A summary of Thursday’s MLB trade deadline madness

Nationals starter Max Scherzer delivers a pitch during the fifth inning of NLDS Game 5.

Under ordinary circumstances, the White Sox trading for a second baseman (César Hernández) and a reliable reliever (Ryan Tepera) would constitute a busy day at the office for any MLB front office.

Then the Dodgers showed up.

With such a distinct division between buyers and sellers, it could’ve set the stage for a general complacency. Instead, it became an arms race, especially in the NL West, where the Dodgers added another ace starter and an All-Star shortstop when it seemed like the Padres were closing in on the former.

Here’s a quick look at what happened on the last full day of the 2021 before the trade deadline, which arrives this afternoon at 3 p.m. CT.

Dodgers trade for Max Scherzer, Trea Turner

Assuming it goes through, the Dodgers will have given up a haul for two-plus months of Scherzer and an extra year of Turner, who was placed on the COVID-19 IL earlier Thursday. It cost four prospects, two in the top 100. The headliners are Keibert Ruiz (No. 16 prospect according to Baseball America) and right-handed pitcher Josiah Gray (No. 59), along with Double-A righty Gerardo Carillo and Double-A outfielder Donovan Casey. It’s the deal they can afford to do, partially because they have a second catcher ranked in the top 100.

The Dodgers now can throw Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler in any order during a postseason series. They can also run out this lineup when everybody’s healthy:

Bellinger has been fighting a hamstring strain for a lot of the season. Seager and Betts are on the injured list, but they’re supposed to come off the shelf this weekend.

Dodgers trade for Danny Duffy

At one point on Thursday, Scherzer appeared to be headed to the San Diego Padres. I suppose his fate was uncertain enough to the point that the Dodgers acquired Duffy from Kansas City with cash for a player to be named later. Duffy is on the injured list with a flexor strain, but the PTBNL is not contingent on Duffy’s health.

Duffy, the reigning Most AL Central Pitcher, first surfaced with the Royals back in 2011. He went 68-68 with a 3.95 ERA over 234 games with Kansas City, and 10-7 with a 4.28 ERA in 27 games and 141 innings against the White Sox.

Padres trade for Daniel Hudson

Having missed out on the market’s best starter, the Padres had to settle for one of the market’s best relievers. Hudson racked up 48 strikeouts against seven walks over 32⅔ innings for the Nationals before being one of numerous Nats to land on the COVID-19 IL Thursday morning. The Padres traded pitching prospect Mason Thompson and A-ball shortstop Jordy Barley. That’s a price the White Sox could have paid, but Tepera also does the job.

Red Sox trade for Kyle Schwarber

Schwarber’s injury basically ended the Nationals’ hopes for a midseason rally. Before straining his right hamstring on July 2, Schwarber belted 16 homers over a 21-game period, helping push the Nats two games over .500 by the end of June. The Nats went 6-16 without him in July, and he’s still a couple of weeks away from returning, which is why he only cost A-ball pitching prospect Aldo Ramirez. If he’s able to return to the field in full working order, he’ll probably help out the Red Sox at DH and first base, where Bobby Dalbec isn’t getting the job done.

Mariners trade for Diego Castillo

The Mariners’ controversial trade of Kendall Graveman to the Houston Astros now makes more sense, as Jerry Dipoto replaced his former closer with Tampa Bay’s closer. Graveman’s having the better season, but he’s also a free agent after the season, whereas Castillo is under team control for three years beyond this one. He’s hoping that Abraham Toro is worth the temporary headaches at third base.

Because the Mariners acquired Toro at the major-league level, they could part with third base prospect Austin Shenton, who has been raking all season. They also sent righty reliever JT Chargois, who might replace Castillo in a deep Tampa Bay bullpen.

Yankees trade for Anthony Rizzo

While the Cubs had previously traded Tepera and Joc Pederson, they finally cut to the bone by sending their captain to the Yankees. It seems as though the Cubs fared well enough for an impending free-agent first baseman having an average season, getting a 50 FV prospect in center fielder Kevin Alcantara, and a 45 FV A-ball pitcher in Alexander Vizcaino. It helped that the Red Sox were also eyeing Rizzo to replace the aforementioned Dalbec.

Rizzo will instead plug into the void at first base, where neither DJ Lemahieu nor Luke Voit have been what the Yankees have needed. The short porch in right field should be inviting for both Rizzo and Joey Gallo, whose late-breaking trade on Tuesday night was made official Wednesday morning.

