- The trade deadline has passed, which means contenders are gearing up for stretch runs while rebuilding clubs look to reset after selling. Where do all 30 teams stand?
Now that the dust has settled on the trade deadline, it’s time for another round of power rankings. As always, teams are ranked by talent and performance—but for this go-’round, that ranking comes with a deadline recap and what it means for each club. Without any further ado...
TIER SIX: OUT OF BUSINESS
30. Baltimore Orioles (32–75)
Key Moves: One trade that everyone saw coming (Manny Machado to the Dodgers) and then a whole bunch of others on top of that (Jonathan Schoop to the Brewers; Kevin Gausman, Brad Brach and Darren O’Day to the Braves; Zach Britton to the Yankees). Basically, any veteran who had at least a little bit of trade value is gone, outside of Adam Jones. In return, Baltimore now has a big pile of prospects to play with. And some international slot money, too—which is notable for an organization that’s historically shunned foreign spending as completely as this one has.
Where They Go From Here: Baseball’s worst team has now, finally, laid the groundwork for a rebuilding phase. The only surprising part about this whole process was the decision to acquire international money—perhaps a sign of a more drastic shift in ownership spending and front office strategy than anything that this club has showed in quite a while. But in terms of what this deadline means for Baltimore’s immediate on-field play? A bad product’s only gotten worse. Hey, maybe the O's can chase the 1916 A’s for the worst record ever.
29. Kansas City Royals (33–73)
Key Moves: Flipping Mike Moustakas to Milwaukee for a duo of young players that are close to major-league ready, outfielder Brett Phillips and pitcher Jorge Lopez.
Where They Go From Here: Baltimore’s deadline sale means that it’s now going to be a little harder for Kansas City to compete for baseball’s worst record. But its grip on the title of baseball’s worst bullpen, at least, seems ironclad. (A 5.35 ERA, and it is the only relief corps with a strikeout rate below 20%.)
28. Chicago White Sox (37–69)
Key Moves: Sending Joakim Soria to Milwaukee in exchange for a pair of pitching prospects.
Where They Go From Here: On deadline day, the White Sox made just one move. (The Soria deal came to pass last week.) As baseball whipped itself into a transactional frenzy, Chicago traded some international money for non-prospect minor-league pitcher Hunter Schryver. Technically, the White Sox did something, but it doesn’t mean much and it certainly doesn’t give you much to look at right now—a sentence which also works as a pretty apt description of their season.
27. San Diego Padres (42–68)
Key Moves: The team’s brightest spot, relief pitching, was put up for sale as expected. The Padres sent Brad Hand and Adam Cimber to Cleveland in exchange for crown jewel catching prospect Francisco Mejia.
Where They Go From Here: The fact that San Diego was reportedly among Chris Archer’s most aggressive suitors would indicate that it believes its contention window is opening sooner rather than later. Right now, though, it’s definitely still closed, which its current seven-game losing streak conveniently demonstrates.
26. New York Mets (44–60)
Key Moves: Nothing of consequence.
Where They Go From Here: The Mets could have traded Noah Syndergaard, or Jacob deGrom, or Zack Wheeler, or Jose Bautista. Instead, they did none of the above, opting to stand pat despite the fact that they’re standing in a place that’s objectively awful and has been for months. Against Washington on Wednesday night, they suffered the worst loss in franchise history, by a score of 25-4—which isn’t directly related to their deadline inaction, but boy, it sure feels like a sign of something.
TIER FIVE: UP FOR SALE
25. Texas Rangers (46–63)
Key Moves: Dealing top-of-the-rotation veteran Cole Hamels to the Cubs for reliever Eddie Butler and pitching prospect Rollie Lacy. Other than that, their only significant activity came in the form of dismantling the bullpen in exchange for minor-league pitching. Jake Diekman was sent to the Diamondbacks for 24-year-old righty Wei-Chieh Huang, Keone Kela went to the Pirates for 23-year-old lefty Taylor Hearn and Jesse Chavez was shipped out to the Cubs for 22-year-old lefty Tyler Thomas.
