It is obviously too early to start declaring winners from a wild, head-spinning Trade Deadline: Most of these players haven't even played for their new teams yet! But why let that stop us? After all, some clear contours have been set, with certain teams benefiting from their new players, some benefiting from the opponents who didn’t make big moves and some benefiting from some savvy, under-the-radar deals that might have been a bit lost in all the madness.
Here’s our look at the clear winners from this year's Trade Deadline:
Obviously. Obviously! San Diego's moves came in such waves over the last day-and-a-half that you almost have to take a step back and see them all in total just to wrap your mind around it. The Padres now have:
• A new first baseman and (likely) cleanup hitter, in Josh Bell.
• A new designated hitter, who has a higher OBP than every player in the Padres lineup that isn’t Manny Machado, in Brandon Drury.
• A new closer, who might just be the most dominant reliever in all of baseball, in Josh Hader.
• Oh yeah, a guy so good that Ted Williams’ name comes up every time you talk about him. Yes, we are talking about Juan Soto.
The Padres gave up a lot, no question: You can make an argument that they need to at least make a World Series in the next three seasons to justify all these moves, considering how much of their future they sent out the door. But that’s a trade Padres fans would happily make. Fernando Tatis Jr. will be back soon. This is going to be fun. And isn’t that what this is all about?
Atlanta general manager Alex Anthopoulos said the notion of being able to trade for Raisel Iglesias came up “in the last few minutes” of the Trade Deadline. Pretty fortuitous timing! Sure, $16 million per season over three years for a reliever is a lot, but Iglesias is one of the best closers in baseball; having to face him and Kenley Jansen late in a playoff game is terrifying.
And the Braves were having a good Deadline before those last few minutes, bringing in Robbie Grossman and Ehire Adrianza to shore up their depth and swiping Jake Odorizzi to give them considerable rotation insurance. Let us not, of course, forget their biggest move of all: Locking up Austin Riley for the next decade. The Braves won the World Series last year. But they’re a lot better right now.
But the real benefit for both teams might be that the Cardinals -- the team they are both fighting to get in the playoffs -- did not, as many had speculated, get Soto. The Cardinals boosted their rotation with the additions of Jordan Montgomery and José Quintana, but they were not willing to go all-in the way, say, the Padres were. That might be good in the long term for St. Louis. But the Phillies and Brewers will be happy to avoid watching Soto knock baseballs off the Busch Stadium wall while they’re battling the team he’s playing for to get in the postseason.
The Twins did what you want your first-place teams to do. They added, bringing in a starter (Tyler Mahle) and two key bullpen pieces in Jorge López and Michael Fulmer. Nothing there that knocks your socks off, but guys who should help them hang on to their lead in the American League Central.
One of the reasons for that? The two teams they are fighting for that division title didn’t do much of anything. The Guardians didn’t make a single move other than trading Sandy León to Minnesota, of all teams, and all the White Sox did was add reliever Jake Diekman. This is going to be a tight race down the stretch. One team made itself better. The other two didn’t bother.
6) The Dodgers' Joey Gallo
Not only did Gallo get his long-awaited release from the nightmare landscape Yankee Stadium had been for him for the past year, he landed … on the other team that could make a claim to being the best in baseball. Can you imagine if the Yankees and Dodgers meet in the World Series and Gallo hits a key homer for Los Angeles? Gracious.
7) No-trade clauses
Sure, it’s a bummer that Eric Hosmer is leaving the Padres just as they’re getting really exciting. But if he didn’t have that no-trade clause -- or at least a clause that limited the teams he could be traded to -- he’d be playing out the year on a Nationals team going nowhere in 2022. Instead, he’s the starting first baseman in Boston for a team that’s only two games out of the third AL Wild Card spot.
8) The 2025 Nationals
So here’s the good news for Nats fans: In 2025 -- the year after Patrick Corbin’s contract expires and a year before Stephen Strasburg’s does -- the Nationals will hopefully have, in their lineup:
That’s the good news. The bad news is our final winner:
9) Any contending team that plays the Nationals
This team is not going to be very good the rest of the year. So congratulations to the following contenders, who have the corresponding number of games left against the Nationals:
• Philadelphia (11)
• NY Mets (7)
• San Diego (7)
• Atlanta (6)
• St. Louis (4)
• Seattle (2)
The Phillies could make the playoffs simply from playing Washington: Nearly one-fifth of their remaining games are against the Nats. The Nationals will be formidable in a few years. But until then: Every contender will be happy to see them.