Blue Jays trade for Brad Hand

The Nationals traded a whole host of capable veterans on Wednesday, starting in the morning by sending their closer to Toronto for 25-year-old catcher Riley Adams, whose performance at Triple-A hadn’t yet translated to success in a small sample with the Blue Jays. Hand had been nails until a series of ugly outings in July, including three blown saves and a loss in a tie game over a stretch of five appearances.

(Photo by Arturo Pardavila IIII)

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I don’t know how a team like the Pirates competes with the Dodgers

Using the analysis from fangraphs the Dodgers regional television agreement pays them 239 million a year

The Angels are second 138 and the White Sox are third at 120 million

The Pirates are at 44 million…KC is similar for example

Even with the luxury tax and some of the revenue sharing components the gaps are pretty stark.

This model makes for an entertaining deadline, but I don’t think it is good for long term fan interest.


Plus, these top clubs seem to also have great farm systems which allows them to outcompete at both the trade deadline and on the free agent market


Same reaction. Entertaining, but it just reinforces that a handful of teams can snap up players at will. It isn’t just the buying, it is also the selling as some fans are caught off guard to see their favorite players traded away when organizations decide that is the most sensible course of action.


48% of those local revenues are subject to revenue sharing. The Pirates have plenty of money coming in. Bob Nutting just refuses to spend it.


What is their revenue sharing payment then? Because even if you take 48 percent away the Dodgers are still netting over a 100 million

I’m not saying you are wrong but show me some numbers where they close the gap.


Baseballs lack of a salary cap and floor boggles my mind. I am equally upset when the elites get to spend 200 mil every year as I am when the small market clubs hoard cash and run out payrolls that are lower then their non ticket sale revenues. Pick a system that sets a floor and a ceiling.


Players Union won’t allow a salary cap, Owners won’t allow a salary floor. Both get what they want.

Trooper Galactus

Bull shit. The Pirates don’t even spend the money from their TV deal. They’re pocketing every penny from revenue sharing and attendance. They could spend two to three times what they do and be pretty competitive, they just don’t. When teams don’t have a financial incentive to draw fans, they don’t feel obligated to compete.


Quantify that…show me some numbers to back up your claim.


A bit dated, but from BR:

In Major League Baseball, 48% of local revenues are subject to revenue sharing and are distributed equally among all 30 teams, with each team receiving 3.3% of the total sum generated. As a result, in 2018, each team received $118 million from this pot. Teams also receive a share of national revenues, which were estimated to be $91 million per team, also in 2018.


If that is the breakdown then that furthers my point that there is a significant gap between the Pirates and Dodgers. A gap that makes it extremely difficult for teams like the Pirates to compete.


I can’t promise I’ll try. But I’ll try to try.


I don’t know. To me that sounds each team gets $209 million plus 52% of their local revenue generated. I know it costs money to run the team beyond player salaries, but carrying a player payroll of less than $100 million should be frowned upon by MLB and other owners.


The issue is the revenue sharing doesn’t do enough to offset the small market to big market gap. It seems to me you would either have to not have equal payouts to each team or some other methodology to make it more level.

As Cirensica

We can’t show actual numbers. Owners are very protective of their financials, and they have no right to show anything. Trooper can guess estimate base don known figures, on the other hand nobody can attest their owners cry-poor side because they don’t show anything.


This model makes for an entertaining deadline, but I don’t think it is good for long term fan interest.”

Totally agree with this part. The stark “blockbuster-superstar buyers” vs. “we’re not great this year so let’s tear it all down and scorched-earth rebuild for several years” isn’t great either. It’s becoming exhaustingly formulaic.


All in all, seems most playoff teams were strengthened significantly while the Sox were strengthened marginally.

Unless Bummer and Heuer really turn it on the last few months, unlikely this bullpen will be able to hold off the lineups they will he up against.

Root Cause

If we played the Dodgers 100 times, they might win 70 of them. But somewhere in there, we would see a 4-0, 4-3, or 7-10 in our favor. Better teams beat the odds but luck and timing play into the best of 7 series.

I am just glad we got some middle-inning pain relief. Aleve should sponsor Tepera when he trots out of the bullpen.

Last edited 2 years ago by Root Cause

Really hoping for another reliever


It’ll be an honor just to be nominated for the World Series.