Where They Go From Here: As bad as this rotation has been (see: bad), it’s been somewhat easy to overlook that the bullpen has been… decent-ish? Not quite good, but capable enough; they’re right in the middle of baseball’s pack by strikeout-to-walk ratio and ERA. Now, after the deadline, three of the most effective pieces of that bullpen are gone, as is one of the better rotation arms. It’s not as if Texas was ever going to be fun or easy to watch for the rest of the season while it starts planning ahead for the years to come, but yikes, the composition of this pitching staff will certainly make it harder to watch for now.
24. Miami Marlins (46–63)
Key Moves: Brad Ziegler to Arizona for a relief prospect and Cameron Maybin to Seattle for an infield prospect. Surprisingly, one of Miami’s biggest trade chips—J.T. Realmuto, the best-hitting catcher in baseball right now—stayed put.
Where They Go From Here: They’re recalling pitcher Jarlin Garcia to take Ziegler’s roster spot, and they didn’t trade second baseman Starlin Castro, as they’d reportedly explored earlier. In other words, the Marlins roster will once again include both a Jarlin and a Starlin. Rejoice!
23. Detroit Tigers (46–62)
Key Moves: Shipping Leonys Martin to Cleveland in exchange for shortstop prospect Willi Castro.
Where They Go From Here: Michael Fulmer’s recent oblique injury meant that Detroit didn’t have much of a chance to move the young pitcher who previously represented its biggest potential trade chip, and despite a bevy of rumors, it decided to hang on to guys like Mike Fiers and Nicholas Castellanos. The Tigers are left smack dab in the middle of the dreadful AL Central—which isn’t a great place to be, but it always could be worse.
22. Cincinnati Reds (48–59)
Key Moves: Outfielder Adam Duvall went to Atlanta in exchange for young pitchers Lucas Sims and Matt Wisler, plus outfielder Preston Tucker.
Where They Go From Here: A month of showcase starts for Matt Harvey, who is now, in the latest weird twist to his career, a prime candidate for the waiver-trade period.
21. Toronto Blue Jays (48–57)
Key Moves: Clearing out their bullpen. For a minor-league pitcher apiece, they sent John Axford to the Dodgers and Aaron Loup to the Phillies, and for a prospect package, they sent Seunghwan Oh to the Rockies. Most notably, they traded Roberto Osuna to the Astros for Ken Giles and a pair of pitching prospects. Outside the relief corps, Toronto’s only other big move was sending J.A. Happ to the Yankees for Brandon Drury and outfield prospect Billy McKinney.
Where They Go From Here: Celebrating the fact that Vlad Guerrero, Jr., is now in Triple A.
TIER FOUR: MIDDLE OF THE STORE
20. Minnesota Twins (49–56)
Key Moves: Selling off just about everyone that they were expected to. Infielder Eduardo Escobar is a Diamondback. Reliever Ryan Pressly is an Astro. Starting pitcher Lance Lynn is a Yankee. Reliever Zach Duke is a Mariner. Second baseman Brian Dozier is, finally, a Dodger. And to show for it all, Minnesota now has some shiny new prospects and Logan Forsythe.
Where They Go From Here: The Twins moved every impending free agent they had, and they got a pretty fair return. They couldn’t have hoped for a much better deadline, all things considered. But think back to where this team was last year—earning a postseason berth in a remarkable worst-to-near-first turnaround—and where they originally planned to be this year, and, man, this is all just a bummer.
19. Tampa Bay Rays (53–53)
Key Moves: This one’s quite the hodgepodge, doing plenty to disrupt the roster without achieving anything along the lines of a traditional rebuilding project. Most notably, Tampa moved its biggest rotation pieces. Chris Archer went to Pittsburgh for some strong, young talent, and Nathan Eovaldi was sent to Boston for rookie pitcher Jalen Beeks. They also dealt swingman Matt Andriese to Arizona in exchange for a pair of prospects. Elsewhere on the diamond, they added outfielder Tommy Pham for a trio of prospects and traded catcher Wilson Ramos to Philadelphia for a player to be named later.
Where They Go From Here: The Rays have been playing with the conventional boundaries between rotation and bullpen all season long, wholeheartedly embracing the “opener” strategy that seemed like just a quirky experiment when they first tried it back in May. But their deadline activity puts them in a new space: one with no starting pitchers at all. With Blake Snell on the disabled list, Archer and Eovaldi were their only guys, and now they’re gone. On the one hand, this raises questions about what the reasonable limits of this strategy might be, if there are any; on the other, it makes for a pretty ridiculous depth chart:
So, uh, there’s that to address.
