The trade deadline is done, and as usual, there were a flurry of moves just before the clock struck 6 p.m. ET. If you'd like a summary of the biggest, complete with analysis geared for Fantasy Baseball, you've come to the right place.
Just to provide a quick overview right off the top, we saw the Mets trade away two eventual Hall of Fame hurlers. We saw the Mariners deal away one ace closer, creating an opening for another. We saw the Guardians do more selling than buying as they attempt to chase down the Twins in the AL Central. We saw the Rays forfeit an underachieving prospect for an overachieving starting pitcher.
We saw a lot of things, in other words. Here's my attempt to make sense of them all.
Scott Barlow traded to Padres
The impact on Barlow's Fantasy value is plain to see. His closing days are over now that he's sharing a bullpen with Josh Hader. It might actually come as a relief to those who've clung to him in Fantasy. They no longer have to suffer through his 5.35 ERA and 1.55 WHIP in the mostly futile pursuit of saves. His likely replacement in the ninth inning, Carlos Hernandez, is rather interesting, a converted starter whose fastball averages 99 mph. His numbers suggest he could enjoy some success in the role, but the woeful Royals aren't going to provide him with any more chances than they did Barlow. You can drop Barlow and leave Hernandez for leagues where saves are particularly scarce.
Josh Bell traded to Marlins
After making a big splash by acquiring Jake Burger earlier in the day, the Marlins landed Bell just a little before the clock struck 6, further bolstering their lineup. They obviously view him as an upgrade over Garrett Cooper, who they flipped to San Diego. Leaving aside the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Bell is having a career-worst year and hasn't looked right, really, since being traded to the Padres at the deadline last year. It's hard to pinpoint exactly what's gone wrong, though. He remains a disciplined hitter with impressive exit velocity readings. His .273 xBA and .455 xSLG are both far better than his actual .233 and .383 marks. Perhaps the proverbial change of scenery will do him good, though it's worth noting he's going from one pitcher's park to another.
Jack Flaherty traded to Orioles
It's been all downhill for Flaherty since a terrific 2019 in which he placed fourth in NL Cy Young voting. Injuries received much of the blame prior to this year -- he simply didn't pitch enough from 2020 through 2022 to draw any real conclusions -- but he's been mostly healthy in 2023 and has delivered poor results, with little reason for optimism along the way. Unless the Orioles know something the rest of us don't, it's hard to see him turning things around all of a sudden. The walk rate is too high and the swinging-strike rate too low to view him as some sort of diamond in the rough.
Tommy Pham traded to Diamondbacks
Pham has had a resurgent season for the Mets but could struggle to find regular playing time with his new team. Ultimately, it depends how often the Diamondbacks are willing to sacrifice Alek Thomas' defense in center field, shifting Corbin Carroll there and allowing Pham to play left. It will happen sometimes, particularly against left-handed pitchers, but it won't happen all the time. Pham has been contending with a groin injury recently and was already losing playing time for the Mets as a result. Expect the trend to continue.
His departure, along with Mark Canha's to the Brewers, may have finally cleared a path for Ronny Mauricio, a 22-year-old with significant raw power and much improved contact skills. Though a natural shortstop, he's gotten exposure to various other positions this year in the hopes finding pay dirt, and of late, he's been playing left field the most. At this point, though, the Mets might just wait until late August to call up Mauricio so that he doesn't burn up his rookie eligibility (which could potentially score the Mets a bonus draft pick in the future, depending how next year's Rookie of the Year voting shakes out).
Jake Burger traded to Marlins
Aside from Jorge Soler -- who's no stranger to injuries, it's worth pointing out -- the Marlins lineup was lacking a veritable slugger. They add one of the purest of all in Burger, who's sort of the yin to Luis Arraez's yang, defined by his strikeouts and incredibly hard contact. It's the latter that's the draw, and to put it into context, only Matt Olson and Giancarlo Stanton have hit a ball harder than Burger this year. He's one of just 12 players with 25 or more home runs, and he has 42 fewer plate appearances than any of the others.
The playing time had become less of an issue with the White Sox allowing him to play second base in recent days, but he'll go back to his usual third base with the Marlins. His power is the sort that translates to any venue, of course, but you still have to expect a low batting average and low on-base percentage, making him a borderline player in most formats despite the big home run total. The Marlins did forfeit a quality pitching prospect in Jake Eder, who broke through with a 1.77 ERA at Double-A a couple years ago, but he's working his way back from Tommy John surgery and has only recently begun to look like himself back at Double-A. He'll have a much easier path with the White Sox than he would have with the Marlins.
