The trade deadline has come and gone. Despite plenty of reasons to think it wouldn't be an active trading period–financial uncertainty this year and beyond, expanded playoffs translating to fewer sellers–we saw a flurry of moves across the league on Monday.
The stars weren't the Yankees and Dodgers, rather the Padres, Marlins, Blue Jays and Reds grabbed headlines for the moves they made. How about that for a change? Relive all of Monday's action below, starting with overall takeaways from SI's MLB experts and ending with analysis of the Mike Clevinger blockbuster. Enjoy.
All times listed in Eastern Standard Time.
4:33 p.m.: Takeaways from a surprisingly busy deadline day
Emma Baccellieri: I’m most surprised by what didn’t happen. That Texas didn’t deal Lance Lynn is really striking—Clevinger was taken off the table pretty early in the day, which left Lynn as the most desirable starter on the market for a solid few hours. The Rangers should have had plenty of leverage to pull something off there, and given their spot in the standings, it would make sense that they’d be seriously trying to do so. (Which, of course, was also an argument for trying to move Joey Gallo, which the team likewise did not do—also surprising.) It’s hard to understand why Texas chose to stand pat here, and it seems difficult not to feel like this will stand out as a missed chance, if not an outright mistake.
Matt Martell: The Padres had a great few days, and the Blue Jays shored up their starting rotation. They are the two winners of this deadline. But my main takeaway is Lance Lynn. This is more of a missed opportunity for all the teams in need of a starting pitcher that didn’t trade for him. The Yankees surely could have used a durable, reliable starter of Lynn’s caliber. The White Sox would’ve been a great fit. Lynn also would’ve boosted the Twins, Nationals, Braves and Dodgers. Lynn is under contract through the end of next year and is about as cheap as a top tier starter comes ($8 million salary next year). It’s hard to believe not one of those teams could’ve put together a compelling package to get him from Texas. Maybe they did and the Rangers didn’t bite. Either way, this is a major whiff for any contending team in need of a starting pitcher.
Cleveland Baseball Insider: What does Clevinger deal mean for Indians?
Connor Grossman: The expanded postseason is doing exactly what it ended to do: opening up October baseball to markets that don't see it as often as L.A. or New York. Seeing the Marlins grab the best hitter available in Starling Marte was a jolt. They haven't made the playoffs in 17 years. The Blue Jays bolstered their roster with Robbie Ray and Jonathan Villar. The Reds grabbed outfielder Brian Goodwin and closer Archie Bradley at the buzzer. The Padres' blitz of trades can't go unmentioned either, and they're the clear winners of the deadline. It's an exciting time for teams that don't share the national spotlight enough.
4:16 p.m.: Report: Mets get Todd Frazier at the buzzer
Matt Martell: This is funny, not because Frazier doesn’t make the Mets better, but because they just had him the last two seasons and didn’t make the playoffs. This year’s Mets team is not as good as the 2019 group, even with Frazier returning, but because of the expanded postseason, the veteran corner infielder could be what they need. After all, New York would have been the No. 7 seed if this playoff format were in place last year.
4:07 p.m. ET: Report: Diamondbacks ship closer Archie Bradley to Reds
Connor Grossman: The trade deadline may have struck seven minutes ago, but the last-second deals always trickle out in the minutes after 4 p.m. The Diamondbacks dismantled their roster over the last hour or so and the Reds, in this case, are the benefactors. Bradley is an electric late-inning arm but finds a curious landing spot in a Cincinnati team sitting four games under .500. Sixteen playoff teams!
Matt Martell: All the Reds have to do is sneak into the postseason to make a deep run. Their rotation is that good. Archie Bradley is a strong acquisition to help Cincinnati get to October. He deepens the Reds’ bullpen, joining Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen, Amir Garrett and Lucas Sims. Iglesias and Lorenzen are struggling this year, but they have great stuff and reliable track records. This move doesn’t guarantee the Reds will make the playoffs, but if they do, they could be dangerous. Bradley gives them a better chance to get there.
3:46 p.m.: Report: Rockies acquire Red Sox outfielder Kevin Pillar
Matt Martell: Pillar gives the Rockies one of the best defensive center fielders in the game. That definitely helps with the expansive outfield at Coors Field. Charlie Blackmon can slide to one of the corner outfield spots and keep hitting. The biggest knock on Pillar at the dish is he doesn’t walk much (4.0% career walk rate), but he has some pop in his bat. He’s recorded at least 30 doubles per year since he became a full-time player in 2015, and he hit 21 homers last season while playing most of his games in pitcher-friendly Oracle Park in San Francisco.
