Writing the headlines of the MLB trade deadline: Winners, losers and in-betweeners

Writing the headlines of the MLB trade deadline: Winners, losers and in-betweeners

The 2022 MLB trade deadline has been put to bed, and it was quite a news frenzy. The moves were plentiful, and they were eye-catching. Well, some of them were. Each of baseball’s 30 teams wrote its own story over the past few days. But as stories go, some were more engaging than others. Here’s what we took away — and where we think these stories end up.

Front page stories

There are five teams that made moves we’ll certainly be talking about in October — shoring up weak spots before the playoffs, throwing a flier on an underappreciated player or, in the case of our above-the-fold cover models, trading for one of the best players of this generation.

San Diego Padres

Headline: “Birth of the Power Trio”

The Padres have never won a World Series. If they don’t render that fact obsolete in the near future, you can’t fault general manager A.J. Preller for a passive approach.

San Diego entered the deadline needing offense, especially in the outfield and, possibly, at first base. The Friars also needed some bullpen help. To say that Preller addressed his team’s needs does not do justice to his actions over the past two days. This is the trade deadline equivalent of needing to put together a band and creating the Beatles.

It’s still got to work on the field. But the Padres now feature the game’s most dominant reliever in Josh Hader. They now feature this generation’s Ted Williams in Juan Soto. And when Fernando Tatis Jr. returns to the lineup, the Padres will boast one of the most dynamic big threes we’ve seen in baseball, with Soto and Tatis joined by 2022 MVP candidate Manny Machado.

Bottom line: Biggest winner

New York Yankees

Headline: “Can Anyone Catch Them Now?”

The Yankees have created headlines all season with a power-laden heart of the order that will continue to create a stir around Aaron Judge’s pursuit of historic home run figures. But the reason the Yankees have gone from very good to great is because of run prevention.

At the deadline, the Yankees improved their already elite stinginess, improving their pitching, defense and ability to match up with most any opponent.

The pitching: By adding Scott Effross and Lou Trivino to the bullpen, the Yankees covered themselves in case Aroldis Chapman and Jonathan Loaisiga don’t continue their recent progress. But if they do, this quartet will back closer Clay Holmes in an October-ready bullpen.

In adding Frankie Montas, the Yankees now have five playoff-caliber starters and would have a sixth if Luis Severino can get back from a lat strain. Of course, you don’t need that many starters in the playoffs, and the extras can further deepen the bullpen.

And the defense — the Yankees have been near the top of the leaderboard in most defensive metrics all season. But in adding Andrew Benintendi and Harrison Bader (once he’s back from injury), they have an outfield that can pick it with anybody.

The Yankees aren’t just a team of big names. They are a well-made team, and they have all the markings of a great one.

Bottom line: Winner

Houston Astros

Headline: “Almost a Complete Set”

Houston came so close to checking all of their deadline to-do boxes. They upgraded at catcher with Christian Vazquez, a pickup which became more essential with Tuesday’s news that Jason Castro was done for the season.

Houston made an even meatier pickup by acquiring Trey Mancini from the Orioles, covering them in case Yuli Gurriel doesn’t get going or Michael Brantley can’t get healthy. They added a playoff-proven reliever in Will Smith, a lefty for a bullpen that didn’t have one.

But the Astros didn’t get a center fielder — in fact, they lost one, sending Jose Siri to the Rays in the three-team deal that brought in Mancini. Bader would have been the perfect pickup, both defensively and as a hitter who could take advantage of the Crawford Boxes.

Houston is so close to being a complete team, and perhaps it will still get there if Jake Meyers and Chas McCormick can handle center. But the margin for error is small, because any Astros weakness becomes glaring when held up against the Yankees’ shimmering roster.

Bottom line: Mostly a winner

New York Mets

Headline: “Looking for Relief”

The good news on Tuesday was the return of Jacob deGrom. He threw five strong innings against Washington, and while it was prudent to cut him off there in his season debut, he looked more than capable of going deeper. Adding deGrom to a pitching staff is as big a deadline addition as a team can make.

But then deGrom departed and the Mets’ bullpen was battered, and by the end of the night New York’s narrow edge of Atlanta was reduced by a game. The addition of Michael Givens helps. But will he be enough when we get to October and the Mets are scrambling to bridge the gap between their starters and their unhittable closer in Edwin Diaz?

Bottom line: Wanted more

Atlanta Braves

Headline: “Hey, It Worked Last Year”

Last season, it felt like Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos had lost control of himself as he acquired one outfielder after another in what felt like a pointless quest to fill the gigantic shoes of injured star Ronald Acuna Jr. Then, of course, some of those outfielders were instrumental in helping the Braves win the World Series.

This time around, the Braves didn’t have as big a hole to fill, but they did recently lose Adam Duvall for the season and still don’t know when they might get Ozzie Albies back in the lineup.

Robbie Grossman is a usually a good complementary outfielder, but he’s having a tough season. Maybe the change in scenery will help, but he’s also a 32-year-old journeyman.

Meanwhile, Anthopoulos remade the dynamic of his bullpen on the fly, sending off Smith, bringing in Jake Odorizzi for the back of his rotation (possible just as a luxury addition) and swapping a real prospect in Tucker Davidson for closer Raisel Iglesias, who has been wildly inconsistent this season. And, by the way, Atlanta already has Kenley Jansen.

Anthopoulos has earned the benefit of the doubt after last season. But … this feels off.

Bottom line: Fingers crossed

Short stories

These 13 teams gave us something to work with — but there are plenty of chapters still to be written.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Headline: “Standing Pat, Just to Make it Interesting”

Fun fact: Entering play on Tuesday, since the beginning of last season, Cody Bellinger and Joey Gallo were both hitting exactly .186. But because he’s hit more homers and drawn more walks, Gallo has a 156-point edge in OPS. And his addition was the biggest move of the Dodgers’ deadline. In the end, though — they still may be the best team in baseball.