I get the Dodgers love. That’s an unreal team. But it got me thinking: is it really farfetched for a healthy White Sox to match up with them in October? Okay, so Scherzer-Kershaw-Buehler. Would it shock anyone if Lynn-Rodón-Giolito stood toe-to-toe with them? Both are offensive juggernauts and I’m not sure there’s a clear winner. The Dodgers bullpen has been just as shaky, if not shakier, than the Sox, and I take Hendriks over Jansen.

I’d say the Dodgers’ edge is in their depth and experience—experience in that as a team they’ve been there and in that the players have longer track records (e.g., Kershaw is a better bet to be good than Rodón). So, maybe the White Sox would feel overmatched. But on paper, I don’t see any reason why the Sox couldn’t match up with them if both teams are healthy and firing on all cylinders in October.


Still two months to go in an injury-filled season. Will be interested to see what kind of condition playoff rosters are in


I wish the Sox had a decent enough starting pitching prospect to work into the rotation to give guys extra rest. Like Brandon McCarthy in 2005 (though I believe he just filled in for Orlando Hernandez as opposed to adding a 6th starter). I feel like extra rest for Rodon will have a big impact on his quality in October.


Doesn’t a 9 game lead in a horrible division afford them the same opportunity to rest guys?


Without a credible 6th starter, anyone taking those starts is going to tax the bullpen.

For example, you could run Reynaldo Lopez out there but the pen will need to cover like 6 innings


I understand your point, but call this a crazy idea:
Yesterday’s lineup looks like a punt for all intensive purpose. If they can take 2 out of 3 from the Indians, maybe it affords them to option to chance a Reynaldo + Matt Foster game, results be damned.

I will hang up and listen. Please don’t Bernstein me.


*Intents and purposes.

Also they don’t have the massive roster expansion in September anymore so it’s harder to make a throwaway pitching lineup. Practically impossible at this time of year


So just to clear:

Cesar Hernandez matches up with Trea Turner
Engel/Sheets matches up with Mookie Betts
Abreu (at his current age) matches up with Muncy
Giolito matches up with Buehler
Carlos Rodon matches up with Scherzer

Upon further review, no, the Sox do not match up well against the Dodgers. They would get slaughtered in a series against them.


I don’t agree with your logic. Why are you comparing position players against each other? I’m most confused by comparing Engel and Sheets to Betts.

Pitchers, go ahead and compare, maybe. Overall, the Sox would match up with the Dodgers better than most.


Well, no, that isn’t a clear representation of what I said. I said the White Sox match up well with the Dodgers, which is not the same thing as saying the White Sox match up at every position with the Dodgers. So, even if all the comparisons you offered were clear Dodger wins (they aren’t), what I said could still be correct. 

In my head, I was loosely chopping it up like this: infield, outfield, position player depth, top of the rotation, back of the bullpen, pitching depth (I divided pitching like this since the top of the rotation/back of the bullpen are disproportionately important in the playoffs). I’ve admitted the Dodgers have more depth (though I think there’s a case to be made that the Sox have better pitching depth) and I added the caveat of relatively good health and performance. Here’s how I would break it down:

·      Infield: Grandal, Abreu, Hernandez, Anderson, Moncada vs. Smith, Muncy, Trea Turner, Seager, Justin Turner. 
·      Outfield: Eloy, Robert, Vaughn, Engel vs. Pollock, Bellinger, Betts, Taylor. 
·      Top of the Rotation: Lynn, Rodón, Giolito vs. Scherzer, Kershaw, Buehler 
·      Back of Bullpen: Hendriks, Kopech, Bummer/Tepera? vs. Jansen, Treinen, Kelly? 

The only parts I think are clear wins are Dodgers in OF and Sox in Bullpen, but I don’t think either are blowouts—especially if Vaughn is closer to July Vaughn than April Vaughn. Infield and top of the rotation are both too close to call, for my money. So, overall, I’d go slight Dodgers, but based on what each team runs out on paper, I have no idea why you think the Sox would “get slaughtered” in a series against them.  


Apart from a couple 3-run home runs in the 8th and 9th inning this fortnight, I haven’t seen enough late innings rallies from the Sox to believe they pull off a win in a Scherzer or Buehler pitched game. Let’s assume Lynn and Scherzer pitch a 1-1 game through six innings, I would say advantage Dodgers.

That lineup has more comebacks in them. Abreu and Moncada have to show me more in ’21.


If Bauer comes back, that’s another top 5 or 10 mlb starter.