18. San Francisco Giants (55–54)
Key Moves: None.
Where They Go From Here: The Giants have spent all season in the tiny clearing between “just good enough to say you’re still in it” and “just bad enough to know you’re not in it,” and their silence at the deadline keeps them there. The news that Johnny Cueto will likely need Tommy John surgery, though, might push them more toward the latter description.
17. Los Angeles Angels (54–54)
Key Moves: Sending Ian Kinsler to Boston and Martin Maldonado to Houston for prospects and international slot money.
Where They Go From Here: This week, Mike Trout’s 2018 Baseball-Reference WAR surpassed his 2014 WAR. He was 2014’s AL MVP, the leader in runs and runs batted in and total bases. His 7.6 WAR was the highest of any position player.
That 7.6 WAR accumulated over a full season in which he played 157 games. Right now, Trout has passed that performance to sit at 7.9 WAR. And he’s played just 107 games.
So that’s what Trout has done lately. The Angels, meanwhile, are 5–6 since the All-Star break. This, then, is where they go from here: Trout will keep pursuing history, and the Angels will keep meandering down the middle of the road.
16. St. Louis Cardinals (54–53)
Key Moves: A bunch of shuffling around. St. Louis sent Tommy Pham to the Rays for a trio of prospects, Sam Tuivailala to the Mariners for a minor-league pitcher, and, less notably, first baseman Luke Voit to the Yankees for bullpen arms Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos. Meanwhile, the club also designated relievers Greg Holland and Tyler Lyons for assignment.
Where They Go From Here: The Cardinals’ splashiest move of the deadline was the Pham trade, which only makes sense given that the reported breakdown of the team-player relationship included details like the front office refusing to buy him exercise equipment. But the decision to DFA Holland and Lyons feels almost as notable. They were two of the bullpen’s biggest names, but after failing to perform this season, they’re suddenly out—a sign that GM Mike Mozeliak, in the aftermath of firing Mike Matheny, really isn’t messing around here.
TIER THREE: SHOULD WE SELL OR SHOULD WE GO
15. Washington Nationals (53–53)
Key Moves: Sending Brandon Kintzler to the Cubs; not sending Bryce Harper anywhere.
Where They Go From Here: The Nationals’ status as buyers or sellers was left an open question as late as a few hours before the deadline, a topsy-turvy saga befitting the team’s chaotic season. First, there were reports that they were going to acquire a catcher, as they’d needed to all season; then, reports that they would instead be selling. Then, reports that the selling in question could involve Bryce Harper. After a few hours of wild speculation over potential trade proposals, that idea was ultimately shot down with an announcement from GM Mike Rizzo. But the news that the team was keeping their star didn’t mean that they were looking to buy, and it didn’t mean that they were fully standing pat. Instead, it meant that they were… selling off only one player, a perfectly fine reliever, who was so surprised by the move that he thought he was being pranked?
Indeed, it sounds as if the trade might not have been for baseball reasons at all, with the Washington Post reporting that Kintzler was dealt because the front office “believed he was responsible for anonymous reports that painted Washington’s clubhouse culture as iffy.” It was, in general, a strange deadline for a team that claims to be contending but has done nothing to back that up. And yet despite all this mess, it's still just 5 1/2 games back in the division and five games back of the wild card. It’s possible! It just isn’t particularly likely, and Washington hasn’t done much of anything to change that.
14. Pittsburgh Pirates (56–52)
Key Moves: Bolstering the rotation with Chris Archer and the bullpen with Keone Kela.
Where They Go From Here: After a red-hot month pushed it into a playoff race that it had largely been ruled out of from the start, Pittsburgh delivered one of the more fun deals of the deadline. As a fringe contender, it decided to push its chips in and go for it, rather than holding tight to its prospects and waiting for a new window. The Pirates' upcoming schedule isn’t easy—Cubs, Cardinals, Rockies, Giants—but it’s not impassable, either. If they can continue winning here, the NL Central could be in for a really fun September.
13. Colorado Rockies (58–48)
Key Moves: Exchanging a prospect package for reliever Seunghwan Oh in order to boost a bullpen that, despite an extensive investment last winter, was sorely in need of a boost.
