9 trades that helped shape 2020 postseason

September 26th, 2020

Some of them arrived as raw Minor Leaguers. Others were Major Leaguers hoping for a chance to prove themselves once and for all. Only one was a bona fide star.

These are the trades that have helped shape the 2020 postseason race. One was made as far back as '12, when the Cubs acquired Kyle Hendricks. One was made earlier this year -- when Mookie Betts went from Boston to L.A.

Together, they’re a reminder that postseason teams are built in all sorts of ways, and that some of the deals turned out better than almost anyone could have imagined. Here are nine trades that have influenced the 2020 race:

1) , Dodgers RF (.925 OPS, 16 HR)
Acquired from Red Sox with LHP David Price and cash for SS Jeter Downs, OF Alex Verdugo and C Connor Wong on Feb. 10, 2020

Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman found the superstar he’d been shopping for in the 27-year-old 2018 American League Most Valuable Player Award winner and four-time AL Gold Glove Award winner. Betts, who leads MLB with a 3.3 bWAR, isn’t why Los Angeles won an eighth straight National League West title, but he’s a big reason why it's favored to win the '20 World Series.

2) , Padres SS (.933 OPS, 16 HR, 11 SB)
Acquired from White Sox with RHP Erik Johnson for RHP James Shields and cash on June 4, 2016

Tatis was a flashy 17-year-old infielder who was ultimately one of the crown jewels of Padres general manager A.J. Preller's franchise rebuild. Tatis' passion and joy have become symbols of San Diego’s return to the postseason.

3) , Yankees 1B (.957 OPS, 21 HR)
Acquired from Cardinals with international bonus slot money for LHP Chasen Shreve and RHP Giovanny Gallegos on July 29, 2018

Of all the sneaky good acquisitions general manager Brian Cashman has made in recent seasons, none has worked out better than this. Voit has been arguably the Yankees' most consistent offensive player in 2020, especially given that Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton were both on the injured list at one point.

4) , Cubs RHP (2.88 ERA, 0.996 WHIP)
Acquired from Rangers with 3B Christian Villanueva for RHP Ryan Dempster on July 31, 2012

This is a cautionary tale about trading away prospects for a shot at a championship. The Rangers believed Dempster might push them over the top, and they gave up a 22-year-old pitcher who didn’t set radar guns on fire. What the Cubs got was a craftsman with a 3.12 ERA in 175 games. He’s averaging over seven innings per start this month, and he is the lone MLB starter with three outings of at least eight innings this year.

5) , Dodgers super utility (.867 OPS, 8 HR)
Acquired from Mariners for RHP Zach Lee on June 19, 2016

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts thought of Taylor as “a fringy, 4-A player.” By the numbers, he was a 25-year-old shortstop with a .593 OPS in 86 games for the Mariners. Looking to jump-start his career, Taylor completely remade his swing mechanics and has emerged as a huge piece of for the Dodgers the past five years. He’s having his best season in 2020, with an .867 OPS and having started games at second base, shortstop, center field and left field.

6) , Braves SS (2.6 bWAR, .800 OPS)
Acquired from D-backs with RHP Aaron Blair and CF Ender Inciarte for RHP Shelby Miller and LHP Gabe Speier on Dec. 9, 2015

Swanson wasn’t the overnight star the Braves thought he might be, as injuries and prolonged slumps have sidetracked him. This has been his best season, however, with a .344 OBP and solid play at shortstop. His 2.6 bWAR ranks fourth in the NL, behind only Betts, Manny Machado (2.8) and teammate Freddie Freeman (2.7).

7) , A’s SS (third in AL MVP voting in 2019) and , A’s RHP (0.34 ERA in September)
Acquired from White Sox with C Josh Phegley and OF/1B Rangel Ravelo for RHP Jeff Samardzija and RHP Michael Ynoa on Dec. 9, 2014

Semien was the heralded prospect that compelled the A’s to trade a top starting pitcher (Samardzija), and he had his best season in 2019. Bassitt has a 3.29 ERA in 50 games since returning from Tommy John surgery in '18, and he has allowed one earned run in four September starts (26 2/3 innings).

8) , Giants OF (.952 OPS, 2.3 bWAR)
Acquired from Orioles for RHP Tyler Herb on March 23, 2019

Giants general manager Farhan Zaidi thought the skills, smarts and work ethic were worth taking a chance on. His commitment to himself was that the Giants would give Yastrzemski enough playing time to find out what they have. In 18 months since, he has emerged as a terrific all-around player who may get even better.

9) , Phillies C (career-high .500 slugging percentage) and , Marlins RHP (opponents batting .148 against his changeup, which he has thrown more than any other pitch so far -- 26.7 percent)
Phillies acquired Realmuto from Marlins for Sánchez, C Jorge Alfaro and LHP Will Stewart on Feb. 7, 2019

Sometimes, everyone goes home happy. Realmuto has been everything the Phillies hoped he’d be, even though the club didn’t make the playoffs in his first season. Sánchez, 22, got an earlier-than-expected chance to pitch in the big leagues, and he posted a 1.69 ERA across his first five starts.