Winners and Losers of the 2016 MLB Trade Deadline
The 2016 MLB trade deadline has officially passed, and after a flurry of action on Monday afternoon, we are now tasked with sorting through the wreckage and naming some winners and losers.
All 30 teams entered the deadline with at least a few items on the to-do list—whether it was a contender plugging a hole for the stretch run or a non-contender getting the biggest possible return for its trade chips.
Some teams accomplished their goals, with the Texas Rangers and San Francisco Giants both improving their postseason stocks and the New York Yankees raking in a pile of prospect talent.
Others were unable to capitalize on the deadline, as the Baltimore Orioles failed to improve their shaky pitching staff and the Chicago White Sox failed to do...well, anything.
What follows is a look at the five biggest winners and five biggest losers of this year's MLB trade deadline, based on filling needs and capitalizing on assets.
There's also one individual player who snuck in and walked away with "biggest loser" honors. Not going to a contender and hurting your offseason stock in the process will earn you that distinction.
Loser: Miami Marlins
The Miami Marlins have struggled to fill the No. 5 spot in their rotation all season, trotting out the likes of Justin Nicolino, Jose Urena, Jarred Cosart, Paul Clemens and Kendry Flores, who have all turned in more bad than good in their time on the mound.
That hole at the back of the staff became an even more pressing issue when Wei-Yin Chen landed on the disabled list with a sprained elbow, which is expected to sideline him until September.
After kicking the tires on a number of options on the trade market, the Marlins opted for a six-player trade with the San Diego Padres on July 29 that brought a pair of rotation pieces in Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea.
Sometimes, striking early can set the market and result in a discount of sorts for the team that made the first move.
This was not one of those times.
After seeing how the rest of the deadline played out, it would appear the Marlins gave up too much when they shipped Cosart, Carter Capps and prospects Josh Naylor and Luis Castillo to the Padres.
Then things just got weird.
Rea made his Marlins debut on Saturday, but he lasted just 3.1 innings before exiting the game with a right elbow sprain.
Apparently unhappy with their damaged goods, the Marlins then announced they sent Rea back to the Padres on Monday and reacquired Castillo. Call it a do-over.
The Marlins gave up one of their top prospects in Naylor, an electric (albeit injured) bullpen arm in Capps and a potentially serviceable MLB starter with upside in Cosart to acquire two months of Cashner.
And the back of their rotation remains a weakness with Rea now out of the picture.
Winner: Oakland Athletics
They were unable to pry any of the trio of Jose De Leon, Cody Bellinger and Alex Verdugo away from the Los Angeles Dodgers, but the Oakland Athletics still did well to land a package of three quality pitching prospects in exchange for veterans Josh Reddick and Rich Hill.
Both players were potential candidates for qualifying offers this coming offseason if they weren't traded, but Reddick and Hill were almost certainly headed elsewhere, and the A's added some established prospect talent instead of draft picks.
Oakland announced it acquired Grant Holmes, Frankie Montas and Jharel Cotton in the deal.
Holmes is the headliner, checking in as the No. 82 prospect in the league in the midseason update from MLB.com's Prospect Watch.
The 20-year-old is somewhat undersized at 6'1", but he's solidly built and has enjoyed success every step of the way in the minors.
Montas, 23, has one of the best arms of any pitching prospect in baseball, including a fastball that can touch 100 mph and a quality slider. This marks the third time he's been traded already in his pro career.
His lack of a quality third offering and mediocre overall command could have him ticketed for the back of the bullpen in the long term, but he should be able to make an impact in some capacity.
Cotton, an MLB Futures Game participant, projects as a reliever as well with a quality fastball-changeup combination that lacks a breaking ball complement and some effort in his delivery.
He's struck out 119 hitters in 97.1 innings this year in Triple-A, and he should be able to help soon if he is indeed converted to the bullpen.
It's by no means a bad move for the Dodgers, who get two players who should help in their stretch run without mortgaging their top-tier prospects, but the A's come out as clear winners.
Hill has not pitched since July 17 and has made just three starts since May 29, while Reddick also missed time earlier this season with a fractured thumb, so getting a quality return wasn't a given.
