It has only been about six weeks, so it’s too soon to judge with finality how this year’s trade deadline maneuvers will play out. That said, we’re already most of the way through the period — the regular season portion, at least — for which rental players were acquired. Even players with future control are usually added first and foremost for their immediate contributions (though there are some exceptions). It’d be awfully premature to say anything conclusive about the prospect side of any deals, but we do now have some additional information with which to work.
So, that’s why we’re going to take a glance back over our shoulders at the moves (and major non-moves) that organizations made in the run-up to this year’s trade deadline. We already covered the AL Central, NL Central, AL East, NL East, and AL West. Now we’ll finish things off in the NL West …
With visions of Felipe Vazquez as the trade deadline approached, many fans likely came away thoroughly underwhelmed by the Dodgers’ efforts. But if making that deal would’ve cost Gavin Lux, then he wouldn’t be in the lineup right now.
Plus, the Dodgers are awfully good even without another high-end relief arm. The bullpen has some big questions, to be sure, but the L.A. organization is loaded with starting pitching options that can all be deployed in various ways come October. There’s no question that there’s a possibility we’ll look back and think the Dodgers should have done more, but it’s likewise impossible to argue with the organization’s process or results in recent years.
So, what did the team do? On deadline day, the headliner was … trading for lefty reliever Adam Kolarek. That seemed ho-hum, but he has been quite useful, allowing just one earned run in 10 1/3 innings over 21 appearances. Yep, he’s being utilized judiciously, but that makes sense. Kolarek has been bombed by righties this year but has held opposing southpaws to a meager .183/.227/.269 batting line. The player sent out to get him, outfielder Niko Hulsizer, acquired in return, didn’t really have enough action to change his outlook in any meaningful way.
Otherwise, the moves were even lower-stakes arrangements. Utilityman Kristopher Negron has chipped in well since his acquisition and the Dodgers probably won’t miss Daniel Castro, who hasn’t hit much in the upper minors and wasn’t likely to play a significant role this year or next. The Dodgers haven’t gotten anything from Tyler White, but also probably haven’t seen anything from Andre Scrubb to cause major regret from that trade. Jedd Gyorko hasn’t hit well since coming over, but that didn’t cost much either. Young righty Jeffry Abreu, sent in the swap along with the contract of Tony Cingrani, hasn’t yet thrown competitive innings with the Cardinals. The Dodgers also picked up international spending capacity and cash considerations in the deal.
The major move came at the very last minute, with the D-Backs parting with veteran righty Zack Greinke. It’s hard to imagine that free agent contract having a softer landing. In addition to shedding much of the remaining financial obligation, the Arizona organization added four high-quality prospects.
Only one of those new players, infielder Josh Rojas, has ascended to the majors. The 25-year-old owns only a .232/.318/.337 slash in 107 trips to the plate, but his monster season in the upper minors still makes him an intriguing player going forward. The other three were even more highly regarded talents. Slugger-in-training Seth Beer struggled after the swap but still holds ample promise. Talented righties Corbin Martin and J.B. Bukauskas will be looking to bounce back, respectively, from Tommy John surgery and a bit of a down season in the results department.
The Snakes figured to take a step back sans Greinke, but they actually managed to stay relevant in the Wild Card race. Young righty Zac Gallen has had a big say in that, having thrown 43 2/3 innings of 2.89 ERA ball since arriving in exchange for touted infielder Jazz Chisholm. That’s immensely promising for the Arizona organization, which will hope Gallen can sustain his breakout year. On the other side of that deal, it’s fair to note that the 21-year-old Chisholm put his struggles behind him to finish with a strong .284/.383/.494 (156 wRC+) run after going into the Miami system.
With a continued eye to making sound baseball decisions for sustainable competitiveness, the Diamondbacks finally hammered out a swap for sturdy but unexciting starter Mike Leake. The veteran righty had a no-trade clause and personal reasons to prefer pitching in Arizona, which may have helped the Snakes work out a solid deal that cost only $6MM in total salary obligations and Jose Caballero. The young infielder struggled to a .256/.339/.333 batting line at the High-A level after the deal.
The D-Backs got some cash in exchange for catcher John Ryan Murphy, but otherwise that was it for mid-summer roster moves. It’s easy to like the overall slate of changes, though we’ll need to track them to see how it all shakes out over the long haul.
