Now is the time for MLB trades.
Even though the best player in baseball is staying put, a top starter has already joined Shohei Ohtani on the Angels. The Angels traded for Lucas Giolito, the first big domino to fall.
There will be a lot going on before the deadline on Tuesday at 6 p.m. ET, as 20 teams are less than five games out of a playoff spot. This can make it hard to tell who is a buyer (AL, NL) and who is a seller (some teams might act as both), but it can also make some teams want to trade their stars. Who has heard of Juan Soto or Nolan Arenado?
Here is a list of all the trades that have happened so far, along with grades and analysis from Rowan Kavner, Jake Mintz, Jordan Shusterman, and Deesha Thosar of FOX Sports MLB.
The Rangers will buy Max Scherzer from the Mets (per multiple reports)
Key stats: 9-4 record, 4.01 ERA, 107.2 IP, 121 SO, 1.189 WHIP
Who else took part: Shortstop In a 1-for-1 trade, the Rangers got Ronald Acua Jr.’s younger brother, Luis angel Acua, who is the third-best prospect for the Rangers according to MLB Pipeline. The deal got stuck for a few hours Saturday night because of how complicated it was. It involved Scherzer waiving his no-trade clause, the usual review of the players’ medicals, and the Mets sending a lot of money to Texas to help cover all but $22.5 million of Scherzer’s remaining contract, including the $43.3 million player option for 2024 that he reportedly picked up as part of the trade.
Why it matters: Mets general manager Billy Eppler and owner Steve Cohen have clarified that they do not want to keep the most expensive team in MLB history together and try for a long-shot wild-card spot. In short, the only way to get the most out of this terrible season is to make big changes that will improve the team’s chances in the future. Trading away players like David Robertson, who were about to become free agents, seemed insufficient. Getting rid of Scherzer lets the farm system, which needs to be re-energized badly, get more potential stars.
Even that has a big price tag.
For baseball’s richest owner, the huge bill, which is said to be more than $35 million, was well worth the chance to build up the Mets’ farm system. To be clear, this deal wasn’t made to get rid of money so that there would be more financial flexibility. It was a chance to get top-level talent through a very expensive way, in this case, by paying someone a lot of money to play for another team.
Don’t worry about the money, though. What is Texas getting in Scherzer right now? The three-time Cy Young winner is expected to team up with Nathan Eovaldi and lead the Rangers’ rotation down the stretch. This is because Scherzer’s former Mets teammate Jacob deGrom is out for the year after having Tommy John surgery.
Texas’s financial risk may have been lessened, but Scherzer is still not sure, given his history of injuries and signs of a slight decline this year. He can still have dominant starts, but if the Rangers expect him to be as dominant after the trade as he was with the Dodgers two years ago, they might be very disappointed. If anything, the move is a reminder of how serious this team is about winning right now. Even though it might not work, you have to give it credit. — Schusterman
The grade for Mets: B
The grade for Rangers: C+
Astros get reliever Kendall Graveman from the White Sox
Key Numbers: 3.48 ERA, 44 IP, 42 SO, 1.205 WHIP
Who else took part: Korey Lee, a minor league catcher ranked fifth on MLB Pipeline’s list of the best prospects for the Astros, was sent to Chicago.
The Dodgers bought White Sox pitchers Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly.
Lynn: 6-9 record, 6.47 ERA, 119.2 IP, 144 SO, 1.462 WHIP
Kelly has a 4.97 ERA, 29 innings, 41 strikeouts, and a 1.310 WHIP.
Who else took part: Chicago got minor league pitcher Nick Nastrini, ranked ninth on MLB Pipeline’s list of the best prospects for the Dodgers. They also got minor league pitcher Jordan Leasure and outfielder Trayce Thompson.
Why it matters: The Dodgers are betting that they can get the most out of players who are having bad years. All four of their deadline additions haven’t been very good in 2023, but they have been useful in the past and didn’t cost too much to get.
Like the Kiké Hernández deal, this one brings back a fan favorite on the team that went to the World Series in 2020. Since joining the White Sox in 2020, Kelly hasn’t had the same level of success he did with the Dodgers in 2020 (1.80 ERA) or 2021 (2.86 ERA). In the last two years, he has had a 5.59 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP, both career highs for any stop in his 12-year career. He has hurt his groin and elbow this season, so he can only play in 29 innings.
Joe Kelly gets traded back to the Dodgers on the same day that this happened three years ago 👀 pic.twitter.com/rHySxRY55l
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) July 28, 2023
The Dodgers have been interested in Lynn for a long time, but this year is different for the 2021 All-Star, whose ERA is the highest of his career at 6.47. Lynn and Kelly, on the other hand, Lynn and Kelly have a lot in common in that they both have many problems and a great ability to miss bats.
Kelly’s strikeout rate has been the best over the last two years. Even though he is 35 years old and throwing harder than last year, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him use his curveball more in Los Angeles. Lynn’s problems are more hard to understand. He has given up more home runs and earned runs this baseball season than any other pitcher, and it’s not even close. At the same time, he has struck out more batters than ever before.
