Ranking the 2022 Trade Deadline deals

Which swap will make the biggest impact this season?

August 3rd, 2022

Contrary to how it may have seemed, the trade of a 23-year-old who is on track to all-time greatness and an inner-circle spot in Cooperstown was not the only thing that happened before Tuesday's Trade Deadline day. Though it may have seemed like every trade went through the Padres, it turns out there were actually dozens of other moves, some of which were pretty impactful -- if not quite to the level of “trading for the 21st century Ted Williams,” anyway.

As we did last year, we’ve compiled a ranking of the trades based on level of impactfulness, which we’ll do in a somewhat subjective “how hyped does this make you” manner, though of course informed by an underlying level of statistical analysis.

For the purposes of this list, we’re looking at the final three days before the Deadline -- so July 31, Aug. 1 and Aug 2. Sorry, Luis Castillo. Sorry, Andrew Benintendi. You’re old news now.

1) Padres acquire OF Juan Soto and 1B Josh Bell for P MacKenzie Gore, IF C.J. Abrams, 1B/DH Luke Voit, and three prospects

It is not hyperbole to say that Soto is the next Ted Williams. We’ve been writing about it since at least 2019, because that’s the kind of career start he’s off to. Players like these don’t get traded, especially not for three potential playoff runs, because players like these simply don’t exist. He is 23. He has a career .427 OBP and .538 SLG. It’s borderline unprecedented.

We should stipulate that the Nationals got some extremely good prospects here. Abrams is a ready-now 21-year-old who was the sixth overall pick in 2019. Hassell was the No. 8 overall pick in the 2020 Draft and was San Diego’s No. 1 prospect. Wood, 6-foot-7, is 19 with a career 1.003 OPS in the Minors. And Gore, the No. 3 overall pick in 2017, is only 23, though with a sore elbow. There’s a great deal to like here; the Nationals hardly came away empty-handed.

But it’s not enough for Soto, because nothing is really enough for Soto, who now gets to be in an all-time lineup trio with Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. It’s certainly not enough when you consider that they also get to make a pretty enormous upgrade at first base in swapping out the rest of the disappointing Eric Hosmer contract, by way of a move to Boston, for Josh Bell, who has a 152 OPS+ this year and is a switch-hitter who has markedly improved his defense.

If it was just that -- Bell in, Hosmer out -- it’s a big win.

2) Padres acquire P Josh Hader from Brewers for P Taylor Rogers, P Dinelson Lamet, OF Esteury Ruiz, and prospect P Robert Gasser

That’s right, San Diego gets the top two. A.J. Preller would have it no other way.

Hader has the highest career strikeout rate in baseball history, and while that’s at least a little about the era in which he plays and the way in which he is used, he’s still a 28-year-old who has the highest career strikeout rate in baseball history -- and he’s not even a rental, because the Padres can retain him for 2023, as well.

In case you’re wondering why the Brewers, a team leading the NL Central, might be willing to move him, well, you’re not alone. Maybe they know something we don’t; Hader, for what it’s worth, is in the midst of one of the worst stretches of his career. Maybe they think they can turn Lamet (30 years old) and Rogers (31), each currently struggling, but with not-distant runs of success in their past, into approximations of Hader, and get two prospects for the trouble.

Given that the Padres get the best player in the deal, and that they did it without giving up any of the prospects they needed to get Soto, it’s a clear win there.

3) Yankees acquire P Frankie Montas and P Lou Trivino for four prospects

You wouldn’t think the Yankees, who already had the third-best rotation ERA in the game, would need to go this big for a starter, but it makes more sense the deeper you look. Sure, Gerrit Cole is an ace, but Jordan Montgomery has been inconsistent -- and was then traded to St. Louis -- and Nestor Cortes doesn’t exactly have a track record of doing this, and Luis Severino is hurt again and really it’s not about “depth” so much as it is “who is starting Game 2 of a playoff series?”

Montas, who threw 187 good innings last year and finished sixth in the Cy Young Award voting, can be that guy, and he probably will be, making this a clearly impactful right-now trade. (He can be that guy in 2023, too, since he’s not a rental.)