Where They Go From Here: A seven-game winning streak around the All-Star break put Colorado right back in the thick of this wild card race, with its work cut out for it ahead. Which is maybe part of what inspired the Rockies to engage in one of the more absurd negligible transactions of the season by signing a minor-league deal with... Matt Holliday, who apparently is still around and interested in playing at the age of 38! The more you know.
12. Atlanta Braves (57–47)
Key Moves: Getting pitchers Kevin Gausman, Darren O’Day and Brad Brach from Baltimore in exchange for four minor-league players and international pool money; acquiring outfielder Adam Duvall from Cincinnati for another foursome of young talent.
Where They Go From Here: All season, the read on this team has been that it has arrived early—that this young team, previously not expected to seriously contend for another season or two, has showed up ahead of schedule. It’s provided an awful lot of fun for a fanbase that hasn’t had much to cheer for a while now, and it’s also raised the question of how a front office should approach the deadline in such a situation. When your club has launched itself into contention early, do you just stand pat and wait for the future you’ve been planning? Or do you push in some of your young talent to speed up the cycle and make a serious run? The Braves leaned toward the latter—even if these moves are more like gently tapping the gas pedal, rather than gunning it—and it should make for an exciting race in the NL East down the stretch.
11. Philadelphia Phillies (59–48)
Key Moves: A patchwork of minor moves—acquiring reliever Aaron Loup from the Blue Jays, catcher Wilson Ramos from the Rays and infielder Asdrubal Cabrera from the Mets.
Where They Go From Here: Last weekend, Philadelphia achieved its biggest lead yet in the NL East. That it was just 2 1/2 games shows how close this division is, and how little margin for error this team has. An ideal spot to gain a little breathing room? This week’s four-game series against Miami.
TIER TWO: BUY UP
10. Arizona Diamondbacks (60–49)
Key Moves: The centerpiece here was a deal for Minnesota infielder Eduardo Escobar, who’s broken out for his best performance this season. The rest is (mostly) relief pitching: Brad Ziegler from the Marlins, Jake Diekman from the Rangers and swingman Matt Andriese from the Rays.
Where They Go From Here: The Diamondbacks just might have gotten the best infielder available on the market in Escobar. He’ll take over at third base, where previous starter Jake Lamb has been sidelined with a shoulder injury, and he’ll bring his personal-best .849 OPS and 15 home runs with him. The NL West is still a tough crowd, but Arizona isn’t letting L.A. coast to a first-place finish without a fight.
9. Cleveland Indians (58–48)
Key Moves: Fixing their broken bullpen by trading for San Diego’s Brad Hand and Adam Cimber; taking a step toward fixing their broken outfield by trading for Detroit’s Leonys Martin.
Where They Go From Here: Cleveland has an easier path to the playoffs than any other team, thanks to the dreadful state of the AL Central. It should be even easier now that it has used the deadline to address its roster’s two big weaknesses. As for whether it's sufficiently addressed them to be a legitimate contender once it's in the playoffs? Well, that’s a different question.
8. Oakland Athletics (63–46)
Key Moves: Despite rumors that they’d pursue some much-needed rotation help as the deadline approached, the A's sat still. Instead, their only significant move came last week, when they swapped a pair of minor-leaguers for a bullpen upgrade in the form of Jeurys Familia.
Where They Go From Here: Oakland's unexpected climb over the last six weeks has now brought it just one game out of a wild-card berth. A spot in the playoffs still seems like a long shot, given the composition of the rotation, but this team’s been raking and winning close games and, hey, it's made it this far.
7. Seattle Mariners (63–44)
Key Moves: Acquiring a trio of relievers—Zach Duke from the Twins, Adam Warren from the Yankees, Sam Tuivailala from the Cardinals—plus a sharp outfield presence in Cameron Maybin.
Where They Go From Here: For the first time this season, the Mariners had a monthly losing record in July. Going 10–13 meant dropping from a near-certain lock on a wild-card spot to a one-game lead—meaning that the odds are still on them to break the longest playoff drought in professional sports—but those odds have lately been getting longer and longer.
