Padres set sights on the World Series title with Juan Soto: Winners and losers of MLB trade deadline
The trade deadline has come and gone, and with it MLB teams’ final chance to fine-tune their rosters for the play-offs.
Confirmation of the biggest deal of this summer – and perhaps any other – came at 4pm Eastern when the San Diego Padres announced the arrival of superstar outfielder Juan Soto from the Washington Nationals, adding Josh Bell too in a deal that saw five players go the other way and will have huge ramifications for the future of multiple franchises.
Here, Sportsmail picks the league’s winners and losers from a frenetic trade deadline.
The San Diego Padres confirmed the biggest deal of this summer with Juan Soto – here, Sportsmail picks the league’s winners and losers from a frenetic trade deadline
SAN DIEGO PADRES
Of course. Any team that trades for a player already earning comparisons to Ted Williams at 23 years old is always a winner. As is any team that completes a trade for two-plus years of Soto while escaping with a farm system still left to speak of.
And any team that takes their weakest link, first base, and upgrades it with Bell, the best player available at that position. And swaps their struggling closer for one of the game’s meanest in Josh Hader. And finally moves on from Eric Hosmer. And then adds Cincinnati third baseman Brandon Drury in the middle of a career year, for good measure.
The Padres managed to complete a trade for Soto while escaping with a farm system still left
It’s hard to think of a better trade deadline in recent history than the one Padres general manager AJ Preller has just had.
Soto, the jewel in the crown, owns a career 160 OPS+, bettered only at his age by Williams, Mike Trout, Ty Cobb and Stan Musial, and will slot right into the lineup alongside Manny Machado and the soon-to-return Fernando Tatis Jr. He brings with him the best eye at the plate in the game and a winning aura that immediately makes San Diego World Series contenders.
Though the Padres still have a double-digit deficit behind the Dodgers in their division race, this huge haul sets them up to make a serious run in the play-offs. And that, really, is all that matters anyway.
Soto owns a career 160 OPS+ and will slot right into the lineup alongside Manny Machado
NEW YORK YANKEES
Yes, Soto would have been a wonderful luxury – and one heck of an insurance policy should Aaron Judge walk free this winter. But the team with the most wins in baseball has filled every remaining hole it had, and put themselves right on track to end their 13-year wait for a World Series title.
The lineup needed a contact hitter to space out the sluggers, and Andrew Benintendi arrived from Kansas City to that end.
The rotation needed a new face as Jameson Taillon toiled and Luis Severino’s injury troubles rumbled on, and Frankie Montas was plucked from the Athletics.
Andrew Benintendi arrived from Kansas City to provide the Yankees with a contact hitter
While the Yankees were on the phone to Oakland, they added Lou Trivino to the package, fortifying a bullpen that – while stellar – has been weakened by injuries to Michael King and Chad Green and a down year for Aroldis Chapman.
They even got rid of Joey Gallo, whose harrowing time in the Bronx ended with a switch to the Dodgers, and bolstered their outfield defense with Harrison Bader from the Cardinals.
The Yankees managed all this without giving up any of their top four prospects, and that’s no small thing with the likes of Shohei Ohtani set to hit the trading block this winter.
The Yankees even managed to get rid of Joey Gallo who was switched out to the Dodgers
The Twins are hanging on to the lead in the tightest division race in baseball, with only three games separating the AL Central’s top three clubs. Fortunately for Minnesota, it seems to be the only one of those teams that has noticed.
They were desperate for pitching, and got one of the top starters moved at the deadline, Cincinnati’s Tyler Mahle. They got All-Star closer Jorge Lopez from Baltimore and Detroit reliever Michael Fulmer, while adding veteran catcher Sandy Leon to help manage the staff.
It may not seem huge, but even the Twins couldn’t have foreseen the other Central contenders doing so little. All Cleveland did of note on trade deadline day was ship off Leon to their main rival and send slugger Franmil Reyes to Triple-A.
Minnesota Twins were desperate for pitchers and got Tyler Mahle (left) and Jorge Lopez (right)
The Guardians are not known for splashy moves but, sitting a game back from the Twins and having invested in homegrown superstar Jose Ramirez for the next seven years, why not now?
And then there’s the Chicago White Sox, whose manager Tony La Russa was seen falling asleep in the dugout this week and now the front office has been caught napping, too. The White Sox’s rotation and lineup haven’t played to their true talent level for more than a year. And the sum total of their deadline activity was to… trade for a middle reliever?
FRONT OFFICES ON ‘SELLING’ TEAMS
How they must dread the deadline. The travelling secretaries having to tell star players on mediocre teams that they must uproot their families at a moment’s notice. The communications team drafting tweets and press releases confirming that a hometown hero has left for good. And owners and general managers wearing the blame for dealing away the only reasons fans had to come to the ballpark for the rest of the summer.