The A’s, for what it’s worth, seemingly did quite well here, especially in the trio of pitchers. But like everything else they’ve done recently, this is a trade for the future, not for 2022.

4) Braves acquire P Raisel Iglesias from Angels for P Jesse Chavez and P Tucker Davidson

Just last winter, the Angels signed Iglesias to a four-year, $58 million contract befitting his status as one of baseball’s best closers. Though a 4.04 ERA doesn’t exactly look great, the underlying metrics suggest he’s pitching more or less the same as he always did, which makes it a surprise that he didn’t make it through a single season of the deal before the Angels shipped him off to the Braves for nearly-39-year-old Chavez and Davidson’s career 5.11 ERA.

It seems mostly to be about getting away from the contract, which is their loss and Atlanta’s gain. Now they have Iglesias, with Kenley Jansen, A.J. Minter, Collin McHugh and Dylan Lee, and if the 2022 version of the “Night Shift” doesn’t resemble last year’s, it might still be nearly as effective.

5) Twins acquire P Jorge López from Orioles for four pitching prospects

For parts of six seasons, López was a terribly ineffective swingman, posting a 6.04 ERA in 102 games (just over half of which coming as a starter) for the Brewers, Royals, and O’s. Just a season ago, he was posting a 6.07 ERA for these same Orioles, starting 25 games. Then, this year, he moved to the 'pen full-time. The sinker that was 94-95 as a starter became 98-99, and the strikeout rate jumped from 20 percent to 27 percent, and he’s still under team control for two additional seasons beyond this one.

There is some risk in that his track record is, frankly, poor and that these very Twins hit him hard twice this month. But the track record doesn’t matter, because he’s throwing different pitches differently now. The Twins had about two relievers they could rely on -- Jhoan Duran, for sure, and maybe Griffin Jax -- and needed maybe four to five new pitchers, so this is a clear upgrade for their chances.

6) Yankees acquire P Scott Effross for prospect P Hayden Wesneski

Effross isn’t a name you know if you don’t follow the Cubs closely, and so you’re wondering why we rank him here above some bigger names. That’s in part because he’s been quite good -- a 2.66 ERA and a 50/11 K/BB in 44 innings for Chicago, after a 2019 conversion to throwing sidearm -- and in part because he’s under team control through 2027. That he’s already been so good means he’s not exactly “the next Clay Holmes,” as the Yankees famously unearthed one of the game’s best relievers from the Pirates last year; then again, the Yankees have done an incredible job of finding talented relievers and making them better.

Wesneski, it should be noted, is a quality prospect who could be on the next good Cubs team. But Effross might be on the mound in huge October spots in just two months, especially with Michael King and Chad Green injured. He might be doing that every October for the next five years. This one’s going to matter.

7) Twins acquire P Tyler Mahle from Reds for three prospects

It’s a minor miracle that the Twins have managed this long in first place with the state of their rotation; only two teams in the Majors have had their starters face fewer batters than Minnesota, and Tampa Bay barely uses a rotation, anyway. Mahle, 27, was a popular breakout pick headed into 2021, and he mostly fulfilled that with 180 innings of 3.75 ERA ball. It hasn’t quite been the same this year, in part because he missed a few weeks with a shoulder strain, but the underlying metrics remain strong; there’s actually a sizeable gap between his 4.40 ERA and his 3.22 expected ERA, per Statcast.

That’s because he’s still striking out a quarter of the batters he faces, and he’s still got above average rise on his fastball, and by using his splitter and cutter more than ever, he’s a legitimate four-pitch pitcher now.

Look at 2021-’22 combined, and Mahle’s a six-win pitcher, top 20 in the Majors, similar to … well, Luis Castillo, believe it or not. Pair him with Joe Ryan and Sonny Gray, and suddenly Minnesota at least has a legitimate top three, plus Mahle is going to be around for next year, too. Sure, it cost three of the team’s top 25 prospects -- and good for the Reds to add to a growing stockpile there -- but when your playoff hopes are hanging on by a mere thread, this is what you do.

