MLB trade deadline winners and losers: Padres get Juan Soto; Yankees, Phillies improve; tough day for O's fans

MLB trade deadline winners and losers: Padres get Juan Soto; Yankees, Phillies improve; tough day for O’s fans

Major League Baseball’s 2022 trade deadline has come and gone. The deadline was set for 6 p.m. ET on Tuesday and teams are no longer be able to make deals to bolster their rosters ahead of the stretch run. The biggest name was moved early Tuesday: Juan Soto headed to the Padres in an eight-player blockbuster that also featured Josh Bell landing in San Diego.

“Props to the San Diego Padres. They’re not afraid. (Padres GM) A.J. Preller is not afraid,” Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said after the trade (video). “… We’re in a bumpy road right now and we believe coming out of it will be a beautiful place.”

Other notables to change addresses at the deadline include Josh Hader (Brewers to Padres), Luis Castillo (Reds to Mariners), Frankie Montas (Athletics to Yankees), Joey Gallo (Yankees to Dodgers), Noah Syndergaard (Angels to Phillies), Harrison Bader (Cardinals to Yankees), Raisel Iglesias (Angels to Braves), and Whit Merrifield (Royals to Blue Jays).

Willson Contreras, JD Martinez, Ian Happ, and Carlos Rodón are the biggest names to stay put. Here’s a recap of Tuesday’s biggest moves:

Notable 2022 MLB trade deadline deals on Tuesday

  • Padres acquire Juan Soto and Josh Bell from Nationals in eight-player blockbuster (more details here)
  • The Yankees sent struggling outfielder Joey Gallo to the Dodgers (more details here)
  • The Phillies grabbed righty Noah Syndergaard from the Angels (more details here)
  • The Yankees nabbed Harrison Bader from the Cardinals for Jordan Montgomery (more details here)
  • Whit Merrifield headed from the Royals to Blue Jays (more details here)
  • Eric Hosmer, after rejecting to be part of the Juan Soto deal, headed from the Padres to Red Sox (more details here)
  • The Phillies got outfielder Brandon Marsh from the Angels, as well as reliever David Robertson from the Cubs (more details here)
  • The Padres, after landing Soto, acquired Brandon Drury from Reds (more details here)
  • The Mets acquired Darin Ruf from the Giants (more details here)
  • The Twins acquired All-Star closer Jorge López from Orioles and righty Tyler Mahle from Reds (more details here)

Now here are our winners and losers from the 2022 MLB trade deadline.

Winner: Padres

When you’re a good and fun team in the thick of the postseason race and you add a generational talent, you’re automatically a trade deadline winner. The Padres brought in Juan Soto (and Josh Bell) and paid a handsome price to do it, but players as good and as young as Soto don’t come along very often, so when they do, you have to pounce. Look at this. It’s real:

Should’ve photoshopped them in the City Connect jerseys, Padres. Big missed opportunity there. 

Anyway, the case can be made the Padres now have the best shortstop (Fernando Tatis Jr., once healthy), the best third baseman (Manny Machado), and the best outfielder (Soto) in baseball. Oh, and they also landed Josh Hader, arguably the best closer in the business, and 20-homer man Brandon Drury. Say what you want about GM AJ Preller, but the man is unafraid of big moves.

The Tatis and Machado contracts mean the Padres are unlikely to re-sign Soto in a few years, but acquiring him for three postseason runs (he’s under team control through 2024) is enormously valuable to a franchise that is still searching for its first ever World Series championship. Soto is already trending toward being an all-time great. Adding a player like this makes you an easy deadline winner. The Padres are nothing if not electrifying.

Winner: Juan Soto

Hard to complain about leaving a last-place team in Washington for a postseason-bound team in San Diego, isn’t it? Soto gets to team up with Machado and (once healthy) Tatis Jr. on baseball’s most fun roster. The best roster? No, not necessarily, but certainly the most fun. I’m sure the days leading up to the trade deadline were nerve-wracking, but that’s over now, and Soto is free to play baseball for a great team in a great ballpark in a great city.

Loser: Luke Voit

How mad is Luke Voit at Eric Hosmer right now? Once Hosmer used his no-trade clause to block a trade to the Nationals, as was his contractual right, Voit was substituted in his place in the Soto/Bell trade. Just like that, Voit went from the contending Padres to a last-place Nationals team, all because another player said he didn’t want to be traded. Tough break, though at least Voit will have a lineup spot no questions asked the rest of the season.

