NL Central Roundup: Trade Deadline Brings Missed Opportunities

No big bats, just more arms for Brewers, Cardinals.

Have you caught your breath yet from what transpired at the MLB trade deadline? With about 40 deals going down over the last week, there is a lot to catch up on if you weren’t keeping track.

So for today’s installment of Central Intelligence, we will give a quick analysis on what the contenders and pretenders did in the time leading up to Tuesday’s deadline, how it affects the rest of the season, and what it means for the future of the National League Central.


NL Central Standings




What they did: Acquired left-hander Trevor Rogers, right-hander Dinelson Lamet and two prospects (San Diego Padres for left-hander Josh Hader), right-hander Trevor Rosenthal (San Francisco Giants for a prospect), right-hander Matt Bush (Texas Rangers for two prospects).

What it means: Dealing Hader due to his future financial obligations is a blow to the vaunted Milwaukee bullpen as he was the premier closer in MLB and had an MLB-leading 29 saves. That bullpen hasn’t been as lockdown as it was last year, and some of that luster was lost with Hader struggling in July. But Rogers similarly struggled with the Padres in the month before the deadline and was removed from the closer’s role over the weekend. While right-hander Devin Williams and his 30 consecutive scoreless appearances will likely get a big share of the save opportunities the rest of the season, the Brewers will spread those chances around to Rogers and right-hander Brad Boxberger.

While Rosenthal hasn’t pitched since 2020 and rehabbing a hamstring injury in Arizona, Bush and the oft-injured Lamet will also be counted on in big situations. But the Brewers’ biggest need was an impact offensive player. That didn’t happen, although the Brewers’ offense has been better since the All-Star break. Can that continue? Many of the Brewers’ hitters have been underperforming, so this could be a return to the norm or just a surge that will fizzle out.

Grade: D. The Hader trade is a giant roll of the dice and the return seemed light, especially with what the Padres didn’t include in other deals.

Injuries: Rosenthal, who only signed with the Giants on July 21, is aiming to be ready by late August. Right-handed starter Freddy Peralta (right posterior shoulder strain) will be activated ahead of schedule and start Wednesday’s game after just two rehab appearances. Infielder-outfielder Jace Peterson (left elbow sprain) is expected to be out until early to mid-September. Right-handed starter Adrian Houser (right flexor strain) has been throwing bullpens and will likely need a rehab assignment. Right-handed reliever Miguel Sánchez (right UCL discomfort) had a setback in his rehab, which basically begins anew. Right-handed relievers Justin Topa (right elbow) and Jake Cousins have been on rehab assignments and both could be close to a return.




What they did: Acquired left-hander Jordan Montgomery (New York Yankees for center fielder Harrison Bader), left-hander José Quintana and right-hander Chris Stratton (Pittsburgh Pirates for right-hander Johan Oviedo and a prospect), left-hander JoJo Romero (Philadelphia Phillies for shortstop Edmundo Sosa).

What it means: Bolstering the rotation was a priority, but adding a bat was also seen as a key. Quintana and Montgomery are terrific adds, with Quintana being a noted Brewers-killer. But sending Bader to the Yankees for Montgomery seems like a swing and a miss without acquiring another big bat somehow. The Cardinals were reportedly right there with the San Diego Padres in their pursuit of Juan Soto, only to see him go to the Friars.

By adding the two lefties to right-handers Adam Wainwright and Miles Mikolas, righty Dakota Hudson becomes the No. 5 starter (instead of No. 3) and righty Andre Pallante can go back to a bullpen role. In addition to not getting a bat, in fact subtracting by dealing Bader and relying on Dylan Carlson, the Cardinals only added Romero to the bullpen, but he was sent to Triple-A after the deal, leaving Giovanny Gallegos without much assistance at the back end of games.

Grade: C-minus. No late-inning help in the bullpen and not bolstering the offense with NL MVP candidates Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado could prove fatal.

Injuries: Right-hander Jack Flaherty (right shoulder strain) was slated to rejoin the team this week to continue his rehab after being shut down for three weeks with a dead arm.

Left-handed starter Steven Matz (torn left MCL) will need to make a decision soon on whether to have season-ending surgery. Right-handed reliever Drew VerHagen (right hip impingement) is on the 10-day injured list for the third time this year with the same injury. Outfielder-infielder Juan Yepez (right forearm strain) still doesn’t have a timetable or further prognosis.




What they did: Dealt right-hander David Robertson (Philadelphia Phillies for a prospect), right-hander Mychal Givens (New York Mets for a prospect), left-hander Scott Effross (New York Yankees for a prospect), right-hander Chris Martin (Los Angeles Dodgers for infielder Zach McKinistry).

