November 28, 2023

With Pedro Mura
FOX Sports MLB Writer

Baseball’s most aggressive general managers made the most aggressive moves of the deadline.

San Diego’s AJ Preller acquired superstar Juan Soto and a bunch of other players, and Seattle’s Jerry Dipoto went all-in to add right-hander Luis Castillo.

Everyone else played to their positions in the standings – except for the Rockies, of course, who didn’t trade at all. They would qualify as underdogs in our list of teams below, but can you really miss out by not participating?

Of the teams that traded before the annual deadline, here’s a quick read on who fared best and worst.


1. San Diego Padres

In Soto, they acquired a superstar at little cost to their current team. All of their other additions also represent clear improvements, despite the Padres’ unconventional maneuver of essentially parting with the incumbent in exchange for his replacement.

New first baseman Josh Bell is much better than Eric Hosmer or Luke Voit, both of whom the Padres surrendered on Tuesday. New closer Josh Hader is a better pitcher than Taylor Rogers, whom he replaced. Late bloomer Brandon Drury isn’t a sure thing, but he’s a good bet to at least hit left-handed pitching, and the Padres look good enough now that those marginal improvements could make all the difference come October.

How Juan Soto strengthens Padres lineup and momentum

How Juan Soto strengthens Padres lineup and momentum

Former MLB player and current San Diego Padres broadcaster Tony Gwynn Jr. joins Colin Cowherd in breaking down the Juan Soto trade.

2. New York Yankees

They did it in a much less flashy way, but the Yankees also shored up their roster without significantly hindering their future. In fact, there is an argument that they helped it.

Right-hander Frankie Montas, their prize acquisition, has stepped in as an elite No. 2 starter at times, and if he’s healthy, New York can follow Gerrit Cole to the playoffs — this year and next.

What the Yankees needed was pitching, not pitching. So it made sense, then, that they traded Jordan Montgomery to St. Louis for injured outfielder Harrison Bader. Apparently, they were sure they wouldn’t want Montgomery to start a playoff game for them.

Acquiring Bader makes sense for the same reason. He might not play until September, but the Yankees don’t have to worry about August. Twelve games back in their division, they care about October.

New York Yankees Biggest MLB Trade Deadline Winners?

New York Yankees Biggest MLB Trade Deadline Winners?

Ben Verlander breaks down why the New York Yankees were the big winners of the MLB trade deadline.

3. Cincinnati Reds

This is the first time the Reds have been undisputed deadline winners in a long time. General manager Nick Krall operated from a position of strength and used it well to trade both Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle for significant prospect packages.

The pool of returning talent is large enough that it could change the Reds’ trajectory — not this year or next, but maybe in 2024 or 2025. Castillo and Mahle weren’t rentals, but Krall was smart to realize that they weren’t going to be part of the next good Reds team without signing extensions.


1. Chicago Cubs

Inexplicably, Chicago only traded relievers. And not just rental relievers. Right-hander Scott Efross has several more years of control left, but it’s the Yankees who control his rights now. If he turns into another New York ace, the Cubs will have to explain why they kept players who won’t be a part of their future instead of players who could.

Keeping outfielder Ian Happ isn’t crazy, depending on what the Cubs do this offseason. But Willson Contreras’ retention defies easy explanation. It’s hard to believe he couldn’t have gotten more than the compensation the Cubs will receive when he leaves this offseason.

2. Los Angeles Angels

The Angels moved slowly and decisively in trading Brandon Marsh, Raisel Iglesias and Noah Syndergaard in a two-hour span just before Tuesday’s deadline. The decisions gave them a lot of prospects, most notably Logan O’Hoppe, but mostly financial flexibility. The moves would inspire more confidence if they weren’t the exact opposite of the moves that were meant to inspire confidence last offseason.

Five months ago, then-manager Joe Maddon was talking about Marsh as the club’s future center fielder, acting like Mike Trout would soon be moving to a corner. Iglesias, having just signed a four-year contract, was supposed to become the centerpiece of the club. General manager Perry Minasian talked about Syndergaard, a high-cost gamble, as if he were the same talent level as Trout himself.

Conversely, Marsh didn’t hit but played top-notch defense while Iglesias and Syndergaard fell somewhat short of expectations. Minasian hit reset Tuesday. But is there enough time for another retool before Shohei Ohtani becomes a free agent?

3. Baltimore Orioles

It didn’t make sense to choose now, at the most exciting time for the franchise in six years, to trade the team’s most popular player and lone All-Star. Sure, they landed some prospects for outfielder Trey Mancini and closer Jorge López, but did they improve significantly? And in any case, at what cost? López remains under club control for two more seasons. Isn’t the point to win soon?

Pedro Moura is the national baseball writer for FOX Sports. He previously covered the Dodgers for three seasons for The Athletic and, before that, the Angels and Dodgers for five seasons for the Orange County Register and LA Times. Previously, he covered his alma mater, USC, for The son of Brazilian immigrants, he grew up in the suburbs of Southern California. His first book, “How to Beat a Broken Game,” was released in the spring. Follow him on Twitter @pedromoura.

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