The Best and Worst MLB Trades from the 2022 Deadline

Zachary D. RymerSeptember 12, 2022

The Best and Worst MLB Trades from the 2022 Deadline

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    The Josh Hader trade has been a double-sided flop. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

    It's been more than a month since Major League Baseball's trade deadline came and went on Aug. 2. That's enough time for knee-jerk reactions to have given way to first impressions.

    So, let's discuss which trades are working out for the best...and for the worst.

    We've picked out four deals for each side of the fence. We mostly concerned ourselves with the buyers' perspective, though one particularly disastrous trade—you can probably guess which one—required us to lament how it's working out for all involved parties.

    Let's start with some honorable and dishonorable mentions, and then we'll count down the best of the best and the worst of the worst.

Honorable and Dishonorable Mentions

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    Rich Schultz/Getty Images

    Honorable: RHP David Robertson, RHP Noah Syndergaard and SS Edmundo Sosa, Philadelphia Phillies

    Robertson has hit a bit of a wall in September, but he still has a 2.76 ERA and five saves in seven tries for Philadelphia. Syndergaard only has a 4.61 ERA as a Phillie, but the team has won five of the seven games he's started.

    The big surprise so far is Sosa. He was known for his glovework when the Phillies acquired him, but he's since ripped off a 1.030 OPS. Though this is over a small sample size of 54 plate appearances, it's nonetheless been a boon to the Phillies infield.

    Dishonorable: RHPs Tyler Mahle, Jorge López and Michael Fulmer, Minnesota Twins

    These guys were supposed to lift a Twins pitching staff that had been inconsistent over the first four months of the season, but that just hasn't really happened.

    Fulmer has been more solid than good in their new threads, while López has been hittable in the process of putting up a 4.40 ERA. Mahle, meanwhile, put up a 4.41 ERA in four starts for the Twins before going on the injured list with shoulder inflammation.

    Honorable: 3B J.D. Davis, San Francisco Giants

    Davis was hitting just .238/.324/.359 through 66 games with the New York Mets, yet his peripheral metrics included some encouraging numbers in the contact quality departments.

    As such, it's not the biggest shock that he's upped his slugging percentage to .457 with the Giants. That's more than they were getting from Darin Ruf, who's since slipped even further to a .140/.182/.200 slash line in New York.

    Dishonorable: C Christian Vázquez and DH Trey Mancini, Houston Astros

    Vázquez has hit just .246 in 22 games as an Astro, and it's an empty .246. He's walked only four times and has yet to record an extra-base hit.

    For his part, the seven home runs Mancini has given the Astros are all well and good. But he also has just 14 other hits in 102 at-bats, with 33 strikeouts to boot.

Best No. 4: Chris Martin Has Dominated as a Dodger

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    The Trade: Los Angeles Dodgers get RHP Chris Martin; Chicago Cubs get INF/OF Zach McKinstry

    Look, a team simply can't win 96 of its first 139 games without some kind of Midas Touch. Of all the players to be turned into gold by the Dodgers this season, Chris Martin is merely the latest.

    After pitching to a modest 4.31 ERA through 34 appearances as a Cub, the 36-year-old veteran has surrendered only four earned runs over 16.2 innings as a Dodger. That comes out to a 2.16 ERA, though he arguably deserves better on account of how he's allowed only nine hits next to zero walks and 20 strikeouts.

    Rob Friedman @PitchingNinja

    Chris Martin, 4K inning. <a href=""></a>

    Pinpoint command is nothing new for Martin. What is new is the 0.5 mph increase in fastball velocity since he made the move from Chicago to Los Angeles. He's also been throwing more cutters, to superb effect.

    Per his 0.6 fWAR, Martin has been the National League's third-best reliever since he made his Dodgers debut on Aug. 1. Meanwhile on the North Side, the Cubs' upside play on McKinstry has yet to pan out as he's produced just a .574 OPS in 28 games.

Best No. 3: Raisel Iglesias Has Been Untouchable in Atlanta

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    Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The Trade: Atlanta gets RHP Raisel Iglesias; Los Angeles Angels get RHP Jesse Chavez, LHP Tucker Davidson

    The Angels were clearly feeling some buyer's remorse on Raisel Iglesias, as their trade of the 32-year-old to Atlanta came mere months after they had re-signed him to a four-year, $58 million contract in the offseason.

