2021 MLB trade deadline takeaways: Notable deals, grades, most-improved teams and biggest sellers

bryant-baez.png
Getty Images

The 2021 MLB trade deadline has passed, and it was one of the most hectic in baseball history. We already saw several notable trades before Friday, including the Dodgers landing Max Scherzer and Trea Turner, and the Yankees getting Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo in separate deals. But deadline day brought several more big trades with Kris Bryant, Javier Báez, Kyle Gibson, José Berríos and Craig Kimbrel among the players who moved before 4 p.m. ET on Friday. 

This sums up what was perhaps the most relentless intense trade deadline in living memory: 

In light of all the madness and moving parts, let's briefly recap 2021 Tradin' Season by checking off all the majors trades that went down -- including, yes, all the trades involving those 10 (!) All-Stars. 

July 30 notable trades

  • Giants acquire 3B/OF Kris Bryant from Cubs for OF Alexander Canario and RHP Caleb Kilian (Full story/Trade grades)
  • Braves acquire OF Jorge Soler from Royals for RHP Kasey Kalich (Full story)
  • Yankees acquire LHP Andrew Heaney from Angels for RHP Janson Junk and RHP Elvis Peguero (Full story)
  • Phillies acquire RHP Kyle Gibson, RHP Ian Kennedy, and RHP Hans Crouse from Rangers for RHP Spencer Howard, RHP Kevin Gowdy, and RHP Joss Gessner (Full story)
  • A's acquire C Yan Gomes, 2B Josh Harrison from Nationals for C Drew Millas, RHP Seth Shuman, and RHP Richard Guasch (Full story)
  • Mets acquire SS Javier Báez, RHP Trevor Williams and cash from Cubs for OF Pete Crow-Armstrong (Full story/Trade grades)
  • White Sox acquire RHP Craig Kimbrel from Cubs for 2B Nick Madrigal and RHP Codi Heuer (Full story)
  • Braves acquire OF Adam Duvall from Marlins for C Alex Jackson (Full story)
  • Braves acquire OF Eddie Rosario and cash from Cleveland for 1B/3B Pablo Sandoval (Full story)
  • Blue Jays acquire RHP José Berríos from Twins for SS/OF Austin Martin and RHP Simeon Woods Richardson (Full story)

July 29 notable trades

  • Red Sox acquire OF Kyle Schwarber from Nationals for RHP Aldo Ramirez (Full story)
  • Dodgers acquire RHP Max Scherzer and SS Trea Turner from Nationals for C Keibert Ruiz, RHP Josiah Gray, RHP Gerardo Carrillo, and OF Donovan Casey (Full story/Trade grades)
  • Yankees acquire 1B Anthony Rizzo from Cubs for RHP Alexander Vizcaíno and OF Kevin Alcántara (Full story/Trade grades)
  • Yankees acquire OF Joey Gallo, LHP Joely Rodríguez and cash from Rangers for 2B Ezequiel Duran, SS Josh Smith, INF/OF Trevor Hauver and RHP Glenn Otto (Full story/Trade grades)
  • White Sox acquire 2B Cesar Hernandez from Cleveland for LHP Konnor Pilkington (Full story)

July 28 notable trades

  • Brewers acquire INF Eduardo Escobar from Diamondbacks for INF/OF Cooper Hummel and INF Alberto Ciprian (Full story)
  • A's acquire OF Starling Marte from Marlins for LHP Jesús Luzardo (Full story)
  • Mariners acquire LHP Tyler Anderson from Pirates for C Carter Bins and RHP Joaquin Tejada (Full story)

July 27 trades

  • Astros acquire RHPs Kendall Graveman and Rafael Montero from Mariners for 3B Abraham Toro and RHP Joe Smith (Full story)

July 26 notable trades

  • Padres acquire INF/OF Adam Frazier and cash from Pirates for SS Tucupita Marcano, OF Jack Suwinski, and RHP Michell Miliano (Full story)

