By: Lucas Reyes
The 2021 edition of arguably the most exciting part of the regular season didn’t come up short, as it was a melee of heavyweight transactions. There’s a great chance you saw your favourite player get traded, your team get better, or your team get a lot worse. All in all, it made everything about this deadline special.
With all the action that took place amongst the executives, there were bound to be organizations that struck gold, and ones that fell on their faces. Here are three winners and three losers from this year’s trade deadline.
Winner: Los Angeles Dodgers
It almost feels like we’re living in a simulation, and the Dodgers are the ones in command. The reigning World Series champions are in the midst of another great season despite being second in their division, but that can easily change after a move that will terrorize opposing fans for some time.
That move is acquiring Danny Duffy from the Kansas City Royals. This acquisition broke the league and there’s no point in even continuing the season after a move like this.
Jokes aside, nobody is happy about the Dodgers reeling in both Max Scherzer and Trea Turner from the Washington Nationals unless of course, you’re a Dodgers fan. But that’s what happens when an already stacked team further adds to the stack.
Los Angeles currently has an all-star team after this move, and that’s not much of an exaggeration. Their starting rotation is set to consist of Scherzer, Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urias and David Price/Tony Gonsolin.
No stats are needed to explain the lethality of that staff.
AS for Turner, he adds a terrific bat and blazing speed to an already loaded lineup. The Dodgers are currently second in the MLB in runs scored with 534, and adding a player with an .890 OPS only makes it even more broken.
To summarize, Los Angeles picked up yet another ace and perfectly replaced Corey Seager.
‘World Series or bust’ doesn’t even begin to describe the Dodgers’ situation right now, and they have no problem with that.
Loser: Colorado Rockies
The Rockies had one job and they didn’t even do it.
Trading Trevor Story was in their best interest as he’s set to hit free agency and leave after this season. But July 30th has now passed and he’s still a Rockie.
According to interim GM Bill Schmidt, the organization wasn’t content with offers for Story’s services and preferred to make use of the compensatory pick for next year’s draft after he leaves.
Considering that Colorado would’ve gotten at least a couple of prospects in a Story trade, it’s hard to believe that a compensatory pick would be a better outcome, and it’s even harder to believe the Rockies weren’t given an offer that wasn’t at least acceptable.
Sure, Story hasn’t been his usual self this year, but his track record should surely be able to secure at least a top 10-15 prospect from any farm system.
If Colorado thinks they’re doing themselves a favour, then at least they can be happy for now.
“I’m confused and I don’t have really anything good to say about the situation and how it unfolded,” Story told The Denver Post.
Nice to see he feels the same way!
Winner: San Francisco Giants
Not a lot of moves were made by the Giants this trade deadline, but their one big splash is one that could make a huge difference in a year full of pleasant surprises.
It’s hard to imagine anyone could’ve seen the Chicago Cubs dealing Kris Bryant to San Francisco prior to this season, given the flat expectations placed on the team at the time. But we’re at the end of July and they’re 64-39, good for first in the majors, and the team has it nailed down in basically every department.
The pitching is nasty, the hitting is electric, and adding a former MVP who’s currently sporting an .861 OPS with 18 home runs doesn’t hurt at all. Plus, Bryant can play many different positions, giving the Giants a lot more flexibility defensively.
Pitcher Caleb Kilian and outfielder Alexander Canario are both very good prospects who highlight a quality return for the Chicago Cubs, but it’s a price San Francisco was willing to pay and given how good they’ve been this season, it’s a no-brainer.
The Giants are a complete team, and this deal makes the race for first in the NL West all the more interesting given the moves the Dodgers made, as previously mentioned.
Loser: San Diego Padres
While acquiring Adam Frazier from the Pittsburgh Pirates was more of a head scratcher than anything bad, it’s less about the trades they made that earned the Padres a spot on the loser list, but rather the trade they didn’t make.
Frazier is a great player who’s a reliable on-base machine (his on-base percentage is at a superb .383), and acquiring Daniel Hudson and his 2.20 ERA from the Washington Nationals is also a nice trade that helps their bullpen.
But setting your hair on fire is absolutely on the table if you’re GM A.J. Preller, because fumbling the bag and losing out on Max Scherzer is pretty appalling when reports came out that San Diego was essentially closing in on a deal to land the future hall-of-famer.
What makes it even worse is the fact that he and Trea Turner went to their division rivals in Los Angeles, who currently rank ahead of the Padres as is.
That alone almost nullifies the joy of acquiring two very solid players, but the Padres have to settle on what they got and find a way to overcome the Giants and Dodgers now.
Winner: Miami Marlins
Starling Marte has been wonderful this season, but the Marlins haven’t, and trading him was the right move given he’s set to hit the market after this year.
Miami is currently last in their division, so to deal with the reality of the situation, they went and acquired a 22 year-old pitching wonder in Jesus Luzardo from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for their star outfielder, and was it ever worth it.
The Marlins have nothing to lose by freeing Marte, and Luzardo has the chance to one day become a star in the midst of a potentially loaded rotation in Miami.
Yes, he has struggled with a 6.87 ERA in 38 innings pitched this year. But, his advanced statistics say he’s better than this, and the track record agrees. His erratic fastball has made him a bit walk-prone and susceptible to home runs, but his entire arsenal is still nasty from top to bottom.
The velocity is there, as his sinker and four-seamer both average over 95 MPH, and his curveball and changeup are both packed with mesmerizing movement.
It’s not uncommon for young pitchers to experience some shakiness, but that’s normal for pitchers loaded with raw talent. It’s nothing a little fine-tuning over the years couldn’t fix, and Miami has a quality reputation for developing pitchers.
Overall, it’s a stunning return for a great player who was likely going to find a new home in a few months time.
Loser: St. Louis Cardinals
Several other teams could’ve taken this final spot, but the Cardinals need to be talked about here.
The team is currently treading water by playing .500 baseball, and felt the need to get better. So, they go and acquire J.A. Happ from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for John Gant.
So what else did they do? Basically nothing! Their idea of getting better was trading a struggling pitcher with zero command for arguably an even worse pitcher who is a decade older.
It was a waste of time for St. Louis to even pick up the phone and make this transaction, and they honestly might as well have sold if this was their idea of maneuvering a trade deadline.
Not to mention, there were rumblings that they had a shot at acquiring Trevor Story from Colorado, but obviously that didn’t happen.
The Cardinals didn’t end the day as a better team, and they still have virtually no chance of making the postseason this year. It was a wasted opportunity to actually progress the organization, and they will likely regret taking this confusing approach.