has been up all night drinking Mountain Dew: Code Red again” kinds of win-now moves. The Padres are the kind of team that hasn’t had a winning streak longer than three games this season, so I’m not sure why I’m so surprised. It’s been a snoozer kinda season. — GB

San Francisco Giants

The Giants were the wrong team for this deadline. Too good to give up. Too flawed to justify short-term help in exchange for any of their three best prospects. They have so many candidates to give decent bulk innings, there was no reason to get another pitcher whose biggest asset would be “decent bulk innings.” There weren’t many difference makers to trade for, especially when the ostensible aces who were traded are both approaching middle age and cost top prospects.

Does that mean that Giants fans will be happy? Er, no. It’s hard to imagine a less inspiring addition than AJ Pollock, who might have “Austin Slater, but older” on his current business card. But other than a couple deals (Jordan Montgomery and Jack Flaherty come to mind), there aren’t a lot of completed trades that should fill them with regret. It was a snoozer of a deadline because it kind of had to be, especially when the Astros’ offer for Verlander would have required Luis Matos or Marco Luciano to compete. – GB

Washington Nationals

The Nationals were slightly more relevant last summer. Indeed, the Jeimer Candelario market was not as fervid as the bidding for Juan Soto. So it goes. A rebuilding club without much to sell, Washington got what it could for Candelario. They hung onto Kyle Finnegan and Lane Thomas. At least, until next year. – AM

(Top photo of Justin Verlander: Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)



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