Winner: The Phillies (and their remaining schedule)

Even with Soto and Bell, the Nationals ranked 27th in runs per game. Without those two they figure to have the worst offense in baseball the rest of 2022. That’s great for NL postseason contenders with head-to-head games remaining against Washington. The NL East-leading Mets have eight games remaining with the Nationals, including two this week. The second-place Braves have only six. That could factor into the division race.

Here are the NL wild-card standings (entering Tuesday) with each team’s number of games remaining against the suddenly Soto-less and Bell-less Nationals:

  1. Braves: 62-41 (+2.5 GB) (6 games vs. Nationals)
  2. Padres: 58-46 (+2 GB) (7 games vs. Nationals)
  3. Phillies: 55-47 (0 GB) (11 games vs. Nationals)
  4. Cardinals: 54-48 (1 GB) (4 games vs. Nationals)
  5. Giants: 51-52 (4.5 GB) (0 games vs. Nationals)

Advantage Phillies and disadvantage Cardinals and Giants. Any team can beat any other team on any day in this game, but if I were fighting for a postseason spot, I know I’d feel better if I had 11 — 11! — games remaining against a rebuilding team that just traded its two best hitters and is presumably checked out for the season.

(Also, shoutout to the Phillies for landing Brandon Marsh, David Robertson and Noah Syndergaard in sensible trades. They upgraded their roster considerably, and designating Odúbel Herrera and Jeurys Familia is addition by subtraction.)

Loser: Nationals fans

Soto, Bryce Harper, Trea Turner, Max Scherzer, Anthony Rendon. That’s a lot of elite — like elite elite — talent walking out the door in a short period of time. It didn’t have to be like this. The Lerners, the family that owns the Nationals, are the second-wealthiest owners in the sport, and could have paid what it takes to keep them all. Maybe that wouldn’t have been smart (see: Stephen Strasburg), but gosh, the Nationals had a championship core and it vanished in such a short period of time.

Rebuilds are never fun. The prospects acquired in the Soto trade are all high-end and they could be the core of the next great Nationals team, but are they going to be better than the core the Nationals had not that long ago? Probably not. That’s just the way it goes with prospects. The Nationals are destined to finish with the National League’s worst record this season and it’s hard to see a path back to contention in the next what, 3-4 years? A sad, sad day for the Washington faithful.

Winner: Yankees

The Yankees have enjoyed a dream season to date, but they came into the second half with several obvious needs, and they were not shy about addressing them at the trade deadline. They needed another starter, specifically a difference-maker rather than a back-end innings-eater, an outfielder to replace Joey Gallo, and bullpen depth. At the deadline they acquired:

  • Andrew Benintendi, the best available rental outfielder
  • Frankie Montas, the second best controllable starter available behind Luis Castillo
  • Harrison Bader, an elite defender in center field (currently on the injured list)
  • Scott Effross, a sneaky-great high leverage reliever
  • Lou Trivino, a serviceable depth arm

Yankees GM Brian Cashman managed to do that without surrendering top prospects Anthony Volpe, Oswald Peraza, and Jasson Domínguez and while giving up just one piece off his MLB roster (Jordan Montgomery). In fact, the Yankees traded eight prospects in their three trades and exactly one was drafted before the fourth round (lefty TJ Sikkema, a former supplemental first-round pick who was part of the Benintendi trade).

The Yankees sought to improve their roster for October — August and September aren’t a big priority given their MLB-leading 70 wins — and they were able to do that while keeping their best prospects. That’s some nifty tradecraft.

Winner: Joey Gallo

Gallo was traded to the Dodgers for a pitching prospect and, I gotta say, he sounded miserable in New York. He had a tough 12 months with the Yankees and it clearly wore on him. From a recent interview:

Q: Are you ready for this trade deadline to be over?

Gallo: I am. We’ll see what happens. I’m waiting to hear. My parents are waiting to hear. They’re going to have to come to New York and clean my apartment out, get all the furniture moved out.

Q: Have you been living in Manhattan?

Gallo: Yeah.

Q: What’s it been like for you when Yankees fans notice you on the streets? Are they rough on you away from the ballpark, too?

Gallo: I don’t go out in the streets.

Q: That’s sad.

Gallo: Yeah. I really don’t want to show my face too much around here.

Gallo now gets a fresh start with the only team in baseball with a better record than the Yankees, so he still has a chance to win a World Series ring before heading out into free agency this offseason. No player in baseball needed a fresh start more than Gallo and he received it at the deadline.

