This year’s MLB trade deadline may not have seen as many high-impact players dealt as 2021, but there was still a myriad of moves made that will impact the postseason races as the season winds down.
While you’ve probably read a ton about the big trades like Luis Castillo, Frankie Montas, and Juan Soto of course, here’s a quick rundown of all the smaller trades that may have slipped by unnoticed to anyone not looking.
Detroit ships Michael Fulmer to the Twins
Minnesota gets: RHP Michael Fulmer
Detroit gets: RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long
The Twins needed a reliable closer. They didn’t land David Bednar. They didn’t land David Robertson, so they settled for the second-best reliever on the Detroit Tigers, Michael Fulmer. Fulmer, a former Rookie of the Year, has seen a career resurgence since transitioning to a relief role in 2021. He holds a 3.06 ERA across 108 innings pitched in that span. He’ll be a helpful addition to the Twins’ bullpen, and should slot into the team’s closer role immediately.
Minnesota didn’t have to give up much to grab Fulmer either. Right-handed pitching prospect Sawyer Gipson-Long was not ranked among the Twins’ top 30 prospects. Across 17 starts in High-A and Double-A, Gipson-Long has posted a 4.23 ERA. Gipson-Long has seen his strikeout rate drop at every level of the minors, but he has decreased his walk rate in 2022. However, it doesn’t matter if you don’t give up free passes when opposing hitters are hitting you hard.
Verdict: Minnesota wins the trade
Joey Gallo heads West
Dodgers get: OF Joey Gallo
Yankees get: RHP Clayton Beeter
Yankees fans rejoice! A massive bust since he joined the Bronx Bombers in the middle of 2021, Joey Gallo has become more meme than man in 2022. Hell, he had fewer hits this season than Aaron Judge has home runs. That said, Gallo is a two-time All-Star for a reason. He’s got tremendous pop and the Dodgers are willing to incur the risk of being burdened with Gallo in the hopes that he can find his swing away from Yankee Stadium.
It’s tough to defend Gallo after the abysmal 2022 season he’s had, but for the price of a low-end pitching prospect, the Dodgers certainly won the trade. After losing out on Soto, the Dodgers needed someone — anyone — to provide outfield depth for their team as they handle injuries and subpar performances from most of their outfielders.
Historically, Gallo has done very poorly in Southern California over the course of his career. His career slash line against the Angels is .192/.327/.437, good for a 92 OPS-plus. His career slash line against the Padres is .196/.339/.490, good for a 107 OPS-plus, and his career slash line at Dodger Stadium is .231/.355/.346. Albeit, he’s only had 31 plate appearances in Dodger Stadium in his career.
Verdict: Neither team wins. Only Yankees fans win
Phillies snag Brandon Marsh and Noah Syndergaard
Phillies get: OF Brandon Marsh, RHP Noah Syndergaard
Angels get: OF Mickey Moniak, OF Jadiel Sanchez, C Logan O’Hoppe
First things first, I know these were separate trades, but I decided to tie them in together, because I might as well. If that bothers you, I don’t care. I’ll do as I please.
Brandon Marsh was a fan favorite in Anaheim. He was never that outstanding though. He provides solid corner outfield defense and decent speed. Noah Syndergaard will eat innings and provide a decent sinker ball. Combined, these two were worth the Phillies’ No. 3 prospect? Huh? How does that make sense? Never mind the fact that Sanchez and Moniak were involved in this trade as well. How in the world did the Angels end up with O’Hoppe? Did someone in the Phillies’ front office lose a bet?
Already, O’Hoppe is the top prospect in the Angels’ farm system. Even worse, as I said earlier, the trades involving Marsh and Syndergaard were two separate trades, and it wasn’t Syndergaard, the more enticing of the two players that drew O’Hoppe to Anaheim. It was Marsh. I know Marsh is young, but through 583 career plate appearances, Marsh’s on-base percentage sits one point under .300. The Angels were expecting a lot more from someone who was considered a five-tool player as he soared through the minors.
I don’t know how it happened, but somebody needs to give Angels’ GM Perry Minasian some props because the Angels’ prospect pool was thin and landing O’Hoppe is a massive upgrade.
Verdict: Angels rob the Phillies of one of their top prospects
David Robertson returns to Philly
Phillies get: RHP David Robertson
Cubs get: RHP Ben Brown
The Phillies weren’t done with that pair of mediocre Angels. They needed to grab a closer to replace Corey Knebel as well. Knebel hadn’t been the shutdown ninth-inning guy they were hoping and Robertson should slide into that closing role immediately.
This isn’t Robertson’s first stint with Philadelphia either. Robertson signed a two-year deal with the team prior to 2021, but needed Tommy John surgery after just seven appearances and never pitched for the Phillies again. Now, he gets a shot at redemption with the City of Brotherly Love. Robertson is in the middle of one of the best seasons of his career at 37 years old. While his 2.23 ERA will be appreciated in Philly, his 3.51 FIP raises some concerned eyebrows. With how deep the NL East is this season, I wouldn’t be shocked if Robertson experiences some struggles down the stretch.
