Deadline Recap: American League

MLB Trade Rumors

A wild trade deadline has now passed, with contenders fortifying themselves for a World Series run or a playoff push, rebuilding teams looking towards the future, and some teams in both camps being more cautious in their moves.  Here is the recap of every American League club’s most notable trades of the last few days, with the NL wrap-up coming on Wednesday….

New York: Though the Yankees’ rotation had been a big reason for their first-half dominance, the team still added Frankie Montas (one of the biggest trade candidates of the last few months) to reinforce the pitching staff.  Bringing in Montas and reliever Lou Trivino cost New York four noteworthy prospects, yet the Yankees were able to hang onto everyone in their true top tier.  Beyond Trivino, the Yankees further bolstered the relief corps by landing Scott Effross from the Cubs.  Acquiring Montas also gave New York the rotation depth for a fascinating one-for-one trade, as Jordan Montgomery was sent to the Cardinals for Gold Glove-winning center fielder Harrison Bader.

Assuming Bader returns from his current bout of plantar fasciitis in his normal form, he’ll form quite a defensive tandem with another reigning Gold Glover in Andrew Benintendi, acquired from the Royals earlier in the week.  The struggling Joey Gallo was subtracted from the outfield mix, as New York sent Gallo (a big get at last year’s trade deadline) to the Dodgers for pitching prospect Clayton Beeter.  Gallo is an example of how sometimes the best deadline moves on paper don’t work out, but the Yankees look to have fortified themselves well for a return to the World Series.

Houston: The Astros are in hot pursuit of the Yankees for top spot in the AL, and also made multiple moves to shore up some weaker spots on the roster.  With catcher Martin Maldonado and first baseman Yuli Gurriel both struggling at the plate, Houston brought in two longtime faces of AL East franchises — former Oriole stalwart Trey Mancini and former Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez, for the combined cost of three prospects and young center fielder Jose Siri.

The Astros also dipped into their rotation depth to move veteran Jake Odorizzi for an experienced bullpen arm, moving Odorizzi to the Braves for Will Smith.  One need Houston didn’t address was center field, so it looks like the team will stick with the tandem of Jake Meyers and Chas McCormick down the stretch.

Seattle: The Mariners are chomping at the bit to finally make it back to the playoffs for the first time since 2001, and this aggressiveness manifested itself in one of the summer’s biggest blockbusters.  After months of speculation, the Reds finally moved Luis Castillo, and it was the Mariners who stepped up with a big package of four prospects (including top-50 types Noelvi Marte and Edwin Arroyo) to land the All-Star right-hander.

Castillo only adds to a rotation that was already among baseball’s best, and on deadline day itself, the M’s patched a few more holes.  Curt Casali and Jake Lamb were acquired for bench depth, and Matthew Boyd was acquired from the Giants as an intriguing flier for September.  Boyd has missed the entire season rehabbing from flexor tendon surgery, but if he is able to return, he projects as a left-handed option for a bullpen short on southpaws.

Minnesota: Speaking of trading for Reds starters, the Twins nabbed Cincinnati’s other available (and controllable through 2023) righty in Tyler Mahle, after checking in on most of the bigger starters available.  While Castillo’s better track record meant the Mariners had to pay more, Minnesota’s concession was nothing to sneeze at, with three young prospects headlined by infielder Spencer Steer.  Still, having Mahle for as many as two postseason runs was worth the cost in the Twins’ view, and Mahle should only help a Twins rotation that has already been quite respectable amidst several injuries.

The bullpen was the greater pitching need, and the upgrades came at the cost of a total of five prospects.  But, the Twins made two significant trades in landing Jorge Lopez from the Orioles and Michael Fulmer from the Tigers.  The duo could instantly step right in as Minnesota’s primary late-game combo, or at least take some of the pressure off rookie Jhoan Duran and second-year hurler Griffin Jax.  The Twins also got Sandy Leon in a minor trade with the Guardians, bringing some catching depth on board with Ryan Jeffers still injured.