July 23 notable trades

  • Mets acquire LHP Rich Hill from Rays for RHP Tommy Hunter and C Matt Dyer (Full story)

July 22 notable trades

  • Rays acquire DH Nelson Cruz and RHP Calvin Faucher from Twins for RHP Joe Ryan and RHP Drew Strotman (Full story)

July 15 notable trades

  • Braves acquire OF Joc Pederson from Cubs for 1B Bryce Ball (Full story)

For those counting, that's 23 (!) trades that we deem to be notable, and it's possible you could argue that a handful of other swaps should qualify for this list. As always, you can check out every single trade that's gone down this deadline season -- notable or otherwise -- via our Trade Tracker

Most-improved teams

It's a lot to take in, but here's a quick glance at the buyers/contenders who did the best for themselves this deadline: 

Dodgers: It's impossible to argue with adding the likes of Max Scherzer and Trea Turner. Scherzer directly addresses the uncertainty in the L.A. rotation, as he's still performing close to peak level despite his advanced baseball age of 37. As for Turner, he's not the most seamless fit, what with Corey Seager returning from injury, but he's an All-Star who boasts a broad range of skills at the plate, on the bases, and in the field. Both are true needle-movers for the Dodgers in the brutal NL West. 

Braves: The loss of Ronald Acuña Jr. to a season-ending knee injury was a brutal blow to Atlanta's hopes, but the Braves moved boldly at the deadline to address the outfield situation. Before the deadline arrived, GM Alex Anthopoulos added to the outfield mix the likes of Jorge Soler, Adam Duvall, and Joc Pederson. As well, the addition of Stephen Vogt improves the catching situation. Given what's in place and given the very winnable nature of the NL East, those moves matter. 

Blue Jays: If Toronto is to return to the postseason given the rough nature of the AL playoff picture right now, then they'd need to bolster the pitching staff. That's precisely what they did with deadline and deadline-ish deals for starters José Berrios, who immediately slots in at the front of the rotation, and relievers Brad Hand, Joakim Soria, and Trevor Richards. 

Biggest sellers

You can't have so many buyers making splashes without willing sellers, so let's take time for those who make it all possible. 

Cubs: The wisdom of tearing it all down in Chicago is dubious at best and a reflection of ownership's measly commitment to the on-field product. At the very least, however, they didn't undertake any half-measures. The Cubs leading up to Friday afternoon parted ways with core contributors like Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo, and Craig Kimbrel. As well, they also spun off complementary pieces like Joc Pederson, Andrew Chafin, Ryan Tepera, Jake Marisnick, and Trevor Williams. For those counting, that's nine players plucked from the active roster over the last two weeks or so. As for what the Cubs got back, the return looks strong at this early juncture

Nationals: GM Mike Rizzo in D.C. hasn't been inclined to sell up until now, but sell he did this year. Gone before the deadline were Max Scherzer, Trea Turner, Kyle Schwarber, Daniel Hudson, Brad Hand, Yan Gomes, Josh Harrison, and Jon Lester. The return is more mid-term than long-term, generally speaking, but it made for a thorough pivot on the part of the Nats. 

Live updates
(149)
See New Posts
Pinned
@jonmorosi via Twitter
July 30, 2021, 9:21 PM
Pinned
@jonmorosi via Twitter
July 30, 2021, 9:03 PM
Pinned

Galvis returns to Philly 

Shortstop Freddy Galvis is on the move again. This time, it's a reunion. Galvis spent the first six years of his career with the Phillies and Friday, the Orioles traded him to the Phillies. This season in 72 games with the Orioles, Galvis hit .249/.306/.414 with 1.0 WAR. Galvis appears to be a backup option in the infield, but it's worth monitoring the situation, as incumbent shortstop Didi Gregorius is having a terrible year at the plate.  