That only matters if what the Phillies gave up for Robertson was too steep, and that’s debatable. Brown was stellar across 15 starts in High-A this year, posting a 3.08 ERA in those games. In fact, he’d just been promoted to Double-A. That said, Brown likely wouldn’t be ready for the Majors until 2024. By that point, Aaron Nola could be gone. Corey Knebel, Noah Syndergaard, Zach Eflin, and Kyle Gibson could all be gone. Those losses would drastically reduce their postseason chances so the addition of Brown to the rotation likely wouldn’t help that much in the short run. The Phillies didn’t sign Bryce Harper to that massive contract in 2019 just to miss the playoffs each of his first four seasons with the team. They made a move for a closer, and I respect it, even if it likely won’t result in a division title.
Verdict: Both teams win
Cardinals swap Harrison Bader for Jordan Montgomery
Yankees get: OF Harrison Bader
Cardinals get: RHP Jordan Montgomery
Prior to the trade deadline, it was well-known that the Yankees were thin at starting pitching. Even with the addition of Frankie Montas, the Yankees’ rotation was still as thin as Christian Bale in The Machinist. So, what do they do? Trade away one of their more reliable starting pitchers for a struggling outfielder on the IL.
Yes, smart move. I can’t even comprehend the mental gymnastics that went on here. Jordan Montgomery wasn’t the best starter on the team, but with Gerrit Cole enduring some struggles, Nestor Cortes showing signs of regression, and Luis Severino on the 60-day IL once again, Montgomery was a shining beacon of consistency. Now, he’s gone.
What’s even worse are the reasons the Yankees would make a trade like this. Odds are they did this because they wanted to move Aaron Judge back to a corner outfield position. Why? To save his legs obviously. One problem. If you want to save his legs, that means you probably want him to play for you for a long time, so why haven’t the Yankees extended him yet? Obviously, the Yankees believe Judge will still be a Yankee when next season rolls around. However, there are too many rumors floating around to be confident in re-signing him. If you were that worried about Judge’s future, you would’ve paid him what he wants.
Verdict: Cardinals get the better end of the deal
Blue Jays create a Kyrie Irving situation, snagging Whit Merrifield from the Royals
Blue Jays get: 2B Whit Merrifield
Royals get: 2B/OF Samad Taylor, RHP Max Castillo
Whit Merrifield isn’t the name he used to be, but he’s still got some value. The only problem is that a few weeks ago, Merrifield, along with several other Royals players admitted that they were not vaccinated and thus could not join their team during their four-game set in Toronto. Now, Merrifield is being asked to play his home games in Toronto. Do you see the dilemma? It’s a real pickle Merrifield has gotten himself into.
You have to imagine that Merrifield will be getting the shot now, so let’s assume that’s the case moving forward. Merrifield, a seven-year vet, is enduring the worst offensive season of his career, but at the very least, Merrifield provides solid wheels on the basepaths. The Blue Jays currently rank 22nd in stolen bases per game, so perhaps Merrifield could provide a real shot in the arm for them in that category.
In return, the Royals land the Blue Jays’ No. 16 prospect Samad Taylor, who will essentially be a replacement for Merrifield in the future, and right-handed pitching prospect Max Castillo. Given Merrifield’s resumé, you’d think the Royals could’ve landed a little bit more, but I’d argue that with Merrifield’s OPS on the decline each of the last four seasons, landing someone as talented as Taylor is a massive win for the Royals. They clearly weren’t doing any damage this year, so grabbing two guys for the future was a solid move.
Verdict: Royals get good value for declining Merrifield
Padres continue going all-in, land Brandon Drury
Padres get: UTIL Brandon Drury
Reds get: SS Victor Acosta
Juan Soto, Josh Bell, and Josh Hader just weren’t enough, were they? They just had to go out and get Drury too.
Drury is in the middle of the best season of his career. While the departure from the hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati would be worrisome, Drury is heading to another very hitter-friendly stadium in Petco Park. The only problem is Drury’s résumé. Aside from 2022, Drury has never shown immense power. A change of scenery could have Drury resorting to his old ways.
After giving up several of their top prospects in order to land Juan Soto and Josh Hader, giving up another top-10 prospect in Acosta in order to land an unproven utility man and put him in an already crowded infield, seems like a bit of a stretch. That said, if Drury continues his power surge as the full-time first or second baseman in San Diego, then this trade will be well worth it. Hell, as long as they knock the Dodgers out of the playoffs, any move they made could be viewed in a positive light.
Verdict: It all depends on how the Padres finish the season
Giants send Darin Ruf to Mets
Mets get: OF/1B Darin Ruf
Giants get: UTIL J.D. Davis, LHP Thomas Szapucki, RHP Carson Seymour, LHP Nick Zwack
Darin Ruf destroys lefties. That’s what he does. The Mets are 16th in MLB in OPS against lefties. This is a move that makes sense for the Mets, but did they have to give up so much? Ruf has never played more than 120 games in a single MLB season and has already played in 90 this year. Are we sure he has the durability to last the rest of the season for New York?