8) Astros acquire 1B/OF Trey Mancini and prospect in three-team deal that sent OF Jose Siri to Rays and two pitching prospects to Orioles

If it’s a bit hard to swallow the O’s selling the next two and a half years of Jorge López, it’s at least nominally easier to understand why they’d trade Mancini, who can be a free agent after the season -- despite the fact that, given both his six seasons of service with the team and his successful battle to overcome cancer, he means immensely more to the fanbase than López ever could.

That said, from a pure baseball sense, Mancini is a considerably better fit in Houston, where 38-year-old first baseman Yuli Gurriel has struggled (94 OPS+) and 35-year-old left fielder Michael Brantley has been injured for more than a month with a shoulder problem. According to Statcast, Mancini is probably also about six or seven home runs short of the total he’d have if he’d been calling Minute Maid Park home rather than the newly deepened Camden Yards.

For their trouble, the O’s get a pair of pitchers who now rate among the team’s top dozen prospects. Meanwhile, the Rays, suddenly short-handed in the outfield due to injuries to Kevin Kiermaier, Harold Ramirez and Manuel Margot, get a badly needed center fielder. Siri hasn’t hit at all this year, but he’s fast and he plays elite defense … and if that sounds at least a little like Brett Phillips, the fan favorite who lost his job to make room, well, you’d be forgiven for thinking so. Though not technically part of this deal, Phillips ended up landing with the Orioles anyway.

9) Blue Jays acquire P Zach Pop, P Anthony Bass and a player to be named for prospect IF Jordan Groshans

The red-hot Blue Jays have the offense humming, the top of the rotation buzzing (especially now that José Berríos seems to have righted the ship, posting a 3.00 ERA in six July starts) … and a very clear need for bullpen help around closer Jordan Romano. Somewhat similar to how they went out and added depth in the form of Adam Cimber and Trevor Richards last year, the answer was to find help in the form of multiple solid but non-star relievers.

That’s Bass, 34 -- who was a Blue Jay in 2020 -- who now looks nothing like the Padres swingman he was a decade ago, now that he’s throwing his slider more than ever and is striking out a man per inning. It’s Pop, 25, an Ontario native, who has an elite ground ball rate and the promise of more utility out of his slider. Giving up Groshans, 2018’s No. 12 pick, might seem like a high price. Then again, Groshans has spent his season in the Minors hitting for almost no power. It’s probably a worthwhile gamble for Miami to take, but it’s not clear they did.

10) Rays acquire OF David Peralta from D-backs for one prospect (C Christian Cerda)

The Rays didn’t stop with Siri, of course. They also added Peralta, a 34-year-old rental who is just about as different a profile from Siri as one can be. Peralta showed up in our look at potentially available power bats last week, where we noted he’d completely rebuilt his swing to add loft and power -- and, it should be noted, strikeouts. For an extremely far-away player (Cerda is 19, and in rookie ball) they’ve added a pretty competent lefty bat for a few months. We’ll call that a nifty move.

11) Phillies acquire P Noah Syndergaard and OF Brandon Marsh from Angels for OF Mickey Moniak, C prospect Logan O’Hoppe, and OF Jadiel Sanchez

Were these technically two separate deals, Marsh for O’Hoppe and Moniak for Syndergaard? Yes. Do we care? We do not.

You don’t build a roster like the Phillies have -- expensive and veteran, talented though flawed -- and write off any chance at the playoffs. That being the case, you figured they’d prioritize improving in center, given that they’ve posted the worst offensive center field performance in the game. Well, they did indeed go get a center fielder, though perhaps not the one you’d have expected -- rather than a right-now veteran upgrade, they’ve added the 24-year-old Marsh, who has an 82 OPS+ in parts of two seasons, though with elite outfield defense. He’s better than Moniak and Odubel Herrera, who was designated for assignment today. The Phillies got better. But it’s also a big bet that a player with a strikeout rate of 35 percent can be taught to make more contact. And Marsh plus Syndergaard -- who is now far more of a competent back-end starter than the flame-thrower he was in his Mets days -- cost them O’Hoppe, their No. 3 prospect. That, we think, is reasonable enough for a team desperate to win now. It’s yet another sign that the Angels do not expect to be competing anytime soon.

