Re-Grading the Top Moves of MLB's 2021 Trade Deadline

Brandon Scott@@brandonkscottFeatured Columnist ISeptember 10, 2021

Re-Grading the Top Moves of MLB's 2021 Trade Deadline

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Enough time has passed since the July 30 trade deadline to give some serious consideration to how teams fared in improving for a postseason stretch. 

    It was a whirlwind of a deadline, with so many well-established players across the league moving locations. 

    Let's re-grade the 10 biggest trades that happened within the final week of the deadline.

Kris Bryant to the San Francisco Giants

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Trade details: Giants acquire Bryant from Chicago Cubs for prospects Alexander Canario and Caleb Kilian

    Bryant has been an instant contributor to the Giants and makes more sense for his new organization than any other player traded at the deadline. While his August was much stronger than his September, he has been dealing with some minor wrist discomfort.

    Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi spoke of Bryant after the trade"[I] Just feel like he's a perfect fit for our roster, getting another middle-of-the-order right-handed bat."

    He's been exactly that, playing his natural third base position and all three outfield spots.

    Bryant is batting .265 with an .815 OPS and six home runs over 31 games for San Francisco, and Maria Guardado of reported the Giants want to sign him to a long-term deal.


    Grade: A

Max Scherzer, Trea Turner to the Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Trade details: Los Angeles Dodgers acquire Max Scherzer and Trea Turner from Washington Nationals for four prospects, including Keibert Ruiz and Josiah Gray.

    The top of the National League West got richer, didn't it? Adding Max Scherzer and Trea Turner to the reigning World Series champions has gone about the way you would expect.

    Scherzer has been excellent in his seven starts since being traded to the Dodgers. They have yet to lose a game with Scherzer on the mound, with him 5-0 in those starts. He would probably have another win if not for a nearly two-hour rain delay disrupting his second start for the Dodgers against the Phillies.

    Scherzer gave up two earned runs in his first Dodgers start against the Houston Astros; another three earned-run outings against the Mets, and that is all. 

    Meanwhile, Turner has added a much-needed spark with his well-known speed on the basepaths and effectiveness against left-handed pitchers. 

    Beyond having perhaps the coolest slide into home plate we've seen in a long time, Turner boasts Major League Baseball's highest batting average (.390) and second-highest OPS (1.098) against lefties, according to FanGraphs.

    Grade: A

Joey Gallo, Anthony Rizzo to the New York Yankees

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    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    Trade details: Yankees acquire Anthony Rizzo from Chicago Cubs for minor league right-handed pitcher Alexander Vizcaino and outfielder Kevin Alcantara; Joey Gallo and Joely Rodriguez from Texas Rangers for four prospects, including shortstop Josh Smith and second baseman Ezequiel Duran

    This one is a mixed bag. Rizzo, other than a stint on the COVID-19 list, has been his usual productive self at first base.

    Gallo, however, has been a disaster. The former Rangers slugger hit just .130 with 61 strikeouts in 123 at-bats in his first 35 games with the Yankees, prompting what was called a "reset" day off for Gallo earlier in the week against the Toronto Blue Jays.

    Before he was traded to the Yankees, Gallo was hitting .223 with 25 homers, 55 RBI and a .869 OPS in 95 games for the Rangers.

    Yankees hitting coach Marcus Thames told they are still working on his swing.

    Fortunately for the Yankees, they are talented enough offensively to win without a productive Gallo, even with their recent slump.

    Rodriguez sports a 2.03 ERA in 13.1 innings out of the bullpen since coming to the Bronx.


    Grade: C

Jose Berrios to Toronto Blue Jays

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    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    Trade details: Toronto Blue Jays acquire Jose Berrios from Minnesota Twins for top prospects Austin Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson

    Berrios has put together three consecutive quality starts after some initial struggles after being dealt from the Minnesota Twins to the Toronto Blue Jays. 

    It's probably too early to judge this trade, since the Blue Jays have Berrios for 2022. But it was an inconsistent start. 

    Berrios allowed 13 runs in 12.1 innings during a three-start span last month. However, over his last three starts, he's allowed six runs (five earned) in 20.1 innings.

    There were Blue Jays fans who understandably recoiled at parting with top prospects in Austin Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson, but both have since dropped on MLB's top 100 prospect rankings. 

    Meanwhile, Berrios only gave up a pair of runs Thursday night against the Yankees on a two-run homer by Anthony Rizzo. Berrios struck out eight, and that powerful Blue Jays lineup backed him up.


    Grade: C

Javier Baez, Trevor Williams to Mets for Outfield Prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    Trade details: New York Mets acquire Javier Baez and Trevor Williams from Chicago Cubs for teenage outfield prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong

    This is easily the most disappointing blockbuster from the trade deadline. After the former Cubs—Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Javier Baez—all hit home runs in their first games with their new teams, it's been a really odd fit for Baez with the Mets.

