The most unusual MLB trade deadline in the sport’s history is now in the books. What went down before the clock struck 4 p.m. ET on Aug. 31? Here’s a recap of all the big deals, under-the-radar moves, rumored trades that didn’t quite get done.
Will the San Diego Padres‘ August spree lead to October glory? Are the Chicago Cubs ready to make a run after adding to their bullpen? Will the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves regret not making a big splash? And what about the teams in the hunt for those final postseason spots thanks to the new playoff format?
Whether you root for a buyer or a seller — or someone in between — see what our experts think of it all.
Trade deadline day deals, reaction and buzz
Rockies acquire Pillar from Red Sox
Rockies center fielders are hitting .241/.301/.331, so it made a lot of sense for them to go after Pillar or Red Sox teammate Jackie Bradley Jr. After all, if you can’t find a center fielder who can hit, you may as well find one who can field. The caveat: Pillar’s defensive peak came back in 2015-17, when he played a Gold Glove-caliber center fielder. He’s lost a step since then, but the Rockies are somewhat desperate as Garrett Hampson just hasn’t hit, David Dahl is injured and Sam Hilliard is more of a corner guy. The Red Sox don’t get much, but maybe Chaim Bloom can put that international slot money to good use. — David Schoenfield
Marlins both buying and selling by making deals with Diamondbacks and Blue Jays: In acquiring outfielder Starling Marte from the Diamondbacks and sending Jonathan Villar to the Blue Jays, Miami is trying to thread the needle as both a deadline buyer and seller — Jeff Passan
Marlins outfielders are hitting .215/.308/.326, so Marte provides a significant upgrade there and likely slots in at center field. He comes with a reasonable $12.5 team option for 2021, so this isn’t just a rental player. Prospects like Lewis Brinson and Monte Harrison have looked overmatched in the majors, so locking in Marte for 2021 – assuming they don’t trade him in the offseason, makes sense. Smith is currently on the IL with a hip injury and while he had a nice strikeout rate in 2019, he also led the NL with 33 home runs in just 153.1 innings. Call him the NL version of Matthew Boyd. Mejia was rushed to the majors and made three starts after pitching in Class A in 2019. He’s got a four-pitch arsenal with a fastball that averaged 92.8 in his limited action. His stuff may play up better in relief. — Schoenfield
The Blue Jays are obviously intent on making the playoffs as at least the No. 8 seed – with eyes on catching the Yankees and moving up even higher. Villar is the third trade they made and while he has a mediocre .688 OPS, that would still be an upgrade at third base, where the Blue Jays have the lowest OPS in the majors. He can also fill in at shortstop while Bo Bichette is on the IL. — Schoenfield
Jeff Passan reports the Marlins have acquired Starling Marte from the Diamondbacks, with Caleb Smith as the main piece going back to Arizona.
Why Blue Jays are taking chance on Robbie Ray: The Astros had reportedly been interested in Ray, but instead he goes to the Blue Jays, who had already added Taijuan Walker to their rotation. Ray has strikeout stuff — he has the third-highest K rate among starters since 2017 — but he’s had major control issues in 2020, with 31 walks in 31 innings. Ray had changed his delivery, trying to go to a shorter arm action, but it hasn’t worked and he’s been going back to his pre-2020 delivery. Anyway, he’s a free agent, so this is a roll of the dice that Ray can suddenly find his command over the next 30 days and make an impact. — David Schoenfield
Why Angels kept Bundy: Other teams have been interested in Dylan Bundy, but the sense among at least one evaluator is that the Angels chose to keep him because their pitching needs extend beyond 2020. — Buster Olney
A’s swing deal with Rangers for Minor: The Oakland A’s have acquired left-hander Mike Minor from the Texas Rangers for two players to be named later, sources tell ESPN. A’s needed rotation help and get it with a trade for Minor, who’s a free agent after this season. — Jeff Passan
Minor actually led AL pitchers in WAR in 2019, but it’s been a different story in 2020 as he’s 0-5 with a 5.60 ERA. Or has it been that different? Minor had a 4.25 FIP in 2019, but is at 4.83 in 2020. No, he hasn’t been as good, but this could be a nice little upside play for the A’s, who are 16th in the majors with a 4.84 rotation ERA. — David Schoenfield
Padres add Clevinger in a deadline blockbuster with Indians: San Diego continued its deadline push by adding the most coveted ace of this trade season, Mike Clevinger, in a Monday morning trade with Cleveland. — Jesse Rogers
Cleveland got a six-player return for Clevinger, with RHP Cal Quantrill, LF Josh Naylor, C Austin Hedges, SS Gabriel Arias, LHP Joey Cantillo, SS Owen Miller all headed to the Indians. Quantrill was 2-0 with a 2.60 ERA in 10 2020 appearances for the Padres and the 23-year-old Naylor should immediately slot into the Indians’ outfield.
