It is a week after one of the most dynamic trade deadlines in recent memory. A generational talent was at the center of that and will make the National League West a tougher division not only for the rest of this season, but the next two as well.
Yes, Juan Soto is now donning the brown and gold (mustard?) of the San Diego Padres. And it came with a pretty good prospect price tag. While the initial returns don’t seem all that hot — the Padres won three against the Colorado Rockies before being swept by the division-leading Los Angeles Dodgers — the impact won’t necessarily be on the West standings but more for the wild card. The Dodgers are too far out in front (16 games, the largest lead in MLB) and have too good of a roster to falter in the final two months.
But the trade deadline was a chance to either shore up for the stretch run or acquire prospects for a rebuild. In this edition of the NL West Roundup, we will take a look at whether each team did what it needed to. For a complete recap of what every team did, check out this roundup of every deadline deal.
NL West Standings
Arizona made a pair of deals, shipping off underperforming right-hander Luke Weaver to the Kansas City Royals and left fielder David Peralta to the Tampa Bay Rays. The return of third baseman Emmanuel Rivera and catcher Christian Cerda are more wild-card additions and add to a young group of bats.
Other teams reportedly were interested in some of the D’backs’ young major-league talent, including second baseman Ketel Marte and outfielders Daulton Varsho (also a catcher) and Alek Thomas, but general manager Mike Hazen wasn’t going there. Other players, such as erstwhile closer Mark Melancon, took themselves out of consideration either with their recent performance or the lack of quality pieces in return for veteran players.
While the D’backs are unlikely to be contenders even next season, they aren’t that far from being a team to watch out for. But that progress — and what that exactly looks like — will have to wait until the offseason.
Accomplishment grade: C. If right-hander Zach Davies had been back a little earlier, he might have been moved, but there wasn’t a whole lot else for the D’backs to do, other than maybe dealing right-handed reliever Ian Kennedy.
Injuries: Left-handed reliever Kyle Nelson (lower-back spasms) is aiming for a short stay on the 15-day IL. Right-handed reliever Keynan Middleton (right ankle strain) is scheduled to throw a bullpen Tuesday to determine his next steps. Left-handed reliever Caleb Smith (fractured right hand) had surgery on his right pinkie and his timetable to return is unknown. Right-handed starter Humberto Castellanos (Tommy John surgery) will have surgery Thursday, likely forcing him to miss all of next season. Left-hander Tyler Gilbert (left elbow sprain) is likely out for the season.
While they were a top suitor for Soto, the Dodgers’ only notable additions at the deadline were reliever Chris Martin from the Chicago Cubs and slugging outfielder Joey Gallo from the New York Yankees. Martin, part of the Atlanta Braves‘ World Series-winning bullpen a year ago, gives L.A. another relief weapon after losing fellow right-hander Daniel Hudson to a season-ending ACL tear. There are other arms on the way back, but Martin provides a known entity as those with injuries return to the scene.
The Dodgers already had tremendous depth all around the diamond and especially with Chris Taylor’s recent return from a fractured foot and didn’t need to do much at the deadline. Gallo, a pending free agent, is a complete wild card for the Dodgers. It would not have been surprising to see another arm added to the starting rotation, but it wasn’t a necessary move. Of course, that was before left-hander Clayton Kershaw’s back flared up again. The emergence of left-hander Tyler Anderson likely kept Andrew Friedman from pushing a panic button there.
Accomplishment grade: C-minus. While the Dodgers were certainly sniffing out other deals, only adding a reliever and a bench bat seems a little light. But there is pitching close to returning to action, which is just as good as a trade without the cost.
Injuries: Right-handed reliever Yency Almonte (right elbow tightness) went on the IL Sunday and was scheduled for an MRI Monday to determine how much time he will miss. Right-handed relievers Blake Treinen (right shoulder inflammation) and Brusdar Graterol (right shoulder inflammation) each threw a simulated inning Saturday. Treinen could be nearing a rehab assignment. Third baseman Justin Turner (abdominal strain) should be activated either Tuesday or Wednesday. Kershaw (lower back pain) isn’t expected back until early September. Right-hander Dustin May (Tommy John surgery) will make two more rehab starts before a potential return. Outfielder Edwin Ríos (torn right hamstring) is on a rehab assignment and likely to need at least another week before coming back. Right-hander Tommy Kahnle (right elbow bone bruise) is a question mark on returning this year. Left-handed starter Danny Duffy (left elbow) faced live hitters before the trade deadline and could go on a rehab assignment as early as next week. Right-handed starter Walker Buehler (right forearm) has played catch but isn’t expected back until September.