Michael Lorenzen traded to Phillies
It seemed inevitable Lorenzen would be traded given that he's an impending free agent on a team going nowhere, and the Tigers indeed found a taker in the Phillies. The improved offensive support should benefit a guy who's gone 5-7, but do we really think Lorenzen is as good as his 3.58 ERA? His xERA and xFIP are both over 4.00, he has a long track record of mediocrity, and his 7.1 K/9 is actually worse than last year, when he had a 4.24 ERA.
He has been more efficient than a year, reducing his BB/9 from 4.1 to 2.3, and there's something to be said for logging six innings with regularity. If Taijuan Walker has a major league-leading 12 wins for the Phillies, then it's possible Lorenzen could see a similar benefit. But more likely, regression will hit him hard, and he'll now be in a more hitter-friendly environment when it does. We may look back and say the Phillies would have been better off sticking with Cristopher Sanchez, who appears to be out of luck now.
Justin Verlander traded to Astros
The two sides are of course intimately familiar with each other. Verlander helped lead the Astros to two World Series championships, including just last year. He wasn't going to replicate the feat for the Mets, which is why he's on his way out, and he does deserve some of the blame for their disappointing season. In some ways, his decline is to be expected seeing as he's 40 years old, but even so, this is shaping up to be his worst season since 2014. I should note that it's reflected mostly in his strikeout rate. He's still working deep into games and pitching to a 3.15 ERA, including 1.49 in his past seven starts. But this is a different Verlander than the one who won the Cy Young in 2022, and while it wouldn't be the most unbelievable development if the Astros helped him recapture some of his lost stuff, 40 is 40.
As for the ancillary parts of the deal, the Mets are getting a pretty good prospect in outfielder Drew Gilbert, the 28th pick in last year's draft who scintillated in A-ball to begin the year before struggling with his move up to Double-A. He's a high-energy, 5-foot-9 guy who reminds me a bit of Shane Victorino and should be patrolling the Citi Field outfield in the next year or two. Meanwhile, the Astros have a crowded rotation now, having already sent down Brandon Bielak to accommodate a returning Jose Urquidy. Maybe they use this trade as an opportunity to slow down rookie Hunter Brown, not that his innings situation is terrible. It's possible J.P. France or even Cristian Javier could have some turns skipped as well.
Jeimer Candelario traded to Cubs
Leaving aside the shortened 2020 campaign, Candelario is having a career season, but in a way that's not totally backed up by the data. Still, the Nationals were able to cash in, landing two interesting but flawed prospects in pitcher D.J. Herz and shortstop Kevin Made. The Cubs should have a pretty good idea what they're getting seeing as they're the ones who first brought Candelario to the majors in 2017. He's a disciplined hitter whose power manifests more as doubles than home runs. Fittingly, he fares better in points leagues, ranking ninth at third base in those formats compared to 15th in 5x5. He's likely to slip some from there, but not because he's joining the Cubs. Meanwhile, you can forget about Patrick Wisdom having a Fantasy impact the rest of the way.
Paul Sewald traded to Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks have driven us crazy with their ninth-inning choices this year, cycling between Andrew Chafin, Miguel Castro, Scott McGough and Kevin Ginkel for save chances with little patience for any missteps along the way. Sewald should help to stabilize things, serving as the true closer he's been for the Mariners since the middle of last season. His stock holds steady with this move, maybe ticking up slightly since there are fewer threats to his role.
What I mean by that is there's no Andres Munoz in Arizona. The right-hander is the clear winner of this deal for Fantasy Baseball purposes. He's a bat-misser extraordinaire with a fastball that peaks at 103 mph, and many thought he was poised to overtake Sewald this year if not for a shoulder strain early on. It's possible manager Scott Servais goes back to mixing and matching, as he did before settling on Sewald last year, but I suspect the Mariners only saw fit to move Sewald because they had Munoz waiting in the wings.
As for what the Mariners get back, Josh Rojas is a known quantity with little Fantasy appeal. Dominic Canzone and Ryan Bliss have both come out of nowhere to put up impressive numbers in the upper levels of the Diamondbacks system, which are known to be hitter-friendly. Both have long odds to becoming everyday big-leaguers, probably, but the 25-year-old Canzone had recently stepped into a part-time role for the Diamondbacks and could do the same for the Mariners.
Aaron Civale traded to Rays for Kyle Manzardo
Whenever the Rays make a head-scratcher of move, it's reasonable to wonder what they know that the rest of us don't (with Zach Eflin's franchise record contract this offseason being the latest example). By the looks of this deal, they gave up an exceptional minor-league hitting talent for an overachieving starting pitcher who we've long known to be a back-end innings-eater. It's true that Civale has pitched to a 2.34 ERA this year, but his 6.8 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 are both career-worsts. He's never been much of a bat-misser, and while he's done a good job avoiding the barrel so far, that's not the stickiest metric. It's only been good for a 3.67 xERA as it is, and other ERA estimators like xFIP (4.58) and SIERA (4.69) aren't any kinder. Regression was likely coming for Civale either way, but he'll at least have a better chance of collecting wins for the Rays.