12) Phillies acquire P David Robertson from Cubs for prospect P Ben Brown

Marsh was not their only move. The Phillies also made a nifty move to reinforce their 'pen by adding perhaps the most accomplished veteran relief arm available in Robertson, who briefly pitched for the Phils in 2019 before injuring his elbow. Now 37, Robertson seems excited to go back to Philadelphia.

And performance-wise, he seems “back.” Robertson’s 2.23 ERA would be his best since 2017; his cutter velocity would be his best since 2011. The Phillies bullpen, which was something of a wreck earlier this year, has actually been quite good since the beginning of June. The Phillies, entering play on Tuesday, were in possession of the third Wild Card spot.

13) Mets acquire 1B/OF/DH Darin Ruf for 1B/OF/DH J.D. Davis and three prospects

The Mets traded 29-year-old Davis -- a right-handed power bat who can kind of play some defensive spots, but is mostly a DH, has a 96 OPS+ this year and a 113 OPS+ for his career -- for the 35-year-old version of him in Ruf, a right-handed power bat who can kind of play some defensive spots, but is mostly a DH, has a 98 OPS+ this year and a 113 OPS+ for his career.

While Davis has shown elite hard-hit rates this year -- clearly what the Giants are interested in here -- it’s also not hard to see what the Mets are doing. They already traded for a lefty DH who can’t hit lefties in Dan Vogelbach; now they have a righty DH with big platoon splits to fill the other side of that in Ruf.

There’s also, of course, the fact that Ruf’s swing path positions himself perfectly to crush sinkers. You won’t see him in the lineup every day, or even most days. But if strategically deployed, he can be a true weapon.

14) Yankees acquire CF Harrison Bader from Cardinals for P Jordan Montgomery

On the surface, a New York native like Bader coming home is an excellent story, particularly when he’s spent the last few years being one of baseball’s most defensively dominant center fielders. But Bader might be out for some time, and a foot injury like his is a concern for such a speed-based player; the concern is enough that the Cardinals will add a player to be named if he can’t appear in the playoffs.

For that level of uncertainty -- and his services for next year, of course -- the Yankees surrendered Montgomery, who has been somewhat inconsistent this year, but is generally an effective mid-rotation starter. Where before it seemed that they would be adding Montas to Montgomery, they've just taken away some badly needed depth from a rotation not without its questions.

It’s a lot clearer for the Cardinals, who never seem to have trouble staffing the outfield, but were truly desperate for starting help. Montgomery helps, to be clear, yet won’t solve the issue as much as it needed to be solved.

15) Padres acquire IF Brandon Drury from Reds for prospect IF Victor Acosta

You’d think that adding Juan Soto and Josh Bell would be enough to reinforce your roster for a playoff push, and perhaps it is, though it doesn’t necessarily paper over all the other weaknesses in what had been a low-powered San Diego lineup. Enter Drury, who had found new life in Cincy with 20 homers and a 128 OPS+. It’s a little about how friendly it is to hit at Great American Ball Park, though not entirely; he won’t play a lot of third in San Diego with Manny Machado around, but his ability to move around the diamond offers manager Bob Melvin a great deal of flexibility, along with Jake Cronenworth.

16) Braves acquire P Jake Odorizzi from Astros for P Will Smith

Houston was perhaps the one team that had more starters than they knew what to do with, particularly with Lance McCullers Jr. working his way back toward health and Odorizzi long seemed like he’d be the odd man out. In a somewhat rare these days veteran-for-veteran trade with no prospects involved, Houston flipped him to Atlanta for Smith, a big part of last year’s Atlanta championship, who ought to add another experienced arm (and one still striking out 10 per 9) to a bullpen that unexpectedly has baseball’s best relief ERA.

Odorizzi might be more of a depth or insurance play for Atlanta, but the type that’s likely to come in handy. Depth isn’t always exciting. It’s always important.

