The 2020 Major League Baseball trade deadline is behind us and all that speculation that this would be a quiet one were completely unfounded. The shortened season and a lack of prospect evaluation opportunities led many to conclude it would be much more difficult to make deals in 2020. Nope. There was a flurry of action at the deadline that could have a serious impact on the final few weeks of the season.
Here's our look at the biggest winners and losers from the 2020 MLB trade deadline. One note: there was a flurry of late movement and we're still assessing a few of the trades, so we'll update this as we get more information.
San Diego Padres
The Padres entered the deadline with a loaded farm system and needs at catcher, starting pitcher and in the bullpen. They managed to fill all those needs and upgrade the designated hitter spot without emptying their prospect cupboard. They landed Mike Clevinger, Austin Nola, Trevor Rosenthal, Mitch Moreland, Dan Altavilla, Austin Adams and Taylor Williams, and only surrendered one top 100 prospect, but keeping all of their top four minor leaguers. Yes, general manager A.J. Preller is, in fact, a rock star.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays needed starting pitchers and they landed three before the deadline. Robbie Ray, Taijuan Walker and Ross Stripling aren't having great seasons, but all three have been good in the past. Toronto didn't give up much in exchange for them. They also added Jonathan Villar as a veteran infielder who can play multiple spots. Ray and Walker are free agents after the season, as is Villar, while Stripling is under team control through 2022.
Toronto gave up very little of consequence for three starting pitchers and a versatile infielder. If the three pitchers improve even slightly, the Blue Jays will have gotten a lot of help.
The Mariners signed Austin Nola to a minor league deal before the 2019 season as a 29-year-old who had never reached the big leagues. In 2020 they flipped him -- along with two veteran relievers -- to the Padres and landed a top 100 prospect (Taylor Trammell), utility infielder Ty France, a young catcher in Luis Torrens and a hard-throwing 21-year-old reliever in Andres Munoz. Trammell is almost certainly a long-term big leaguer, with a great combination of power and speed. Munoz is recovering from Tommy John surgery, but when healthy he sits in the upper-90s and regularly tops triple-digits.
That's a really nice haul for a guy Seattle invested very little into.
The Rockies got two big upgrades that should help their push towards the playoffs. In a last-minute deal they landed Kevin Pillar from the Boston Red Sox. The team's center fielders have slashed .241/.301/.333 this season, so adding Pillar (.274/.325/.470) is a big improvement. The 31-year-old should also have no trouble patrolling the big outfield at Coors Field. He's not the Gold Glove-caliber defender he once was, but Pillar is still really good in center. All Colorado gave up was a player to be named and international bonus money.
The Rockies also added a bullpen arm in Mychal Givens who boasts a 1.38 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 13 innings. In exchange, they sent two infielders (Tyler Nevin and Terrin Vavra) and a player to be named later to Baltimore. They didn't give up much to get a high-upside reliever with another year of control.
The Indians got some nice players back in exchange for Clevinger but they weren't able to pry any of the Padres' top prospects away. Austin Hedges is a savant as a defensive catcher but can't hit and Josh Naylor could be a solid lefty bat but doesn't have a position. Cal Quantrill has been excellent out of the bullpen for the Padres this season but has never been able to settle into a defined role. As for the rest, Gabriel Arias is a decent shortstop prospect, lefty Joey Cantillo has some upside and has been rapidly improving, and shortstop Owen Miller looks like a solid utility infielder. But they didn't land a marquee name in exchange for their ace, which is concerning. Especially since Clevinger was under team control through 2022, and has a career ERA of 3.20, which is fantastic.
This felt like a missed opportunity.
Los Angeles Angels
The Angels held a valuable trade chip in Dylan Bundy, who appears to have finally put it all together this season. He currently boasts a 4-2 record with a 2.47 ERA, a 0.94 WHIP and 47 strikeouts in 43.2 innings. The right-handed starter will hit free agency after the 2021 season, so LA could have demanded a decent haul in return and sell high on a volatile pitcher. Instead the Angels couldn't get a deal they liked and held on to Bundy. They could move him in the offseason or next year, but he'll be an impending free agent and there's a decent chance he regresses from his current form.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers stood pat at the deadline when there were opportunities to get better. It's hard to complain when the team with the best record in baseball doesn't add, but the chance existed to land another starting pitcher and LA decided not to. The Dodgers had the organizational depth to go after Trevor Bauer or even Lance Lynn, and they didn't. The only move they made was to sent Ross Stripling to the Blue Jays for two players to be named later.
Frankly, this might work out for the Dodgers. They're really good. But they stuck with what they had while passing on the chance to get better.
The Braves desperately needed to add a frontline starting pitcher before their playoff push and they failed to do so. Reports connected them to Clevinger and Lynn, but they didn't manage to get a deal done. They did trade for Tommy Milone on Sunday and he could wind up being a solid addition, but they didn't find anyone to fill the spots left open by the injuries to Mike Sorotka and Cole Hamels.
Max Fried is a stud, but other than him, none of Atlanta's starters have been good this season. That could be a problem down the stretch.
New York Yankees
The Yankees have a ton of injuries and their starting rotation needed help. Instead of finding any solutions they made the risky decision to stand pat and pray it all works out. We'll see if that gamble pays off.