Also busy were the Giants, who faced a tricky deadline situation owing to a hot streak that had the club in Wild Card contention. Ultimately, the team decided not to sell of quality lefties Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith — each of whom might have brought back significant returns. The former is sure to receive a qualifying offer and the latter is a candidate as well, so there are still some paths to achieving future value, but the organization knew it was making some sacrifices by holding on to these pitchers.
The San Francisco denizens did move quite a few other hurlers. Chief among them was righty Sam Dyson (link), who will be eligible for arbitration one final time in 2020. Unfortunately, he has struggled badly in just a dozen appearances with the Twins and is now under consideration for a season-ending shoulder procedure. That doesn’t look great for Minnesota, though questions remain on the other side of the swap as well. Power-hitting outfielder Jaylin Davis laid waste to Triple-A but has struggled in his first, brief foray into the majors. We won’t know for quite some time what the Giants really have in young pitching prospects Kai-Wei Teng and Prelander Berroa.
The well-timed reemergence of southpaw Drew Pomeranz allowed the Giants to package him with power righty Ray Black in a deal that landed long-lauded infield prospect Mauricio Dubon. Pomeranz has been useful in Milwaukee but is a pure rental; Black still hasn’t shown his big heat can consistently retire MLB hitters. Meanwhile, the 25-year-old Dubon has turned in an impressive .302/.327/.547 run in his first 55 plate appearances at the game’s highest level. That showing could make him the favorite to handle second base next year in San Francisco. The club made way by dropping veteran Scooter Gennett, who had been acquired as a buy-low replacement for Joe Panik.
The other significant reliever swap involved high-priced veteran Mark Melancon. It was surprising to see the Giants shed all of the veteran’s remaining salary obligations. He has a strong 20:2 K/BB ratio in 15 2/3 frames since the deal, along with ten saves, but hasn’t consistently kept runs off the board. The Giants have to be pleased with what they saw from the player they added in that swap. Young righty Tristan Beck threw 35 2/3 innings of 2.27 ERA ball, with 9.3 K/9 against 3.3 BB/9, for the club’s High-A affiliate.
Rounding things out for the Giants, the team took a shot on outfielder Joe McCarthy, who has not yet figured things out at Triple-A. The cost was younger prospect Jacob Lopez, who is still in the low minors but generated solid results this year.
The deadline turned out to be all about one man: Taylor Trammell. Long considered an uber-talented outfielder, the former first-round pick was plainly targeted by the Padres. It took a complicated, three-team arrangement to make it happen, but the San Diego organization now has a player that it views as the center fielder of the future.
Trammell remains an unfinished product. He wrapped up the season on a hot streak but ultimately carried only a .229/.316/.381 slash in his 133 Double-A plate appearances after the swap. The Friars are betting on their ability to finish off his development and surely hope they bought at a relative low point.
Making the deal cost the Pads a few quality assets. Young outfielder Franmil Reyes hasn’t yet settled in with his new team, posting 56 strikeouts in 161 plate appearances, but he comes with loads of cheap control and ample potential. Southpaw Logan Allen has mostly struggled this year, but he is another player that could soon be a quality MLB contributor. The Padres also parted with far-away youngster Victor Nova. Clearly, the San Diego end of this swap will take many years to evaluate in full.
It was otherwise a fairly quiet deadline period. The Padres got nothing from Carl Edwards Jr. after adding him from the Cubs; he seems a non-tender candidate this fall. Meanwhile, lefty Brad Wieck has been a surprising contributor in Chicago since that swap was completed. The 27-year-old has eleven strikeouts without a walk in 5 1/3 appearances. Also heading out of San Diego was righty reliever, Phil Maton, who has thus far been useful but unremarkable in Cleveland.
Typically, when a team enters a season intending to contend and finds itself buried by the trade deadline, there’s a sell-off. Not so in Colorado — and for good reason. The club just didn’t have any assets that made sense to move. The higher-priced veterans haven’t performed well enough to generate appreciable cost savings, while the club’s core talent can’t be shipped out without leaving un-fillable holes. While some Charlie Blackmon explorations reportedly took place, that never seemed likely to result in a move and in the end fizzled out.
So … all we’re left with was this stirring blockbuster with the Yankees: the acquisition of right-hander Joe Harvey for minor league left-hander Alfredo Garcia. Harvey is a MLB-ready reliever who has shown some strikeout ability in the minors, though his initial transition to the highest level of the game hasn’t been especially promising. Garcia generated good results on both sides of the swap, but he’s a low-A player who is a long way from the bigs.