Furthermore, while none of the prospects the Mets gave up were within their top-30, this many prospects as well as an MLB vet, more versatile on defense, with an OPS just 18 points lower than Ruf’s in 2022, just isn’t a fair deal. Ruf is clearly the better player, but you can’t excuse the Mets giving up so many players, no matter how poor, for someone who won’t provide an everyday role.
Verdict: Giants get good value for Ruf
Mets also acquire Mychal Givens
Mets acquire: RHP Mychal Givens
Cubs acquire: RHP Saúl González
Mets manager Buck Showalter has a history with Givens. Showalter was Givens’ manager back in Baltimore between 2015 and 2018. Givens was a great reliever then, and his 2.66 ERA would have you believe he still is. Rather, Givens’ 3.83 FIP tells a different story. While that is still the lowest FIP Givens has recorded since 2018, that large discrepancy between his ERA and FIP implies that Givens has been the beneficiary of a lot of lucky bounces.
Still, a 3.83 FIP is nothing to scoff at. It’s respectable, so the Mets only having to give up a middle reliever in Single-A, who has struggled for most of his minor league career, is a solid deal. González does have some potential though. His K/9 is up over 10 and his strikeout-to-walk ratio has improved each of his last four full seasons. While I don’t hate González as a prospect and potential vital bullpen arm in the future, I can’t help but think the Cubs could’ve gotten a little bit more. Still, a solid trade on both ends in general.
Verdict: Mets come out ahead…just barely
Twins acquire All-Star closer Jorge López from O’s
Twins get: RHP Jorge López
Orioles get: LHP Cade Povich, RHP Yennier Canó, RHP Juan Nunez, LHP Juan Rojas
The Twins desperately needed a closer, and they got a damn good one. Normally, I’d be concerned with a player breaking out this late into their career, but increased strikeout rates and velocity, as well as decreased walk rates, are a good sign no matter how old you are. López is obviously a huge get for the Twins given their team’s 3.84 bullpen ERA this year, and the fact that the Twins have only had one consistent reliever all season in Jhoan Duran. López will be the immediate answer for Minnesota in high-leverage situations.
The Twins didn’t have to give up too much either. Both Nunez and Rojas are rather unknown, and that tends to mean they won’t be making too many MLB waves in their careers. The two focal pieces of this trade were Canó and Povich. Canó struggled in his lone stint at the MLB level, but was sent back down to Triple-A on Monday. He recorded a 9.22 ERA in 10 appearances with the Twins. Povich was the Twins’ No. 22 prospect heading into the day. He’s a pretty good get for the Orioles. Even in their crowded farm system, Povich stands out because of his tall 6-foot-8 frame. If the Orioles can unlock his potential, he could turn into a serious weapon. All in all, I wish the haul for the Orioles was slightly better, but I can’t blame them for pulling the trigger on these four players.
Verdict: Twins get the closer they so desperately need. As long as the deal was somewhat reasonable, they would’ve won this trade.
Raisel Iglesias to the Braves for Tucker Davidson and Jesse Chavez
Braves get: RHP Raisel Iglesias
Angels get: LHP Tucker Davidson, RHP Jesse Chavez
The Braves have the fifth-best bullpen ERA in baseball. Did they need to get another reliever? No, but by golly, I love this move. Raisel Iglesias deserves to be rid of that horribly managed Angels’ organization and Iglesias only bolsters a Braves’ pitching staff that should help them catch up to the Mets in the NL East. With Jacob deGrom returning from the IL, the Braves needed to make a move to keep pace. Iglesias isn’t deGrom, but he’s a great addition to any bullpen.
The big loss here is Tucker Davidson. Formerly a top prospect for the Braves, Davidson has impressed at every level of the minors, but has struggled across three stints in the Major Leagues. Davidson has the potential to be a strong starting pitcher for the Angels for years to come, but that would require the Angels’ coaching staff to manage him well. Yeah, I don’t have much faith either.
Chavez is a reliable long reliever and potential fill-in starter, but he’s 38 years old. He’ll eat innings this year, but that’s all you should count on him for.
Verdict: Braves needed to make a move, and made a good one
Tyler Mahle lands in Minnesota
Twins get: Tyler Mahle
Reds get: UTIL Spencer Steer, LHP Steve Hajjar, 3B Christian Encarnacion-Strand
Tyler Mahle is one of those guys whose stats you look at and think, “Why is he so highly touted?” He’s got a career 4.35 ERA and 4.24 FIP. Those aren’t elite numbers, but the return the Reds got for Mahle would make you think otherwise. Steer was the Twins’ No. 7 prospect. Hajjar was the team’s No. 18 prospect, and Encarnacion-Strand ranked No. 23.
While I do think the price was high, Mahle is better than his base stats would indicate. Despite playing in hitter-friendly Cincinnati, Mahle posted an ERA-plus of 125 or better in 2020 and 2021. His strikeout numbers may have decreased each of the last two seasons, but Mahle would still be the best strikeout pitcher on the Twins’ rotation by more than a full strikeout per nine innings. The Twins needed an ace to solidify themselves atop the AL Central, and they got one.
Verdict: It’s a high price, but a needed addition for Minnesota