San Francisco was all over the rumor mill at the deadline, with the Giants talking about acquiring Soto and also dealing perhaps their best starting pitcher this season, left-hander Carlos Rodón. Neither happened as the Giants essentially stood pat, acquiring backup third baseman J.D. Davis from the New York Mets for backup first baseman Darin Ruf, while also dealing two injured players, backup catcher Curt Casali and starting pitcher Matthew Boyd, to the Seattle Mariners for a pair of lottery ticket prospects.
What should Farhan Zaidi have done? Considering that the success of last season generated unrealistic expectations for this year, Zaidi probably did the smart thing with some significant salary potentially coming off the books this offseason. First baseman Brandon Belt ($18.4 million) is a free agent and has been injured off and on this season, while third baseman Evan Longoria can be bought out for $5 million instead of being paid $13 million next year.
San Francisco is expected to be a player in the Aaron Judge sweepstakes, hoping to play on his Northern California roots (the slugger grew up a Giants fan just east of Stockton).
Accomplishment grade: D. This is a tough grade because the Giants are still contending for an NL wild-card position, potentially battling the Padres for a spot, so not adding anything of note and trusting the current roster is a gamble.
Injuries: Right-handed reliever Zack Littell (left oblique strain) is on a rehab assignment. Left-handed reliever José Álvarez (left elbow inflammation) began a throwing program Friday and is aiming for a September return. Right-handed reliever Mauricio Llovera (right flexor strain) isn’t expected back until at least late September.
San Diego was the clear big dog at the trade deadline, not only acquiring Soto (and first baseman Josh Bell) from the Washington Nationals, but also the top closer in MLB in Josh Hader from the Milwaukee Brewers. The Padres also added infielder Brandon Drury from the Cincinnati Reds.
What did it cost? A boatload of prospects, rookie left-hander MacKenzie Gore and two veteran pitchers (Taylor Rogers and Dinelson Lamet) who might not have been around next season. By adding Bell, the Padres also deemed first baseman Eric Hosmer dispensable and dealt him to the Boston Red Sox along with two prospects to get a better prospect back.
Soto obviously helps fill the offensive void that had ailed the Padres’ outfield and, once shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. returns, makes the lineup very dynamic at the top. Hader has postseason experience and led MLB in saves at the time of the deal, whereas Rogers had just lost his job as the Padres’ closer before the trade.
Accomplishment grade: A-plus. Soto for this season plus two more years was worth the price, and getting Hader, under club control for 2023, without giving up much is a bonus.
Injuries: Tatis (left wrist surgery) began his rehab assignment Saturday. There is no timetable for a return, but Tatis could be back as early as next week. Right-handed reliever Craig Stammen (right shoulder inflammation) has been playing catch and is expected back in September. Left-handed reliever Drew Pomeranz (flexor tendon surgery) is scheduled for his second rehab appearance Tuesday. Right-handed reliever Pierce Johnson (right elbow tendinitis) was recently dialed back due to soreness and hopes to start to ramp up again as early as next week for a September return.
Accomplishment grade: F. Inexplicably, the Rockies signed closer Daniel Bard to an extension just before the deadline and failed to do anything else, leaving everyone else wondering what exactly Colorado is doing.
Injuries: Right-handed starter Chad Kuhl (right hip flexor strain) is hopeful to miss a minimum amount of time after getting hurt in his Aug. 3 start. Right-hander Jhoulys Chacín (toe sesamoiditis) has thrown bullpens and will soon pitch a sim game. Left fielder Kris Bryant (left foot bone bruise, plantar fasciitis) has no timetable for a return.
Note: Injury updates from MLB.com.
Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)