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The trade deadline party is over, we slept it off, and now it’s time to go back through the photos to figure out what exactly happened. I’m Levi Weaver, here with Ken Rosenthal — welcome to The Windup!
A, B, C — easy as 1, 2, 3
Remember yesterday, when I said I wanted to include all the trades that happened, but it would make the newsletter too long? Well, Jim Bowden has done the unthinkable: Not only has he graded each team’s deadline work, but he has a handy little list of every player acquired by/traded from each team.
• I still can’t get over the AL Central. What a mess. The Twins currently lead by two games over the Guardians, who traded away their most productive pitcher and have two of their best pitchers on the IL. Seems like a golden opportunity, right? But the Twins stood pat, pulling off a change-of-scenery reliever-for-reliever trade, bringing in a 25-year-old reliever who has bounced between High A and Double A for the last three years, and … that’s it.
• The rest of the Central was equally uninspiring, except for the White Sox, who did a good job of selling, which I’m sure makes their fans feel better about 2023.
• By now, you’ve probably heard that the Rangers and Astros loaded up for an epic AL West run, but the Rays also had a very active deadline, making seven trades, mostly for pitchers to shore up an injury-addled staff. They’re currently 1 1/2 games behind the Orioles in the AL East, but certainly approached the deadline with more urgency than Baltimore, which opted for a couple of rather under-the-radar moves with Jack Flaherty and Shintaro Fujinami.
• Similarly, the Brewers didn’t make any huge lineup additions — nobody did, as Jayson Stark points out — but they addressed their needs with some less exciting moves, acquiring Carlos Santana and Mark Canha while also pulling off a fascinating trade with Arizona, bringing in Andrew Chafin in a one-for-one deal for Peter Strzelecki.
The Red Sox’s ill-conceived buy/sell strategy at the 2022 trade deadline included the departure of catcher Christian Vázquez, a move that upset former shortstop Xander Bogaerts and other players. Justin Turner’s leadership means even more to this year’s team than Vázquez’s presence did to last year’s. Yet, according to sources briefed on the matter, the Red Sox had extensive discussions about trading Turner to the Marlins, a team that pursued him last offseason.
The Marlins felt they were close to acquiring Turner. When the proposed deal fell through, they pivoted to trades for two other hitters, Josh Bell and Jake Burger. What the Red Sox would have received in return for Turner is not known. But for president of baseball operations Chaim Bloom to again consider disrupting his clubhouse in the middle of an encouraging season, the package must have been enticing. The Marlins are deep in controllable starting pitching, precisely what Bloom was seeking to acquire at the deadline.
Why would the Red Sox even consider moving Turner, who could become a free agent if he declines his $13.4 million player option for next season, when his value to them extends far beyond his 17 home runs and .837 OPS? It’s just the way modern front offices operate, gauging values of players, setting a bar for a return and generally acting if a potential trade partner exceeds that standard.
The Red Sox were among the teams that got shut out in the thin starting-pitching market, along with the Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Braves and Reds. But according to sources, they were one of the clubs that pursued a deal for the most accomplished starter who did get moved — three-time Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander.
The Mets ultimately sent Verlander to his preferred choice, his previous team, the Astros. Verlander, who is under contract through next season with a conditional player option for 2025, might not have waived his no-trade clause for any club but Houston. But his career numbers at Fenway Park — a 3.46 ERA in 75 1/3 innings, including two postseason appearances — probably would not have been a deterrent.
More Deadline Recap: Eno Sarris looks at the deadline deals through a slightly different lens: who added (and lost) the most projected value?
Tell my friends I’m coming down
His trip to Kansas City was said to be coincidental, but you had to think that Mets owner Steve Cohen would talk to the media after Max Scherzer’s comments about their conversation, during which Scherzer says Cohen told him the team’s strategy was aimed more at winning in 2025-26 rather than next year.
He did just that yesterday at Kaufman Stadium, and Cohen more or less confirmed Scherzer’s side of the story. While he knew it would take some time for the players to process the subtractions from the roster, he pointed out that he was being consistent.
“I’m surprised you’d be surprised,” he said Wednesday. “Because what did I say (in June)? I said I wanted sustainability. If we were in the same position, I wasn’t going to add.”
Well, sure. But there’s a fairly large abyss between “not adding” and what happened this week with the Mets.
What was maybe the biggest revelation came when Cohen addressed free agency. The Mets have been one of the big-market teams expected to bid for Shohei Ohtani’s services this winter. About that …
“It doesn’t mean we’re not going to bring in free agents. It may not be to the extent that we did in the past because I’m carrying a lot of dead money. But trading Justin and Max creates a lot of dead money.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean it absolutely won’t happen. Cohen proved this week that he knows how to shift strategies when an opportunity presents itself.
I don’t wanna leave right now
It was the hot gossip of the final hour before the deadline: The Dodgers and Tigers had a deal in place to send Eduardo Rodriguez to Los Angeles, but the pitcher invoked his no-trade clause to remain in Detroit. It was a surprise — even to his former teammates Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez, who reached out to Rodriguez as the deadline approached.
On Wednesday, Rodriguez pitched six innings — two runs on seven hits, five strikeouts in a win in Pittsburgh — and talked to the press afterward about the decision.
Rodriguez declined to explain exactly why he opted not to join the Dodgers, instead using a few variations on a theme: “The details of the trade (weren’t) where I wanted for me and my family. I decided to stay here in Detroit.”
As Ken writes here, if that was the beginning and the end of the issue, it’s hard to blame Rodriguez for acting in the best interests of his family. But man, it’s a messy situation.
The question now — how long will he actually stay in Detroit? He has an opt-out at the end of this season. Alternatively, he could decide to stick around for an additional three years and $49 million. Given his performance on the field, it would seem that he could make more by testing the free-agent waters.
But then again, maybe he’s just happy in Detroit.
Handshakes and High Fives
The Cubs have beaten the Reds by a combined score of 36-15 over the last two days. That doesn’t say much for the pitching, but it is an example of how the team’s play convinced president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer that they should be buyers at the deadline.
On June 28, Domingo Germán threw a perfect game in Oakland. On Wednesday, he was placed on the restricted list, voluntarily agreeing to enter inpatient treatment for alcohol abuse, and will not pitch again for the Yankees this year.
When Dave Henderson passed away unexpectedly in 2015, he left behind two sons, one of whom has been diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome. Today, his foundation continues to raise awareness and funds to help with the treatment of the disease.
For the first half of the season, the entire baseball world rallied around White Sox closer Liam Hendriks as he returned from cancer to take a big-league mound again. Unfortunately, Hendriks only pitched five innings before injuring his elbow. He underwent surgery this week, and the expected return time is 12-14 months, which likely scuttles the 2024 season as well.
Once in a while, you just need a good assessment of where a team is and where they’re going. After the Guardians’ somewhat-perplexing deadline, that time is now, and Zack Meisel sticks the landing.
Podcast corner: Stephen Nesbitt and I look at the trade deadline and preview Dodgers/Padres on On Deck, and No Bunts sat down with longtime sports videographer Larry French to talk about his career, including many years covering the Atlanta Braves.
(Photo of Justin Turner: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images)