    Suffice it to say that Atlanta hasn't been feeling anything of the sort since taking on the remainder of Iglesias' contract in the deal. He's allowed all of one earned run through 15.2 innings with the defending World Series champs, with 19 strikeouts against only four walks.

    Unlike Martin in Los Angeles, Iglesias hasn't gained any velocity in Atlanta. Yet he has adjusted his pitch mix to feature more changeups and benefited accordingly. Since he made his Atlanta debut on Aug. 5, batters are 3-for-20 with 10 strikeouts against his change.

    Atlanta has nonetheless stuck with Kenley Jansen in the closer's role even as he's hit a rocky patch with a 5.27 ERA since Iglesias' arrival. But given that Iglesias also has closing experience in addition to the hot hand, don't be surprised if they eventually make a switch.

Best No. 2: Luis Castillo Has Been as Advertised in Seattle

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    Steph Chambers/Getty Images

    The Trade: Seattle Mariners get RHP Luis Castillo; Cincinnati Reds get SS Noelvi Marte, SS Edwin Arroyo, RHP Levi Stoudt, RHP Andrew Moore

    The Mariners starting rotation wasn't exactly a weak spot as the Aug. 2 deadline was approaching, and yet there was no escaping the sense that it needed some sort of something.

    Evidently, that came in the form of Luis Castillo. It's been nothing but smooth sailing for him as a Mariner, as his seven starts have thus far yielded a 2.70 ERA with 51 strikeouts in 43.1 innings.

    Seattle Mariners @Mariners

    7 Ks IN A ROW to start the game for La Piedra 🔥 <a href=""></a>

    Apparently energized by the move to a contender, the 29-year-old has dialed up his average fastball from 96.8 to 97.2 mph. The extra velocity has only heightened the deadliness of his fastball, as hitters are 6-for-47 with 23 strikeouts against it since he joined Seattle.

    The rest of the Mariners rotation has likewise been energized by Castillo's arrival. It boasts a 2.83 ERA since he made his debut on Aug. 3, which is perhaps Exhibit A for why they're currently positioned to make the playoffs for the first time since 2001.

Best No. 1: The Cardinals' Heist of Jordan Montgomery

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    Joe Puetz/Getty Images

    The Trade: St. Louis Cardinals get LHP Jordan Montgomery; New York Yankees get CF Harrison Bader, PTBNL/cash

    Even at the time, the Cardinals seemed to have gotten the better end of the trade that brought back Jordan Montgomery from the Yankees in exchange for Harrison Bader. In effect, it was a swap of an injured outfielder for a functional starter.

    Now seven starts into his Cardinals tenure, "functional" doesn't come close to cutting it as a descriptor for Montgomery. All he's done for St. Louis is record a 1.45 ERA in seven outings, all of which have resulted in wins for the Cardinals.

    Since the trade, the 29-year-old has made a seemingly counter-intuitive move away from his bread-and-butter sinker in favor of more four-seam fastballs. But there's no arguing with the results, as the latter is suddenly holding opposing hitters to a .137 average.

    Back in New York, the Yankees are still waiting for Bader's plantar fasciitis to heal enough to allow him to play. To this end, the Gold Glover has admitted that he will be playing with some discomfort even if he can return to the field.

Worst No. 4: Juan Soto and Josh Bell Aren't Panning out in San Diego

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    Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The Trade: San Diego Padres get RF Juan Soto, 1B Josh Bell; Washington Nationals get 1B Luke Voit, LHP MacKenzie Gore, SS C.J. Abrams, OF Robert Hassell III, OF James Wood, RHP Jarlin Susana

    The Padres don't yet have cause to lament what they lost in the mega-deal that returned Juan Soto and Josh Bell from the Nationals. The young players who went to Washington D.C. in the deal may become star major leaguers someday, but that day hasn't come yet.