Loser: Kansas City Royals
The biggest stories of the trade season leading up to Monday's deadline were the astronomical asking price for high-end relief pitching and the huge return packages that the New York Yankees landed in exchange for Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller.
At one point, it looked like Wade Davis could bring a similar return to a struggling Kansas City Royals team.
The reigning World Series champs are currently 12 games back in the AL Central race and 8.5 out of the second AL wild-card spot with a 49-55 record, leaving them in a position to potentially sell.
While they didn't have any obvious trade candidates on expiring contracts, Davis and his $10 million team option for 2017 appeared to be an option to be dealt, with the club looking to maximize his value.
In fact, the team was reportedly looking to package him with starter Ian Kennedy, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.
The Royals signed Kennedy to a five-year, $70 million contract during the offseason and are still on the hook for $62.5 million over the next four years of the back-loaded deal.
However, a forearm strain brought the pursuit of Davis to a screeching halt, and he was placed on the disabled list on Sunday. That marks the second time this season that he's been shelved with a forearm issue, which raises some obvious red flags about his long-term health.
After trading away a number of young players to acquire Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist last summer, the Royals were in a great position to use Davis to help restock the farm system.
Instead, they're left with an injured All-Star closer and are no better positioned for the future.
Winner: Washington Nationals
Aroldis Chapman and Mark Melancon are two All-Star relievers who are set to hit the open market this coming offseason and who were both traded leading up to this year's deadline.
While Chapman has an electric arm unlike any other pitcher in baseball and piles up the strikeouts, Melancon has been equally effective in recent years when it comes to closing out games and nailing down saves.
Here's how their numbers stack up since the start of the 2013 season:
- Chapman: 222 G, 128/140 SV, 91.4 SV%, 2.05 ERA, 0.986 WHIP, 15.8 K/9
- Melancon: 267 G, 130/144 SV, 90.3 SV%, 1.80 ERA, 0.926 WHIP, 8.3 K/9
Despite those similar numbers (aside from the strikeouts), the return packages for the two players were far from equivalent:
- Yankees return: SP/RP Adam Warren, SS Gleyber Torres (No. 24 MLB prospect, No. 2 NYY prospect), OF Billy McKinney (No. 16 NYY prospect), OF Rashad Crawford
- Pirates return: RP Felipe Rivero, SP/RP Taylor Hearn (No. 26 PIT prospect)
The Nationals were intent on landing an upgrade for a bullpen that has converted just 28 of 37 save chances and seen incumbent closer Jonathan Papelbon struggle to a 4.41 ERA, 1.47 WHIP and .271 batting average against.
They got their guy in Melancon, and they didn't have to surrender any top prospects to do it.
Loser: Chicago White Sox
There's nothing wrong with the Chicago White Sox opting to hold onto both Chris Sale and Jose Quintana at the deadline.
Those two won't be any less valuable this coming offseason in a weak market for starting pitching, and there was no reason to move either of them unless the perfect offer came along.
The trouble here is the team's complete lack of activity.
On Sunday, the White Sox sent veteran reliever Zach Duke to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for outfield prospect Charlie Tilson.
That was the beginning and end of their deadline dealings.
Perhaps a market never developed for guys like James Shields and David Robertson, but given the premium that was placed on pitching this year, that's hard to believe.
Shields has been excellent of late, posting a 1.71 ERA in his last six starts. The San Diego Padres are paying $22 million of the $44 million left on his contract over the next two years, so he was a relatively cost-effective option for teams looking for rotation help.
If the White Sox had seriously shopped him, they would have found a taker and a decent return package.
The same goes for Robertson, provided they were willing to kick in some of the $25 million he's still owed through 2018.
His 4.15 ERA this season isn't pretty, but he's converted 25 of 29 save chances with 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings, and he's a proven commodity with a solid track record.
So rather than looking to the future and trying to acquire some prospects and salary relief this summer, the White Sox will once again be playing for a .500 record with no real hope of contending.