Dodgers had little interest in rentals: The regular season is more than halfway through, and yet the prospect of completing it still feels uncertain, a sentiment that was most recently reinforced by the postponement of Sunday’s game in Houston because a member of the Oakland Athletics organization tested positive for COVID-19. The circumstances have made teams very wary of acquiring players who are pending free agents, with the Dodgers certainly among them.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Sunday that his team — with the best record in baseball — has little to no interest in acquiring players who would be under its control for only the next month-plus. The Dodgers prefer someone who is “gonna move the needle,” Roberts said. They did look into bigger names such as Lance Lynn, Mike Clevinger and Josh Hader, all of whom are not just difference-makers but are signed beyond 2020. — Alden Gonzalez
What is Trevor Bauer‘s trade value? Remember, the Reds can give him a qualifying offer and recoup draft-pick compensation. Any acquiring team would have had to top that value for just five or six starts.
Additionally, Bauer will make about $2.9 million for the last month, in a year when every dollar matters, in the words of one exec. He’s one of baseball’s best pitchers right now, for sure, and for an acquiring team, a deal for him would have been very expensive — in salary and player compensation. — Buster Olney
Deals completed before trade deadline day
Padres keep dealing, get Austin Nola from M’s
The Padres completed their fourth deal of the weekend Sunday night, acquiring catcher Austin Nola from the Mariners as part of a seven-player deal. Part of the return for Seattle is one of San Diego’s top prospects, outfielder Taylor Trammell. Other players included in the Mariners’ haul are infielder Ty France, catcher Luis Torrens and right-handed reliever Andres Munoz. Headed to the Padres are relievers Austin Adams and Dan Altavilla. A big-time right-handed arm who struck out 51 in 31 innings last year, Adams has been recovering from ACL surgery but will return soon.
Busy Padres add catcher Castro from Angels
The Padres made another deal in landing veteran catcher Jason Castro from the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for minor league reliever Gerardo Reyes. The 33-year-old Castro was batting .192/.323/.385 in his first 62 plate appearances, but has been lauded for his pitch-framing and blocking skills.
Rockies add bullpen arm in Givens
The Colorado Rockies traded for Orioles right-handed reliever Mychal Givens, who has a 1.38 ERA and 19 strikeouts over 13 innings this season. Baltimore receives infielders Tyler Nevin and Terrin Vavra and a player to be named later from Colorado.
Cubs land DH Martinez from Rays
The Chicago Cubs added lefty masher Jose Martinez, acquiring the DH from the Rays for two players to be named. Martinez has struggled in his first season with Tampa, batting .239 with two home runs and 10 RBIs in 24 games, but had a strong track record against left-handed pitching while with St. Louis, including a .997 OPS in 2019.
Braves add lefty Milone to rotation
The Atlanta Braves acquired Baltimore Orioles left-hander Tommy Milone in hopes of aiding their struggling rotation. Baltimore will receive two players to be named. Milone, 33, is 1-4 with a 3.99 ERA in six starts this season and has 31 strikeouts in 29⅓ innings. Atlanta’s rotation has been plagued by injuries and inconsistency with Braves starters completing fewer than five innings in 20 of 32 starts this season. Even so, Atlanta entered Sunday atop the NL East standings.
San Diego adds some pop in Moreland
The Padres acquired veteran first baseman Mitch Moreland, who has been one of the Red Sox’s best hitters this season, for a pair of minor league prospects, outfielder Jeisson Rosario and third baseman Hudson Potts. The left-handed hitting Moreland, 34, is batting .328 with eight home runs, 21 RBIs and an 1.177 OPS in 22 games, largely in a platoon role.
Padres bolster bullpen with Rosenthal
The San Diego Padres acquired reliever Trevor Rosenthal from Kansas City, sources told ESPN, in a deal that sent outfield prospect Edward Olivares and a player to be named to the Royals. Arguably the best reliever on the market, Rosenthal should provide a huge boost to the Padres.
A’s add former All-Star La Stella in rare swap with Angels
Trading within the AL West, Oakland acquired infielder Tommy La Stella from L.A. to give them some present-day punch at second base, sending infield prospect Franklin Barreto south to join the Halos. La Stella was hitting .273/.371/.475 with the Angels, good for a slightly better OPS than his injury-abbreviated All-Star 2019 season. It’s a classic stretch rental, as La Stella is a free agent after this season, while Barreto is 24 years old and under club control through 2024 (but is out of options). Barreto had been one of the key elements of the A’s-Blue Jays deal that sent Josh Donaldson to Toronto after 2014, but struggled in limited big league opportunities. In Anaheim, he’ll get every opportunity to show that his hitting .289/.352/.482 (with 112 stolen bases) in the minors was no fluke.
White Sox land Dyson in deal with Pirates
The Chicago White Sox are acquiring center fielder Jarrod Dyson from the Pittsburgh Pirates, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. The speedy Dyson is hitting just .157 in 2020, but provides value in the field and as a pinch runner.
Blue Jays acquire Walker from Mariners
Phillies land pair of relievers in deal with Red Sox
The Philadelphia Phillies got an early jump on the trade deadline, moving to fortify their ineffective bullpen by acquiring relievers Heath Hembree and Brandon Workman and cash considerations from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for right-handers Nick Pivetta and Connor Seabold.