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Saturday, December 14, 2019

10 best moves of the MLB trade deadline

Manny Machado

It was a very active MLB trade deadline on Tuesday, and movement wasn’t just high in quantity. There were some big trades made on the deadline day and in the days and weeks leading up to July 31. Nobody can say that the deadline was lacking in excitement.

But of all the moves that were made, which were the best? Here are ten standout trades from the month of July, and the teams that should benefit either short- or long-term from them.

10) Rays acquire Tommy Pham from Cardinals

It was one short year ago that Pham hit .306 with 23 home runs and 25 stolen bases in a season that saw him finish 11th in NL MVP voting. You may believe that’s a fluke, and there’s certainly many who believe a 30-year-old won’t get to those numbers again. But why not take the risk? Pham is under team control through the 2021 season, and the Rays did not have to part with any major prospects to bring him in. It’s a great low-risk, high-reward move.

9) Red Sox acquire Ian Kinsler

With Dustin Pedroia’s health remaining questionable, the Red Sox rolled the dice to bring in a veteran infielder with valuable skills and experience. Kinsler is still good defensively and his bat has picked up recently, as he’s hitting .320 in the month of July. He’s also a gamer renowned for being a good teammate. He’s a good guy to have on your side if you’re eyeing a deep postseason run, which is exactly what Boston is doing.

8) Yankees acquire J.A. Happ

For all the talk of Manny Machado and shiny bullpen pieces, the Yankees needed starting pitching, and they needed it badly. In that sense, Happ is a great add. The left-hander posted a 3.88 ERA over six seasons in Toronto, pretty solid numbers considering he’s been pitching against the Yankees and Red Sox in the AL East. Even better, they didn’t have to part with any truly great pieces to get him. He won’t be an ace, but he’ll be a big help.

7) Cubs acquire Cole Hamels

Hamels is not pitching like an ace anymore. His 4.72 ERA this season is unremarkable, though he’s still striking out a batter an inning. That said, the Cubs can offer an important change of scenery. Hamels has had success in the past pitching in the NL and the postseason. A move back to the National League could help him, and he has been an elite playoff pitcher in the case the Cubs return to the postseason. That’s why the Cubs acquired him.

6) Blue Jays rid themselves of Roberto Osuna

Roberto Osuna is toxic, and it was quite clear that the Blue Jays no longer had any interest in having him on their team, even with his suspension about to end. You would expect little interest in a player like this with his troubling off-field problems, but not only did Toronto find a taker in the Houston Astros, but they got a nice return. They received two big league-quality arms in Ken Giles and David Paulino, both of whom are in downward spells but can be salvaged. That’s excellent work by a rebuilding Toronto team.

5) Diamondbacks acquire Eduardo Escobar

Escobar is a really valuable player. A versatile infielder who can hit for power, he’s hitting .274 with 15 home runs and looks like he could surpass his career high of 21 bombs. He’s a doubles machine who led the AL with 37 at the time of his trade. The Diamondbacks didn’t give up too much to get him, but he’s a nice energy player who could really boost this offense.

4) Rays get big haul for Chris Archer

Pittsburgh acquiring Chris Archer is an interesting move, but the best side of this deal may end up being Tampa Bay’s. Austin Meadows is a top-50 prospect whose introduction to the big leagues has been quite good, while Tyler Glasnow has been ranked as a top prospect consistently before settling into MLB in 2018. Glasnow is striking out 11.6 batters per nine innings and just needs to nail down his control. Archer is a quality pitcher who was in need of a change of scenery. For the Rays to get two top prospects for him with major upside is a huge win for them.

3) Indians acquire Brad Hand and Adam Cimber

Cleveland’s bullpen had been a disaster all season long, and they addressed so many of their problems with one trade. Hand is a quality lefty who can pitch more than one inning against batters from both sides of the plate, while Cimber is an impressive-looking rookie who has been successful for San Diego and throws from an arm angle that’s very difficult for batters to pick up. Together, they combine to make the Indians bullpen much better. If Andrew Miller and Cody Allen can get themselves right before the playoffs, it will be a clear asset.

2) Yankees acquire Zach Britton

Maybe Britton won’t find the form that once made him one of the best relievers in the entire sport. Coming back from an injury, he’s started to find his form, though. Even if he’s a little worse than he used to be, that’s still a really good left-handed reliever who gets ground ball after ground ball, which minimizes the risk of homers and big hits. The Yankees didn’t really need to upgrade their bullpen, but the addition of Britton, if he’s right, makes that unit an indisputably huge asset as they head toward October.

1) Dodgers acquire Manny Machado

The Dodgers have been so close to the World Series title that has eluded them since 1988, and the early-season loss of Corey Seager to injury looked like it would severely weaken their chances of bringing it home in 2018. They responded by using their deep well of minor league talent to go and get Machado, one of the best players in baseball. No disrespect to Seager, but there’s an argument to be made that Machado is better right now. They gave up good prospects, but it’s worth the risk. Machado to the Dodgers is a coup for them, and should help them in their goal of winning the World Series.



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