What makes this trade really wild is the caliber of prospect going to the Guardians. While it's true Manzardo has had a down year at Triple-A, the underlying metrics paint a more promising picture, revealing high exit velocities and even higher contact rates. And lest you think that's a bunch of hocus pocus, Manzardo dominated the previous two levels last year with a .327 batting average, 22 home runs and a 1.043 OPS. The Rays never give their prospects an easy path, so the 23-year-old is probably better off with his new organization, profiling for an everyday job as soon as next year. It's just weird that the Rays would choose to use this trade chip in this way.
C.J. Cron, Randal Grichuk traded to Angels
It was a good ride for Cron, but the fact is that Coors Field was the source of his strength, at least with regard to him being a fixture in Fantasy. He's a career .307 hitter with a .977 OPS there compared to .251 and .758 everywhere else. In fact, he actually got his start with the Angels in 2014, and while he put up decent numbers there in four seasons, they weren't enough to make him a player of real consequence. And seeing as he bats right-handed and has minimal on-base skills, it's not even certain he'll get everyday at-bats, particularly once Brandon Drury and/or Anthony Rendon are healthy.
The move might be even worse for Grichuk. He had finally begun to take to his hitter-friendly home, batting .350 (21 for 60) with six home runs in July, but he, like Cron, was more of a one-note role player before arriving in Colorado. And once Mike Trout is off the IL, Grichuk may have to settle for the lesser half of a platoon with Mickey Moniak. If there's a silver lining to this deal, it's that Cron's and Grichuk's departure from Colorado should end the uncertainty over Nolan Jones' playing time as well as creating more opportunities for Michael Toglia and Elehuris Montero, not that either is thought to have significant upside.
Jordan Montgomery traded to Rangers
Montgomery has been his usual steady-but-unspectacular self since coming over to the Cardinals when they were buyers at last year's deadline, but it hasn't translated as well to their losing ways this year, hence the 6-9 record. Going to an offensive juggernaut like the Rangers should help with run support at least, and since wins are the single most valuable pitching statistic in most scoring formats, that's reason to elevate him in Fantasy. It helps that he's done a better job working deep into games this year, going six-plus innings in eight of his last nine starts.
There is the question of who gets bumped from the Rangers rotation with Montgomery and Max Scherzer now in the fold. Nathan Eovaldi (forearm) is on the IL for at least the next couple weeks, and I'm guessing Dane Dunning would fit better in the bullpen than, say, Martin Perez. Fantasy Baseballers might prefer it the other way, though, even with Dunning showing signs of fading.
Jordan Hicks traded to Blue Jays
The Blue Jays needed some late-inning relief help after recently losing closer Joran Romano to back inflammation, and they landed one of the most coveted right-handers on the market in Hicks. The 26-year-old has always gotten outsized attention as a closer candidate because he throws exceptionally hard, his fastball peaking at 103 mph, but his numbers are more pedestrian than you'd think considering. Presumably, he'll be the one filling in for Romano just because he has more closing experience than, say, Erik Swanson, but he's no threat to keep the role once Romano is healthy and may actually lose some Fantasy value with this deal. Left-hander JoJo Romero got the first save in Hicks' absence Sunday, but Giovanny Gallegos has closing experience as well. Expect the Cardinals to mix and match until Ryan Helsley (forearm) is set to return.
Max Scherzer traded to Rangers
The Rangers pitching staff has held its own despite losing ace Jacob deGrom to Tommy John surgery, but with Nathan Eovaldi wearing down and Dane Dunning beginning to show cracks, they needed something more durable and dependable. Do those words still accurately describe Scherzer at age 39? It's easy to nitpick given his track record and contract, but even if the decline has begun to set in, he fits that description better than anyone else in the Rangers rotation.
The strikeouts have begun to trend up at least. Over his past eight starts, he has 10.8 K/9 but also a modest 3.53 ERA thanks to 13 home runs during that stretch. The long ball has been his biggest issue this year, and it's not likely to get any better at his new home. He will have the best offense in baseball backing him now, but it's not like wins have been a problem to this point, judging by his 9-4 record. His stock remains the same, more or less.
How does this move change the rotation picture for the Rangers and Mets? Dunning has some relief experience and may be better served as a long man. It would effectively destroy his Fantasy Baseball value, but any one injury would likely welcome him back into the rotation. While the Mets have some interesting up-and-coming arms, the rotation opening would likely be filled by either David Peterson or Tylor Megill, both of whom are of minimal interest.