What it means: Well, catcher Willson Contreras, rumored to be on the move since the lockout ended in March, and center fielder Ian Happ are still with Chicago, which comes as a surprise to many. Maybe there is some seller’s remorse after last year’s deals (Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Báez) in which the Cubs could have hung onto a player or two and made a qualifying offer to get draft-pick compensation. Would the Cubs keep Contreras if the international draft had been approved? Hard to tell. Contreras is a free agent, while Happ will probably make around $10 million in his final year of arbitration.

The rebuild in Chicago is still taking the slow boat, but the idea might be to be a big spender this offseason.

Grade: F. It just feels like a big miss to not deal Contreras or Happ.

Injuries: Left-hander Wade Miley (left shoulder strain) threw a bullpen Sunday after returning from a rehab assignment. Miley is scheduled to pitch in the minors again Wednesday. Shortstop Andrelton Simmons (right shoulder strain) is on a rehab assignment and could be back shortly. Right-hander Kyle Hendricks (right shoulder strain) is taking a cautious route to a return, with a timetable for a return still up in the air.




What they did: Dealt left-hander José Quintana and right-hander Chris Stratton (Cardinals for right-hander Johan Oviedo and a prospect), first baseman Daniel Vogelbach (New York Mets for right-hander Colin Holderman).

What it means: It might seem strange for a last-place team to kind of stand pat, but that is pretty much what Pittsburgh did at the deadline. Sure, Vogelbach might have been around next year, but Quintana will be a free agent and Stratton might be a candidate to be released as he hits arbitration, but the rest of the roster is pretty young and something to build around.

That starts with third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes, 25, and center fielder Bryan Reynolds, 27, then goes to rookie shortstop Oneil Cruz, 23. Other members of the kiddie corps have had their moments but then struggled, like outfielder Jack Suwinski. So there will be growing pains, but the framework is there. Oviedo and Holderman will be able to contribute to the bullpen almost immediately. Building the rotation will be key.

Grade: B. The front office was right for not doing much, instead waiting until the offseason.

Injuries: Outfielder Jake Marisnick (sprained right big toe), who has missed considerable time with a thumb injury and then COVID-19, will be in a walking boot for at least a few more days before attempting to run. Right-hander Blake Cederlind (right elbow soreness) was scheduled to see a specialist and hoped to avoid a second Tommy John surgery. Right-hander Nick Mears (right elbow surgery) has been on a rehab assignment.




What they did: Dealt RHP Luis Castillo (Seattle Mariners for four prospects), RHP Tyler Mahle (Minnesota Twins for three prospects), 3B Brandon Drury (San Diego Padres for one prospect), OF Tommy Pham (Boston Red Sox for cash).

What it means: The decks have been virtually cleared in Cincinnati, much to the chagrin of the fans. The good news is the Reds appear to have done pretty well for themselves in these deals in addition to having a burgeoning farm system, which was ranked seventh by Baseball America entering the season. First baseman Joey Votto and third baseman Mike Moustakas are the only guarantees to be on the roster making more than $3.2 million. (Left-hander Mike Minor has a mutual option and those are usually declined by the player.) Six of the seven prospects acquired for Castillo and Mahle were in the top 14 in their respective system, per Baseball America, and have legit shots at making the MLB roster over the next two or three seasons.

Shortstop Noelvi Marte, No. 47 on BA’s Top 100, is the cream of the crop and will bring offense to the position if he sticks there instead of moving to third base. He was at High-A before the trade. Right-hander Hunter Greene and left-hander Nick Lodolo will be looked at to lead the rotation, so building around them will be the primary order of business beginning this offseason.

Grade: A. The future is brighter after the trade deadline even if this season crumbles.

Injuries: Catcher Tyler Stephenson (broken right clavicle) required surgery and might be healthy by the end of the season. Catcher Aramis Garcia (left middle-finger soreness) is expected to be out until at least mid-August. Right-handed reliever Jeff Hoffman (right forearm tightness) could be back next week. Right-hander Art Warren (right forearm) has been throwing bullpens and will need a rehab assignment before returning. Right-hander Vladimir Gutierrez had Tommy John surgery on July 20 and could miss all of 2023.


Note: Injury updates from MLB.com.


Photos by Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire and Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter and @EthanMKaplanImages on Instagram)

Steve Drumwright

Steve Drumwright is a lifelong baseball fan who retired as a player before he had the chance to be cut from the freshman team in high school. He recovered to become a sportswriter and have a successful journalism career at newspapers in Wisconsin and California. Follow him on Twitter and Threads @DrummerWrites.

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