17) Braves acquire Robbie Grossman from Tigers for prospect P Kris Anglin

Imagine, after 2021, questioning any move Atlanta makes for a veteran outfielder. Grossman, 32, is not exactly having a banner year, hitting a mere .205/.313/.282. But over the previous six years, he’d had a .359 OBP and a .400 SLG and he hit 23 homers for Detroit just a season ago. Given Adam Duvall’s injury, Marcell Ozuna’s general ineffectiveness and Eddie Rosario dealing with each of those things, a depth add was necessary here.

18) Blue Jays acquire 2B/OF Whit Merrifield for two prospects

If there was a more unlikely fit of player and team, we challenge you to do better than Toronto and Merrifield, who famously could not enter Canada just three weeks ago due to his choice to remain unvaccinated. We’re assuming that won’t be an issue, or this trade wouldn’t have even been an option; that aside, the Jays have picked up the next year and a half of a versatile veteran who can play multiple spots. To his credit, at least, Merrifield has rebounded after a brutal start, posting a .759 OPS since May 11. That the Royals didn’t get a big name here -- which is not disrespect to Max Castillo, who should pitch big league innings right away -- it shows that they should have traded Merrifield at least three years ago.

19) Red Sox acquire 1B Eric Hosmer and two prospects from Padres for prospect P Jay Groome

Groome was the No. 12 pick in the 2016 Draft, so he’s the “big” name here, but he’s spent his season in Double-A and obviously the point here is Hosmer, who was sent to Boston after declining to go to Washington. The money is no longer the issue here, since he’s owed just $39 million over the next three years. It’s that Boston’s first-base situation was so dire -- 29th in WAR -- that even though Hosmer was generally a disappointment in San Diego, considering the contract he signed, he’s also almost certainly an upgrade on the spot for the Red Sox. It doesn’t help clarify Boston’s incredibly uncertain direction -- more on that later -- but in a vacuum, it’s a perfectly reasonable move, particularly since San Diego appears to be paying off nearly the entire remainder of Hosmer's contract.

20) Dodgers acquire P Chris Martin for INF Zach McKinstry

Martin, 36, has struck out 10 times as many batters (40) as he’s walked this year. Go back to 2018, find every pitcher who has thrown 100 innings -- there are more than 500 -- and sort them by strikeout-to-walk ratio, and guess who you’ll find: Martin, above Justin Verlander and Liam Hendriks. It’s what he does. It’s not loud or flashy, but it’s useful.

21) Astros acquire C Christian Vázquez from Red Sox for PTBN

Houston’s catchers are hitting at a weaker level than at almost any other time in team history. That’s not hyperbole or dramatic; it is simply true. There’s obviously much more to the story than that, because Martín Maldonado is so highly regarded for his defensive skills that it almost does not matter how well he hits. But with fellow backstop Jason Castro injured, Houston had a clear need at least for a veteran catcher who could shoulder some of the load and they did that with Vázquez, who’s a better hitter (108 OPS+ this year, 96 OPS over the last four years), a solid enough defender and a 2018 World Series winner.

22) Dodgers acquire OF Joey Gallo from Yankees for prospect P Clayton Beeter

It’s been clear for weeks that Gallo was not going to make it through the Deadline as a Yankee, and it’s not just about his .159 batting average; it’s that he increasingly sounded more and more despondent about his situation with the team. Maybe the change of scenery will help; it certainly can’t hurt, though there’s a valid question about how another uncertain lefty bat fits on a roster that already has Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy. Still, Gallo has been a quality defender and all it takes is running into one big home run in October -- where, as we’ve noted, power plays. As for Beeter, the 23-year-old has elite strikeout stuff (15 per 9, career) to go with an inability to throw strikes.

23) Red Sox acquire OF Tommy Pham from Reds for PTBN

No, we don’t understand this one either. The Sox claim they’re still in the playoff hunt, but the walls are collapsing all around them and they did just trade away both their longtime starting catcher in Vázquez and a useful lefty reliever in Jake Diekman. In the midst of that, the last-place Sox pick up Hosmer and a 34-year-old rental outfielder in Pham, who is hitting all of .238/.320/.374, without a homer in over a month.