As tradition dictates, the passing of the trade deadline must include a declaration of winners and losers. (You can also find a recap of a busy Monday here.) Enjoy:
San Diego Padres: Were you expecting anyone else? The Padres had not just the most active deadline but also the most successful. They added an ace in Mike Clevinger. They erased their weaknesses at catcher with the additions of Austin Nola and Jason Castro. They strengthened their ‘pen in Trevor Rosenthal and their offense with Mitch Moreland. And they did it all without depleting their impressive farm system. The Padres now look like one of the best teams in the NL—both right now and for the foreseeable future.
Toronto Blue Jays: None of Toronto’s moves were particularly flashy, but taken together, they represent some pretty solid upgrades. Taijuan Walker automatically makes this rotation better. Ross Stripling does, too. Robbie Ray is in the middle of a bad stretch, but at a low cost, he’s a great pick-up in the event that he turns his season around. Dan Vogelbach can be a fun bat, and Jonathan Villar will be greatly appreciated in the infield until Bo Bichette can return from the IL.. And it just serves to sweeten the deal that the Yankees—who are now only one game ahead of the Blue Jays!—didn’t do anything at all today.
Philadelphia Phillies: The Phillies’ bullpen has been a nightmare. They started trying to fix it last week with the additions of Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree, and today, they tried to finish the job by adding David Phelps. Is that enough to make this relief corps great? Probably not. Does it make their outlook much, much, much better? Yes.
The reputation of “Player to Be Named Later”: In a typical season, “PTBNL” is often just code for "afterthought.” Now? Not so much. Since teams are limited to pulling from their 60-man player pools due to the current roster restrictions—as opposed to anyone in the organization—a player to be named later might be a player whose name you should know.
Look at the Rangers’ return from the A’s for Mike Minor: Two PTBNL, which, under normal conditions, wouldn’t mean much at all. But those two players have since been reported as outfielder Marcus Smith and third baseman Dustin Harris, both of whom are actual prospects, if not particularly flashy ones. (Smith was ranked #13 in the A’s system by The Athletic, #21 by Baseball America, and #26 by FanGraphs; Harris falls somewhere behind him.) If just for this year, PTBNLs can be actual players to watch.
Cleveland: Mike Clevinger was the most attractive player on the market this year. Cleveland should have had plenty of leverage in trying to move him. Which makes it easy to see their return as... a bit underwhelming. It’s not bad. It’s just oriented more toward quantity over quality without a major headliner—a six-player package of Cal Quantrill, Josh Naylor, Austin Hedges, Gabriel Arias, Joey Cantillo and Owen Miller.
There are guys to be somewhat excited about in there. Given Cleveland’s reputation for pitching development, Quantrill could become a standout. Arias is a promising prospect. And as much as this team needs an outfield bat, Naylor is a welcome addition. (Well, Naylor’s defense means that he’s not a long-term outfield solution, but he’ll slot in there for now, and his offense will be greatly appreciated.) It’s all fine! It’s just not as sexy as what you may have been expecting, and when it comes to a player as talented as Clevinger, that can be tough to swallow.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Did the Dodgers need to make a move? No. They’re the best team in baseball for a reason. But will they eventually regret not trying to add a little something if the Padres end up grabbing the NL West? Especially if the Dodgers fail to deliver in October? ...Quite possibly!
Texas Rangers: After Clevinger was moved early in the day, Texas should have been in a great spot to deal Lance Lynn. His name had been floated as one of the most desirable starters on the market for weeks, and for the final few hours of the deadline, he stood out as the consensus best choice available. Instead, however, the team stayed quiet, with no action other than flipping Mike Minor to Oakland. Maybe whatever they were looking for just wasn’t there. But it’s difficult not to see the lack of action as a missed opportunity, at the very least.
Los Angeles Angels: Their lack of action isn’t quite as damning as the Rangers’, but still, it’s notable. The Angels have the worst record in the American League. They should have been in a clear position to sell, and by getting started over the weekend with trades of Tommy La Stella and Jason Castro, it seemed like the team was preparing to do so. Andrelton Simmons, like Castro, will be a free agent at the end of the year. Dylan Bundy—who could have been one of the more notable starters moved—will be a free agent after next year. It would have made a lot of sense to move either one.
A.J. Preller’s energy levels: Take a nap, man. You’ve earned it.