The 2021 MLB trade deadline is in the books and nearly three dozen trades were made within the last week. When it was all said and done 10 players selected to this year's All-Star game were traded at the deadline. It was a busy and exciting few days.
To satisfy our need for instant gratification, we present to you our winners and losers of the 2021 trade deadline before most guys even get a chance to play for their new team. Let's get to it.
The winner of winners at the trade deadline.. Even at age 37, Scherzer remains one of the game's true aces, and Turner is an all-around impact player at an up-the-middle position. He's no worse than a top 20 player in baseball and I'd call him a top 10 player, personally. Both represent massive upgrades.
Los Angeles paid dearly to get Scherzer and Turner -- Keibert Ruiz and Josiah Gray both rank among the top 50 prospects in baseball -- though they are well worth it. The Dodgers want to repeat and they were under real pressure to reinforce a depleted rotation (Dustin May and Clayton Kershaw are hurt, and Trevor Bauer is under investigation for sexual assault) and a lineup that hasn't been as formidable as expected (Cody Bellinger in particular is massively underperforming).
Not only that, but the Dodgers kept Scherzer away from the NL West rival Padres. At one point it was reported San Diego was nearing a deal for Scherzer, and because it wasn't bad enough that the deal fell apart, the Padres had to watch Scherzer go to their hated rivals and a team they're chasing in the standings. It's a double whammy. The Dodgers landed Scherzer (and Turner) and kept him away from a direct competitor.
In the last few minutes leading up to the deadline, Evan Longoria is out with a shoulder injury and isn't expected back anytime soon, and San Francisco has had left field problems all season. Bryant can play both positions (as well as center field, right field, and first base) while giving the club another righty bat to balance a lineup that leans a little too lefty at times., and all it cost them was two good but not great prospects.
The Giants come into Friday with baseball's best record at 64-38 -- they're three games up on the Dodgers -- and they owed it to their fans and themselves to improve the roster. At the same time, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi didn't want to blow up his long-term plan, and he was able to thread the needle with the Bryant trade. He added an impact player without touching the top of the farm system (and picked up a useful reliever in Tony Watson to boot). Solid work for Zaidi & Co.
José Berríos. They didn't just lose out on Scherzer either. They appeared to have a deal in place for the erstwhile Nationals ace, then watched him land with the NL West rival Dodgers. Ouch. The Padres then saw the first-place Giants grab Kris Bryant right before the deadline. That's an awful lot of impact talent going to teams ahead of them in the standings., but the Padres really needed to reinforce their rotation, and they lost out on Max Scherzer and
In addition to Frazier, San Diego did leave the trade deadline with righty Daniel Hudson and outfielder Jake Marisnick, though they will only move the needle so much. When the two teams you're chasing come out of the trade deadline as clear winners, it's hard not to come out as a loser. Injuries and underperformance have hurt the rotation lately and, at minimum, I thought the Padres would bring in a depth arm to provide innings down the stretch. Instead they'll continue to lean on young Ryan Weathers as his workload heads into uncharted territory.
Winner: Chicago baseball teams
It was a good trade deadline for both Chicago baseball teams. First and foremost, the White Sox and Cubs hooked up for two intra-city trades, with the North Siders sending relievers Ryan Tepera and Craig Kimbrel to the South Side in separate deals.
Cubs and White Sox between 1999 and 2020: 2 trades with each other— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) July 30, 2021
Cubs and White Sox this week: 2 trades with each other
Kimbrel (and Tepera) gives the AL Central leading White Sox a fierce end-game bullpen with Liam Hendriks and Michael Kopech (and Aaron Bummer, Garrett Crochet, etc.). Going into a short postseason series with Lance Lynn, Carlos Rodon, and Lucas Giolito lined up as your top three starters and that bullpen looming will be quite the advantage for Team La Russa.
For the Cubs, biting the bullet and closing the door on the 2016 championship core was no doubt painful, but it was necessary. They turned Javier Báez, Kris Bryant, and Anthony Rizzo into five quality prospects, . Others like Tepera, Andrew Chafin, Jake Marisnick, Joc Pederson, and Trevor Williams brought back talent as well. You can't blame the Cubs for a lack of effort this deadline.
The White Sox greatly improved their bullpen as they eye a World Series title and the Cubs turned the page on their championship core and added a wealth of talent to the farm system. All in all, the trade deadline was successful for the two Chicago teams for different reasons.
Loser: Cubs fans
Look, it could be worse. At least you folks can forever enjoy 2016. But watching that core, which at the time of the 2016 World Series looked like a budding dynasty, be dismantled within 24 hours couldn't have been fun. Anthony Rizzo gone, Javier Báez gone, Kris Bryant gone. Oh,. That stings. It feels like just last week we were talking about how those players are the foundation of the next great Cubs team. Now they've all moved on to other clubs. The good times never last as long as you'd like.