Toronto: The Blue Jays also mostly checked in on pitching, reportedly coming close to landing Noah Syndergaard and also being linked to such pitchers as Raisel Iglesias, Michael Fulmer, Luis Castillo, and Frankie Montas.  Instead of a headline-grabbing move, Toronto settled for reinforcing the bullpen by acquiring the hard-throwing Zach Pop and former Jay Anthony Bass from the Marlins, and getting swingman Mitch White from the Dodgers.  The Jays had to move some of their own young pitching to get White, and dealt top-100 prospect (but struggling at Triple-A) Jordan Groshans to Miami.

The Cubs’ Ian Happ was frequently mentioned as a Blue Jays target leading up to deadline day, yet Happ wasn’t dealt anywhere, and the Jays instead obtained longtime Royal Whit Merrifield.  The former All-Star is struggling through his worst season, but the Jays are hoping that a change of scenery will help Merrifield get back into form, and add depth at multiple positions around the diamond.  The trade with Kansas City was presumably made with the knowledge that Merrifield will be able to play in Toronto, as he recently missed a Royals/Blue Jays series because he wasn’t vaccinated.

Tampa Bay: Beset by injuries in the outfield, the Rays adjusted by acquiring Siri from the Astros (for young righties Seth Johnson and Jayden Murray) and David Peralta from the Diamondbacks (for catching prospect Christian Cerda).  While fan favorite outfielder Brett Phillips was designated for assignment and then traded to the Orioles to make room, the Rays feel they’ve reinforced their lineup — the weak link on a wild card contender with excellent pitching.

Garrett Cleavinger and Jeremy Walker also acquired from the Dodgers and Giants to bring a couple more arms into the pipeline.  The Rays did at least explore a real eye-opening move in checking in with the Nationals about Juan Soto, and one position left unaddressed was the catching position, though Tampa reportedly had interest in Willson Contreras.

Cleveland: The Guardians are another team with a longstanding need at catcher, and it seemed like Cleveland was getting close to a deal for A’s backstop Sean Murphy — especially since the Guards were reportedly open to making a big move by offering one of their controllable starters.  However, though the Guardians were said to be looking hard for pitching of their own and also flirted with the idea of an offer for Juan Soto, all of the talk resulted in a very quiet deadline.

Other than moving Sandy Leon to Minnesota, the Guardians didn’t make a single trade.  Especially with so many other contenders fortifying their rosters, the Guards’ inaction was a risky move for a team in the thick of the AL Central and wild card races.  Cleveland is counting on its internal mix to step up over the last two months, but if the Guardians fall short of the postseason, there will be some what-ifs asked about this deadline.

Chicago: In somewhat similar fashion to the Guardians, the White Sox are in the AL Central/wild card races, checked in on a big name (Shohei Ohtani), focused on pitching additions (linked to such familiar Chicago names as Jose Quintana, David Robertson, and Mychal Givens) and…ended up coming away without much on deadline day.  White Sox GM Rick Hahn even openly stated that he was “disappointed” at his team’s relative inaction.  The Sox did add some needed left-handed depth to the bullpen in landing Jake Diekman from the Red Sox in an exchange for backup catching Reese McGuire, even if Diekman’s control problems don’t exactly promise drama-free innings.

Boston: With a dismal July record, the Red Sox were exploring trading their veteran players leading up to the deadline, and to some extent this did happen when Christian Vazquez and Jake Diekman.  But, the likes of Nathan Eovaldi, J.D. Martinez, and Rich Hill are all still in Red Sox uniforms, and the Sox even added two more veterans in Tommy Pham and Eric Hosmer.  In Pham’s case, he’ll likely be a rental player due to his mutual option for 2023, but Hosmer is signed through 2025.

In an odd turn of events, Hosmer used his no-trade clause to refuse heading to the Nationals as part of the Juan Soto blockbuster, and has now landed in Boston along with two prospects in exchange for former first-rounder Jay Groome.  Since the Padres are paying virtually all of Hosmer’s salary, in a way it’s kind of a no-lose proposition for the Red Sox, except for the fact that Hosmer has been more or less a league-average player for the last four-plus seasons.  It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Sox look to flip Hosmer again after the season, but for now, the idea is that Hosmer and Pham can help the club regroup and make a late run at a wild card slot.

