Hit or Miss? Early Report Card Grades for MLB's Biggest 2017 Trades
We're less than a month removed from the MLB non-waiver trade deadline.
Still, it's not too early to offer some preliminary grades on the deals that went down. This is the playoff push, after all, when every game, at-bat and pitch is magnified.
We'll focus on the five biggest trades that occurred on or before July 31, plus a couple of bonus deals consummated after the waiver cutoff.
A few notes:
- We're judging these deals from the perspective of the buying team since it's nearly impossible to weigh the performance of prospects after a few weeks.
- The same could be said for the big leaguers who changed zip codes. Yet while it's a small sample, that's sort of the point. Trade-deadline swaps are a gamble on which available stars will get hot down the stretch.
- That said, we'll also consider the long-term contract statuses of the acquired players and how much the teams in question gave up in MiLB chips. There's nothing inherently wrong with a rental, but they face more pressure to perform immediately.
Cubs Acquire LHP Jose Quintana from White Sox
The Chicago Cubs paid a steep price to acquire left-hander Jose Quintana from the cross-town Chicago White Sox, as they surrendered their top two prospects in outfielder Eloy Jimenez and right-hander Dylan Cease, along with infield prospects Bryant Flete and Matt Rose.
Quintana has been a mixed bag since the trade.
He struck out 12 in seven shutout innings in his first start with the Cubs but surrendered six runs on nine hits in his most recent outing and has a 4.50 ERA overall in eight starts for the Cubbies.
"Physically, he's fine, and his stuff is good," manager Joe Maddon said, per Scott Krinch of CSN Chicago. "It's more execution and location."
Quintana is 28 and signed to an affordable contract with club options that run through 2020, so even if he wobbles for the remainder of 2017, the Cubs could reap ample value from this deal.
The reigning champions are trying to get back to the World Series, however, and an ace-like Quintana is a key piece of the puzzle.
Diamondbacks Acquire RF J.D. Martinez from Tigers
The Arizona Diamondbacks were looking for thump when they acquired outfielder J.D. Martinez from the Detroit Tigers for minor league third baseman Dawel Lugo and shortstops Sergio Alcantara and Jose King.
He's provided it, launching 13 home runs in 34 games, including a pair of dingers Sunday against the San Francisco Giants.
Martinez is hitting a modest .231 with the D-backs and is a rental.
His homer binge and concurrent .919 OPS more than make up for it, however, especially considering Arizona dealt a package ESPN.com's Keith Law correctly dubbed "a light return" for Detroit.
Yankees Acquire INF Todd Frazier and RHP David Robertson from White Sox
Searching for upgrades at first base and in the bullpen, the New York Yankees scored a package from the Chicago White Sox that included infielder Todd Frazier and right-handed relievers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle.
In exchange, New York yielded outfielder Blake Rutherford (the No. 5 prospect in the Sox's system), left-hander Ian Clarkin and MLB right-hander Tyler Clippard.
Robertson has been solid in an uneven Yanks pen, posting a 2.00 ERA with 27 strikeouts in 18 innings. Kahnle owns a less impressive 4.11 ERA but has fanned 20 in 15.1 frames.
For his part, Frazier has flashed some power, cracking five home runs in 36 games. He's also hitting .208 in pinstripes and could lose playing time to recently returned first baseman Greg Bird, per Newsday's Eric Boland.
Robertson is inked through 2018 and Kahnle won't become a free agent until 2021. Even adding the muddled results from Kahnle and Frazier (a rental), this is a decent trade for the burgeoning, contending Yankees.
Yankees Acquire RHP Sonny Gray from Athletics
Sticking with the Yankees, they bolstered their starting rotation by prying right-hander Sonny Gray away from the Oakland Athletics for outfielder Dustin Fowler, infielder Jorge Mateo and right-hander James Kaprielian.
A top-three Cy Young Award finisher in 2015, Gray battled injury and inconsistency in 2016. In the Bronx, he's delivered as promised, posting a 2.70 ERA in five starts.
His 2-3 Yankees record speaks to a lack of run support, as skipper Joe Girardi noted.
"He came here and people had a lot of high expectations on him and he makes two or three starts where we don't score any runs," Girardi said, per Brian Lewis of the New York Post. "He handled that extremely well. He just continues to go out and do what he's supposed to do. When we score runs, he wins."
Gray won't reach free agency until 2020, so he fits with the Yankees' directive to win now and build for the future.
He cost legitimate MiLB talent, as expected. But considering New York didn't have to raid the upper echelon of its stacked farm system, this looks like a win.
Dodgers Acquire RHP Yu Darvish from Rangers
Yu Darvish returned from the disabled list on Sunday for the Los Angeles Dodgers and struck out seven in five innings.
He also gave up six hits, three walks and three runs and took the loss against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Overall, Darvish is 2-1 with 29 strikeouts in 23 innings since the Los Angeles Dodgers acquired him from the Texas Rangers for second baseman/outfielder Willie Calhoun, right-hander A.J. Alexy and infielder Brendon Davis.
Still, the fact he landed on the DL with back issues and produced ho-hum results upon his return dings this deal.
He's an impending free agent, and the Dodgers are going all-in for their first title since 1988.
Credit L.A. for not sacrificing top prospects such as outfielder Alex Verdugo and right-handers Walker Buehler and Yadier Alvarez. They surrendered a nice piece in the power-hitting Calhoun, though, and need to see consistent, injury-free results from Darvish posthaste.
They've got the National League West in the bag. This is about a deep postseason push—period.
Mariners Acquire 1B Yonder Alonso from Athletics
Seeking an edge in the crowded, noisy American League wild-card chase, the Seattle Mariners snagged All-Star first baseman Yonder Alonso from the A's in a post-deadline deal.
Since joining the M's, Alonso has hit a couple of home runs, including a game-winner against Yankees reliever Aroldis Chapman on Friday.
Overall, the 30-year-old Cuban is hitting .288 with Seattle with a .795 OPS.
He's a rental. But seeing as the Mariners yielded only outfielder and 2012 20th-round pick Boog Powell, it's a solid move for a club trying to make the playoffs for the first time since 2001.
Mets Trade RF Jay Bruce to Cleveland Indians
In another post-waiver move, the Cleveland Indians acquired outfielder Jay Bruce from the New York Mets for minor league right-hander Ryder Ryan.
Since joining the defending AL champs, Bruce has hit five doubles and four home runs while collecting 13 RBI in 17 games.
"I just feel like I've added to an already deep lineup," Bruce said after clubbing two homers against the division-rival Kansas City Royals on Aug. 18, per of MLB.com. "I think I help lengthen it, but like I've said, I feel like a broken record, these guys were really good before I got here."
They've been better since they got Bruce, and they landed the rental slugger for a little-regarded prospect in what amounted to a salary dump.