Lance Lynn traded to Dodgers
As much as can be said for any organization, the Dodgers know what they're doing, so the very fact they traded for Lynn serves as validation for a Fantasy writer who has continued to hold out hope during a career-worst season, one that includes a 16-strikeout effort, a one-hit, 11-strikeout effort and, hmm ... not much else. Even I must admit I had mostly soured on Lynn after seeing him allow 13 earned runs over 11 1/3 innings in his last two starts, but this trade does rekindle mild optimism. It's been difficult to pinpoint what exactly has gone wrong for Lynn this year. Sure, he's 36, but usually age-related declined is reflected in the stuff itself. Lynn has the best swinging-strike rate of his career, and his 26.9 percent strikeout rate ranks 15th among qualifiers, ahead of Shane McClanahan and Corbin Burnes.
Maybe the Dodgers know something. Maybe they've identified some tweak that could click everything back into place. Or maybe just removing Lynn from a stale environment and inserting him into a playoff race will ignite his competitive fire. In any case, he's deserving of a little more patience in Fantasy.
David Robertson traded to Marlins
The Marlins were thought to be on the verge of making a closer change anyway, given A.J. Puk's recent struggles. Robertson brings experience and stability to the role and should claim it without much drama. My one hesitation is that both Puk and the Marlins' other high-leverage arm, Tanner Scott, throw left-handed, which might encourage certain other clubs to deploy the right-handed Robertson in a more situation fashion. But manager Skip Schumaker has held to traditional bullpen roles for the most part, and it's hard to imagine him stopping now.
The biggest question is what the Mets now do with the ninth-inning role. Adam Ottavino has been their backup closer dating back to last year, but he's an impending free agent, too, which could mean he's following Robertson out the door. Left-hander Brooks Raley got the save Thursday and might be the better choice if you have to make one.
Carlos Santana traded to Brewers
Santana is a shell of the player he once was, but he is having his best season in four years and now gets a chance to continue it for a contender. American Family Field is the most hitter-friendly park he's even had the pleasure of calling home, so this move opens the door for even better numbers moving forward. He's not a priority pickup by any means, but particularly in leagues that reward walks, he has some fringe appeal. You do have to wonder what his arrival means for Rowdy Tellez, who's currently sidelined by a lacerated finger but has had a disappointing season so far. The DH spot allows the Brewers to field both, if they so choose.
Lucas Giolito traded to Angels
With the Angels committed to one last gasp with Ohtani, they needed a pitcher to pair with him at the top of their rotation. They landed one of the best on the market in Giolito, who has followed up a disappointing 2022 with a fine performance this year. Of course, the improvement is mostly confined to his ERA. He hasn't returned to being the bat-misser he was pre-2022, and most ERA estimators say he's overperforming as a result.
Nonetheless, there isn't much reason to believe a move to the Angels will impact his fate. On the one hand, he never seemed particularly fond of pitching at Guaranteed Rate Field, putting together a career 4.60 ERA there compared to 3.94 everywhere else. On the other, he's joining a team that tends to stick with a six-man rotation to build in enough rest for Ohtani. Unless the Angels make an exception for Giolito, keeping him on regular rest, he may not have many two-start weeks ahead of him.
The White Sox are also giving up reliever Reynaldo Lopez in the deal, but for a couple rentals, the prospect return is strong. Edgar Quero is a consensus top-100 guy as a bat-first catcher who was hurried to Double-A, holding his own there at age 20. Ky Bush is a big left-hander and former second-round pick who could turn into a rotation piece if he can come up with something that pairs well with his slider.
Amed Rosario traded to Dodgers for Noah Syndergaard
The Dodgers have done well for having Miguel Rojas (with a pinch of Mookie Betts) as their shortstop so far, but that changes with the acquisition of Rosario, a 27-year-old who was regarded as a first-division regular as recently as a year ago. He's been stuck in the doldrums this year, but he's always been a better second-half performer. Surely no one will be surprised if this change of scenery turns him into a .300 hitter with a pretty good stolen base total down the stretch.
Curiously, the Guardians acquired Syndergaard in the deal, which means they're not waving the white flag yet. It's an exchange of one expiring contract for another, so presumably they think Syndergaard will be of some use down the stretch. He's been out since early June with a blister but is nearing a return. It's just hard to imagine he has anything left after the way his past two seasons have gone. Perhaps they see it as a worthy gamble given all of their young shortstops on the verge of breaking through. Gabriel Arias and Tyler Freeman are already on the major-league roster while Brayan Rocchio offers a Rosario-like skill set down at Triple-A.