Winner: San Francisco Giants
The Los Angeles Dodgers made a big move early in the day to acquire Rich Hill and Josh Reddick, forcing the San Francisco Giants to come up with a counter as they cling to a two-game lead in the NL West standings.
And they did.
The Giants bullpen has been a staple of their recent World Series runs, but it has not been nearly as effective this season.
The relief corps currently ranks 13th in the majors with a 3.76 ERA and has converted just 62.5 percent of save chances, per ESPN.com. Compare that to their last title run in 2014, when the bullpen had a 3.01 ERA and nailed down 71.9 percent of save opportunities.
Enter Milwaukee Brewers left-hander Will Smith, who the Giants announced they acquired on Monday.
Smith, 27, has been one of the league's most consistent southpaw relievers since joining the Brewers in 2014, pitching to a 3.28 ERA, 1.30 WHIP and 11.9 K/9.
He's been equally effective against lefties and righties during his career, and he comes with team control through the 2019 season.
The other big issue for the Giants has been the back of the starting rotation, where Jake Peavy, Matt Cain and Albert Suarez have combined to go 9-15 with a 5.28 ERA and 1.39 WHIP in 41 starts.
Enter Tampa Bay Rays left-hander Matt Moore, who the Giants announced they also acquired on Monday.
Moore, 27, is a former All-Star who has gone 7-7 with a 4.08 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 109 strikeouts in 130 innings this season. He missed time in 2014 and 2015 to Tommy John surgery, but he was once regarded as one of the game's top young pitchers.
His contract carries three option years at $7 million, $9 million and $10 million for the next three years, respectively, so he gives the Giants a fairly cheap, controllable arm.
Those two trades cost the Giants two of their best prospects in Phil Bickford and Lucius Fox, as well as young catcher Andrew Susac and third baseman Matt Duffy.
It will be well worth it, though, if Moore and Smith help to continue the even-year magic.
Loser: Baltimore Orioles
Problem—the starting rotation has been wildly inconsistent all season and ranks 27th in the majors with a 5.00 ERA.
Solution—acquire a starting pitcher who has pitched to a 4.98 ERA in 112 innings of work this season.
A 4.98 ERA is better than 5.00, right? Must be an upgrade.
In all seriousness, if you're the first-place Baltimore Orioles and you have any hopes of holding onto that "first place" distinction for the remainder of the season, you have to do better than Wade Miley as your big deadline addition.
"Wade Miley is a workhorse, veteran left-handed starter who likes to pitch and compete," team general manager Dan Duquette told reporters, per ESPN.com news services. "We think he will contribute to this year's club with some quality innings."
Hey, he likes to pitch. That's always a plus.
However, with a 4.75 FIP and 1.35 WHIP, his peripheral numbers don't exactly scream significant improvement to come.
The Orioles have one of the best offenses in baseball, and it just got better with the addition of Steve Pearce, but can they really hope to slug their way to an AL East title?
If they do manage to advance to October, some combination of Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman, Yovani Gallardo, Ubaldo Jimenez, Vance Worley, Mike Wright, Dylan Bundy and now Miley will make up the least-threatening postseason rotation in recent memory.
Winner: New York Yankees
For a team that was selling at the deadline for the first time in years, the New York Yankees looked like they knew what they were doing.
In shipping out the trio of Andrew Miller (Cleveland Indians), Aroldis Chapman (Chicago Cubs) and Carlos Beltran (Texas Rangers), who the Yankees announced they traded on Monday, they were able to able to add the following prospects to what was already a system on the rise:
- OF Clint Frazier (No. 22 MLB prospect)
- SS Gleyber Torres (No. 24 MLB prospect)
- LHP Justus Sheffield (No. 93 MLB prospect)
- RHP Dillon Tate
- OF Billy McKinney
- RHP Ben Heller
- RHP J.P. Feyereisen
- RHP Nick Green
- RHP Erik Swanson
- OF Rashad Crawford
They also reacquired swingman Adam Warren from the Cubs in the Chapman deal, giving them a quality arm who is controlled through the 2018 season.