    His numbers have improved in September, slashing .364/.432/.727 compared to .213/.262/.410, but it has to be hard for Mets fans to feel like this was a necessary move.

    Between the underwhelming performance and the sideshow created by essentially booing the fans, which management had to admonish, this has just felt like it should have never happened.

    Williams has fared better, allowing just three earned runs in 18 innings as a Met.


    Grade: D

Craig Kimbrel to White Sox for Nick Madrigal, Codi Heuer

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Trade details: Chicago White Sox acquire Craig Kimbrel from Chicago Cubs for second baseman Nick Madrigal and right-handed reliever Codi Heuer

    It's hard not to feel like the best version of Kimbrel was left on the north side of time. His 0.49 ERA in 36.2 innings for the Cubs this season will have been what the White Sox felt would fortify the back end of their bullpen. 

    But Kimbrel has given up nine earned runs in 14 innings pitched for the White Sox, boosting his ERA up to 1.95 (it was as high as 2.06 toward the end of August). 

    The eight-time All-Star, who White Sox manager Tony La Russa has called a Hall of Fame closer, has mostly been used in the eighth with Liam Hendriks closing the ninth. 

    The White Sox have World Series aspirations and probably thought they were getting something closer to the Kimbrel who pitched for the 2018 champions.


    Grade: C-

Starling Marte to A's, Jesus Luzardo to Marlins

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Trade details: Oakland A's acquire Starling Marte from Miami Marlins for cash considerations and Jesus Luzardo

    Marte has a hit in almost every game he's played for the A's. He's also been excellent in center field, especially with Ramon Laureano serving an 80-game suspension after testing positive for an anabolic steroid.

    It has not been enough to keep the A's from imploding. They went from competing with the Houston Astros to defend their American League West title from last year, to scrapping with the Seattle Mariners and the AL West for a wild-card spot. 

    This was an excellent trade for the A's, however. 

    Luzardo's picked things up in Miami after a brutal start to his time there. It has been more bad than good, though. Luzardo gave up 24 runs (all earned) in his first five starts for the Marlins

    He's given up five earned runs in his last three starts, all of which the Marlins have won. 


    Grade: B

Kyle Gibson, Ian Kennedy to Philadelphia Phillies

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    Trade details: Philadelphia Phillies acquire Kyle Gibson, reliever Ian Kennedy, prospect Hans Crouse and cash considerations from Texas Rangers for RHP Spencer Howard, RHP Kevin Gowdy and RHP Josh Gessner

    Kyle Gibson is having a rough September after being solid in five of his first six starts for the Phillies. 

    In his last two outings, both losses, Gibson allowed 11 runs over 10 innings. Gibson posted a 3.16 ERA in six appearances for Philadelphia in August. Two of his eight outings for the Phillies have been badagainst the Dodgers (Aug. 11) and the Marlins (Sept. 3).

    Kennedy had his third blown save of the season Thursday night against the Colorado Rockies. It was his second blown save since being traded to Philly on July 30.

    The Phillies are in the middle of a playoff push, and their most significant acquisitions have not made enough of an impact.


    Grade: C

Kyle Schwarber to Boston Red Sox

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Trade details: Boston Red Sox acquire Kyle Schwarber from Washington Nationals for right-handed pitcher Aldo Ramirez

    Schwarber was hitting .325 with a .460 on-base percentage and 1.010 OPS with the Red Sox after going 2-for-4 in an 11-10 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday. 

    He was out of the lineup Wednesday, but pinch hit in the ninth inning, grounded into a fielder's choice and scored on Hunter Renfroe's game-deciding home run. 

    The issue with Schwarber in Boston is deciding where to play him and how to get that bat in the lineup every day now that the team is returning to full strength from its COVID-19 outbreak. 

    It's a good problem to have.


    Grade: B

Jorge Soler, Adam Duvall and Joc Pederson to Atlanta Braves

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Trade details: Atlanta Braves acquire Jorge Soler from Kansas City Royals for right-handed pitching prospect Kasey Kalich; Adam Duvall from Miami Marlins for catcher Alex Jackson; Joc Pederson from Atlanta Braves from Chicago Cubs for Bryce Ball.

    Jorge Soler entered Thursday's game hitting .287/.376/.535 with nine home runs and a 141 wRC+ and has been the best of the Braves' deadline acquisitions. Joc Pederson then had the tie-breaking hit in a 7-6 win over the Nationals Thursday. 

    Soler, Pederson and Adam Duvall together have bolstered the Braves' outfield.

    Soler's been the story of this deal, though. He's walked 20 times and struck out 30 times in 35 games for Atlanta. 

    Compared to their division rivals, the Braves are getting the most return from their trade-deadline investments, making them the clear class of the NL East.


    Grade: A