3:40 p.m.: Report: Phillies bolster bullpen by adding Brewers' reliever David Phelps
Emma Baccellieri: Yes, the Phillies already tried to bulk up their bullpen last week by adding Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree. But they were so bad to begin with that those additions weren’t anywhere near enough to fix them. (Entering Monday, their ‘pen had a worst-in-baseball 7.01 ERA.) So Phelps gets them one step closer to functional—and a bigger step than the one represented by either Workman or Hembree.
Matt Martell: The Brewers have bullpen depth, which is one of the reasons why Josh Hader was rumored to be available. Instead, they sent David Phelps to the Phillies for a few minor leaguers.
This is a great move for the Phillies. Phelps has been a solid reliever since making the transition to a full-time bullpen arm in 2016—he has a 2.85 ERA over those four seasons (he missed all of 2018 due to Tommy John surgery). Plus, Joe Girardi loves him. Phelps came up with the Yankees when Girardi was their manager. Girardi said this about Phelps this offseason, according to Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer: “I think he’s one of those guys that has the ability to be a multiple-inning reliever who gets left-handers and right-handers out. He’s also a guy who is extremely prepared. He studies the game. Can perform multiple roles.” Sounds like a great final bullpen acquisition for the Phillies to me.
3:28 p.m.: Report: Cubs trade for Diamondbacks reliever Andrew Chafin
Matt Martell: This is pitiful. Remember when I praised the Cubs for acquiring José Martínez and compared it to them getting Nick Castellanos last trade deadline? Well, Chicago getting Chafin is like what it did last year, too. Once again, the Cubs traded for a lefty reliever who fails to make their bullpen better. Last year, it was Derek Holland—that didn’t work out. Now, it’s Andrew Chafin, a former lefty specialist who has an 8.10 ERA in 11 games this season.
Emma Baccellieri: What do we call a LOOGY who’s lost the “one-out-guy” section of the nickname on account of the new three-batter minimum? “The lefty specialist formerly known as LOOGY”? At any rate, Chafin is one of those, and while he’s struggled greatly this season, he works as a low-cost rental to try bulking up the ‘pen.
3:07 p.m.: Report: Marlins send Jonathan Villar to Blue Jays
Connor Grossman: One of the last bona fide base stealers in today's game, Jonathan Villar is reportedly heading to the upstart Blue Jays. With infielder Bo Bichette's status unclear after a knee injury Toronto is bolstering its depth with a player who can start at shortstop, second base and in the outfield. Villar has proven to be an average to below-average offensive player, but again, his best tool is his speed. He has plenty of it.
3:04 p.m.: Report: Marlins acquire D-backs outfielder Starling Marte
Emma Baccellieri: The Marlins see your neat lines drawn between “buyers” and “sellers” and stomp all over them: The Marte addition came right as the Marlins were in the process of dealing Jonathan Villar to Toronto. But this is fun! Marte will automatically become the strongest hitter in this lineup—his 123+ OPS is a nice boost to a group with a collective mark there of 87—as the Fish try to hang around for October.
Matt Martell: I love this move. In Marte, the Marlins get a well-rounded outfielder who can help them make a push for one of the expanded playoff spots. Marte has a club option for next year, so Miami does not have to commit to the 31-year-old long term. The Marlins are sending lefty Caleb Smith to the Diamondbacks, which is a good move for both teams. Smith, 29, is under contract through the 2023 season and looks like Arizona’s replacement for Robbie Ray. And the Marlins aren’t losing too much by shopping Smith. They have a dearth of talented young pitchers and could afford to part with him for Marte, who is slashing .311/.384/.443 this year and instantly improves their offense. Rookie right-hander Humberto Mejia is also heading to the desert.
Interestingly, the Marlins are sending Jonathan Villar to the Blue Jays, a move that opens up a spot for Isan Diaz, who has applied for reinstatement after opting out of the season following Miami’s COVID-19 outbreak last month, according to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal.