The Yankees badly needed to add left-handed thump to their lineup -- their lefty hitters have hit only 22 homers this season despite Yankee Stadium's short right field porch -- and they added two middle-of-the-lineup lefties in Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo is no longer the hitter he was in his prime, but he'll grind out at-bats like few others, and he's a big defensive upgrade at first base. So too is Gallo in left field. Gallo and Rizzo are sorely needed upgrades on both sides of the ball.
Also, New York made the Gallo and Rizzo trades earlier in the week, before prices seemingly skyrocketed and top prospects started to get moved. They gave up quality prospects to get the two lefty sluggers, no doubt, though the Yankees were able to hang on to the farm system's best (outfielder Jasson Dominguez and shortstops Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza). Also, Andrew Heaney provides cheap pitching depth until Corey Kluber and/or Luis Severino return. The Yankees are still looking at a Wild Card Game berth at this point, though they put themselves in much better position to challenge for that spot at the deadline.
I don't get it. Colorado can fall back on making Story the qualifying offer and taking a draft pick when he (inevitably) leaves as a free agent this offseason, and there's merit to pursuing an extension with Gray (it's hard to get pitchers to come to Coors Field), but geez, this deadline was a big missed opportunity for the Rockies. Surely they could've gotten something better than a draft pick for Story, right? And Bard is 36. He won't be around for the long haul.
The Rockies continue to be the most confounding team in baseball. At least there is entertainment value in their zagging when every other team predictably zigs.
Winner: East teams needing a big splash
The Blue Jays badly needed a dependable innings eater and walked away from the deadline with José Berríos, one of the game's best starters. The Mets needed to do something and landed Francisco Lindor's good friend Javier Báez. The New York faithful will soon get to enjoy plays like this on the regular:
The Mets are currently in first place in the NL East but their lead is tenuous because the offense has underperformed and they've lost so many pitchers to injury. Báez (and Trevor Williams) make the club better and, if nothing else, Báez makes them much more fun and exciting. The fans would've mutinied at Citi Field had the Mets not done anything. Now they get to watch one of the most entertaining players in the sport.
As for the Blue Jays, Berríos forms an excellent 1-2-3 punch alongside Hyun-Jin Ryu and Robbie Ray this year, plus he will remain under team control next season, so he's not a rental. Toronto's position player core is outstanding, but the pitching staff needed help, and they got that help in Berríos. Minor upgrades weren't going to cut it for the Blue Jays and the Mets at the deadline and neither team disappointed.
Loser: Jerry Dipoto
Earlier this week the Mariners didn't just trade ace reliever Kendall Graveman. They traded him to the rival Astros, . "It never changes. They don't care about winning. How do you trade him and say you care about winning? And you trade him to Houston? It never changes," one player said anonymously.
"We are certain to be very active in the hours and days ahead as we remain committed to making moves that will enhance our chances over the season's final 60 games and hopefully beyond," GM Jerry Dipoto said after the trade. Seattle was indeed active this week, and their deadline haul was ... Tyler Anderson and Diego Castillo? Dipoto was in excuse-making mode following Friday's deadline:
No buzzer beaters at the trade deadline for the Mariners.— Corey Brock (@CoreyBrockMLB) July 30, 2021
"We tried," Jerry Dipoto said.
Said (again) team was resistant to moving prospects for short-term gains.
A literal "we tried" from the general manager of a team that enters Friday only 2 1/2 games out of its first postseason spot in a generation. Unbelievable.
I understand Dipoto doesn't want to endanger his long-term plan, but good grief man, you have to do better than this. The Mariners are playing way over their head -- they are 55-48 despite a minus-58 run differential -- and may not hang in the race all season, I get that, but the fact is the Mariners are only 2 1/2 games out of a spot. They're in it. "We tried" is not good enough.
Winner: Baseball fans
Let's be real: the last 17 months have sucked. Baseball has been the furthest thing from the minds of many fans, even diehards, and even the baseball we had last year felt fake. Empty stands, weird rules, the threat of the pandemic shutting the league down at any moment, etc. It was better than nothing, sure, but I wouldn't say it was especially enjoyable. Things are now starting to get back to normal, thankfully, and that includes all 30 MLB stadiums operating at 100 percent capacity.
Ultimately, baseball is the entertainment business, and this was the most entertaining trade deadline in quite some time. We had a few blockbusters, Brad Hand, Starling Marte, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, so on and so forth. Even some of the trades that didn't get done (Trevor Story) provided excitement because they generated rumors, and those are fun., plus several other All-Star caliber players changing teams. Javier Báez, Kris Bryant, José Berríos, Joey Gallo,
It was a thrilling trade deadline and refreshing to see so many teams try to improve after years of anti-competitive behavior. There are still a few too many clubs making no effort to compete (looking at you, Orioles) and that stinks out loud. Baseball is for the fans. Fans are the lifeblood of the sport, they fund the sport, and as we learned during the pandemic last year, the game is less enjoyable without them in attendance. It was nice for baseball to give something back in the form of an exciting trade deadline.