MLB Trade Deadline winners and losers: Juan Soto, the Astros, and the playoff race that just got more fun

Whatever you prefer in baseball transactions, this MLB trade deadline probably had you covered. Phenomenal megadeal for an established superstar who can’t rent a car? the inspection. A straight-up challenge trade between two teams who know what they’re doing? the inspection! A non-trading segment redirect that creates a clear ripple effect for multiple players? Check also. And trades that make you go “huh?” it is said. Mark it as checked.

A slow construction business season exploded into fireworks Tuesday when the San Diego Padres stripped down their farming system to garner two and a half years of Juan Soto and a segment of Josh Bell in a historic blockbuster. With quality pitchers like Luis Castillo and Frankie Montas, the deadline reshaped some of the ongoing stories of the 2022 season and reinforced others. It produced winners, and it produced losers. Here are some of them, as we see them now.

Winner: Juan Soto

Slightly lost in the shuffle of implications for the Padres and civilians was the result of a trade for Soto himself. It seems the past few weeks have been tough enough for a player who, when asked not to trade, be thrown out of the organization he has been called since his teen years. The next few days and weeks can be tough on a personal level as well – nobody likes to walk around. But the next two and a half years probably turned brighter when Washington decided to accept San Diego’s offer.

Soto will no longer wonder if the team around him is in it to win it. They won’t be surprised if the front office is willing to eliminate the monster extension. He probably won’t have to worry about whether he’ll get a chance to play in October. He’s now back in somewhat familiar status – remember how the 2019 citizens looked?! – Being a bright star in a jaw-dropping constellation of bright stars. He will take the field with Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. behind Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove and others.

It’s possible his long-term future will remain unresolved until the winter after 2024, but it won’t be front and center as if it had been on a dying national team. No, until then, he’ll have the best possible distraction: winning a baseball game and chasing the World Series.

Also, I’ve heard that the weather in San Diego is nice.

Wanna race? Atlanta Braves right fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. is one of several stars who could be involved in a tight NL playoff hunt. (Photo by David J. Griffin / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Winner: NL Playoff Race

So, it’s not because of Soto, but because the NL playoff race got some extra juice on the deadline. The Phillies hit some shiny holes with reliever David Robertson, starter Noah Syndergaard and center fielder Brandon Marsh. The Cardinals added two reliable starting pitchers in Jordan Montgomery and Jose Quintana. The Giants refused to sell Carlos Rodan. The Brewers went from Josh Hader to add a little intrigue to an otherwise similar looking roaster.

And the Mets and Braves made some changes as they prepared to race for the NL East Crown, with the Braves making more of a dent than the division-leading Mets.

It all adds up to a race, where more teams are trying than spot, and more previous teams trying to catch, or at least threaten, with the goods.

Loser: AL Playoff Race

Quite the opposite happened in the American League. Leaders strengthened their positions – especially the Twins reinforcing their weak pitching staff – while potential challengers sat on their hands. The Cleveland Guardians did nothing, while the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles sold a few pieces.

We have three very different levels:

  • Juggernauts: Yankees, Astroso

  • Solid contenders: Blue Jays, Twins, Mariners and Rays

  • Also-ran: Guardians, Orioles, Red Sox and White Sox

any of those three-rans could Take the leap and get someone, maybe a team hit by an injury. But none of them made much effort for upward mobility this week.

The most interesting race the Seattle Mariners could have against their history. Trying to end a terrible playoff drought, Seattle went out and found the best pitcher ever to move to Castillo. They’re in the second wild-card spot (out of three, remember) and must be equipped to catch it if the universe doesn’t intervene.

It could make for a dazzling set of playoff series, but right now the AL’s set of contenders is too rigidly defined in the way of thrilling September Baseball.

Winner: Houston Astros

The Astros are playing for October as usual. To deal with an extreme state of strength, they managed to do everything quietly, without leaving much behind.

Coming in are Trey Mancini, the Orioles mainstay who fits their offensive philosophy and could be upside down thanks to a more friendly park, and Christian Vazquez, a Red Sox catcher who has serious teaming up with Martin Maldonado. Defensives are bonafide. Also joining are Atlanta left-handed reliever Will Smith, who got him by flipping Jake Odorizzi, a starting pitcher who was already a strange man as Lance McCullers Jr. prepared to return from injury.

Instead of a story about the Yankees playing at record speeds, season one has evolved into a march toward a Yankees-Astros showdown.

Both teams made smart moves to steel themselves for that clash, but the Astros covered their bases more seamlessly than a Yankee team that dropped starter Jordan Montgomery after adding Frankie Montas.

Loser: New York Mets

The Mets took back Jacob deGrom Tuesday night, which is absolutely a win (even if he ends up losing). The rest of his deadline left something to be desired. After a light show of one season, Billy Appler didn’t really take advantage of owner Steve Cohen’s excessive desire to spend. He went for a bargain bin solution in DH with the Daniel Vogelbach-Darin Roof platoon, and didn’t get a big league lefty reliever.

