Every team's best in-season addition

August 30th, 2021

Remember the excitement of seeing your team’s Opening Day roster? Who was going to have the best year? Who was going to lead your team to the playoffs? Opening Days are special … but they are, as it turns out, fleeting. Many of your team’s most important players on the team right now weren’t there on Opening Day. Maybe the most important one.

With that in mind, we take a look at the player on each team’s roster who is most important to what they’re doing right now, and who was added to the roster from another organization since Opening Day. Maybe they were free agents. Maybe they were on another team. (We are not counting players who started on the injured list, by the way -- sorry, Chris Sale.) But they were somewhere other than where they are right now. Though right now, this is where they should be.

American League East

Blue Jays: José Berríos, RHP
Joined team: July 30, via trade from Twins

Their big Deadline acquisition was precisely what this team needed, but the question now for the Blue Jays is whether he will possibly be enough. At least he’s still under club control for 2022, a big deal considering the Blue Jays gave up two big prospects (outfielder Austin Martin and pitcher Simeon Woods-Richardson) to get him.

Orioles: Jorge Mateo, INF/OF
Joined team: Aug. 5, via waivers from Padres

The Orioles aren’t really in the business of adding a lot of players right now, but Mateo has actually been one of their best hitters since coming over on waivers from San Diego. (Though this is not a high bar to clear.)

Rays: Nelson Cruz, DH
Joined team: July 22, via trade from Twins

If this keeps going the way it’s going, it’s going to be an absolute blast watching Cruz hit deep into October.

Red Sox: Kyle Schwarber, OF/1B/DH
Joined team: July 29, via trade from Nationals

He had a little injury hiccup early on in his Red Sox tenure, but we’ve all seen what happens when he gets hot.

Yankees: Joey Gallo, OF/DH
Joined team: July 29, via trade from Rangers

Joey from The Bronx -- Note: Not actually from The Bronx -- feels like such a perfect fit with the Yankees, it’s remarkable it took him so long to get here.

AL Central

Indians: Wilson Ramos, C
Joined team: July 6, signed as a free agent after being DFA'd by Tigers

Cleveland did need another catcher, and Ramos, at this point in his career, is certainly worth a flier.

Royals: Domingo Tapia, RHP
Joined team: May 22, contract purchased from Mariners

The Royals purchased his contract from the Mariners in May, and he hasn’t been a bad bullpen piece at all (3.07 ERA).

Tigers: Dustin Garneau, C
Joined team: Aug. 18, purchased contract from Rockies

This is a rebuilding team, so no big acquisitions were expected this season. What will be particularly noteworthy is which players will be new to next year’s Opening Day roster.

Twins: Kyle Barraclough, RHP
Joined team: June 20, signed as free agent after release by Yankees

What matters much more than who is new to the Twins roster right now is all the players who started the season but are gone now (notably José Berríos and Nelson Cruz). What a rough ride it has been this year.

White Sox: Craig Kimbrel, RHP
Joined team: July 30, via trade from Cubs

Remember when Kimbrel was considered a terrible addition to the other Chicago team? This team could be downright terrifying come October.

AL West

Angels: Sam Selman, LHP
Joined team: July 30, via trade from Giants

That the Angels haven’t added anyone else to their Opening Day roster is telling of just how much has gone wrong … and how much Shohei Ohtani’s season just hasn’t been enough.

Astros: Kendall Graveman, RHP
Joined team: July 27, via trade from Mariners

In a nice touch, not only did they get Graveman, they were able to demoralize their division rivals, the Mariners, by bringing him in.

Athletics: Starling Marte, CF
Joined team: July 28, via trade from Marlins

If the A’s are able to sneak into the playoffs, Marte will be a major reason why, whether people appreciate it or not. He’s currently third in the National League in steals and fourth in the AL, despite only being with the A’s for a month.

Mariners: Abraham Toro, INF
Joined team: July 27, via trade from Astros

Of course, the Mariners aren’t complaining about that same trade -- Toro has thrived now that he finally has some regular playing time.

Rangers: Spencer Howard, RHP
Joined team: July 30, via trade from Phillies

One of the pieces who came over in the Kyle Gibson trade with Philadelphia, he has been able to start some games, and while he hasn’t started them well, it’s something, anyway.

National League East

Braves: Adam Duvall, OF
Joined team: July 30, via trade from Marlins

This actually feels like the first time Duvall hasn’t been on the Braves’ Opening Day roster in a while, but this might be as important as he has ever been to this team. (Jorge Soler, Joc Pederson and Richard Rodríguez are also acceptable answers here.)

Marlins: Jesús Luzardo, LHP
Joined team: July 28, via trade from A's

This is exactly the kind of deal you want to see the Marlins making right now, and while he hasn’t been any better for the Marlins than he was for the A’s -- although Sunday's outing was promising -- it’s an all-upside move for them at this point.

Mets: Javier Báez, SS
Joined team: July 30, via trade from Cubs

He’s already had some classic Javier Báez moments with the Mets, but also spent some time on the IL, and now the longtime Cubs fan favorite is developing a different kind of relationship with the Citi Field faithful.

Nationals: Alcides Escobar, 2B
Joined team: July 3, purchased contract from Royals

Having Alcides Escobar batting second for the Nats right now is a nice little comeback story, but also a sign that this is a transitional year for them.

Phillies: Kyle Gibson, RHP
Joined team: July 30, via trade from Rangers

The Phillies probably needed more than Gibson at the Deadline, but he’s appreciated nevertheless.

NL Central

Brewers: Willy Adames, SS
Joined team: May 21, via trade from Rays

There will almost certainly not be a more impactful in-season addition than Adames this season. Is he the reason they’ve run away with the NL Central?

Cardinals: J.A. Happ, LHP
Joined team: July 30, via trade from Twins

The Cardinals traded for two old, old pitchers at the Deadline, and he has been the better one.

Cubs: Frank Schwindel, 1B
Joined team: July 18, selected off waivers from A's

The first baseman the Cubs got off waivers from the A’s was the ultimate “Wait, who is playing for the Cubs now?” player.

Pirates: Ben Gamel, OF
Joined team: May 9, selected off waivers from Indians

Gamel is precisely the sort of veteran you will see on the Pirates right now, and probably for the next few years.

Reds: Luis Cessa, RHP
Joined team: July 28, via trade from Yankees

The Reds will take all the bullpen help they can get, and the Yankees’ trash has been their treasure.

NL West

D-backs: Noé Ramirez, RHP
Joined team: May 22, signed as a free agent

Of all the potpourri relievers the D-backs added to the mix, Ramirez has been the best one.

Dodgers: Max Scherzer, RHP
Joined team: July 30, via trade from Nationals

Let’s see, which future Hall of Famer do we pick?

Giants: Kris Bryant, OF/3B
Joined team: July 30, via trade from Cubs

The Giants might not re-sign him this offseason. But he really is the perfect fit here.

Padres: Adam Frazier, 2B
Joined team: July 26, via trade from Pirates

It felt like the Padres might be reaching here on Frazier, and it’s starting to look that way.

Rockies: Brendan Rodgers, SS
Joined team: Activated from IL on May 21

The Rockies haven’t added anyone of note from outside the organization, but they activated Rodgers from the IL on May 21 after he missed the first seven weeks of the year recovering from a hamstring injury. He has an .818 OPS and is finally fulfilling some of the promise that made him the No. 3 overall pick in 2015.