August 5, 2023, 12:25 pm
For most people, the first time a prospect’s name is heard of is when he’s traded, and at the trade deadline, that can lead to uncertainty in the return for selling clubs, and what the buying clubs gave up. In this series, I’ll be going through the players, particularly minor leaguers, that each club gave up and received at the trade deadline, and give my take on their respective values. In the next six articles, I’ll go through each division’s deals, starting with the NL East.
Additions: Brad Hand, Nicky Lopez, Pierce Johnson
Cost: Alec Barger, Taylor Hearn, Victor Vodnik, Tanner Gordon
Atlanta stayed relatively quiet at this year’s trade deadline, which is understandable given their relatively few needs as the current team to beat in the National League. While all three of their deals are minor ones, the prospect cost of all three is negligible. Taylor Hearn had just been picked up off of waivers and was flipped for a reliable backup infielder, and for Brad Hand and Pierce Johnson, the Braves protected an already barren farm by giving up two low ceiling starters in Barger and Gordon, and one quality young arm in Victor Vodnik. Vodnik is the only player with potential to make the Braves regret a trade, as his upper 90s fastball and ability to miss bats with his changeup gives him a floor of a major league reliever with plenty of upside. Overall, a solid if unspectacular trade deadline for the division leaders. 7/10.
Additions: Michael Lorenzen, Rodolfo Castro
Cost: Hao Yu Lee, Bailey Falter
Another relatively quiet deadline, although unlike the Braves, the Phillies had a number of needs to fill that President Dave Dombrowski elected not to address. Going into the deadline looking for an outfielder, starting pitcher, and relief help, the Phillies only acquired one of those three in starter Michael Lorenzen. For what it’s worth, I think the Lorenzen trade is solid value in the current market at the cost of infielder Hao Yu Lee, a high-OBP, high-contact player with a solid glove. Lee likely projects as a good utility infielder with upside to be a starter at second or third, and to acquire an above average starting pitcher seems worth it. Phillies fans will be well aware of Bailey Falter, having pitched for them for the last few years, and this trade is a bit of a nothing swap between a below average utility man and a below average swingman. Overall, mixed reviews for Philly, and while I like the one trade of consequence that they did make, I worry their failure to address the outfield and bullpen could cost them dearly. 4.5/10.
Additions: Josh Bell, Jake Burger, Ryan Weathers, Jorge López, David Robertson
Cost: Jake Eder, Jean Segura, Kahlil Watson, Garrett Cooper, Marco Vargas, Sean Reynolds, Ronald Hernandez, Dylan Floro
The Marlins may have been baseball’s most active buyer, acquiring two starting corner infielders, two relief pitchers, and a depth starter. These additions did not come without significant cost, however, although they undoubtedly give the Marlins a better chance to win now. Jake Eder is an excellent young starting pitcher who could be up as soon as next year, and projects as a middle-of-the-rotation starter. Jake Burger is a good get and addresses an imminent need, but Miami will have to improve his defense and swing-and-miss to make this deal worth it.
Cooper’s departure was more necessitated by reshuffle, and Floro in a change-of-scenery trade. Sean Reynolds is a big RHP with a great arm, but needs to develop an effective breaking ball to be a major leaguer. Kahlil Watson may be the biggest wildcard traded by any team. As a former first-round pick, his elite foot and bat speed is still very apparent, but his poor pitch selection, combined with some serious attitude issues, make his floor undefined. Ronald Hernandez is a switch hitting catcher in the complex league, and receives plaudits for his advanced approach both at the plate and defensively. Marco Vargas is the best prospect Miami gave up, an infielder with excellent bat-to-ball skills and a great knowledge of the strike zone. While he likely won’t be in the big leagues until at least 2026, this is the player Miami is most likely to regret letting go.
While I like most of the deals the Marlins made, and love the team’s aggressiveness in trying to win this year, some of the returns seem heavy. To the credit of Kim Ng, all of Miami’s needs were addressed, either in big fashion (David Robertson) or under the radar, like with Jorge López, who I absolutely love as a change a scenery candidate, with great stuff and an extra year of control than Floro, the return. Overall, 8/10.
New York Mets
Additions: Marco Vargas, Ronald Hernandez, Luisangel Acuña, Ryan Clifford, Drew Gilbert, Jeremiah Jackson, Jeremy Rodriguez, Justin Jarvis, Phil Bickford, Adam Kolarek
Cost: Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Mark Canha, Tommy Pham, Dominic Leone, David Robertson, lots and lots of cash
The Mets were the most active team at the deadline this year, executing a mass exodus of high-profile veteran names for a truckload of prospects in an effort to salvage value from a failed season. For the most part, the Mets did an excellent job of doing that, largely thanks to Owner Steve Cohen’s bottomless pockets, paying over $100 million in cash along with players to essentially purchase numerous blue-chip prospects.
The aforementioned Marco Vargas and Ronald Hernandez are excellent value for David Robertson, even if they are years away from the big club. Luisangel Acuña is a dynamic young infielder who brings speed, defense, arm strength, and some great contact skills to the table (even without his older brother’s power). Drew Gilbert is a former first-round pick who provides five above average tools in CF, and an impressive tenacity to his game. Ryan Clifford is a big power slugger at 1B or the corner OF spots, who is rapidly rising up top 100 rankings. Justin Jarvis is a RHP with decent stuff, floor of a long reliever, ceiling of a 3rd starter. Jeremy Rodriguez earns great reviews for his athleticism in the complex league at 17 years of age. Jeremiah Jackson was drafted in the second round in 2018, and while he’s struggled in the minors, still has potential to be a big leaguer with offensive improvements. Bickford and Kolarek are veteran relievers purchased for cash.
While this season has been an unfathomable disaster for the Mets, fans can draw hope from an excellent trade deadline, where the team took advantage of a strong seller’s market combined with their unique financial leverage to take an average farm system to an elite level. I like the team holding onto Brooks Raley and Jose Quintana, both of whom will be key to the Mets being competitive in 2024, and with a farm that could have as many as 10 top 100 prospects going into next year, the trade deadline will emerge as the only positive consequence of the Mets 2023 season. 9.5/10 (for their failure to offload Ottavino+Narváez).
Additions: D.J. Herz, Kevin Made
Cost: Jeimer Candelario
Only the one trade for the Nationals this year, which truthfully, is very underwhelming. While they did net a solid return for rebound third baseman Jeimer Candelario, their failure to trade Hunter Harvey, Kyle Finnegan, or any of their less controllable pieces is a missed opportunity in what was a seller’s market, especially for pitching.
Kevin Made is a 20-year old SS with great athleticism, some projectable power, and an outstanding throwing arm. His defense should give him a floor of a utility infielder, and could fill out a role as a starter if his bat picks up. Made is likely to stick at shortstop, which helps his value significantly.
D.J. Herz is a funky LHP with a great changeup, and in my opinion, will end up as a reliever due to his lack of control. Still an interesting arm nonetheless, and if the Nationals development team can help him limit the walks, a back-end starter role is possible.
Overall, a disappointing deadline for the Nationals, one that smells of missed opportunity. 3/10.