The elephant in the room for the Mets’ deadline was Wilson Contreras, a catcher who could have dramatically improved his offense in position if James McCann had come back from injury playing better, or if Tomas Nido was a better fit. Did my business in DH. defensively. As it turns out, no one got Contreras from the Cubs, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise if the Mets work hard to find an offer that may have changed their mind.

Winner: Joey Gallo

The most disastrous business deadline takeover of last season was so bad that getting out of New York was a win.

The Yankees acquired Gallo last year and have since seen him hit .159/.291/.368 with 12 homers in 140 games. Gallo is probably the purest three true results player in baseball, but that level of blank batsmen made him a prime target of rage for Yankees fans. The treatment left him calling his time in the Bronx “rock bottom.”

A gallo trade was a foregone conclusion after the Yankees acquired left fielder Andrew Benintendi, and found him a favorable landing spot. The Los Angeles Dodgers are known for their ability to overhaul talented but flawed players, and Gallo certainly fits that bill.

The Dodgers believed in Gallo enough, they traded capable bench bat Jake Lamb to make room for him, and now we’ll see if Gallo can get any of the hot streaks that made him an All-Star in Texas.

Loser: Luke Voita

Being on the Padres sounds like a fun experience right now. Being on nations seems to be the opposite.

Thanks to an Eric Hosmer, Luke Voight has gone from former to latter. Hosmer was reportedly part of the initial Soto trade, but he refused to drop his no-trade clause. Hosmer eventually landed on the Boston Red Sox, but the Padres went and traded Hosmer for Wyatt.

Voight is now set to replace Josh Bell as the Nationals’ starting baseman, which is a serious way to spend his last two months before free agency.

Winner: Cincinnati Reds

Staying away from good players isn’t fun, but it can undoubtedly pay off. The Reds disbanded the Rebuild Band-Aid in painful fashion over the winter, but held Castillo and Tyler Mahle in the rotation. It turned out to be a prudent move from GM Nick Kroll.

They started with two of the best three on the market, and got full value for them. The brightest award is Noelvi Marte, a shortstop that came from the Mariners as one of the 15 Best Prospects in Baseball. It’s a tough type of talent (when you’re not trading Juan Soto), and he’s found with a lot of other promising young people.

Chicago Cubs catcher Wilson Contreras says goodbye to fans after a game at Wrigley Field. (Erin Huley / Chicago Tribune / Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Loser: Chicago Cubs

The Cubs… didn’t have a useful trading deadline. In a similar mid-rebuilding stance, the Cubs somehow failed to find a package they liked for Contreras, their longtime catcher who would reach free agency at the end of the season. Business speculation around him was so intense that last week Wrigley Field essentially bid him farewell. Turns out, he’ll be back!

At least for a couple of months. After that, they might offer him to stay, but the intention was clearly to trade him. This raises questions about how other teams view his defense, and about whether the Cubs missed an opportunity somewhere along the line.

At the very least, they can still make him a qualifying offer and compensate for a draft pick if he leaves, but that also may not be an attractive prospect if other teams don’t see him as a star catcher. Huh.

Loser: Colorado Rockies

Speaking of inaction. Another year, another trade deadline ain’t nothing to do with the Rockies.

Colorado was the only MLB club not to make a single trade on the deadline, which is puzzling as they should clearly sell 46-58 in a stacked NL West. Instead of tackling him, he escalated Danielle Byrd, which you might have missed among the braves taking down real superstar Austin Riley. The Rockies were, as always, in a world of their own.

Again, this is the team that gave the versatile Kris Bryant $182 million to be their daily left fielder, so maybe we should stop to wonder.

Loser: The Lerner Family

One MLB team entered the trade deadline with Juan Soto, a different team exited the trade deadline with Juan Soto. It is impossible to call the former team anything other than a loser, even more so when you look at the extensive history.

The Lerner family, which has owned the Citizens since 2006, once employed Soto, Bryce Harper, Tree Turner, Max Scherzer, Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasberg at the same time. His collection of top-line talent in baseball was remarkable.

Then Harper left, when the Learners were unwilling to meet his $330 million price tag. That was fine, he still had plenty of other All-Stars, as evidenced by his World Series title the following year. Then Rendon left the following season while the team held on to Strasbourg. Then they baited Turner and Shazer and now Soto.

The Nations at least learned their lesson and extracted more value as the process for an outgoing star became more familiar, but it’s hard to deny that a hallmark of the Nationals under Lerners, who was reportedly in the process of selling the team. Yes, great players are going.

The net’s prospects for Soto may be an All-Stars, but there’s no other sort of thing to be said about the nation’s lead at this point.