Baltimore: The surprisingly competitive Orioles entered today’s play 2.5 games out of a wild card berth, but rather than make a true playoff push, the O’s kept their eyes focused on the future.  As a result, team leader Trey Mancini and breakout closer Jorge Lopez were each traded, with a total of six pitching prospects coming back as further reinforcements to Baltimore’s minor league system.  The three-team Mancini trade involving the Astros and Rays also unofficially netted the Orioles Brett Phillips, as the O’s acquired Phillips as backup outfield depth after Tampa Bay designated him for assignment.  It surely isn’t the outcome that Baltimore fans wanted to see after so many years of rebuilding, but with the steps forward the team has made in 2022, it now seems possible that the Orioles could again be on the buyer side of the ledger by the 2023 deadline.

Texas: Another “wait until next year” team, the Rangers spent a ton on its roster in the offseason but 2023 seemed like the real target point for the club’s return to contention.  Perhaps reflecting this in-between state, Texas didn’t do much buying or selling at the deadline, apart from moving reliever Matt Bush to the Brewers in a swap for the versatile Mark Mathias and left-handed pitching prospect Antoine Kelly.

Detroit: 2022 was the go-for-it year for the Tigers, yet a swath of injuries and slumping players quickly put the team back into seller mode.  Reflecting the disastrous nature of the season, the Tigers were reportedly willing to discuss “just about everyone” in trade talks, but rather than a truly transformative move, Detroit played it pretty safe on the trade front.  Impending free agents Michael Fulmer (to the Twins) and Robbie Grossman (to the Braves) were dealt, but though Detroit had plenty of good bullpen arms on offer, GM Al Avila feltthe market was flooded with relievers,” limiting the Tigers’ leverage.

Kansas City: Trading Carlos Santana to the Mariners in late June gave the Royals an early jump on their trade plans, and they ended up making more significant deals in swapping Andrew Benintendi to the Yankees and longtime Royal Whit Merrifield to Toronto.  It was pretty easy to figure out Kansas City’s goal — six of the seven young players acquired in those three trades were pitchers, adding more arms to all levels of the farm system.  There was plenty of interest in other Kansas City veterans like Michael A. Taylor or Josh Staumont, but the Royals to some extent held steady on a true housecleaning.

The Royals also brought in a more experienced arm in Luke Weaver, giving K.C. a pitcher (who may used either as as a reliever or starter) controlled through the 2023 season.  For Weaver, the Royals sent the Diamondbacks Emmanuel Rivera, who was likely an odd man out amidst Kansas City’s multitude of infield options.  The Royals also acquired Brent Rooker to help fill the holes in the outfield, landing Rooker from the Padres for backup catcher Cam Gallagher.

Oakland: The Athletics have been in rebuild mode for months, and Frankie Montas was finally moved after countless rumors.  As in their offseason moves of star players, the A’s continued to pursue a mix of big league-ready and longer-term prospects, getting four young pitchers back in return from the Yankees for Montas and Lou Trivino.  JP Sears has already made his MLB debut and Ken Waldichuk is the highest-ranked prospect of the quartet.

With Montas so widely expected to be dealt, his situation took up much of the buzz surrounding the Athletics, though the club also looked into moving Sean Murphy and Ramon Laureano.  Since Murphy and Laureano are each under arbitration control through 2025, however, the A’s didn’t quite have as much urgency in working out a trade immediately.  Despite those years of control, it’s probably safe to expect Oakland to continue taking calls on both players this winter as the A’s continue their latest roster overhaul.

Los Angeles: Another disappointing season led the Angels to take perhaps more of a bigger-picture view of their roster, as the team at least heard out other clubs’ offers for Shohei Ohtani, even if nobody met the Halos’ understandably huge asking price.  However, the Angels were still quite busy, and reloaded by dealing away Noah Syndergaard and Brandon Marsh to the Phillies, and Raisel Iglesias to the Braves.

Getting Iglesias’ remaining $51MM in salary off the books is itself a win for Anaheim, but the team also obtained a top young catching prospect (Logan O’Hoppe), a controllable starter (Tucker Davidson), a familiar face of a veteran pitcher (Jesse Chavez), an outfield prospect (Jadiel Sanchez) and a lottery ticket of a former first overall pick (Mickey Moniak).  It is an interesting array that falls a bit short of a true reload for 2023, but it gives the Angels some options, flexibility, and plans for the future as they work out their next steps.

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