Once we know what else the Dodgers will do in the next few days, it will be easier to judge these moves. They had to contact their pitching staff before the deadline, so it makes sense that they used floor-raising fliers. Lynn has the skills to start postseason games if he returns to how he used to play. Plus, he can join a club in 2024, making him worth more than the average rental. The Dodgers hope this try to get Noah Syndergaard back will work better than the one they did with Amed Rosario for Noah Syndergaard.
The White Sox, meanwhile, keep doing what they need to do to rebuild their farm system after getting two of the top prospects from the Angels in exchange for Lucas Giolito earlier this week. In this trade, they turned two major leaguers who were having trouble into multiple members of the highly regarded Double-A Tulsa pitching staff. Nastrini is a top-10 prospect for the Dodgers and will be picked in the fourth round of the 2021 draft. He has struck out more than ten batters per nine innings at every stop while getting better at command, which was a problem for him at UCLA. At Tulsa, Leasure has a 3.09 ERA and has struck out 56 people in 35 innings. — K.
B for the Dodgers
White B+ for Sox.
The Mets’ best reliever David Robertson was sold to the Marlins.
Key numbers: 2.05 ERA, 44 IP, 14 SV, 48 SO, 1.000 WHIP
Who else took part: Miami sent New York infielder Marco Vargas and catcher Ronald Hernández, ranked 18th and 21st on MLB Pipeline’s list of the best prospects.
Why this is important: If there was ever a sign that the Mets were selling at this deadline, Billy Eppler ensured no one missed it. The Mets’ NL East rival, the Marlins, were just ahead of them in the wild-card race when word got out that Robertson was traded to them. This happened just minutes after the Mets played through a 90-minute rain delay, broke a tied game, and beat the Nationals, who were at the bottom of the league. The front office said, “Congratulations on the win, but we will sell.” In 2024, try again.
Robertson is one of the best relievers on the trade market. The Mets got two interesting position players from the minor leagues in exchange for Robertson. That’s a strange return for the Mets since they don’t have many top-tier pitchers. The Mets didn’t trade Robertson for more pitchers. Instead, they got two teenagers. Even though FanGraphs rates them a little better, it’s surprising that the Mets didn’t wait at least a few more days to get better offers. There are still five days until the deadline, and Robertson was their best asset to trade.
The Marlins are only a half-game behind Cincinnati and Philadelphia in the NL wild-card race. They just got a proven veteran closer who has been great this season and has played in the playoffs before. With Robertson and Jorge López, a high-leverage right-handed pitcher they got from Minnesota earlier this week, their bullpen looks much better all of a sudden. In the relief corps, the Marlins found the right-handed balance they needed to go with lefties A.J. Puk and Tanner Scott. Plus, Miami can say that it was on the competing side of an intradivision trade, which is something to be proud of. — Tomas
The Marlins get an A.
The grade for Mets: B-
The Brewers traded Carlos Santana, the first baseman, for the Pirates.
Statistics that stand out:.235/.321/.412, 12 HR, 53 RBI, 98 OPS+
Who else took part: Pittsburgh got Jhonny Severino, a shortstop prospect who is 18 years old.
Why it’s important: The Brewers have had trouble getting much production from first base all season. Santana should fit right in there. The 37-year-old switch-hitter has been worth 1.5 bWAR this season and has a lot of postseason experience.
RHP Lucas Giolito goes from the White Sox to the Angels.
Key numbers: 6-6 record, 3.79 ERA, 121 IP, 131 SO, 1.223 WHIP
The Angels also got Reynaldo López, a valuable addition to their bullpen. In exchange, according to MLB Pipeline, they sent Chicago their top two prospects: catcher Edgar Quero, considered a top-100 prospect by most outlets, and left-handed pitcher Ky Bush.
Why it matters: You can stop talking about trading Ohtani now.
Tom Verducci of FOX Sports said that Ohtani would not be traded at the deadline. Just a few hours later, the Angels went into buy mode and got arguably the most wanted starting pitcher on the market.
The Angels would only do this if they wanted to get back into the playoffs for the first time since 2014 and keep their two-way superstar for whatever comes next.
Even though it always seemed unlikely that Ohtani would be dealt with, it wasn’t impossible when this month started.
The Angels’ move strengthens their pitching staff, and it’s almost certain that Ohtani will finish his contract year in Anaheim before becoming the most sought-after free agent in baseball history this winter.
And if Giolito helps the Angels win games in October, the move will have been well worth the money. — K.
Angels earn a B+.
A- for the White Sox.
The Dodgers get SS Amed Rosario from the Guardians in exchange for RHP Noah Syndergaard.
Rosario:.265/.306/.369, 3 HR, 40 RBIs, 89 OPS+; Syndergaard: 1-4, 7.16 ERA, 55.1 IP, 38 SO, 1.446 WHIP.
— Foul Territory (@FoulTerritoryTV) July 27, 2023
The Twins switch out their closer. Jorge López is a reliever for the Marlins. Dylan Fleming
López has a 5.09 ERA, 35.1 IP, 27 SO, and a WHIP of 1.274.
Floro has a 4.54 ERA, 39.2 innings pitched, 41 strikeouts, and a 1.487 WHIP.
Dodgers bring back OF/IF from Red Sox Hernández, Kiké
Statistics that matter:.222/.279/.320, 6 HR, 31 RBI, 60 OPS+
Who else took part: Nick Robertson and Justin Hageman, both prospects as relievers, were sent to Boston.