Now that the MLB trade deadline has come and gone, we can finally stop wondering which players will stay, which will go, and what teams will make the most significant upgrades. We have a general idea of what the rosters will look like moving forward; now all that’s left is to consider is which teams have a realistic shot of winning a World Series.
The Texas Rangers made major moves, the Milwaukee Brewers moved key players, and several teams added depth, bullpen help, or an extra outfielder. At the same time, some teams kickstarted rebuilds with their deadline moves and others stood their ground with a losing roster. Here are our three winners and three losers from the 2016 MLB trade deadline.
The Rangers are a big winner of the MLB trade deadline, using their farm system depth to acquire — among others — catcher Jonathan Lucroy and relief pitcher Jeremy Jeffress from the Milwaukee Brewers, outfielder Carlos Beltran from the New York Yankees, and pitchers Lucas Harrell and Dario Alvarez from the Atlanta Braves.
Texas improved in several areas, including their offense, starting pitching, and bullpen. Lucroy and Beltran were two of the most productive hitters available, and while Harrell is nothing special he can certainly give the Rangers an upgrade over some of the questionable fodder at the back of their rotation. He started five games for the Braves this season with a 3.38 ERA in 29 1/3 innings. The flurry of deals makes the Texas Rangers the biggest winner of the MLB trade deadline.
New York Yankees
On the flip side of the Rangers’ moves, the Yankees are big winners for the return on all the pieces they sold. They got a top shortstop prospect Gleyber Torres, top outfield prospect Clint Frazier, pitching prospect Justus Sheffield, and several other names in return for Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Carlos Beltran, and Ivan Nova.
Essentially, New York got a ton of assets for players who may or may not have been around the next time they had a roster worthy of winning the AL East. The debatable name is Miller, who was under contract for two more years, but no reliever is so important that you can’t afford to trade him for one of the best hitting prospects in the game. The Yanks restocked their farm system and created a much brighter future at the trade deadline.
On the other end of the Miller trade: the Indians, who added one of the best relievers in the game while giving up nothing from their big-league roster. They also traded for outfielder Brandon Guyer from the Tampa Bay Rays, who hits left-handed pitchers well and brings extra depth and versatility to their outfield. The Indians attempted to make a deal for Lucroy, but the trade ultimately fell apart when the catcher vetoed the deal with his no-trade clause.
In the end, Cleveland is a winner anyway. They improved their bullpen and their outfield, as well as their offense. They may have given up some serious future talent, but they have a deep and excellent starting rotation and are primed to head into the postseason as a World Series favorite in the American League.
Chicago White Sox
The White Sox could have received the kind of prospect packages that teams dream of — had they decided to deal starting pitchers Chris Sale and Jose Quintana. At the time of the passing trade deadline, the Sox were 51-54, without much hope of making the playoffs. Dealing at least one of their starting pitchers, and possibly Todd Frazier, would’ve opened up the opportunity to rebuild around a young core and fill holes on the roster.
But the Sox ended up moving relief pitcher Zach Duke to the St. Louis Cardinals for Charlie Tilson, a prospect with a chance at being a fourth outfielder. The Sox appear content to remain stuck in mediocrity for the near future. All in all, the impact is nearly zero on the White Sox improvements for 2017 and beyond, which is why they fall, unfortunately, into our loser category.
The Cubs made their biggest move early, trading several prospects and pitcher Adam Warren to the New York Yankees for hard-throwing, left-handed reliever Aroldis Chapman. But Chapman comes with several issues, including his domestic violence history and the fact that he can walk away from the team after the playoffs are over.
With Chapman, the Cubs have a crowded bullpen. So much so, in fact, that they had to send reliever Justin Grimm to Triple-A just to keep from having to designate someone for assignment.
So, with rumors that the Cubs were looking at extra help in the manner of outfielder Josh Reddick or one of the many starting pitchers with the Tampa Bay Rays, what do the Cubs do? They make a trade for yet another middle reliever, Joe Smith of the Los Angeles Angels. Maybe it will work out for them, but the Cubs gave up a lot for minor team improvements.
New York Mets
The Mets tried their hardest to deal for Lucroy, but it didn’t work out. Their offense is anemic, coming in last or in the bottom third in the National League in nearly every major category. So how did they go about improving, once it was clear that they weren’t going to land Lucroy? They traded for Jay Bruce of the Cincinnati Reds.
Now, the deal itself was good. The Mets didn’t have to give up a huge return, as it was rumored that outfielder Brandon Nimmo was originally in the deal but ended up not being involved. Bruce is having a good year, but that could be an outlier. He had a combined .695 OPS in 2014 and 2015 and is awful on defense. The Mets didn’t upgrade their offense nearly as much as they would’ve liked to, and the significant downgrade to their outfield defense puts them on the loser’s list.
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