In the next two-plus weeks, the ground of the baseball world will shift beneath our feet. The Trade Deadline has a way of disorienting you, out of nowhere, and it can feel as if the entire state of play has changed.
But does it? July trades can feel seismic, but many times, we’re only talking about one or two months of games. Baseball people spend most of their time talking about small sample size, but when it comes to trades at the Deadline, every move is thought to change everything. Even if it doesn’t always turn out that way.
So, today, as we head out of the break into a surely active trade season, we look back at last year’s major July trades. How did they ultimately turn out? How much of a difference did they actually make? How are they looking now?
And one wrinkle to remember for this year: July 31 is now the only Trade Deadline, as the August "waiver trade" period was abolished this past offseason. In other words, if a team wants to trade for a player from outside its organization, it must do so before the July 31 Trade Deadline.
July 18: Orioles trade Manny Machado to Dodgers for Yusniel Diaz, Breyvic Valera, Dean Kremer, Rylan Bannon and Zack Pop
The biggest July trade was the first major one, one that had been foreshadowed just a few days earlier when Machado was taking selfies with then-Dodger Matt Kemp at the All-Star Game. (Also: Matt Kemp was an All-Star last year.) Machado hit .273 for the Dodgers -- his numbers for 66 games in LA last year are nearly identical to his numbers in 87 for the Padres in 2019 -- and helped them get to the World Series (causing all sorts of controversy along the way), where he’d hit .182 in the five-game series loss.
None of those Orioles prospects has really popped yet. Their current rankings on the Orioles’ MLB Pipeline Top 30 Prospects list: Diaz, No. 4 (No. 90 overall); Kremer, No. 9; Pop, No. 19; and Bannon, No. 21. (Valera is in the Yankees organization now.)
July 19: Padres trade Brad Hand and Adam Cimber to Indians for Francisco Mejia
Many Cleveland fans thought the team gave up too much -- Mejia, their top prospect at the time -- for two relievers. Hand was excellent for the Indians down the stretch, made the All-Star Game this year and is signed through 2020; it’s worth noting he struggled in Cleveland’s American League Division Series loss. Cimber has been … fine for Cleveland, both last year and this year. Mejia has struggled to hit consistently when in the big leagues for San Diego, thanks mainly to plate discipline issues, but he’s still a 23-year-old catcher with heavy dollops of potential.
July 24: Orioles trade Zack Britton to Yankees for Cody Carroll, Dillon Tate and Josh Rogers
Britton -- who was Zach when he was traded but is Zack now -- hasn’t been 2016-era-dominant Britton since joining the Yankees, but he’s still been a key part of that sometimes-overwhelming bullpen; he’ll be a big part of everything that happens this October. Heading back to the Orioles’ prospect rankings: Tate is No. 17, Carroll is No. 20 and Rogers underwent Tommy John surgery last week.
July 25: Rays trade Nathan Eovaldi to Red Sox for Jalen Beeks
Did this turn out to be the most important trade last July? Eovaldi was perfectly fine in 11 starts during the regular season but secured legendary status in Boston forever for throwing 97 pitches in relief, his third appearance in four days, in a Game 3 World Series loss. It may have ultimately cost him. Re-signed with Boston, he has struggled with injuries all season and only made four starts. Meanwhile, Beeks is quietly a key part of the Rays' bullpen, and the Rays are 2 1/2 games ahead of the Red Sox in the AL Wild Card standings entering Saturday's action. This might end up being one of those trades that was a win for both teams.
July 26: Blue Jays trade J.A. Happ to Blue Jays for Brandon Drury and Billy McKinney
Happ was absolutely brilliant for the Yankees in 2018, going 7-0 in 11 starts, but he was hammered by the Red Sox in his lone postseason appearance. The Yankees re-signed him to a two-year deal in the offseason, but they were likely expecting better than the 5.02 ERA he's put up so far this season. Drury is hitting .218 and McKinney .215 for a Blue Jays team on pace to lose more than 100 games. So if you just look at this in terms of the Happ the Yankees traded for, this was a win for them. The free-agent contract, however, is another story.
July 26: Rangers trade Cole Hamels to Cubs for Eddie Butler, Rollie Lacy and a player to be named (Alexander Ovalles)
Hamels wasn’t terrible for the Rangers, but his numbers in his two-plus years there were the worst of his career. He has had a terrific resurgence in Chicago, putting up a 2.71 ERA over 29 starts, and he’ll likely be a top free-agent target this offseason. The Cubs got their value’s worth, but the Rangers sure didn’t: Butler was just waived by his KBO team, Lacy was traded to Tampa Bay and Ovalles is not one of Texas’ Top 30 Prospects according to MLB Pipeline.