Any team can beat another in a 7 games series in baseball, with some luck. But if these two teams played enough games, there is no question who would come out on top. Same could be said of any team playing the Dodgers. The Scherzer/Turner trade is terrible for baseball really.

But Sox chances of playing the Dodgers are a hell of a lot more realistic than they were two days ago. Just hope the offense gets going and they are all healthy and playing by the start of September to get ready for October. They are going to have some tough series ahead of them.

Last edited 2 years ago by jhomeslice

It’s pretty remarkable that the Nationals had this many good players worth trading and still weren’t good this year. Baseball is a tough sport


Their issues stem from the big money guys who *didn’t* get traded. Namely, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin.


Oh I understand. Over the past 10+ years, I’ve followed this Chicago baseball team that consistently had 7+ good players but still managed to suck because the other holes on the roster.

Trooper Galactus

Also, Schwarber got hurt in the midst of a historic home run tear, former top-5 prospect Victor Robles has not hit as hoped, and their roster is exceptionally top heavy like the White Sox used to be.


It’s gonna be really weird to see Rizzo in Yankee pinstripes.


nah, pretty easy to root against them too…

The Dodgers have been stacked for years and while they have been very successful, they only have one WS championship. In baseball, anyone can win if you just get in to the playoffs and heat up at exactly the right time.


anyone hearing any interesting rumors associated with the good guys? A backup catcher as insurance against Grandal’s knee not cooperating? Another bullpen arm as insurance against… well our bullpen? Another power hitter as insurance against Eloy and Robert recovering slowly?


The White Sox signed Kyle Crick to a minor league deal. Does that count?


Doesn’t quite cross the interesting threshold. And his anagram is icky clerk. but if he gets the save in the 7th game of the world series, I will happily reconsider.


Seems very quiet. They’re either being very tight-lipped or they’re pretty much done.


It’s weird. Yesterday I felt the Sox had done a great job so far of shoring up weaknesses without paying too much. They helped this team without jeopardizing the future. They still need another reliever but have time to get him today.

But as I see big names switching teams, some going to direct competitors, it feels like the Sox’ deadline is half-hearted and insufficient.

I shouldn’t be mesmerized by shiny objects. Hernandez is an excellent fit for the Sox this year, and I think he can be a great utility player next year, replacing Leury. Tepera is an excellent fit, too. And for Bailey Quarters? Who cares? Great trade. Over 60 games or, more importantly, over 5 or 7, these guys plus Eloy, Robert, and Grandal can outplay any of the guys traded or rumored to move.

I should focus on how the Sox helped themselves and how they didn’t give away the future. As I sit here, though, my brain is saying one thing and my heart is hinting at something else.


Yeah, it’s difficult to see what other teams did and not be jealous, but I’m extremely happy with what Hahn did. The key is the Sox have no glaring holes anymore, especially if Robert and Grandal can return at even 80%. This is a team that can get hot and win it all, which is all you can ask for in MLB.

As Cirensica

That’s a hefty price but the resurgence of Orelvis Martinez who could perfectly be better prospect than Martin makes losing Martin more palatable as both are infielders in a team that already has Bichette and Biggio

Joliet Orange Sox

One reason the Sox aren’t making these big deals is that the Sox do not have the prospect capital of some other teams.

However, I think a bigger reason is that the Sox don’t have the incentive for the big deal that some other teams have. The Sox, Brewers, and Astros are the three teams with a firm grip on their division and none of those three teams are the ones making the blockbuster trades.

Teams that are uncertain to make the playoffs at all such as the Blue Jays and Yankees (or are worried about ending up in a one game WC showdown like the NL West teams) have a much greater incentive to acquire stars. The value of the acquired star can be huge over 2 months of trying to climb in the standings. I don’t think the Dodgers make the trade for Scherzer and Turner at the cost of two top-100 prospects if the Dodgers have a commanding lead in the division instead of being in their actual position of being almost certain of a playoff spot but a few games back in the division.

Last edited 2 years ago by Joliet Orange Sox

Agreed, it’s all relative.

Greg Nix

Wow, Passan isn’t exaggerating. That’s an insane get for the Twins. Martin is a great prospect. Could have been the first overall pick last year.

jose robcada

Omg we got kimbrel, I’m shocked

Joliet Orange Sox

Madrigal and Heuer is a high price.

jose robcada

Cost us madrigal though, that really hurts