The 2022 MLB trade deadline is in the books and with Juan Soto, Luis Castillo, Frankie Montas and many other marquee names dealt, this might go down as one of the best trade deadlines in recent memory.
Soto only became available in July, but his sudden addition to the market added a fun wrinkle. MLB teams waited to strike as they bid against one another for the generational talent with years of contract control. He is now joining the San Diego Padres, who delivered one of the most aggressive frenzies of trade in MLB history.
Of course, San Diego wasn’t the only active buyer this year. The Minnesota Twins might have struck gold with Tyler Mahle, the New York Yankees addressed all their needs and AL West foes added impact talent. Of course, not every front office should come away from this feeling good about its decision.
Let’s dive into the winners and losers of the MLB trade deadline.
Winner: New York Yankees
The New York Yankees approached the MLB trade deadline with a few primary objectives. Upgrade the bullpen, add a front-line starter and replace Joey Gallo with a superior outfielder. Needless to say, Brian Cashman marked everything off his checklist.
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It all starts with Frankie Montas. After reviewing his medicals, New York came away convinced his shoulder is alright. As long as there aren’t any setbacks, this is the unquestioned No. 2 starter in the rotation. The Yankees lead MLB in Fielding Bible’s Defensive Runs Saved (66), particularly strong from third base to second. That’s huge for Montas, who ranks 17th in groundball rate (46.1%) and still racks up strikeouts (25.8% strikeout rate). One other plus, beyond the fact Montas is under contract next year, he holds a 2.77 ERA in 52 innings against the Houston Astros.
- Frankie Montas stats (2022): 3.18 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, .231 BAA in 104.2 innings
Scott Effross is the sneaky addition. Under team control through 2027, the 28-year-old boasts an elite 96th percentile Chase rate this season with opponents posting a .157 batting average against his slide with a 42.9% K-rate. Similarly, his changeup is holding batters to a .094 BA with a 25.5% Whiff rate. New York also bought low on Lou Trivino, adding depth to its bullpen.
As for Andrew Benintendi, he is better defensively than Gallo. Just as importantly for New York, the All-Star outfielder owns a stellar .311/.387/.376 slash line and only strikes out in 13.4% of plate appearances. All of this talent was acquired without trading Anthony Volpe, Jasson Dominguez or Oswald Peraza. As if we didn’t love the Yankees’ moves enough, Harrison Bader is going to be phenomenal defensively in center field when he returns off the injured list.
Loser: St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals needed to emerge from the MLB trade deadline with a front-line starter. As a playoff contender, the idea of heading into a Wild Card Series with a postseason rotation of Adam Wainwright, Miles Mikolas and Dakota Hudson wasn’t appealing. When Juan Soto became available, though, St. Louis felt compelled to pursue the superstar even if it delayed acquiring a much-needed ace.
Instead, neither happened. Soto is headed to the San Diego Padres, a team St. Louis is competing with for one of just three postseason spots. Meanwhile, the waiting cost the Cardinals an opportunity to land either Frankie Montas or Luis Castillo. Thus, they settled for Jose Quintana and Jordan Montgomery.
On the surface, Quintana appears to be a solid addition. He sports a 3.50 ERA across 103 innings this season and it’s backed by a quality 13.4% K-BB rate and a 0.61 HR/9. He also generates plenty of groundballs (45%), which the Cardinals like.
The Cardinals plan to go into October with a starter who has a pedestrian .251 batting average allowed and 1.27 WHIP this year. Quintana doesn’t generate a ton of whiffs, instead relying on contact. Jordan Montgomery is a much better addition, especially since he is under team control through 2023. He’s a solid No.3-ish starter, but this still feels underwhelming after fans tied their hopes to Soto and Castillo.
Winner: San Diego Padres
A.J. Preller runs a baseball team like fans love to see. He built one of the best farm systems in baseball and then used it to acquire stars, making the moves necessary to build a World Series contender. Between the trades for Josh Hader, Josh Bell and Juan Soto, Washington becomes one of the true elites in baseball.
Washington certainly sacrificed one of the largest collections of young talent and prospects in years. However, that is all worth sacrificing when you land a future Hall of Famer. Soto is one of the best hitters in his generation, a threat to win NL MVP every season he plays. Meanwhile, Bell is miles better than Eric Hosmer as a hitter, giving San Diego two huge lineup additions.
The Padres also really didn’t have to sacrifice much for Hader. He isn’t willing to cover multiple innings like he used to, but San Diego just needs him to close things down in the 9th. There’s no questioning the stuff and he’s under contract next year. Massive moves by San Diego and certainly worth the prices paid. The icing on the cake, San Diego added the most versatile bat on the market.
Loser: Milwaukee Brewers
This is the problem with MLB teams that operate with a lower payroll. Even when they are a legitimate contender, arguably the favorite to win their division, the front office must still operate with the budget in mind. It’s the only reason why the Milwaukee Brewers dealt Josh Hader to another contender.
There are arguments in Milwaukee’s favor. Devin Williams (1.59 ERA, 14.97 K/9) is capable of becoming an elite closer. Furthermore, a healthy Dinelson and a version of Taylor Rogers that uses his slider adds depth to the bullpen.
