The MLB trade deadline was one of the busiest in recent years. Teams were moving pieces constantly. While the uncertainty over finances made some front offices more cautious, it was certainly eventful with teams either pushing for a postseason berth or quickly retooling to bolster the farm.
There were win-now moves, there was opportunism, there were bullpen arms flipped and big bats dealt. This was jostling for position like never before, teams aware this shortened season opens up the campaign, and the bigger postseason changes the look of the year at its halfway stage.
In typical internet fashion, we compiled five notable storylines from Major League Baseball’s August 31st trade deadline.
Padres pushing in 2020
The San Diego Padres are not messing about. They became a meme with their hyperactivity on trade deadline day and made the highest profile acquisition by trading for Indians starter Mike Clevinger.
San Diego bolstered its roster without compromising their deep farm – Taylor Trammell was the most prized asset they dealt.
A.J. Preller landed Clevinger, Jason Castro, Austin Nola, Mitch Moreland, Austin Adams, Dan Altavilla, Trevor Rosenthal and Taylor Williams. Their DH spot, their catchers, and their bullpen all got marked improvements. This is a new-look roster, a roster built to contend this year.
It was a masterclass from Preller.
The Atlanta Braves have been measured in their roster construction approach over the last couple seasons. This year they perhaps took that too far, failing to make any notable addition at the trade deadline despite obvious needs.
Braves fans with 40 minutes to go in the trade deadline. pic.twitter.com/tmRrZ5xh1M
— Anthony Dasher (@AnthonyDasher1) August 31, 2020
Mike Soroka and Cole Hamels are sidelined, and other young arms have struggled. They should have acquired a starter or two, failing to do so is particularly frustrating given the number of experienced pitchers available.
Postseason changes having positive impact
The Blue Jays, Marlins, Mets and Reds all tried to improve their rosters. Given their relative positions in the standings, that would not have happened in a ‘normal’ season. The shorter campaign helps, but it’s mainly down to the inflated postseason.
More teams have a chance this year. Teams with a runaway division leader have a more feasible route into the playoffs – it is encouraging front offices to try to win games in the short-term.
Marlins active again
The Marlins have been open-minded in this rebuild. They dealt top prospect Zac Gallen last season to acquire Jazz Chisholm, and they got busy again on Monday.
Starling Marte has more career home runs against Mike Soroka than the Miami Marlins do pic.twitter.com/IkoEl0Ho4I
— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) September 1, 2020
Only time will tell if giving up those two young arms was a good idea. What it does show, though, is a willingness from this Miami front office to be flexible. They are keen to end this postseason drought, and without being reckless, they should have improved their playoff chances.
Yankees, Astros stick rather than twist
Second in their respective divisions, the Yankees and Astros are far from guaranteed of a playoff spot. They are dealing with major injuries to Justin Verlander, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gleyber Torres. Houston has no pitching depth.
Both front offices looked nicely positioned to make a couple of win-now trades. Neither did anything on Monday.
There’s still plenty of talent on these two teams to get them into the playoffs, and perhaps that’s what they’re banking on. Maybe ownership was reluctant to take on long-term salary.
Either way, it was a surprise to see the American League’s two preseason favourites sit so quietly on deadline day.