MLB Trades 2018: Dissecting Top Deals Made Heading Towards DeadlineJuly 27, 2018
Some of the teams in the Major League Baseball playoff race decided not to wait for the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline to make improvements to their respective rosters.
Four of the six division leaders have acquired a key piece, while two of the four ballclubs residing in wild-card spots have done the same.
After every trade in every sport, we feel the need to critique the deals immediately instead of waiting for the results to play out.
While the true effects of the acquisitions will appear on the diamond in the coming months and years, there's plenty to dissect already in terms of the fight for postseason positions.
Below is a look at the top trades that have occurred so far and what they mean to the franchises involved.
Zach Britton and J.A. Happ to Yankees
The New York Yankees used two separate deals to improve their pitching staff entering the stretch run of the regular season.
Zach Britton and J.A. Happ came from teams in the American League East the Yankees are familiar with, and that should help ease the transition into the team.
Britton will bolster the bullpen as another dominant left-handed arm in front of closer Aroldis Chapman.
With Britton, Chapman, Chad Green, David Robertson, Dellin Betances and Chasen Shreve, the Yankees boast one of the best relief units in baseball.
In 15.2 innings pitched with the Baltimore Orioles, Britton, who was recovering from an Achilles injury at the start of the season, gave up 11 hits and six earned runs while striking out 13 batters.
The Yankees hope to get Britton back to his form from a few years ago, as he put together three consecutive seasons of 35 or more saves with a minuscule ERA.
Happ adds insurance to the back end of the starting rotation, and he should end up as a nice complement to Luis Severino and C.C. Sabathia.
In 20 starts for the Toronto Blue Jays, Happ went 10-6 with 130 strikeouts and conceded 99 hits. While those numbers are impressive, the 35-year-old has an ERA of 4.18, which is his worst in four seasons.
The concerns surrounding the Happ deal involve what the Yankees gave up, as outfielder Brandon Drury was sent to Toronto. Some may see the price tag for Happ as too high, but the Yankees needed to get the deal done to improve their rotation.
Although Britton and Happ are solid additions, there's no guarantee the Yankees win the AL East with the way the Boston Red Sox are swinging their bats.
Manny Machado to Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers' acquisition of Manny Machado was the first major July deal to go down, and it triggered a fire sale in Baltimore and forced other contenders to turn to other, less talented infield targets.
Machado filled the void at shortstop left open by Corey Seager's injury, and he's also been moved to third base with Justin Turner on the disabled list.
In his first seven games with the Dodgers, Machado has eight hits in 36 plate appearances with one home run and two RBI.
Before being shipped to Los Angeles, Machado hit .315 with 24 home runs and 65 RBI in 96 games.
The 25-year-old is still hitting over .300 and there's no reason to worry about his early returns in the National League.
Machado will be a valuable asset for the Dodgers' pennant chase, and when Turner returns to the lineup, the Dodgers will be tough to contain.
With Machado and Turner in the mix, the Dodgers possess nine players who've hit over 10 home runs in 2018.
The Dodgers have the hitters capable of capturing the National League West, but they shouldn't be content with their roster, as another reliever to help closer Kenley Jansen is necessary to acquire before the non-waiver trade deadline.
Brad Hand to Indians
Cleveland jumped in front of the relief market by bringing in Brad Hand and Adam Cimber from the San Diego Padres in exchange for top prospect Francisco Mejia.
The addition of Hand serves two purposes for the Indians, as they get a strong reliever for their World Series push and have an in-house replacement for the 2019 season if free agents Andrew Miller and Cody Allen leave.
Hand, who is considered as the bigger piece in the trade, has been effective in his first appearances with the Indians, as he's given up two hits and one earned run in 3.1 innings while recording one save.
Once Miller, who is about to make a return from the disabled list, returns to the active roster, the Indians will get to test out their new-look bullpen.
In Allen, Hand and Miller, the Indians have three players capable of closing out games, and there will be situations in which one or two are used to face specific batters in September and October instead of pitching a full inning.
The Indians gave up a significant piece in Mejia, who should be in the majors within the next year, but trading him away was worth it since Hand is under control until 2021.
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Statistics obtained from Baseball Reference