Frazier and Torres immediately become the top two prospects in a system that was previously headlined by the trio of Jorge Mateo, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, and Sheffield takes over as the team's top pitching prospect.
Chapman and Beltran were both headed for free agency at season's end, while Miller was still under control for two more years.
In an effort to ease those losses to the bullpen, the team also went out and acquired Tyler Clippard from the Arizona Diamondbacks. The former All-Star is under contract for $6.15 million next season, and he gives New York a proven setup man for Dellin Betances, who now takes over as closer.
There's also a real possibility they could make a run at re-signing Chapman in the offseason, which would make their haul from the Cubs that much sweeter.
It's tough to throw in the towel on a season, but the Yankees nailed it with the three trades they made.
Biggest Loser: Jeremy Hellickson
One of the biggest surprises of this year's deadline was a deal that didn't happen.
In a market lacking quality rental options on the starting pitching side, Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Jeremy Hellickson appeared to be as safe a bet as anyone to be traded.
Even when Jayson Stark of ESPN.com warned early Monday morning that Hellickson could stay put, as the Phillies were not coming down from their high asking price, it still seemed like a long shot that he would be making another start in a Phillies uniform.
As Stark wrote earlier in the week: "Teams are reporting that the Phillies are looking for a young player who 'isn't your best prospect but would fit somewhere in your top five prospects' in return."
That seemed to be a fairly reasonable asking price for a pitcher who has gone 8-7 with a 3.70 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 109 strikeouts in 131.1 innings on the year.
His stock has been trending up of late as well, as he's gone 4-2 with a 2.49 ERA and 0.95 WHIP in his last eight starts, six of which have been quality starts.
Yet the deadline came and went, and he remains with the Phillies.
Not only does he miss out on the opportunity to join a contender for the stretch run, but he will also now be forced to deal with a qualifying offer this winter.
Had he been traded, the 29-year-old would not have been eligible to receive a qualifying offer, and it stands to reason that more teams would have been interested in his services as a result.
It's a disappointing day for Hellickson, even if he's enjoyed his time in Philadelphia.
Biggest Winner: Texas Rangers
The Texas Rangers are all-in, folks.
With one of the deepest farm systems in baseball, a history of pulling the trigger on big deadline moves and an opportunity to be a serious threat in a wide-open American League, they appeared to be prime candidates to make a splash heading into deadline day.
And they made the biggest splash.
In a pair of huge trades, the Rangers announced that they picked up Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress from the Milwaukee Brewers and Carlos Beltran from the New York Yankees.
Those trades cost them a trio of highly regarded prospects in Lewis Brinson, Luis Ortiz and Dillon Tate, but notably absent from that list is slugger Joey Gallo.
They also held onto left-hander Yohander Mendez, who has been a prospect on the rise and now takes over as the top arm down on the farm.
"The biggest winner of final day of trade deadline has got to be the Texas Rangers, vying for [a] third World Series [appearance] in seven years," tweeted Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
Despite injuries and a lack of name recognition, the catcher position has produced a passable .704 OPS with 15 home runs and 56 RBI for the Rangers so far this season.
Nonetheless, Lucroy is a clear upgrade with an .841 OPS that includes 17 doubles, 13 home runs and 50 RBI to go along with his usual stellar defense and ability to handle a staff.
Jeffress joins a bullpen that has been shaky at times this season and gives the team another late-inning arm capable of closing. He's converted 27 of 28 save chances this year with a 2.22 ERA and comes with team control all the way through the 2019 season.
Then there's Carlos Beltran.
Outside of David Ortiz, there might not be an active player with a more impressive postseason track record.
The 39-year-old has hit .332/.441/.674 with 16 home runs and 40 RBI in 223 postseason plate appearances, and he's in the midst of a terrific regular season with an .890 OPS that includes 21 doubles and 22 home runs.
He'll likely step into the everyday desingated hitter role with Prince Fielder sidelined for the remainder of the season, and he will be a significant upgrade, as the DH spot has produced a paltry .616 OPS on the year.
It's a flip of the coin between the Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers as far as who the favorite is in the American League right now, but the Rangers made a statement on deadline day.