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Adding depth to a bullpen, at the cost of a perennial All-Star closer, can be described as a wash at best. The bigger problem is Milwaukee’s situation in center field is still a problem. Furthermore, adding depth pieces to a lineup that ranks 16th in runs scored (239) since June 1 doesn’t make much of a difference. Milwaukee needed to improve its lineup and defense, it’s fair to say it failed at both.
Winner: Houston Astros
The Houston Astros needed to do something before the MLB trade deadline. After witnessing the Yankees make significant additions, Houston had a problem. Astros’ catchers rank 29th in OPS (.526), 30th in wRC+ (51) and batting average (.160). Meanwhile, Houston’s first baseman placed 28th in OPS (.639), wRC+ (83) and 24th in isolated power (.140). Enter Trey Mancini and Christian Vázquez.
It all starts with Mancini, who can play first base or the corner outfield. While 10 home runs in 401 plate appearances seems underwhelming, that’s a result of the changes at Camden Yards. In reality, Mancini still boasts the same power as before and his Expected Home Runs by Park is +11 with the move to Houston. This is the biggest addition for the Astros’ lineup.
Vázquez is also a quality hitter. He boasts a steady .282/.327/.432 slash line this season with a wRC+ that is more than double that Houston received from its catchers this season. The two holes in the Astros’ lineup are filled and it didn’t cost much to address them.
Loser: New York Mets
Getting Jacob deGrom back doesn’t count as a big MLB trade deadline move. He opened in spring training with the team and then suffered setbacks that delayed his return to the mound. This isn’t to suggest the New York Mets aren’t World Series contenders, but they have to be viewed as losers of the deadline.
Look at what the Yankees and Padres did. Meanwhile, New York settled for Dan Vogelbach, Michael Perez, Tyler Naquin and Darin Ruf. It certainly improves the Mets’ depth, but that’s not exactly the kind of thing that is going to make a real difference in October.
Consider where things stand for New York right now. In July, the Mets’ lineup ranked 17th in runs scored (109) with a .253/.324/.421 slash line. Going back two months, this club has scored the sixth-fewest runs and ranks 19th in OPS (.709). Oh, let’s not forget the Mets’ situation at catcher remains an absolute disaster. For a team with the farm system and wallet to make big moves, the Metsoperated a lot more like the Oakland Athletics.
Winner: Seattle Mariners
It doesn’t matter what the Baseball Trade Value calculator or MLB executives say. The Seattle Mariners have the longest playoff drought in American sports and it needed to end. As President of Baseball Operations, Jerry Dipoto knew this and he made the big swing by landing the best starting pitcher on the trade market.
Luis Castillo is an ace. Among starting pitchers since May 20, he carries the ninth-lowest ERA (2.51), the eighth-lowest batting average allowed (.199) and it comes with a spectacular 1.06 WHIP. Keep in mind that he accomplished this with a bad defense behind him in a ballpark that is a pitcher’s nightmare.
The move from Great American Ballpark (109 Park Factor) to T-Mobile Park (95 Park Factor) is huge for Castillo. It can change how he approaches batters in certain counts, no longer having to make a choice with the fear that a simple fly ball leaves the yard. On top of that, Seattle’s defense ranks eighth in Fielding BIble’s Defensive Runs Saved (31) compared to Cincinnati’s (-26). For a starter who already had a 2.51 ERA, .199 BAA and 26.8% strikeout rate since May 20, that’s huge.
Loser: Chicago Cubs
Everyone believed the safest bet at the MLB trade deadline was the Chicago Cubs selling off their impact bats, committing to the rebuild and strengthening the farm system. The clock has run out and days after Ian Happ and Willson Contreras said their goodbyes, they are now staying at Wrigley Field.
Keeping Happ can be excused, considering he is under contract next season. With Contreras, Chicago is seemingly expressing confidence that it will either be able to re-sign him for cheap or that they receive a compensation pick after he rejects their qualifying offer. Even so, doing nothing feels like this season was even more of a waste for one of the worst teams in baseball. At a trade deadline when so many teams that needed to enrich their farm systems added meaningful talent, the Cubs sat on their hands and did nothing.
Winner: Atlanta Braves
Talk about making a splash in the final seconds. The Atlanta Braves saw an opportunity with the Los Angeles Angels desperate to shed payroll. In comes executive Alex Anthopoulos, adding All-Star closer Raisel Iglesias to the bullpen.
The 4.04 ERA on Iglesias’ line might not seem especially appealing, but look past it. He boasts an absurd 32.9% strikeout rate, walks are a rare occurred (6.2% walk rate) and opponents only hit .215 off him this season. Those numbers certainly aren’t a fluke, considering he posted a 33.3% K-BB rate in 2021 and held opponents to a .188 batting average in 2020.
Now throw Robbie Grossman and Jake Odorizzi into the mix. Thanks to a .364/.479/.520 slash line and .999 OPS against southpaws, Grossman represents the perfect platoon partner for Eddie Rosario. In addition, Odorizzi steps in as a sixth starter for a club that needs to monitor Spencer Strider’s innings. Another phenomenal MLB trade deadline for the defending World Series champions.