But this year, many teams with losing records did the unexpected, and held on to their best trade assets. Whether it was a lack of tantalizing offers, contending clubs not wanting to part with prospects or even that sellers believe they might just make it into the expanded play-offs, a number of expected fire sales never caught alight.
So Cubs fans will get a few more months of Willson Contreras and Ian Happ. The Giants kept Carlos Rodon and Joc Pederson. The Red Sox didn’t commit fully to a rebuild and nor did the Orioles. Pablo Lopez is still a Marlin, and Martin Perez a Ranger. The Tigers were ‘listening on everyone’ but didn’t hear much that they liked.
Sticking when they could twist may not be conventional wisdom for the long-term health of these clubs, but at the very least, their social media interns can breathe a sigh of relief.
The front offices ‘won’ as Pablo Lopez (left) is still a Marlin and Martin Perez (right) a Ranger
It’s easy to forget that less than three years ago, this team became world champions. Now, they have the fewest wins in baseball and just got a whole lot worse.
Add Soto and Bell to Max Scherzer, Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon and Bryce Harper who have all left the nation’s capital since 2018, a huge void that no amount of prospects will ever be able to fill.
The Nationals even had to face the ignominy of being rejected by Hosmer, who for a brief moment looked to have nixed the Soto deal when he invoked his no-trade clause, before the Padres sent Luke Voit to Washington instead. This rebuild, already into its third season, is going to be long and painful.
Soto and Josh Bell were added to the list of stars who have left the nation’s capital since 2018
BALTIMORE ORIOLES FANS
Joy has been in short supply at Camden Yards in recent years. But after losing 333 games in the last three full seasons, they had stumbled upon something this year. Top prospect Adley Rutschman finally debuted, and brought winning with him. They were 52-51 on deadline day and 2.5 games back of a first play-off berth since 2016. But instead of adding, they traded away a player who means more to his city than perhaps any other in the sport.
Trey Mancini was last year’s AL comeback player of the year after recovering from colon cancer. Monday he was gone, reduced to tears on the field at Texas’ Globe Life Field as he embraced team staff after being shipped off to the Houston Astros. ‘These are the guys who I credit with saving my life two years ago,’ he said.
The Orioles held onto their star outfielders but also gave up Lopez to the Twins. They could have held onto their clubhouse leader Mancini, used his veteran know-how to help their young players, build experience of winning games and, who knows, even made a push for the postseason.
Instead, they saved a meagre $2.5m and got a few A-ball pitching prospects – one of whom will now have Tommy John surgery. And the beloved Mancini left before Orioles fans could even say goodbye.
The Baltimore Orioles traded away Trey Mancini – a player who means so much to the city
Clubhouse leader Mancini could have used his veteran know-how to help their young players
NEW YORK METS
Jacob DeGrom returned Tuesday night after 13 months out injured, and no team made a better pitching addition at the deadline than that.
But the Mets have known all season that his comeback would bring with it a range of questions – can DeGrom return to consistent Cy Young form? Can he still pitch six, seven, eight innings? Will the rest of the rotation buckle, having filled in for DeGrom beyond their usual capacities?
Throw in a rapidly shrinking division lead over Atlanta, and the Mets only bringing in three bench bats – Darin Ruf, Daniel Vogelbach and Tyler Naquin – and reliever Mychal Givens seems like a major gamble, especially with Steve Cohen leading the front office.
Jacob DeGrom returned for the New York Mets Tuesday night after 13 months out injured
This year, finishing second in the division isn’t as immediately precarious, with a three-game wildcard series rather than a one-and-done roll of the dice. But while the NL East winners will likely get a bye, the runner-up is set to face the Padres, who have just added Soto, Bell, Drury and Hader, and have Fernando Tatis Jr. back before long.
A big-name power bat or a catcher – Contreras? Mancini? JD Martinez? – would have gone a long way to securing the Mets’ first division title since 2015 and avoiding the Padres juggernaut.
BOSTON RED SOX
As recently as June 26, the Red Sox were 11 games over .500 and had just won their seventh game in a row. It would have been hard to fathom then that they would be sellers at the deadline, and more so that they would have to consider a rebuild after a turgid July pushed them to the bottom of the AL East.
Monday, they sent catcher Christian Vazquez, the longest-tenured member of the roster, to the Astros. He was so stunned that he asked if he could stick around for a few more hours, to take in one final batting practice with the only organization he’s ever known, 14 years after Boston drafted him in as a ninth-rounder out of high school.
Team leader Xander Bogaerts, who was less than pleased at the Vazquez move, stayed, but is likely to opt out this winter. Rafael Devers and Martinez are still there, too, but this was hardly threading the needle of buying and selling.
Boston needed a boost to get back in the race for a still-achievable play-off place, and adding Tommy Pham on an expiring deal and Eric Hosmer on a forcibly discounted one isn’t quite what the Fenway faithful had in mind.
Christian Vazquez was traded to the Red Sox’s opponents Houston Astros Monday night