The 2020 Major League Baseball trade deadline passed on Monday at 4 p.m. ET. Because of the coronavirus shutdown and shortened 60-game season, teams only had five weeks to evaluate to their roster, and there are only four weeks remaining before the playoffs. There was not much time to make decisions and there will not much time to reap the rewards of those decisions.
Like last year, this season will not a feature a waiver-wire trade period following the deadline. Monday was the last day to make trades and improve rosters, either short-term (buyers focused on this year) or long-term (sellers looking at the future) or both. After Monday, rosters will be mostly set for the remainder of 2020. There will be no other opportunities to make significant upgrades.
The last few days were relatively slow on the trade front with the exception of the San Diego Padres, who struck again on Monday morning byin exchange for a six-player package that includes outfielder Josh Naylor, right-hander Cal Quantrill, and shortstop Gabriel Arias.
Fortunately, the trade deadline activity picked up Monday. Here’s the full list of notable trades from deadline day:
Former Marlins president David Samson broke down Monday’s deadline on the latest Nothing Personal with David Samson. Listen below:
With the understanding that the best-laid plays don’t always work out, here are our big winners and losers from the trade deadline. Feel to bookmark this post for future mocking purposes.
Winner: The Padres
The clear No. 1 winner at the 2020 trade deadline. GM A.J. Preller acted decisively and addressed his team’s weaknesses at catcher (Jason Castro and Austin Nola), at the DH spot (Mitch Moreland), in the bullpen (Austin Adams, Dan Altavilla, Trevor Rosenthal, and Taylor Williams), and in the rotation (Mike Clevinger). He did all that without sacrificing his top prospects and without subtracting much from his MLB roster. San Diego has the highest-scoring offense in baseball and can now trot out Clevinger, Dinelson Lamet, and Chris Paddack in a short postseason series. Big upgrades at reasonable prices. Smart, sensible, and impactful moves all around for the Padres.
Loser: Contenders that stood pat
Looking at you Astros, Braves, Rays, Yankees, and White Sox. Yes, the Braves added Tommy Milone and the White Sox added Jarrod Dyson, but neither moves the needle all that much. These are five contenders with obvious needs that went unaddressed at the deadline. Consider:
- Astros: Justin Verlander is hurt, the No. 5 rotation spot is unsettled, and there are seven rookies in their nine-man bullpen.
- Braves: Mike Soroka and Cole Hamels are hurt, and Mike Foltynewicz, Sean Newcomb, and Kyle Wright were demoted.
- Rays: They have 11 pitchers on the injured list, including 10 with arm injuries, five of which are season-ending.
- Yankees: Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gleyber Torres, and James Paxton are hurt and weeks away from returning.
- White Sox: The Gio Gonzalez, Carlos Rodon, and Aaron Bummer injuries have created holes in the pitching staff.
I suppose we could lump the Dodgers in here too because all they did on deadline day was send Ross Stripling to the Blue Jays for two prospects. The Dodgers don’t really have a glaring need though. They’re pretty clearly the best team in baseball. Those other five teams are all postseason favorites and World Series contenders, but did little to nothing at the deadline. Disappointing.
Winner: The Blue Jays
No, their moves were not nearly as flashy as San Diego, but the Blue Jays addressed weaknesses in the rotation with Taijuan Walker, Robbie Ray, and a late trade for Ross Stripling, and they brought in infield depth in Jonathan Villar. Villar’s versatility means there will be ways to get him into the lineup even after Bo Bichette gets healthy, and Stripling is flexible enough to be a bullpen option. Ray has struggled all season, but there is upside there, and he’s as capable of going on a month-long hot streak as any pitcher in the game. Toronto sits comfortably in the No. 8 spot in the expanded American League postseason field and these moves are as much about making a run in October as they are racking up wins in the regular season. Very nice deadline for the Blue Jays, if not subtle.
Loser: Rentals on teams out of the race
Specifically Asdrubal Cabrera and Howie Kendrick (Nationals), Austin Romine and Jonathan Schoop (Tigers), Kevin Gausman and Drew Smyly (Giants), Andrelton Simmons (Angels), and Jackie Bradley Jr. (Red Sox). I guess it’s not fair to say any team is out of the race in the expanded postseason era, though these clubs are on the outside looking in right now, and those players were not traded at the deadline. There will be no ring chasing this year. And hey, maybe they’re fine with that. Who wants to change teams during a pandemic? But from a pure baseball perspective, spending the rest of your free agent walk year with a team outside the postseason race is no fun.
Winner: The Red Sox
Keeping Jackie Bradley Jr. and Martin Perez seems unnecessary but that’s not that big a lost opportunity. The Red Sox traded away impending free agents Mitch Moreland, Kevin Pillar, and Brandon Workman, as well as Heath Hembree, who is under control through 2021. Folks within baseball love pitching prospect Connor Seabold, the headliner in the Hembree/Workman trade with the Phillies, and prospects Hudson Potts and Jeisson Rosario are solid rolls of the dice. They came over in the Moreland trade with the Padres. The Red Sox were never likely to do something significant like trade Xander Bogaerts. Overall, new chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom did well cashing in his trade chips. The farm system has been improved.
Loser: The Brewers
Milwaukee is one game out of the postseason spot and the team’s only move was sending reliable reliever David Phelps to … the Phillies? The team they’re chasing for the No. 8 spot? Okie dokie. Christian Yelich is the only Brewers regular with an above league average OPS — the Brewers are averaging 3.91 runs per game, second fewest in baseball — and they did not address the offense at all. They’re counting on the players already on the roster to turn their seasons around. “That’s the bet we’re making,” manager Craig Counsell told reporters, including Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel, following the deadline. A little more urgency would’ve been cool.
Winner: The Reds
Despite being 1.5 games out of a postseason spot, the Reds went for it at the deadline and added high-leverage reliever Archie Bradley and underrated outfielder Brian Goodwin in separate trades. The bullpen has been a major sore spot all season and Bradley gives manager David Bell another option in the late innings alongside Lucas Sims, Amir Garrett, and Tejay Antone. Shogo Akiyama has underwhelmed in his first MLB season and, even if he turns it around, Goodwin can slot nicely into left field. These moves give Cincinnati a better shot at the postseason and let me tell you, if they sneak in, no one is going to want to face Sonny Gray, Trevor Bauer, and Luis Castillo in a short series.
Loser: The Royals
Their low-cost flier on Trevor Rosenthal worked out beautifully. He’s had a marvelous season and rebuilt value, and they turned him into two prospects, including outfielder Edward Olivares. That’s all they did though, and that was pretty much the bare minimum. They kept fellow reclamation project Greg Holland, didn’t seem to seriously consider a Whit Merrifield trade (again), and didn’t capitalize on a weak starting pitching market by peddling Danny Duffy or Brad Keller or Jakob Junis. The Royals are rebuilding in their own way and that’s fine. GM Dayton Moore is a championship executive and has earned the benefit of the doubt. Still, feels like the Royals could’ve done more.
Winner: The fans
Over the last month or so, speculation was the deadline would be slow because teams are increasingly risk-averse, and because they’ve lost a ton — a ton — of money this year. No team wants to trade prospects or take on money, and that pointed to a potentially slow deadline. And, up until a few days ago, it was slow. Few rumors and close to zero trades. Fortunately everything picked up over the last 48 hours or so, and we had some fun trade deadline action, including the Clevinger nine-player blockbuster. Baseball is the entertainment business and trades and trade rumors are entertaining. We got some of that this year despite the unusual circumstances.
We were with you the entire day providing trade deadline updates and analysis below.