MLB Trades 2020: Dissecting Top Deals Made Heading Toward Deadline

Martin FennCorrespondent IAugust 27, 2020

Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Brandon Workman, right, and Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto (10) celebrate after the team's baseball game against the Washington Nationals, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020, in Washington. The Phillies won 3-2. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Nick Wass/Associated Press

Most indications pointed to the 2020 trade deadline being a rather quiet occasion.

The unprecedented nature of this season, paired with expanded playoffs, has made fully committing to "buying" or "selling" rather hard to embrace. Not to mention, the COVID-19 pandemic still looms large.

Indeed, there has not been a whole lot of action with just four days until Monday's deadline. It is possible there could be a flurry of action in the final few days. For now, however, there are limited deals to evaluate. 

Nevertheless, here is the analysis of the few trades actually completed at this point.


Phillies Get Relief Help   

Winslow Townson/Associated Press

The Philadelphia Phillies were in desperate need of bullpen arms leading up to the deadline, and the Boston Red Sox were a bona fide "seller" with ample relievers to offer.

Similarly, the Phillies had some interesting arms that simply had not panned out in Philly, while the Red Sox were in desperate need of young pitchers with upside. 

Thus, Philadelphia and Boston struck the first multiplayer deal of the year.

The Phillies sent right-hander Nick Pivetta and minor league pitcher Connor Seabold to the Red Sox in exchange for veteran relievers Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree.

Workman was one of the more dominant relievers in baseball in 2019, striking out 104 batters and allowing just a single homer in 71.2 innings of work. Hembree was also effective last year, pitching to the tune of a 3.86 ERA.

But it remains to be seen what kind of impact the two seasoned right-handers will have with the Phillies. Workman is a rental: He will be a free agent at the end of the season. Hembree has one final year of arbitration in 2021 before hitting the open market in 2022. Regardless, both guys were acquired to help the team win now. The early returns are not good, at least in Workman's case.

Workman had a blown save in his first appearance for his new club on Aug. 22 against the Atlanta Braves, and he nearly lost the Phillies the lead the following night after giving up a run in the ninth, though he did record the save. The 32-year-old also get the save on Wednesday against the Nationals, but he continued to make things interesting by conceding two hits in the ninth inning.

Hembree has given up one run and a pair of hits in 2.1 innings of work, with one of those hits being a home run. The long ball has haunted Hembree throughout his career, as he is giving up 1.4 homers per nine innings for his career and has averaged over 1.5 homers per nine innings in each year since 2017.

Still, the Phillies have now won three straight after defeating the Nats on Wednesday, and are right back in the playoff hunt. Workman and Hembree will undoubtedly loom large as late-inning guys in Philadelphia's bullpen as Joe Girardi looks for more reliable options.

Meanwhile, Boston's return will take longer to be fully fleshed out.

Pivetta was thought to be a potential breakout candidate in 2019 after he struck out 10.3 hitters per nine innings and had a 3.79 fielding independent pitching mark in 2018. But Pivetta lost his spot in the rotation last year, finishing the season with a 5.38 ERA. Pivetta then began the 2020 campaign by giving up 10 runs in his first 5.1 innings of work.

Still, ESPN MLB Insider Jeff Passan reported the Red Sox were receiving praise for the deal, and he noted "there are a lot of Connor Seabold fans among scouts."

The Red Sox needed young, controllable pitching. They will bank on their pitching development to try to revitalize Pivetta's career and, if Seabold develops, will have acquired two capable of making an impact for the next contender in Boston.


Phils, Yankees Exchange Arms   

John Minchillo/Associated Press

The Phillies had actually bolstered their bullpen depth prior to landing Workman and Hembree, albeit with a less "splashy" move.

Philadelphia acquired 32-year-old David Hale from the New York Yankees in exchange for minor league right-hander Addison Russ.

Hale had a 3.11 ERA in 37.2 innings for the Yankees in 2019, proving himself capable of throwing multiple innings out of the bullpen. The right-hander had also gotten off to a decent start for the Bronx Bombers in 2020, giving up two runs and striking out seven in 6.0 innings of work. Hale has yet to make his Phillies debut.

The 25-year-old Russ could be an intriguing piece of the Yankees bullpen, whenever he joins the big league club. Russ has a 2.48 ERA in 152.2 minor-league innings, and he is striking out 11.8 opponents per nine innings.

New York had the opportunity to flip Hale for a younger bullpen asset, which is always helpful to any contender hoping to maintain a decent farm.


All stats obtained via Baseball Reference, unless otherwise noted.