General managers are lazy. They have all season to make trades, yet they wait almost exclusively until right before the trade deadline. Slackers, the lot of them. Nevertheless, the trades came furiously during the month of July. Here is a 25-man roster of the best players traded leading up to the deadline this season.
First, here are a few rules:
- Players are included or excluded from this roster only for their expected contribution in 2017. Eloy Jimenez might end up the best player traded this year, but he’s not likely to play in the majors this season, so he’s not on the team.
- All decisions are subjective. They are also all completely correct.
- Jaime Garcia is only eligible once, no matter how many times he has been traded.
- Salary and contract status are irrelevant for the purposes of this roster.
Starting Lineup: This lineup won’t score much, but at least the defense–no, wait, that won’t be good either.
- 1. Eduardo Nunez, 2B, Red Sox (from Giants)- If Nunez seems underwhelming as a leadoff hitter, be forewarned that the rest of the position players are not going to be much better. This deadline was all about the pitchers. Still, a .312/.341/.436 slash is slightly above average offensive production. It’s worth noting that Nunez didn’t play second base at all with the Giants yet has played there exclusively in his new home.
- 2. Alex Avila, C, Cubs (from Tigers)- Avila has been one of the most productive offensive catchers in baseball this year. His 16.3 BB% is sixth best in baseball (min. 250 PA). Of course, he’ll have to spend the rest of his life coping with being traded by his own father (Tigers GM Al Avila), so let’s hope the Cubs have a good team therapist.
- 3. J. D. Martinez, RF, Diamondbacks (from Tigers)– Sporting a .345 ISO, Martinez is the best hitter to have been sent packing this year. This may be partially because the uninspiring package of prospects sent the other direction set a soft market for position players, which could have discouraged GMs from shopping them around.
- 4. Lucas Duda, 1B, Rays (from Mets)- With the exception of an injury-riddled 2016 season, Duda has become a consistently productive hitter. He features a .301 ISO and 135 wRC+ this year.
- 5. Melky Cabrera, LF, Royals (from White Sox)- This will conclude the list of hitters who are actually having good seasons. The switch-hitting Cabrera brings a .295/.336/.436 slash to his second tour of duty in Kansas City.
- 6. Howie Kendrick, DH, Nationals (from Phillies)– Kendrick has visited the disabled list twice so far this season. However, he has batted a soft .331 in 166 PA when he’s been on the field, playing left field and second base (in the loosest definition of the word “playing”).
- 7. Todd Frazier, 3B, Yankees (from White Sox)– Last year Frazier hit 40 HR. This year he has only 17, but has an identical wRC+ (102) thanks to a dramatically increased walk rate (14.1%, up from 9.6%). The Yankees will hope he runs into a few bombs on his way to becoming a pure three true outcomes master.
- 8. Tim Beckham, SS, Orioles (from Rays)- Beckham was traded minutes before the deadline from an AL East team with 54 losses to an AL East team with 52 losses. The former #1 overall pick has 12 HR and a 95 wRC+, which is fine, but he also has a 31.9% strikeout rate–7th worst in the majors among qualified players.
- 9. I dunno, maybe Ryan Cordell??, CF, White Sox (from Brewers)- There were absolutely no major league center fielders traded in 2017. The closest is Scott Van Slyke, who has a .122/.250/.293 slash through 44 PA and has played one inning in center. Cordell is a 25-year-old who has yet to make his major league debut. He plays all four corners as well as center field, and has slashed .284/.349/.506 in AAA, albeit in Colorado Springs, which is possibly the most hitter-friendly park in organized baseball.
Rotation: Three studs changed teams, a serviceable lefty moved twice, and not much else.
- 1. Yu Darvish, RHP, Dodgers (from Rangers)- Here’s the good stuff. Darvish needs no introduction. Despite his numbers taking a step backwards this season, he will be one of the absolute highest paid players in free agency this coming winter.
- 2. Jose Quintana, LHP, Cubs (from White Sox)– Quintana has a been a consistent and durable pitcher since reaching the majors in 2012. His walks and homers have been elevated this year, but so have his strikeouts, and his 3.88 DRA is not far north of his career mark of 3.47.