2:10 p.m.: Blue Jays nab starter Robbie Ray from Diamondbacks
Emma Baccellieri: How much stock do you put in what any individual pitcher has done so far this year? The answer to that question is probably key to figuring out how you evaluate this deal. If you’re hesitant to judge too harshly off one month that followed uneven prep, there’s a lot to like about Ray! If you’re more dialed into what he’s done so far this season… this feels more like a reclamation project. (Ray leads baseball in both walks and wild pitches, among other unflattering statistics right now.)
Matt Martell: This move is fine, but nothing special. Robbie Ray can neutralize lefty hitters (.652 OPS in his career), and in another era, he would be the perfect person to match up with the Yankees. But the Yankees of today have more righty batters—DJ, LeMahieu, Luke Voit and Gary Sanchez, along with injured sluggers Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gleyber Torres—and righties have a .777 OPS against Ray over his seven-year career. Ray has strikeout stuff, which should play against the swing-and-miss Yankees, but his addition won’t make or break the Blue Jays’ postseason chances this season.
12:58 p.m.: With Clevinger off the board, what remains intriguing over these next three hours?
Matt Martell: Somehow, the defending-champion Nationals seem rather irrelevant at the trade deadline. What gives? Sure, they are in last in the NL East, but they are just three games out of second—good enough for a playoff berth. Their greatest weakness this season was last year’s strength: starting pitching. Washington starters have a 5.62 ERA, which is the worst in the National League. Stephen Strasburg is out for the season, and the Nats are patching up the final three spots in the rotation with Anibal Sanchez, Austin Voth and Erick Fedde, whose peripherals (5.65 FIP) suggest his 3.57 ERA won’t last. Meanwhile, first baseman Eric Thames (79 OPS+) and right fielder Adam Eaton (75 OPS+) are not providing the production the Nats expected from them.
Solution: Call up the Rangers and make a deal for Lance Lynn AND Joey Gallo. Lynn isn’t a free agent until after next season, and Gallo is under team control until he hits free agency after the 2022 season. Easy, right?
Emma Baccellieri: Are the Angels going to move Dylan Bundy—plus potentially more? It would, of course, make a lot of sense: Bundy has finally tapped into his potential in Anaheim in a way that he never quite could in Baltimore, and as a result, he’s a logical choice for a trade chip. And with the Angels dead last in the American League, there’s little doubt about what direction the team should take right now. But it still feels a bit wild!
The expanded playoff format seemed like it was designed specifically to ensure Mike Trout & Co. could make it to October. Yet they’re so far out of it by the deadline that the conversation is here instead—not just with Bundy, but also with Andrelton Simmons, who’s a free agent at the end of the year. How much will the 4 p.m. version of the Angels resemble the 11 a.m. one?
Connor Grossman: The Diamondbacks have lost 10 of 11, sinking to last in the surprisingly competitive NL West. Will that skid be enough to push them toward trading closer Archie Bradley and outfielder Starling Marte? It's not looking like this season will work out for Arizona, and it's hard to imagine 2021 playing out much differently. If I'm the Diamondbacks, I'm making deals in these next few hours.
12:30 p.m.: Report: A's bolster rotation with Mike Minor
Emma Baccellieri: And we have a Rangers starter on the move! Just not the one anyone was hoping for. After a standout 2019, Minor has struggled so far in 2020, but the first-place A’s can afford to take a gamble on him to see if he can turn around in the next two months.
Inside the Athletics: Breaking down the Mike Minor trade.
Connor Grossman: Solid move for the A's, for sure. Still can't shake the memory of the A's remaking their rotation at the deadline in 2014 by adding Jon Lester, Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. Didn't work out then. Maybe a Minor deal is the better move. Sorry.
12:04 p.m.: What does this Padres deal mean for the long term?
Connor Grossman: A rotation fronted by Mike Clevinger, Dinelson Lamet and Chris Paddack will play in 2020 … and for years to come. I’m not ready to declare the Padres the class of the NL like Matt (somehow) already has, but is it possible this is a foreshadowing of a changing of the guard in the NL one or two years from now? Sure, I think it’s possible. At least more possible than it has been during the Dodgers’ run of seven consecutive division titles. Given the size of this deal I’m immensely curious to see how we’ll look back on this trade (and all of San Diego’s swaps over the weekend) a few years down the road. Padres have given up a lot of prospect capital. Surely one player will come back to bite them, right?