6. Milwaukee Brewers (63–47)
Key Moves: By far, the wackiest of the deadline. The Brewers seemingly ignored their one clear need—a rotation upgrade—and instead went after… infield bats. First, they picked up third baseman Mike Moustakas from Kansas City, which prompted existing third baseman Travis Shaw to move to second. Given that Shaw had never played at the keystone before in any level of professional baseball, that alone was a gamble. And then, in the closing minutes before the deadline, Milwaukee went after Baltimore’s Jonathan Schoop, another second baseman. They did make one move to acquire pitching, picking up White Sox closer Joakim Soria. But the dominant theme here was infielders with big bats, and, uh, the aforementioned and much-needed rotation upgrade was nowhere to be found.
Where They Go From Here: The infield strategy here seems to be something along the lines of, “ignore defense, hit dingers.” That could be ridiculously fun! Or, you know, it could be a disaster that helps push them out of a crowded wild card race.
TOP TIER: IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL
5. Los Angeles Dodgers (59–49)
Key Moves: Trades for second baseman Brian Dozier and reliever John Axford. And, oh yeah, one Manny Machado.
Where They Go From Here: The NL West remains tightly bunched, but L.A. still stands out as the division’s most talented team. That’s been the case all year—even as it struggled through the season’s early weeks—and it’s only more true now, after the acquisition of Machado. Even so, the club’s upcoming schedule represents a tough stretch (Milwaukee, Houston, Oakland, Colorado, San Francisco, Seattle) and it won’t be able to take its position near the top of the division for granted here.
4. Chicago Cubs (61–44)
Key Moves: Rounding out the rotation with Cole Hamels and the bullpen with Brandon Kintzler and Jesse Chavez.
Where They Go From Here: It’s unsurprising that pitching was the deadline focus here, as it’s remarkable just how much this team needs it. With Yu Darvish injured for most of the year and Tyler Chatwood breaking down, no pitching staff has walked more batters than the this one. The rotation’s 4.17 ERA puts it in baseball’s bottom half, with a 4.76 FIP in baseball’s bottom third. The offense has proved capable of carrying the team thus far, with an NL-best .768 OPS, but a set-up like that tends to need at least a little help on the mound down the stretch.
3. New York Yankees (68–37)
Key Moves: Boosting the rotation with the additions of J.A. Happ and Lance Lynn (which required parting with infielder Brandon Drury and first baseman Tyler Austin, respectively). Tweaking their bullpen by adding Zach Britton and sending Adam Warren to Seattle.
Where They Go From Here: On July 1, the Yankees were tied with the Red Sox for first place in the AL East. On July 2, they fell a game behind, and over the course of the month, they only fell steadily further back. They’re still solidly in the very tiny handful of baseball’s best teams, but their chances of taking the division are in serious jeopardy. (FanGraphs has their odds at 35%, down from 63% on July 1.) Now five games behind, New York can only hope that its deadline moves bring meaningful improvement to a pitching staff that’s needed it—and, more crucially, that Aaron Judge recovers from his fractured wrist as soon as possible.
2. Houston Astros (68–41)
Key Moves: Strengthening the bullpen by adding Ryan Pressly from Minnesota and, more importantly, Roberto Osuna from Toronto. (The latter move involved giving up beleaguered and recently demoted former closer Ken Giles.) The Astros also acquired Martin Maldonado to fill the temporary hole at catcher that’s resulted from Brian McCann’s knee injury.
Where They Go From Here: As talented as the Astros are, the Mariners and A’s are still a little too close for comfort in the AL West. But they used the trade deadline to paper over their few weaknesses, and while there shouldn’t have been any doubt before, there especially shouldn’t be now: Houston’s built to go deep into October, and it is fully planning to do so.
1. Boston Red Sox (75–34)
Key Moves: Replacing the injured Dustin Pedroia with Ian Kinsler, and beefing up the rotation by exchanging rookie pitcher Jalen Beeks for Nathan Eovaldi.
Where They Go From Here: At long last, Boston has earned a little bit of breathing room atop the AL East. The Red Sox went 19–6 in July to tie their best monthly record of the season; meanwhile, the Yankees went 15–10 to post their worst. The result? A five-game lead for a Boston team that looks scarier than ever, so much so that even news that should be devastating—i.e., Chris Sale’s trip to the disabled list—feels more like a minor inconvenience than a true disaster.