July 30, 2021, 8:57 PM
Pinned

Rays acquire outfielder and reliever

The Rays have reached a minor deal with Cleveland. Outfielder Jordan Luplow and relief pitcher D.J. Johnson are headed to Tampa Bay, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Luplow has had a stint in Triple-A and is hitting just .173 this season, but he's a fit with the Rays, as he has a .331 on-base percentage and .439 slugging, giving him a 106 OPS+. The Rays rank 11th in the AL in average, but fourth in runs scored, as they lean into the walks and power Luplow has shown. It's unclear how he'll fit, playing-time wise, because they already have Kevin Kiermaier, Randy Arozarena, Austin Meadows, Brett Phillips and Manuel Margot as outfield options. Johnson is simply depth. 

July 30, 2021, 8:53 PM
Pinned

Blue Jays add bullpen help 

The Blue Jays have acquired right-handed reliever Joakim Soria from the Diamondbacks, the two teams announced. Soria, 37, has served some as the Diamondbacks closer, but hasn't gotten many opportunities because they so rarely win. He's 6 for 8 in save chances with a 4.30 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and 31 strikeouts in 29 1/3 innings. The Jays have also added Trevor Richards and Brad Hand to their bullpen this month. Jordan Romano is the incumbent closer, but it remains to be seen where things end up now with the additions of Hand and Soria. The most likely role for Soria is setting up at some point, maybe the seventh inning. 

July 30, 2021, 8:46 PM
Pinned
@JeffPassan via Twitter
July 30, 2021, 8:42 PM
Pinned

Red Sox add another bullpen arm

The Red Sox have traded infielder Michael Chavis to the Pirates in exchange for reliever Austin Davis, reports Keith Law of The Athletic. Davis, a 28-year-old lefty, has a 5.59 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 11 strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings this season. He threw very well in Triple-A before the Pirates brought him up this season. He's not a back-end reliever. Consider this another depth move by Boston. 

July 30, 2021, 8:40 PM
Pinned
@jonmorosi via Twitter
July 30, 2021, 8:36 PM
Pinned

Braves add closer 

The Braves have picked up closer Richard Rodriquez from the Pirates, reports Jeff Passan of ESPN. Will Smith is currently the Braves' closer, so it remains to be seen how they'll use Rodriguez, but he's been excellent this season for the Pirates. He's 14 for 17 in save chances with a 2.82 ERA, 0.84 WHIP and 33 strikeouts against just five walks in 38 1/3 innings. He's not a high-volume strikeout guy, but he is one of the best in the majors at inducing weak contact. 

July 30, 2021, 8:36 PM
Pinned
@jonmorosi via Twitter
July 30, 2021, 8:32 PM
Pinned

Brewers add quality reliever

The Brewers have announced that they've acquired right-handed reliever John Curtiss from the Marlins. Curtiss spent last season with the Rays and got some important postseason work. This season in 35 appearances, he has a 2.48 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 40 strikeouts against nine walks in 40 innings. Josh Hader remains the closer and Devin Williams is the primary setup man for Craig Counsell, but Curtiss gives him another weapon out of the bullpen to employ. 

July 30, 2021, 8:31 PM
Pinned
@JeffPassan via Twitter
July 30, 2021, 8:30 PM
Pinned
@jonmorosi via Twitter
July 30, 2021, 8:26 PM
Pinned

Giants bring Watson back

The Giants have brought back an old friend. Left-handed reliever Tony Watson is being sent from the Angels back to San Francisco, reports Jon Morosi of MLB Network. Watson, 36, was with the Giants from 2018-2020, so there's good familiarity here. In 2021, Watson has a 4.64 ERA, but he pitched to a 3.20 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in his three seasons with the Giants, so the move could potentially help right the ship for him. He likely won't be a back-end reliever with Jake McGee and Tyler Rogers firmly entrenched. Consider Watson bullpen depth and that's always helpful.