Bottom line: Winner by default

Boston Red Sox

Headline: “If Yogi Berra were a Franchise”

You trade your starting catcher, bring in a career backup, deal for a dwindling, lefty-hitting first baseman even though one of your best prospects is a lefty-hitting first baseman in Triple A, deal away one of your better pitching prospects to get that dwindling first baseman and add a veteran outfielder but send away one of your top bullpen lefties and in the end, it is all sound and fury and signifies nothing. All you can say is that it gets late awfully early around here.

Bottom line: Who knows?

Seattle Mariners

Headline: “Big Splash, Little Ripples”

Jerry DiPoto landed Luis Castillo, the top starting pitcher on the trade market, and paid a pretty prospect price in doing so. He also got that business out of the way early, leaving him to focus on finding an infusion for an offense that needs one. Instead, DiPoto spent the past few days pillaging other teams’ waiver wires and injured lists.

Bottom line: Incomplete

Washington Nationals

Headline: “Could Be Worse”

The Nationals’ heyday from the past decade is just a memory, and it feels like it went by awfully fast. Trading Juan Soto is never going to feel good, and no trade of him is going to leave a team as a deadline winner. But there is no doubt that the haul from the Padres adds some elite skill sets to the Washington system. When you consider the returns from last year’s deadline trades, the Nats have a start on a rebuild. But the hard part is still to come.

Bottom line: Loser

Philadelphia Phillies

Headline: “Dombrowski Doesn’t Mess Around”

Noah Syndergaard, David Robertson and Brandon Marsh were all acquired on deadline day to aid the Phillies’ push for a playoff slot in the National League that didn’t even exist before this season. This was one of the objectives of the new format, to entice teams to be in a more win-now mode. If Dave Dombrowski ran every team, it wouldn’t have been necessary. Love it or hate it, the guys always keeps it interesting.

Bottom line: Winner

Cincinnati Reds

Headline: “OK, So They had a Plan”

The Reds have generated a lot of scorn for their teardown since last season, a process kicked off by the stated need to “align payroll with resources.” And while a statement like that excites no one but MBA candidates, you have to hand it to Cincinnati: They have stocked their system. Right now, this isn’t looking like a long-term rebuild.

Bottom line: Winner

Minnesota Twins

Headline: “Good Enough for the AL Central”

The Twins needed pitching, starters and relieves alike. So they nabbed a new closer in Jorge Lopez, a quality reliever in Michael Fulmer and a solid starter in Tyler Mahle. The Twins, on paper, have separated themselves from Chicago and Cleveland in the AL Central race.

Bottom line: Winner

Toronto Blue Jays

Headline: “Better But Not Enough”

Maybe Whit Merrifield helps; maybe he doesn’t. The Blue Jays needed impact additions to their pitching staff, because Kevin Gausman and Alek Manoah can’t do it all. Anthony Bass is a quality pickup, but did you see what the Yankees did?

Bottom line: Loser

Milwaukee Brewers

Headline: “Fixing What Ain’t Broke”

It’s the Brewers, so it’ll probably work. But it sure looks like the Brewers spent their deadline breaking their bullpen by trading Josh Hader, and fixing it by acquiring Taylor Rogers and Matt Bush. In the meantime, they did nothing to add to an offense that could use a boost.

Bottom line: Loser

St. Louis Cardinals

Headline: “Running in Place”

Even when the Cardinals try to make a deadline splash, they can’t win. After being connected to the likes of Luis Castillo, Frankie Montas and Juan Soto in the rumor mill, St. Louis comes away with Jose Quintana and Jordan Montgomery. The latter cost them Harrison Bader. And while that deepens the rotation and probably improves the Cardinals overall, St. Louis still lost ground in its race against the Phillies in the wild-card race. The Cards did, at least, probably gain some ground in the NL Central race against Milwaukee.

Bottom line: Soft winner

Chicago Cubs

Headline: “Awkward Goodbyes”

What a weird deadline for the Cubs. After spending about a month saying goodbye to Willson Contreras and Ian Happ, Chicago ends up keeping them. Happ is controllable through next season, but keeping Contreras at the deadline won’t make the catcher any less of a free agent this winter. Meanwhile, the Cubs emptied out their bullpen.

Bottom line: Loser

Chicago White Sox

Headline: “That’s It?!”

Jake Diekman? No, really? That’s it?

Bottom line: Loser

Baltimore Orioles

Headline: “Winners of the Ebenezer Scrooge Award”

The Orioles started Monday at .500, their latest date at that level during a 162-game season since 2017. They then traded franchise favorite — and productive hitter — Trey Mancini for future value. They won their game that night. On Tuesday, the Orioles traded closer Jorge Lopez, who is having a career season and was leading the position group most responsible for their success. Then they won again. The good news: Deadline has passed; can’t trade anybody else.

Bottom line: Biggest loser


And then there are the stories that were too short to make a point. These dozen teams have plenty more work to do to find their bottom line. Note: No winners or losers here. Not enough action to declare.

Los Angeles Angels: Running in circles for too long.

Oakland Athletics: Trading away present value since 1914.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Sat this one out.

San Francisco Giants: Hey, it’s a pretty ballpark.

Cleveland Guardians: *crickets chirping in the summer night*

Miami Marlins: Jordan Groshans has talent.

Pittsburgh Pirates: No, really, better days lie just ahead. Way better days.

Texas Rangers: Angling for the offseason.

Tampa Bay Rays: As ever, hoping small moves pay off big.

Colorado Rockies: They love their guys.

Kansas City Royals: When does football season start?

Detroit Tigers: A dreadful season continues.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.