    Rather, here's what the Padres ought to be lamenting right now:

    • Soto and Bell with Nationals: 146 wRC+, 35 HR
    • Soto and Bell with Padres: 103 wRC+, 6 HR

    This isn't exactly the offensive boost the Padres were hoping for when they sold the farm for the 23-year-old Soto and the 30-year-old Bell. It's certainly not what the fans were hoping for, and they've been letting Soto (who's just 3-for-39 over his last 12 games) know by letting the boo birds fly for him.

    Of course, the Padres are nonetheless in a position to make the playoffs as one of the National League's three wild cards. It's further comfort that the Soto/Bell trade isn't proving to be the worst deal they made at the deadline, though we'll get more into that later.

Worst No. 3: Frankie Montas Is No Jordan Montgomery for the Yankees

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    Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

    The Trade: New York Yankees get RHP Frankie Montas, RHP Lou Trivino; Oakland Athletics get LHP Ken Waldichuk, RHP Luis Medina, LHP JP Sears, 2B Cooper Bowman

    It's doubtful that the Yankees would have traded Jordan Montgomery for Harrison Bader if they hadn't acquired Frankie Montas a day earlier—which, in retrospect, only adds insult to injury.

    While Montgomery has dominated in Cardinal red, Montas has mostly struggled in pinstripes. The 29-year-old has put up a 5.94 ERA through seven starts, with the Yankees going 3-4 on days when he's pitched.

    Montas' fastballs just haven't been as effective of late, though it's also fair to point out that he hasn't had the best luck either. Aaron Hicks owes him for this drop on Friday, and even the Blue Jays cheekily acknowledged that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. collected a Yankee Stadium cheapie on this Aug. 18 home run:

    Toronto Blue Jays @BlueJays

    Absolute undeniable NO-DOUBTER 💥 <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PLAKATA</a> <a href=""></a>

    While the Yankees wait for Montas' performance to level out, they can at least be thankful that Lou Trivino has held up his end of the bargain. The 30-year-old reliever has a 1.23 ERA through 17 appearances as a Yankee.

Worst No. 2: Whit Merrifield Has Been a Bad-Luck Charm in Toronto

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    The Trade: Toronto Blue Jays get INF/OF Whit Merrifield; Kansas City Royals get INF/OF Samad Taylor, RHP Max Castillo

    The Blue Jays made what we'll call an "interesting" decision when they acquired Whit Merrifield at the deadline. Unless the veteran reversed his stance against getting vaccinated against COVID-19, he wouldn't even be allowed to play in Canada.

    Fortunately for the team, Merrifield did indeed get vaccinated. Unfortunately for the team, the acquisition of the 33-year-old is proving to be subtraction by addition.

    During his heyday as a two-time All-Star from 2017-21, Merrifield was known to offer versatile defense with good hitting, excellent speed and occasional power. The Blue Jays have gotten the versatile defense but not much else, as Merrifield has hit just .182 with one home run and one stolen base in 26 games.

    Though they're in a position to make the playoffs, it's thus not entirely coincidental that the Blue Jays are 5-13 in the 18 games that Merrifield has started.

Worst No. 1: Nobody Has Won the Josh Hader Trade

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    Denis Poroy/Getty Images

    The Trade: San Diego Padres get LHP Josh Hader; Milwaukee Brewers get LHP Taylor Rogers, RHP Dinelson Lamet, LHP Robert Gasser, OF Esteury Ruiz

    Nothing was as big as the Padres' deal for Soto and Bell, but the Friars also made the most surprising trade of the summer season when they pulled off an out-of-left-field blockbuster for Josh Hader.

    Even then, though, the four-time All-Star closer's value had already been depreciating as he was struggling with an 8.82 ERA in his last 18 appearances as a Brewer. He's somehow been even worse as a Padre, allowing 13 earned runs in 8.2 innings for a 13.50 ERA.

    Milwaukee's end of this trade isn't going much better. Even setting aside the 4.96 ERA that Taylor Rogers has posted in a Brewers uniform, it may be no mere coincidence that the Crew are 18-21 since the trade. To hear it from left-hander Eric Lauer, the deal sent a message that "a lot of people didn't jive with."

    We tend to think of "bad" trades as deals in which one team got fleeced by another. The Hader trade should be a reminder of what a proper bad trade really is: one in which both sides went all-in only to lose big.

    Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference, FanGraphs and Baseball Savant.


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