July 30, 2021, 8:26 PM
Pinned
@jonmorosi via Twitter
July 30, 2021, 8:22 PM
Pinned

Braves add Soler

The Braves have agreed to a deal with the Royals to acquire outfielder Jorge Soler, reports Jon Heyman of MLB Network. They've been aggressive in adding outfield help. Earlier this month, they traded for Joc Pederson and earlier Friday they added Adam Duvall. Now it's Soler entering the mix. Soler has huge upside, as he showed in 2019 when he led the AL with 48 homers while hitting .265/.354/.569 with 117 RBI. He's also had trouble with injuries and inconsistency pretty much every other season of his career. This year, he's hitting .192/.288/.370 with 13 homers and 37 RBI. It's possible he's heating up, though, as he's hit .267/.389/.900 with six homers in his last nine games. 

July 30, 2021, 8:22 PM
Pinned
@JeffPassan via Twitter
July 30, 2021, 8:17 PM
Pinned

Red Sox pick up bullpen help

The Red Sox have acquired reliever Hansel Robles from the Twins, reports Do-Hyoung Park of mlb.com. Robles, 30, has 10 saves and 14 holds with just two blown saves this season. He's pitched to a 4.91 ERA, 4.82 FIP and 1.39 WHIP with 43 strikeouts against 23 unintentional walks in 44 innings this season. The Red Sox have gotten great work this season from the back-end of their bullpen from the likes of Matt Barnes, Adam Ottavino and Garrett Whitlock, among others, so this is merely a depth move. You can never have too many bullpen arms. 

July 30, 2021, 8:17 PM
Pinned
@JeffPassan via Twitter
July 30, 2021, 8:07 PM
Pinned
@JeffPassan via Twitter
July 30, 2021, 8:13 PM
Pinned

Rockies hold onto Story

Apparently the Rockies didn't get any offers they liked for All-Star shortstop Trevor Story, because he's staying put, reports Mark Feinsand of MLB.com. The Rockies are 44-59 and clearly not contenders. They traded away franchise icon Nolan Arenado this past offseason. Story is set to hit free agency after the season. The All-Star Game with Story competing in the Home Run Derby already happened. All these things pointed toward a Story trade happening, but it didn't. 

Story is definitely having a down season, hitting .240/.312/.429 (91 OPS+), but he received MVP votes in each of the last three seasons and it's possible a trade to a contender would've rejuvenated him. 

Instead, it looks like the Rockies will either try to re-sign Story or accept the compensatory draft pick for him signing elsewhere this offseason. 

July 30, 2021, 8:05 PM
Pinned
@jonmorosi via Twitter
July 30, 2021, 8:03 PM
Pinned

Padres acquire Marisnick

The Cubs aren't done yet. They are now trading Jake Marisnick to the Padres, per Jeff Passan of ESPN. In 65 games for the Cubs this season, Marisnick is hitting .227/.294/.438 (97 OPS+) with 0.4 WAR. He's a quality defensive outfielder who is used to coming off the bench, so consider him bench depth for the Padres for the time being. 

July 30, 2021, 8:01 PM
Pinned
@jonmorosi via Twitter
July 30, 2021, 8:01 PM
Pinned
@JeffPassan via Twitter
July 30, 2021, 8:00 PM
Pinned
@jonmorosi via Twitter
July 30, 2021, 7:58 PM
Pinned
@JeffPassan via Twitter
July 30, 2021, 7:57 PM
Pinned

Bryant traded to Giants

The Cubs have successfully unloaded their 2016 World Series winning position playing core, as they've now traded Kris Bryant to the Giants, reports Jeff Passan of ESPN. 

Javier Bàez was traded to the Mets earlier today while Anthony Rizzo went to the Yankees on Thursday. 

Bryant is a third baseman by trade, so he can hold down the fort until Evan Longoria returns from injury. Bryant can also play all three outfield spots, so he's a great fit for the Giants in terms of his versatility. 

In 93 games this season, Bryant is hitting .267/.358/.503 (133 OPS+) with 19 doubles, 18 homers, 51 RBI, 58 runs, four steals and 2.1 WAR. 

July 30, 2021, 7:57 PM
See More

Our Latest Stories