July 27: Twins trade Eduardo Escobar to D-backs for Jhoan Duran, Gabriel Maciel and Ernie De La Trinidad
Escobar was fine, not fantastic, for Arizona in 2018, but the D-backs liked him enough to sign him to a three-year contract, and he has rewarded them with the best season of his career in 2019. Meanwhile, the Twins have absolutely taken off without him. Duran and Maciel are Nos. 8 and 25 on Minnesota's Top 30 Prospects list, respectively. The best part of this deal might actually be Escobar’s incredible Tweet after the trade was made:
July 27: Twins trade Ryan Pressly to Astros for Jorge Alcala and Gilberto Celestino
Pressly was thought simply to be bullpen depth when the Astros got him, but, as the Astros tend to do, they’ve turned him into one of the best relievers in baseball. He has given up only six earned runs in 40 games for Houston and made the All-Star Game this year. Neither player traded for him has made much of a mark yet. The Astros know what they’re doing, folks.
July 28: Royals trade Mike Moustakas to Royals for Brett Phillips and Jorge Lopez
Many were confused by this trade at the time; Moose is going to play second? Turns out, yep, he’d play it just fine, and he ended up having the best offensive years of his career in Milwaukee, reaching his third All-Star Game this week. Phillips played briefly in Kansas City last year but hasn’t reached the Majors this year; Lopez has since left the rotation and joined the Royals’ bullpen.
July 28: Cardinals trade Luke Voit to Yankees for Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos
At the time, this was thought as the Cardinals getting rid of organizational depth and bringing in a much-needed left-handed pitcher. Turns out: The Yankees were getting a folk hero who has put up a .280/.393/.509 line and installed himself as a daily fixture on a World Series-contending team. Cardinals fans will never stop shaking their head at this. Meanwhile, “LUUUUUUUKE” will be heard at Yankee Stadium for years to come.
July 30: Blue Jays trade Roberto Osuna to Astros for Ken Giles, David Paulino and Hector Perez
This was definitely the most controversial trade of last year's Deadline, with the Astros acquiring Osuna, who was awaiting trial for domestic violence and on a 75-game suspension at the time. The charges were ultimately withdrawn when Osuna agreed to enter a peace bond. Osuna came off suspension, and he has been one of the best relievers in baseball. For what it’s worth, Giles has been excellent with the Blue Jays this season, and he might be trade bait himself this July.
July 31: Angels trade Ian Kinsler to Red Sox for Ty Buttrey and William Jerez
Kinsler never really got it going for the Red Sox, who acquired him due to (ultimately correct) concerns that Dustin Pedroia would not return. Kinsler got himself a World Series ring anyway. Buttrey has turned out to be one of the Angels’ more reliable bullpen arms.
July 31: Cardinals trade Tommy Pham to Rays for Justin Williams, Genesis Cabrera and Roel Ramirez
This trade felt more like a response to Pham’s complaints about the Cardinals’ front office than anything on-field related, but if that was the Cardinals’ reason, it wasn’t a good one: Pham has been a central cog to the Rays’ playoff contention in 2019, and he’s still under team control through 2021. Meanwhile, the Cardinals haven’t been able to figure out their outfield since; there’s still a big Pham-sized hole there. (The Cardinals also traded away Oscar Mercado to the Indians at the deadline.)
July 31: Twins trade Brian Dozier to the Dodgers for Logan Forsythe, Devin Smeltzer and Luke Raley
Dozier never got it going for the Dodgers, struggling the rest of the way and through the postseason before signing with Washington, where he has also struggled. Forsythe left the Twins right before they became great and has been a help for a surprising Rangers team this year. This trade felt like a huge deal when it was made, but it didn’t turn out to mean much.
July 31: Orioles traded Jonathan Schoop to Brewers for Luis Ortiz, Jean Carmona and Jonathan Villar
Schoop did very little for the Brewers and went 0-for-8 in the postseason; the good news for him is that he’ll likely get some more postseason baseball with the Twins this October. Updating the Orioles' prospect haul from last year’s Deadline: Ortiz is No. 18 on Baltimore's Top 30 Prospects list, while Carmona is No. 22.
July 31: Rays trade Chris Archer to Pirates for Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows and player to be named later (Shane Baz)
This remains the biggest deal from last year's Deadline, in a way that will make Pirates fans groan. The Bucs were on a hot streak as the Deadline approached and were only three games out of the Wild Card; bringing in Archer was supposed to put them over the top. It did not turn out that way: They missed the postseason, and Archer has been a disaster in 2019, with a 5.42 ERA in 16 starts. Oh, and Glasnow and Meadows -- two prospects the Pirates had grown tired of waiting on -- have blossomed into key cogs of the Rays machine; Meadows even just made the AL All-Star team. When you worry about trading the future for a splashy, short-term move … this is the type of worst-case scenario you’re worried about.