Cleveland Baseball Insider: What does Clevinger deal mean for Indians?
Emma Baccellieri: The Padres want to win right now. (They’re after the big cake, as some would say.) Short-term additions like Trevor Rosenthal and Jason Castro confirm that. But their deadline is about much more than just this year.
Clevinger doesn’t become a free agent until 2023. That sets up a rotation for at least a few seasons with a young core of him alongside Chris Paddack and Dinelson Lamet. Add that to their set of position players—Fernando Tatis Jr. needs no introduction, and Manny Machado, as you may recall, is locked down for more than the immediate future—and the outlook is promising. And then you get to their farm. San Diego’s system is loaded with prospects, but even so, the club managed to pull off these moves without parting with their biggest names. They’ve shipped out a lot in the last two days, yes, but Luis Patiño, MacKenzie Gore, CJ Abrams, Luis Campusano, and Adrian Morejon are still here. That’s some major talent to expect in the years to come—on top of a roster that’s already loaded right now.
11:14 a.m.: Report: Padres Acquire Indians Starter Mike Clevinger
Connor Grossman: Welp, have we already seen our blockbuster of the day go down? Looks like it. There's no question about it: The Padres are going for it, and along the way they've picked up a talented young pitcher they'll have for two-plus seasons.
Inside the Dodgers: Breaking down the Padres' busy deadline.
Matt Martell: The Padres are the best team in the National League. Yeah, I said it. It took less than three days for them to grab that mantle, but that’s what happens when a really good young team adds two solid catchers (Jason Castro, Austin Nola), a resurgent closer (Trevor Rosenthal), a veteran lefty slugger (Mitch Moreland) and, now, Clevinger, the best starting pitcher available. If the Dodgers weren’t feeling the heat before, they sure are now.
Emma Baccellieri: Did A.J. Preller sleep last night? In all seriousness, though, it’s fun to see a team going all the way in right now, and Clevinger represents a serious upgrade to this pitching staff. And the initial reporting on the return seems decently promising for Cleveland, too—an outfield bat was easily their top need here, so enter Josh Naylor, plus apparently more.
10:37 a.m.: What move(s) have already caught your eye?
Emma Baccellieri: In the space of 24 hours, San Diego completely retooled its catching corps. By adding Jason Castro from the Angels and Austin Nola from the Mariners—the latter as part of a monster seven-player trade—the team has pushed through a backstop overhaul. And it was much needed: The Padres’ catchers, Austin Hedges and Francisco Mejía, weren’t the worst pairing in baseball, but they were close enough. The Padres’ .515 OPS at the position was among the weakest in the majors, and the two of them weren’t anywhere near close to making up for that with their defense. (Their collective -0.8 WAR was the third-lowest in baseball.) Now? They’ve replaced them with two of the better offensive backstops right now, and if anyone was unsure about San Diego’s intentions around October, it should be clear now: A.J. Preller & Co. don’t simply want to make the expanded playoffs, they want to make sure that they’re prepared to go deep.
Matt Martell: While the Padres are making all the noise, let’s not forget the deal the Cubs and Rays made Sunday, with Chicago acquiring designated hitter José Martínez for a PTBNL and some cash.
Martinez, a lifetime .319/.392/.554 lifetime hitter against left-handed pitching, could fill a similar role for the Cubs this year as Nick Castellanos did down the stretch last season. Whereas Castellanos was entering free agency at the end of 2019, Martinez is under club control through 2022. Plus, unlike Castellanos last year, the Cubs won’t have to put Martinez in the field, with the universal DH in effect this year, and possibly forever. Chicago has a .659 OPS against lefties this season, which ranks 24th in MLB. This is a good first deadline move for the playoff-bound Cubs, but to make a run at their second title since 2016, they’ll need to add another bullpen arm or two before the day is done.
Connor Grossman: It's hard to ignore what the Padres have done, as Emma outlined, with the team shooting for its first playoff berth since 2006. Brushing aside their notable catching moves, I'll zoom in on San Diego's acquisition of Trevor Rosenthal. The right-hander hasn't been an elite reliever since 2015 but seems to have figured something out this season with the Royals. But with Kirby Yates and Drew Pomeranz on the shelf for now and a 5.20 bullpen ERA so far this season, bolstering that unit made plenty of sense.