By Rob Mason, PSO President of Sports Operations
Jul 31, 2019

When 4:00pm ET came, it appeared the trade deadline was over without any major move occurring on July 31st. After Trevor Bauer’s 3-team trade set the tone 12 hours prior, chaotic expectations began to evaporate.. until Ken Rosenthal dropped his own version of a Woj bomb. Instantly, Houston combined a powerhouse offense with a now extremely potent pitching staff that altered the odds of who would become this year’s World Series champion. Let’s take a closer look at the mega-deal in Houston, as well as some other impact moves that occurred before the 2019 trade deadline. 

Player charts glossary: Prospect Rk = Prospect Rank according to Fangraphs updated Big Board; Out% = Outs/BF; NOW = 2019 performance; Future = Highest future grade going forward.

Houston Astros get: SP Zack Greinke

Arizona Diamondbacks get: SP Corbin Martin, 1B/OF Seth Beer, SP J.B. Bukauskas, & 2B/UT Josh Rojas

via Gfycat

Summary: In the biggest deal of the summer, the Houston Astros added a third ace-caliber pitcher to a now-dominant rotation also featuring Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, not to mention Wade Miley who sports a 3.06 ERA of his own. Houston certainly gave up a haul to acquire the former Cy Young winner, and will take on $54M of the $77M remaining on his contract through 2021. Astros give up 3 of their top 5 prospects (Whitley & Tucker are No.1 & No.2) along with Rojas who could be a valuable utility player off the bench as soon as this year.

Houston’s new starting rotation

Bottom Line: Houston makes a major push for a 2nd WS ring in 3 years while Arizona uses its biggest trade piece to fortify their farm system in hopes of a future run at contention.

Grades: Astros (A-) | D-Backs (B+)

Cincinnati Reds get: SP Trevor Bauer

Cleveland Indians get: OF Franmil Reyes, OF Yasiel Puig, SP Logan Allen, SP Scott Moss & 3B/OF Victor Nova

San Diego Padres get: OF Taylor Trammell

via Gfycat

Summary: Trevor Bauer and Yasiel Puig both ended their respective tenures with their old team on a memorable note (separate links). Neither player is enjoying their best season in 2019, although Bauer isn’t far removed from a terrific 2018 campaign that earned Cy Young consideration, while Puig hasn’t been an All-Star since 2014. Puig is likely a two-month rental as a pending FA, making Franmil Reyes the centerpiece of Cleveland’s return as a 24-year-old power-hitting stud who isn’t eligible for free agency until 2025.

Bauer’s addition to Cincy gives them a top-tier rotation heading into next year, while San Diego alleviated the log-jam they had in the 2019 OF, to add a top-50 prospect that should arrive at the big league level next year or 2021, when Wil Myers and Manuel Margot are closer to free agency and can be flipped for a more appropriate return. Allen was considered a top-100 prospect by some outlets at the beginning of the season, but has struggled in 2019, and likely projects as a back-end rotation arm at best, while Moss and Nova are unlikely to make an impact at the Major League level.

Cincinnati’s new starting rotation

Bottom Line: Cincinnati adds a premier arm to a now-scary rotation, Cleveland needed power in the lineup and got it, while San Diego traded one of their best young outfielders for a premium prospect.

Grades: Reds (A-) | Indians (A) | Padres (C)

New York Mets get: SP Marcus Stroman

Toronto Blue Jays get: SP Anthony Kay & SP Simeon Richardson

via Gfycat

Summary: The major trade that got these deadline deals started saw Marcus Stroman getting sent to his hometown team in Queens, NY for a more-modest return than most were expecting for an All-Star SP like Stroman. Anthony Kay and Simeon Richardson both have mid-rotation upside, but Kay’s had an awful seven starts in triple-A this year, while Richardson, a 2018 2nd round pick, is only in Class-A ball. Both of these prospects are just as likely to make 0 impact at the big league level as they are to fill a 3 or 4 spot in the rotation throughout the 2020’s.

Meanwhile, Stroman gives the Mets a lethal five-man rotation, after they sent Vargas to Philadelphia in a separate deal. The Mets are 5.5 GB in the WC race with 50+ games to go. With one of the NL’s best rotations (and worst bullpens), we’ll see if they can make the climb back up to contention.

Mets new starting rotation

Bottom Line: Stroman gives NYM an outstanding rotation while Toronto gets two solid prospects that could make an impact throughout the 2020’s.

Grades: Mets (A) | Blue Jays (D)

Chicago Cubs get: OF/3B Nick Castellanos

Detroit Tigers get: SP Alex Lange & SP Paul Richan

via Gfycat

Beyond the 4pm ET deadline, news broke of the Cubs’ biggest acquisition of the year. Each of the last three years, Theo Epstein and company have landed a big name mid-season, but all three were pitchers (Aroldis Chapman from NYY, Jose Quintana from CHW, & Cole Hamels from TEX). Two of them are still in Chicago, while the other was the final piece to a 108-year curse-ending World Series Championship team in 2016. Castellanos’ fit is much less clear than any of the previous high-profile acquisitions that filled a clear need for the Cubs.

Currently, their biggest hole is at 2B amidst Addison Russell’s struggles, but Castellanos’ professional experience only extends to the hot corner & corner OF positions. It seems like he might strictly be a platoon bat against LHP (where he’s batting .347/.415/.611 in 82 PA in ’19) for Kyle Schwarber or Jason Heyward. Yet, Castellanos has value as an everyday player, which this return wouldn’t represent, even considering the 27-year-old has two months of control before free agency. Lange & Richan are both recent high draft picks, but aren’t projected to be high-caliber big leaguers, according to Fangraphs.

Chicago’s new outfield

Bottom Line: This deal doesn’t make too much sense for either side, but Chicago now has a lethal lineup against RHP & LHP, while Detroit got something for Castellanos before he leaves in FA for nothing.

Grades: Cubs (C+) | Tigers (C)

Atlanta Braves get: RP Shane Greene

Detroit Tigers get: SP Joey Wentz & OF/UT Travis Demeritte

via Gfycat

The Braves headed into the deadline with a clear need for bullpen help. After July 31st, they certainly got it. They added Chris Martin from TEXMark Melancon from SF, and now Shane Greene, who will presumably take over closing duties in Atlanta. Greene’s career has epitomized the production levels people have come to expect from relief pitchers. Summed up by one word: inconsistent. Despite Greene’s previous back-and-forth annual performances, he’s been outright exceptional in 2019. He earned his first All-Star nod fueled by a sparkling 1.18 ERA and 22 saves for the lowly Tigers. Now out of Detroit, Greene will look to anchor the bullpen for one of the best teams in baseball.

The return for Detroit is solid considering they’re only giving up one and a half years of a 30-year-old relief pitcher. A rebuilding team like Detroit doesn’t have much use for a player like that, no matter how exceptional his production is this season, it won’t make much of a difference in the win-loss column when it matters. Wentz is the centerpiece as Fangraphs’ No.9 prospect in Atlanta’s system with mid-rotation upside, as a 21-year-old currently posting positive results in Double-A. He could arrive in Detroit’s rotation as soon as next year. Demeritte is unheralded by prospect outlets, but his elite power production in triple-A this year stood out for Detroit. If a new-found approach can fuel a promising future, Demeritte has the versatility to play all across the diamond and can be a valuable contributor for Detroit’s next contending team (if/whenever that may be).

Atlanta’s new bullpen

Bottom Line: Atlanta gets a dominant RP in 2019 for players they won’t need in the future while Detroit adds future contributors for a RP that doesn’t fit in their long-term plans

Grades: Braves (A+) | Tigers (B)

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