Loser: Red Sox

Weird deadline for the Red Sox, who sold while also buying halfheartedly. They traded away stalwart catcher Christian Vázquez, yet imported Tommy Pham and Eric Hosmer in hopes of staying afloat in the wild card race. The Padres are paying most of Hosmer’s salary and the Red Sox did get prospects in the trade, but Hosmer is one of the worst hitting first basemen in baseball, and he hits too many ground balls to really benefit from Fenway Park’s hitter-friendly dimensions. Not necessarily a bad deadline for the Red Sox, but a weird one, and certainly not one that would land them in the “winner” category.

Winner: Astros

Smart if understated deadline for the first-place Astros. They addressed their primary needs — Vázquez at catcher, Trey Mancini at first base and DH, Will Smith at lefty reliever — without giving up anything they’ll miss short- or long-term. For a contender, the goal of the trade deadline is shoring up as many weaknesses as possible, and Houston did that. The center field situation still isn’t great, but the Astros today are a much better team that they were 48 hours ago.

Loser: Mets

By no means was it a bad trade deadline for the Mets. They made several sensible additions (Darin Ruf, Mychal Givens, Tyler Naquin, Daniel Vogelbach), but they’re also on pace for the second-best regular season in franchise history, and the owner has the deepest pockets in the sport. It felt like the Mets were poised to do something more impactful (Willson Contreras?) and instead they just tinkered with the margins of the roster. Again, not a bad deadline for the Mets. Just not as good as it could have been.

Winner: Twins

One more starting pitcher would have been nice but Jorge López, Michael Fulmer, and Tyler Mahle are an excellent haul for a first-place team that badly needed rotation and bullpen help. The Twins gave up nothing they’ll miss in the short-term for two above-average pitchers they can keep beyond this season through arbitration (López and Mahle) and a good rental (Fulmer). Nothing fancy, but players that meaningfully improve the club’s division title hopes and postseason chances.

Losers: Guardians

Did Cleveland forget to set the trade deadline reminder on its phone? Other than swapping spare parts with the Twins (Sandy León for Ian Hamilton), the Guardians didn’t do anything on deadline day. The same Guardians who are one — one! — game out in the AL Central and rank 15th in runs scored per game and 14th in runs allowed per game? Nothing came across GM Mike Chernoff’s desk that would have moved the needle and boosted their postseason odds even a little bit? I don’t get it at all.

Loser: Orioles fans

The Orioles went 16-9 in July and it was their best, most exciting month in more than half a decade. The team is on the rise and they play very hard, and going into deadline day, they were only 2 1/2 games behind the third and final American League wild card spot. Maybe buying aggressively would have been a bad idea. But selling? Selling???

With his team playing its best baseball in years, GM Mike Elias threw in the towel. Here’s what Elias told reporters, including, after trading away homegrown favorite and feel-great story Trey Mancini. All-Star closer Jorge López was later traded away as well:

“I think the .500 record we have, the winning last couple of months that we have, the momentum we have, has made this a much more difficult decision and a much more complicated Trade Deadline than it would’ve been, or that any of the past ones have been,” Elias added. “But ultimately, I have to tether my decisions to the outlook and the probabilities of this year. We have a shot at a Wild Card right now, but it is not a probability that we’re going to win a Wild Card. We have all different ways of looking at that. And moves that we make that can strengthen our chances for next season and the season beyond and the one beyond that are something that we have to continue to consider, despite the tremendous progress our players have made this year.”  

To be clear, “strengthen our chances for next season” involved trading for a pitching prospect about to have Tommy John surgery (Seth Johnson), two Single-A prospects (Chayce McDermott and Cade Povich), and two rookie ball prospects (Juan Rojas and Juan Nunez). One player in the Mancini and Lopez trades, 28-year-old rookie reliever Yennier Cano, has a chance to help the 2023 Orioles in a meaningful way. Elias punted 2022 to (maybe) help the 2024 Orioles.

The third wild card spot was supposed to increase competition (or so we were told) and yet here is an on-the-rise Orioles team trading away its best players at a time when every win added to the roster is enormously valuable. Not everything in this game is an asset that must be micromanaged and leveraged to the fullest extent at all times. It’s baseball, not an actuarial table. There are human beings involved, and rather than further encourage the good vibes, the O’s front office snuffed them out.

“I mean, just, it sucks,” Ryan Mountcastle told after the Mancini trade. ” … It’s going to be tough without him. And I know a lot of us are pretty upset.”

Maybe it’ll all work out and the 2022 Orioles will win without Mancini and López, and the 2023 Orioles without López. I still feel for Orioles fans. The team is good and fun for the first time in a long time, and rather than try to take a step forward, the front office is again taking a step back. The franchise’s short-term future, which is looking up for the first time in years, was again sacrificed at the altar of improved margins. There’s a fine line between being cold and calculating, and disenfranchising your fans.

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