- 3. Sonny Gray, RHP, Yankees (from Athletics)- The Gray trade was the quintessential deadline deal. The move was discussed weeks in advance. Everyone knew it was going to happen; it just made too much sense for both parties. Both teams were playing chicken with each other on a trade that was more or less agreed upon, yet wasn’t consummated until less than an hour before the deadline. This is everything we love and loathe about the trade deadline.
- 4. Jaime Garcia, LHP, Yankees (from Braves via Twins)- Disregard the last sentence about Sonny Gray. THIS is everything we love and loathe about the trade deadline. Garcia, a mid-rotation groundball specialist southpaw, was traded from Atlanta to Minnesota for a low-level prospect. Then, about a week later, he was flipped to New York for two fringe prospects after one appearance for the Twins.
- 5. Jeremy Hellickson, RHP, Orioles (from Phillies)- In 1896, Buttons Briggs led the National League with 3.9 K/9. Through the first two months of the season, Hellickson had 24 strikeouts through 60.2 IP, good for a 3.6 K/9. That would’ve been commendable 120 years ago, but is seriously weak by today’s standard. He’s picked it up since then, but is still heavily reliant on the defenders behind him. All the same, he grabs the fifth spot in this rotation ahead of Erasmo Ramirez.
Bench: And you thought the lineup was weak??
- Adeiny Hechavarria, SS, Rays (from Marlins)- Hechavarria’s trade on June 26 was the soft opening of trade season. Through 162 PA he has three walks and eight extra-base hits. Enough said.
- Hyun Soo Kim, OF, Phillies (from Orioles)- There are many ways to evaluate a ballplayer, but when you’ve been acquired by a team with a 38-64 record, you’re probably not having a very good season.
- Jonathan Lucroy, C, Rockies (from Rangers)- Lucroy has dropped his wRC+ from 123 in 2016 to 66 this season and has also received poorer pitch framing grades. Nevertheless, his upside gets him the backup catcher spot on this team ahead of Miguel Montero.
- Adam Rosales, UTIL, Diamondbacks (from Athletics)- Rosales captured the attention of Jeff Sullivan after a surprisingly high 11.7% walk rate and .266 ISO in 2016. That appeared to be an aberration as his current stats have regressed below his career averages.
Bullpen: Every single reliever in baseball was traded. Every. Single. One.
- David Hernandez, RHP, Braves (from Angels)- Hernandez has allowed exactly zero home runs through 36.1 IP this season. He’s also amassed 37 strikeouts and registered a 1.86 FIP.
- Tommy Kahnle, RHP, Yankees (from White Sox)- Kahnle was originally a Yankee farmhand before being selected in the Rule V draft in 2013. His strikeouts have exploded this season–69 of his 160 BF have seen strike three. His 15.0 K/9 is fourth best in baseball among relievers.
- Ryan Madson, RHP, Nationals (from Athletics)- Sixty-three-year-old Madson has quietly had one of his best seasons. He has a 2.27 FIP and has allowed only 5.7 H/9.
- Pat Neshek, RHP, Rockies (from Phillies)- Neshek allowed a two-run homer on May 14, a RBI single and two-run homer on July 1, and a solo HR with his new team on July 30. Those are the only runs he has allowed through 42 IP, good for a 1.29 ERA and a 2.20 FIP.
- David Robertson, RHP, Yankees (from White Sox)- Another former Yankee who has returned to his original organization, Robertson has been one of the most consistently dominant relievers in baseball for nearly a decade. He has 1.2 WARP in 2017 and 14.0 WARP for his career.
- Joe Smith, RHP, Indians (from Blue Jays)- Smith has a 35.4% strikeout rate and 2.31 FIP, both of which would be career highs.
- Justin Wilson, LHP, Cubs (from Tigers)- Wilson was one of the most sought after relievers at the deadline. He’s struck out more than ⅓ of opposing batters and allowed only 4.9 H/9.
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