MLB Trades 2018: Grading Top Moves Before Deadline Ends

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJuly 29, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 28:  Mike Moustakas #18 of the Milwaukee Brewers bats against the San Francisco Giants in the top of the first inning at AT&T Park on July 28, 2018 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Three contenders, one involved in each National League divisional race, upgraded their infields days before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

The Arizona Diamondbacks, Milwaukee Brewers and Philadelphia Phillies dried up the infield trade market by acquiring some of the top names available in recent days.

The Diamondbacks and Phillies brought in natural fits, while the Brewers are taking a risk with an experiment that shakes up their infield.

Below is a breakdown of the top trades involving the Brewers, D-backs and Phillies in recent days.


Mike Moustakas to Milwaukee

The Brewers took the biggest trade risk of any team in baseball when they acquired Mike Moustakas from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for outfielder Brett Phillips and pitcher Jorge Lopez.

Before leaving Kansas City, Moustakas reached 20 home runs for the second consecutive season and fourth time in his career.

The 29-year-old hit .249 with 20 home runs and 62 RBI to go along with a .309 on-base percentage and .468 slugging percentage in 98 games.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 28:  Mike Moustakas #18 of the Milwaukee Brewers runs the bases against the San Francisco Giants in the top of the fifth inning at AT&T Park on July 28, 2018 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Imag
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

On paper, the deal for Moustakas seems like a success for the Brewers, who added another slugger to their powerful lineup headlined by Jesus Aguilar and Christian Yelich.

Moustakas won't have any chemistry issues either, as he's joining up with a few former Royals, including Lorenzo Cain and Joakim Soria.

Despite adding a strong bat to their lineup, the Brewers are in a bit of a pickle since they're moving Travis Shaw to second base to accommodate Moustakas.

Shaw is new to second base, and he'll be required to learn on the fly while the Brewers fight with the Chicago Cubs for the National League Central title.

In theory, Shaw's swap to second could work because Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell played everywhere in the infield during his playing career, and he'll be one of the many members of the organization helping out Shaw.

If Shaw's transition to second comes with few hiccups, and he continues to shine at the plate alongside Moustakas, the Brewers will be applauded for their bold move.

From the Kansas City perspective, it couldn't have done better, as it acquired two major league players in Phillips and Lopez for a player who is out of contract at the end of the season.

Grades: Milwaukee: B; Kansas City: A-


Asdrubal Cabrera to Philadelphia

Philadelphia filled its middle infield void Friday by bringing in Asdrubal Cabrera from the New York Mets in exchange for Double-A pitcher Franklyn Kilome.

The Phillies were one of a few teams, including the Brewers, who needed to bring in a middle infielder in order to complete their batting order.

Just like the Brewers, the Phillies are trying to jam a square peg into a round hole a bit, as Cabrera played second base for the Mets and will start at shortstop for the Phillies.

Cabrera's shift back to the left side of the infield isn't as drastic as Milwaukee's infield experiment, but he hasn't consistently played at short since the first half of the 2017 season.

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 28:  Asdrubal Cabrera #13 of the Philadelphia Phillies plays shortstop in the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on July 28, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

While it may take a few games for Cabrera to get back into a rhythm at short, he should provide an immediate upgrade at the plate, as he is hitting .274 with 18 home runs and 58 RBI.

The 32-year-old's totals are far better than what Scott Kingery put together in 100 games, as he produced five home runs and 29 RBI while hitting .236.

In addition to providing an upgrade at the plate, Cabrera brings postseason experience to a young squad contending for the NL East.

The deal must be seen as a victory on paper for the Phillies, who didn't give up much to their NL East rival in return.

Although the Mets were able to get a minor league pitcher in the deal, the return package seems a bit underwhelming given the demand for middle infielders.

Grades: Phillies: B+; Mets: D


Eduardo Escobar to Arizona

Arizona bolstered its roster with the acquisition of Eduardo Escobar from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for three prospects.

Escobar was one of the most coveted infield bats on the market, as he hit. 274 with an on-base percentage of .338 in 97 games with the Twins.

In his first game as a member of the Diamondbacks, Escobar recorded two hits in five plate appearances and scored twice.

If the Diamondbacks get similar production out of the 29-year-old for the rest of the pennant race, they'll be seen as one of the biggest winners from the non-waiver trade deadline.

Gregory Bull/Associated Press

Similar to Cabrera in Philadelphia, Escobar fills an immediate need at third base for the Diamondbacks, and while he won't receive the same buzz as Manny Machado's move to the NL West to join the Los Angeles Dodgers, he could have a similar impact on Arizona's lineup.

By swapping Escobar for a trio of prospects, the Twins ensured themselves of a deep depth chart, and they could be a part of another trade or two, as they also offloaded Ryan Pressly to the Houston Astros.

At first glance, the Arizona-Minnesota deal appears to be a success for both teams, with the Diamondbacks adding a needed bat and the Twins receiving value for a key part of their roster.

Grades: Diamondbacks: A; Twins: B+


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from Baseball Reference.