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.
Here's a look at the biggest winners from the 2021 MLB trade deadline.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers are the obvious winner here. They landed the best starting pitcher on the market in Max Scherzer and an All-Star shortstop in Trea Turner. Yes, they paid a hefty price, sending two MLB-ready top prospects in catcher Keibert Ruiz and righty Josiah Gray. But they got immeasurably better in the short term, and have Turner under contract for 2022.
It will also be costly. The Dodgers took on all of Scherzer's contract, which means they'll pay the $12 million left on his deal but -- because it's deferred -- they'll owe it to him in 2028. Got all that?
In the end, the Dodgers can now trot out a starting rotation that boasts Scherzer, Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw and Julio Urias. And with Corey Seager hitting free agency after the season, they have an All-Star level middle infield replacement for 2022 in Turner. It was a hell of a deal, despite the cost and the Dodgers have reasserted themselves as World Series favorites yet again. It's exceptionally difficult to repeat as champions, but the Dodgers have positioned themselves to do just that.
The Braves needed to improve their outfield and find some pop, they did that at the deadline with two under-the-radar deals that came in rapid succession. Atlanta snagged Adam Duvall from the Miami Marlins and landed Eddie Rosario from Cleveland. With Ronald Acuna Jr. out for the year thanks to a season-ending knee injury, and Marcell Ozuna facing domestic violence charges, the Braves needed to find replacement. They did that and relatively cheapy, surrendering Alex Jackson for Duvall and Pablo Sandoval for Rosario.
Duvall spent three seasons with the Braves from 2018 to 2020. This season he's hitting .229 with an OPS of .755, but he's among the NL leaders in home runs (22) and RBIs (68). He should get plenty of opportunities to drive in more in Atlanta. Rosario is hitting .254 with seven home runs, 46 RBIs and an OPS of .685. He's not a lights-out bat by any stretch but he's a solid add. Both guys are free agents after the season, so they're purely rentals.
With Joc Pederson already acquired from the Cubs earlier in the summer, Atlanta has completely remade its outfield in a few weeks.
The Twins were open for business on most of their top players and cashed in big time for one of them. Jose Berrios is a solid starting pitcher, but no one would confuse him with an ace. He's a decent No. 2 on a contending team and has already said he'll opt for free agency after the 2022 season. Minnesota had to move him now when his value was at its highest.
In return for sending the righty to the Toronto Blue Jays, the Twins got two top 100 prospects. MLB Pipeline has shortstop/outfielder Austin Martin ranked as its 16th overall prospect and righty Simeon Woods Richardson is ranked 68th. Martin was the fifth pick in the 2020 MLB Draft and some experts had him as the top player on the board. He could wind up in center field eventually.
That was a huge haul for a year and a few months of Berrios, who is a good, not great starting pitcher. It was an example of how inflated the pitching market got late in the process.
New York Yankees
The Yankees desperately needed offensive help at the deadline and they got it in a pair of lefty bats. Anthony Rizzo and Joey Gallo are in and several prospects are out. The return for both was moderate, as New York didn't have to give up a huge haul for either and got two really steady presences to add to their lineup.
For Rizzo, the Yankees sent the Cubs righty Alexander Vizcaino and outfielder Kevin Alcantara. Vizcaino is 24 years old and still in Class A but has electric stuff and upside. Alcantara is a 19-year-old outfielder with a ton of projection at 6-foot-6, and he's only played 49 professional games. Vizcaino now becomes Chicago's sixth-best prospect, while Alcantara ranks ninth.
For Gallo, the Yankees gave up second baseman Ezequiel Duran, infielder Josh Smith, righty Glen Otto and second baseman/outfielder Trevor Hauver. Smith and Duran will become top 10 prospects in the Rangers' system. Duran makes solid contact for a middle infielder, while Smith is a speedy high-contact type with a chance at a bench role in the future.
Chicago White Sox
The White Sox landed two key pieces that will fill their biggest needs -- second base and the bullpen. They acquired Cesar Hernandez to fill their Nick Madrigal-sized hole at second and Craig Kimbrel to give them a lights out bullpen arm to pair with closer Liam Hendricks. Oh, and they also landed Ryan Tepera from the Cubs in a separate deal.
Hernandez is currently hitting .231 with an OPS of .738, with 18 home runs and 47 RBIs, and is also the AL's reigning Gold Glove winner at second base. He's a perfect fit for the team after Madrigal's season-ending injury and they hold a $6 million club option on him for 2022. In exchange they sent Cleveland big lefty Konnor Pilkington, who is having a solid season at Double-A.
In Kimbrel, Chicago got a pitcher back on the upswing after two bad seasons. So far this year he's back to his dominant ways, posting a 2-3 record with a 0.49 ERA, a 0.71 WHIP and 64 strikeouts in 36.2 innings. He also has 23 saves in 25 chances. To get him, the White Sox sent Madrigal to the Cubs, along with 25-year-old righty reliever Codi Heuer. Madrigal was slashing .305/.349/.425 in his first full big league season before suffering a season-ending hamstring injury. So Kimbrel didn't come cheap, but the Sox also hold a player option on him for next season.
As mentioned, Chicago also added Tepera, who has been excellent. In 43 appearances, he's posted a 2.91 ERA, a 0.78 WHIP and 50 strikeouts against 12 walks in 43.1 innings pitched. The bullpen got a whole lot better in the span of 24 hours.