These Trade Deadline pickups are thriving

August 29th, 2021

About a month has passed since we experienced one of the most active, frenetic Trade Deadlines in MLB history. Some high-profile acquisitions are off to slow starts, but many other players have exceeded early expectations, improving their team's short-term success or long-term outlook in the process.

Small sample sizes aside, it's never too early to gauge who made the best moves last month. So, let's do that. Here is a ranking of the players dealt on or after July 23 who have performed best in a new uniform.

1. , Dodgers
The Dodgers headed into the Trade Deadline with two top-20 starters, including a leading Cy Young candidate in Walker Buehler. But with Clayton Kershaw on the injured list and Dustin May already out for the year, there was no question that the reigning World Series champs needed to fortify their rotation in order to repeat. All they did was bring in the best pitcher on the market. Through five starts, Scherzer has been as advertised, posting a 1.55 ERA and a 31.3 strikeout-minus-walk rate, which is the best among all starters since the Deadline. On Thursday, Scherzer gave the Padres, who were deep in talks to acquire him last month before L.A. swooped in, a taste of what they are missing in a dominant 10-strikeout performance.

2. , Giants
There was no guarantee that Bryant would provide the lineup boost that the Giants desired; he registered a .192/.300/.346 slash line through his final 40 games as a Chicago Cub. But after the July 30 deal, Bryant has looked a lot more like the player who won the 2016 NL MVP. On Wednesday night, he became just the 10th San Francisco Giant to hit five homers in his first 20 games with the team. That list includes names such as Bonds, McCovey and Cepeda. Oh, and then Bryant went deep again Thursday. His six homers this month surpass his total through those final 40 games with Chicago (five). Since his Giants debut on Aug. 1, Bryant has a much healthier slash line of .268/.318/.549 and has recorded 11 barrels, tied for the fifth-most in MLB.

3. , A's
On the other side of San Francisco Bay, Marte has been a triple threat for the A's. While still providing plus defense in center field, he is batting .345 with an .844 OPS through 27 games. He has racked up 40 hits, the most in the Majors, since sporting the green and gold for the first time on July 29. And Marte has been unstoppable once he reaches base, going 20-for-20 in steals. No other Major Leaguer has more than 13 stolen bases during that period.

4. , Dodgers
Scherzer has generated more headlines, but the teammate who joined him in that Nationals-Dodgers blockbuster has been stellar as well. Turner has produced a 122 wRC+ through 82 plate appearances and logged a strong 52.3 hard-hit rate. But more than anything, Turner, arguably the fastest player in the sport, has provided the dynamic leadoff hitter that L.A. lacked as Mookie Betts has fought through a hip injury. There is no better example of Turner's game-changing ability than when he scored from first on a base hit that trickled into a shallow left field Aug. 8.

5. , Mariners, and , Astros
The trade involving these two initially stunned those within the Mariners' clubhouse and left Graveman in tears, but it has ultimately worked out for both sides. In Toro, Seattle may have found its third baseman for the post-Kyle Seager era; the 24-year-old is batting .330 with a 149 OPS+ through his first month with the Mariners. Meanwhile, Graveman has limited opposing hitters to a .469 OPS while totaling 14 strikeouts and no walks in 11 innings with Houston. He is a big reason why the Astros' bullpen ERA has dropped by more than a full run -- from 4.15 to 3.12 -- since the AL West rivals agreed to the deal on July 27.

6. , Mariners
Acquired one day after Toro came aboard, Anderson has been a stabilizing force for Seattle's rotation. He has pitched at least five innings in each of his six starts while posting a 3.19 ERA. The left-hander has given out only two unintentional walks in 34 innings, and his 31.1 percent hard-hit rate since the trade ranks among the top 20 for all starters.

7. , Braves
Soler is a significant part of why Atlanta's offense has not only survived but thrived without Ronald Acuña Jr. He made an impact immediately by going 3-for-4 in his first game as a Brave and homering three times during his first week. Thanks in part to a walk rate that has jumped up seven percentage points, Soler has reached base in 20 of 23 games with Atlanta. He has cut his strikeout rate by more than one-third while his .922 OPS is a 264-point improvement from where Soler was through 94 games with Kansas City.

8. , Red Sox
There is some question as to whether Schwarber can handle first base. But when it comes to hitting, his skill remains undeniable. Since coming off the injured list and into Boston's lineup on Aug. 13, Schwarber has recorded a robust .353/.522/.559 slash line. Five of his 12 hits have gone for extra bases, including his game-tying home run Wednesday. He has also walked 12 times in 11 games. Four of those free passes came Thursday as the slugger finished with a rather quirky but historic stat line.

9. , and , Nationals
These three youngsters came to D.C. via deals that sent away Scherzer and Turner, Brad Hand and Jon Lester, respectively. It will take some time to get a clear picture of their true long-term value, but the early returns from all three have been promising.

Gray, Washington's No. 3 prospect, has turned in three consecutive quality starts. He owns a 2.89 ERA and a .189 expected batting average through five turns with the Nats.

Adams, a 6-foot-4, 246-pound catcher, is hitting .350 across 40 at-bats. He boasts a 1.047 OPS with two homers and seven RBIs since getting called up Aug. 3.

Thomas has only 34 plate appearances in his new home, but he has produced more walks (six) than strikeouts (four) and a .971 OPS. The speedy center fielder has served as Washington's leadoff hitter in four of his past five starts.