Biggest Losers From the MLB Trade Deadline
The 2021 MLB trade deadline has passed and it was one of the most active in recent memory. There were a ton of deals that involved impact players being shipped all over the league. As much as it was hyped heading into it, this year's deadline surpassed all expectations.
We've already examined the biggest winners from the deadline, here's a look at the biggest losers.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays wanted a starting pitcher to put at the front of their rotation. They landed a guy who can fill that role ... kind of. They have a pretty solid rotation already with Hyun Jin Ryu, Robbie Ray, Steven Matz and Ross Stripling. Thrown in Alek Manoah (2.90 ERA in eight starts) and things aren't bad. But the Blue Jays clearly felt the need to add someone who could help push them to the next level, even if it didn't feel like a necessity. Which is why it doesn't really make sense that they went all-in on Jose Berrios.
They landed Berrios from the Minnesota Twins but paid an insane price for a guy who has been open about wanting to hit free agency after the 2022 season. Berrios is a good pitcher, but he's not an ace. He's 7-5 this season with a 3.48 ERA, a 1.04 WHIP and 126 strikeouts in 121.2 innings. He's a nice pickup, but they paid far too much for him.
Going to Minnesota are shortstop/outfielder Austin Martin and righty Simeon Woods Richardson. Martin was the fifth top pick in the 2020 MLB Draft and was atop many boards as the best player in the class. He's currently the 16th overall prospect on MLB Pipeline. Woods Richardson is a right-handed starter who is the 68th ranked overall prospect. He's 20 and currently representing the U.S. at the Olympics.
That was way too much to surrender for Berrios. The Dodgers gave up roughly the same amount and got Max Scherzer and Trea Turner in return. Toronto got the starter it coveted but paid far too high a price to get him.
The Cubs made the moves they had to make and got prospects in return, but it's never good when you're in the market they are, have insanely wealthy owners and wind up waving the white flag. Chicago traded Javy Baez, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, ripping out the heart of its 2016 World Series winning team. The Cubs also dumped Craig Kimbrel, Ryan Tepera and Jake Marisnick, signaling the start of a full-scale rebuild.
Yes, they got a nice mix of prospects and Nick Madrigal in return for all those deals, but there isn't a sure-fire star in the mix. Baez, Bryant and Rizzo are all set to hit free agency -- as is Tepera -- but the fact that none of the Big Three were able to get extensions done with the Cubs is an indictment of where the franchise is right now. Baez and Bryant are homegrown cornerstones, while Rizzo was heart-and-soul guy. It's got to sting that all three are gone.
It was likely the prudent thing for the Cubs to make the trades they did at the deadline, but that doesn't make it any better for fans of the franchise.
The Rockies had a number of guys who could have been traded to help jumpstart the team's rebuild and they did precisely nothing. Shortstop Trevor Story is an impending free agent and one of the more sought-after bats on the market and he remains in Colorado. Righty Jon Gray is also an set to be a free agent, was a popular name in rumors attached to multiple teams and he's still with the Rockies. So what, exactly is going on here?
The Rockies were on fire to trade Nolan Arenado for more than a year before they finally shipped him to the St. Louis Cardinals ahead of the 2021 season. They felt they weren't competing, couldn't pay his salary and wanted to get talent in return for him. Now they had the opportunity to move some guys who are about to hit free agency and they held tightly to them? The strategy makes absolutely no sense.
Story and Gray will leave in a few months and at best the Rockies will get a compensatory draft pick for each, but only if they decide to extend qualifying offers to them. Given the franchise's newfound penny-pinching ways that's not even a guarantee at this point.
San Diego Padres
This may be a bit harsh. The Padres did acquire All-Star second baseman Adam Frazier, a lights-out eighth inning reliever in Daniel Hudson and a solid bench piece in Jake Marisnick. Those were all good moves that didn't cost San Diego much at all, plus Frazier is under contract for 2022. But the Friars were desperately trying to find help for their beleaguered starting rotation and struck out in the process.
Perhaps most painful, on Thursday it appeared the Padres had a deal in place for Max Scherzer, only for the division-rival Los Angeles Dodgers to swoop in and offer far more to get him. Adding insult to injury, the Dodgers also pried away All-Star shortstop Trea Turner in the bargain.
In the end, Padres general manager A.J. Preller wasn't going to overpay and mortgage the future unless he was getting an ace with team control. Scherzer is a free agent in a few months, Jose Berrios is at best a No. 2 on a contending team and there were no other starters available worthy of a blockbuster. It was likely the smart move long-term for the Padres to hang on to their premium prospects, four of whom rank in the top 100. But it hurts in the short-term.
The Dodgers' rotation got better, while the Padres now have to hope Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove and Blake Snell catch fire down the stretch.
The Reds are seven games back in the NL Central and almost certainly out of contention there. But they have a 54-49 record, are five games behind San Diego for the final wild card spot and they've won three straight and five of seven. There's some life there, and maybe a chance to make a late-season run. Unfortunately. they did nothing meaningful to address their woeful pitching staff.
The Reds have the second-worst bullpen ERA in baseball (5.32) with only the Rockies (5.42) trailing them. The team's pen has allowed a MLB-worst 67 home runs and has a woeful 1.44 WHIP. There were plenty of relievers to be had on cheap deals, but the Reds opted not to find any real upgrades.