MLB Trades 2021: Dissecting Top Deals Made Heading Towards Deadline

Martin FennFeatured Columnist IJuly 27, 2021

MLB Trades 2021: Dissecting Top Deals Made Heading Towards Deadline

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Do not touch that stove, kid. It's scalding hot.

    Just days remain until baseball's trade deadline, and the reports of stars and potential impact players being discussed are coming fast and furious. The moves are starting to roll in, too.

    The San Diego Padres made the first major splash of deadline week on Sunday when they acquired utility man and MLB hits leader Adam Frazier from the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Oakland Athletics followed on Monday night, acquiring left-handed reliever Andrew Chafin from the Chicago Cubs. 

    It could well be a crazy deadline with a flurry of activity. Before we get there, though, let's take a look at some of the deals that have happened so far.

Willy Adames Galvanizes the Brewers

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    Aaron Gash/Associated Press

    Sure, the Willy Adames trade was completed all the way back in May. Still, it's been a massively important transaction for the Milwaukee Brewers.

    The Brewers sent relievers J.P. Feyereisen and Drew Rasmussen to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for Adames and right-handed reliever Trevor Richards, who was later flipped to the Toronto Blue Jays. It's a deal that almost single-handedly changed the Brewers' season.

    Milwaukee was 21-23 after acquiring Adames. It is 37-19 since. Adames has been a major sparkplug in the lineup, slashing .294/.388/.537 with 11 homers and a 147 OPS+ in 56 games with the Brewers.

    Interestingly, the trade technically yielded even more offense for the Brew Crew. Milwaukee got Rowdy Tellez back from the Blue Jays in the Trevor Richards deal, and Tellez is hitting .333 with a pair of homers and a 1.058 OPS in 12 games, albeit just 30 plate appearances. 

    The deal works just fine from Tampa Bay's perspective. The Rays had ample shortstop talent in the pipeline. Feyereisen has walked 18 batters in 22.1 innings with the Rays, but still has a 2.42 ERA and gives Tampa Bay another relief asset. Rasmussen has been pretty strong as a multi-inning guy and spot starter as of late, giving up two runs on four hits and striking out 10 in his last nine innings.

    However, this trade is really about Adames and the impact he has had on a Brewers team that already appears to have a relative stranglehold on the National League Central.

Braves Make Tentative Buy in Adding Joc Pederson

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    The Atlanta Braves are desperate to stay in the playoff hunt, but general manager Alex Anthopoulos is not a foolish man.

    Atlanta has managed to hang around in the NL East, but it also faces the daunting task of catching the New York Mets without superstar outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr., who tore his ACL earlier this month. Throw in a struggling bullpen and somewhat depleted rotation and the Braves seem hard-pressed to win the division.

    Still, Anthopoulos did make a move to try and inject some offense into the lineup. The Braves made a tentative buy on July 15, trading first base prospect Bryce Ball to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for outfielder Joc Pederson

    Pederson has been fine in Atlanta, hitting .273 with a .743 OPS in his first 11 games. The Braves, though, remain five games back of the Mets. It could be a game-time decision as to whether Anthopoulos pushes for bullpen assets or repositions by selling some impact guys on the roster, like Charlie Morton.

    As for the Cubs, they get a prospect with plenty of raw power in Bryce Ball. There is lots of swing-and-miss in Ball's game still, but the slugging upside is there, and Chicago needed talent at first base given the uncertainty surrounding Anthony Rizzo's future ahead of the deadline.

A.J. Preller Makes His First Move, Gets Adam Frazier

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Leave it to San Diego Padres president of baseball operations A.J. Preller to make the first big move of trade season.

    The Friars' aforementioned acquisition of Frazier gives them more offense and a guy with experience playing the middle infield and in the outfield. Frazier has been a revelation this season, hitting .324 with an .836 OPS. He gives San Diego versatility and steady contact in the lineup.

    Frazier's arrival might also have implications for first baseman Eric Hosmer. Ken Rosenthal and Dennis Lin of The Athletic reported the Padres were discussing Hosmer in deals. San Diego could try to move Hosmer and play Jake Cronenworth at first base, opening up more of a full-time role for Frazier at second. Regardless, Frazier is expected to play multiple positions.

    The Pittsburgh Pirates were always likely to deal Frazier, who is under club control through next season. They did well to net three prospects as part of the return, notably infielder Tucupita Marcano.

    While Marcano struggled (.485 OPS) in a brief stint with the Padres earlier this season, he has an .811 OPS at Triple-A this season and has a strong hit tool with good speed. 

Athletics Get Relief Help in Andrew Chafin

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    Aaron Doster/Associated Press

    The Oakland Athletics needed bullpen depth, and they got it Monday night.

    Oakland acquired left-hander Andrew Chafin from the Cubs in exchange for outfielder Greg Deichmann and young right-hander Daniel Palencia. Chafin should almost immediately be injected as a high-leverage guy for the A's.

    Chafin was terrific in Chicago. He has amassed a 2.06 ERA and 0.84 WHIP in his first 39.1 innings, while his 3.08 strikeout-to-walk ratio is currently the second-best mark of his career. 

    The Cubs get some promise with Deichmann who, despite being 26 years old, has displayed a more advanced approach at the plate and has an .885 OPS in Triple-A this season. Palencia has made just six professional appearances.


    All stats obtained via Baseball Reference