2019 MLB Trade Deadline Grades for Each Deal with 1 Week to Go

Jacob Shafer@@jacobshaferFeatured ColumnistJuly 24, 2019

2019 MLB Trade Deadline Grades for Each Deal with 1 Week to Go

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    Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

    The 2019 MLB trade deadline is a week away. With the elimination of August waiver trades this season, a flurry of high-profile deals will be consummated in the coming days.

    While we await those seismic last-minute swaps, let's examine the significant and semi-significant trades that have already happened and assign a grade for all of the teams involved.

    Grades are based on the players' track record, health, their performance with their new clubs and their cost/contract status relative to what it took to acquire them. Plus, as ever, a dollop of subjectivity.

Yankees Acquire Terrance Gore from Royals for Cash Considerations

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    The New York Yankees should acquire a top-tier starting pitcher as they charge toward the postseason and a crack at championship No. 28.

    So far, they've acquired two position players: slugger Edwin Encarnacion (more on him shortly) and speedy ancillary piece Terrance Gore.

    Gore won't be a regular starter for New York. In fact, he isn't even on the big league roster yet.

    But he could be a valuable pinch-running and defensive-replacement option come playoff timethe guy who enters a tight game late and makes a difference with his legs and leather. 

    In 100 career MLB games, the 28-year-old has swiped 40 bases in 49 chances. This season, he hit .275 with 13 stolen bases in 37 games for the Kansas City Royals and posted a career-best 3.7 Ultimate Zone Rating for his play at all three outfield positions.

    In exchange for Gore, the Royals got $100,000 in cash considerations. Despite his limited skill-set, Gore is on the right side of 30 and controllable through 2023. That seems like a light return for KC.

    This isn't a game-changing trade for New York, but it is a minor steal.


    Yankees' Grade: B

    Royals' Grade: D

Cubs Acquire Martin Maldonado from Royals for Mike Montgomery

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    Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

    The Chicago Cubs needed catching depth after Willson Contreras landed on the injured list with a strained foot muscle.

    They turned to the Royals and engineered a trade that sent backstop Martin Maldonado to the North Side in exchange for left-hander Mike Montgomery.

    Maldonado has hit a scant .154 in 13 plate appearances since arriving in Chicago and is a career .219 hitter. On the other hand, he's an elite defender who overall has thrown out 33 percent of would-be base-stealers in 2019 and won a Gold Glove as recently as 2017.

    The 32-year-old will be a free agent after this season. Yet, even when Contreras returns from the IL, he could be a valuable defensive backup as Chicago battles for the top spot in a highly competitive National League Central.

    Montgomery, meanwhile, posted a 5.67 ERA with the Cubs this season and has thus far surrendered five runs in two innings with Kansas City.

    That said, he posted a 3.99 ERA in 124 innings last season and is controllable through 2021, which makes him a decent piece for the rebuilding Royals.


    Cubs' Grade: C

    Royals' Grade: C+

Athletics Acquire Homer Bailey from Royals for a Prospect

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    The Oakland Athletics are in the thick of the American League wild-card race but suffered a blow when burgeoning ace Frankie Montas was slapped with an 80-game suspension under MLB's performance-enhancing drugs policy.

    Oakland's effort to fill that void began when it acquired right-hander Homer Bailey from Kansas City. 

    After posting a 4.80 ERA in 90 innings with the Royals, Bailey has surrendered 11 runs in eight innings with the A's. He has tallied eight strikeouts as well and offers some value, but the 33-year-old impending free agent is obviously not a panacea in the rotation.

    To snag Bailey, the A's gave up minor league infielder Kevin Merrell, who now rates as the Royals' No. 14 prospect, per MLB.com. The 23-year-old has plus speed and is a solid contact hitter who could profile as an above-average utility player at the highest level.


    Athletics' Grade: C-

    Royals' Grade: C+

Red Sox Acquire Andrew Cashner from Orioles for Prospects

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    Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

    The Boston Red Sox need to add pitching if they want to remain competitive in the AL wild-card scramble. Hence their acquisition of Andrew Cashner from the basement-dwelling Baltimore Orioles.

    In 96.1 innings with the O's, Cashner posted a 3.83 ERA. So far with Boston, he's 0-2 with a 7.36 ERA in 11 innings. 

    The 32-year-old will be a free agent after the season unless the Sox pick up his $10 million team option, which seems unlikely. As a rental, he'd better start pitching well soon.

    Boston surrendered a pair of 17-year-old prospects in Elio Prado and Noelberth Romero, neither of whom rate as anything close to can't-miss. Baltimore also agreed to pay about half of the $3.36 million remaining on Cashner's contract and his $3 million signing bonus.

    This won't be the trade that pushes the defending champions deep into October, but the price was about right.


    Red Sox's Grade: C

    Orioles' Grade: C

Phillies Acquire Jay Bruce from Mariners for a Prospect and Cash

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    The Philadelphia Phillies are amid a hopelessly muddled NL wild-card picture. They should add more pieces, including possibly a postseason-tested ace.

    Thus far, they've acquired a veteran bat in Jay Bruce. It was working out pretty well until injury struck.

    After the Phils landed Bruce in a deal with the Seattle Mariners, the 32-year-old swatted 10 home runs and posted an .837 OPS in 33 games with Philadelphia. 

    On July 16, Bruce hit the injured list with a strained oblique. If he returns to help the Phils for the stretch run, his production and power will be more than welcome. That's anything but certain at this point, however.

    That said, he is signed through next season, and the Mariners sent about $18 million in cash to the Phillies to offset the $14 million he's owed in both 2019 and 2020.

    For their part, the last-place M's got prospect Jake Scheiner, who owns a .273/.340/.425 slash line across three MiLB seasons while ascending to High-A. Considering all the cash they sent back, that's a light return for a hitter of Bruce's ability.

    Even with the injury, the Phils came out ahead here.


    Phillies' Grade: B

    Mariners' Grade: 

Yankees Acquire Edwin Encarnacion from Mariners for a Prospect and Cash

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    Sarah Stier/Getty Images

    Again, the Yankees need to target starting pitching as they charge toward the postseason. Stay tuned on that.

    Their biggest addition so far has been slugger Edwin Encarnacion, whom they acquired from the Mariners. 

    In 26 games with New York, the 36-year-old three-time All-Star has hit .184 with a .270 on-base percentage. On the other hand, he's cracked eight home runs and tallied 22 RBI.

    In an offense as deep and dangerous as New York's, Encarnacion doesn't need to carry the load. Hitting semi-regular bombs and driving in runs will do just fine.

    The Yankees and Mariners roughly split the more than $15 million remaining on Encarnacion's contract (including a $5 million 2020 buyout). And New York gave up pitching prospect Juan Then, a 19-year-old who profiles as a possible mid-rotation MLB starter.


    Yankees' Grade: C+

    Mariners' Grade: C+


    All statistics current as of Tuesday and courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs.


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