We expected the 2022 MLB trade deadline to be one of the busiest in recent years, so it wasn’t surprising that we had a bunch of big names moved Tuesday – most notably, of course, Juan Soto, who ended up with the Padres in a massive deal that we broke down here.
But just because we expected a lot of big names to be traded doesn’t mean the names themselves were expected, and perhaps the most unexpected move ended up being the Blue Jays’ decision to acquire Whit Merrifield from the Royals just under the 6 p.m. deadline.
It’s surprising not just because Merrifield’s name hadn’t really been widely mentioned in trade rumors, but also because Merrifield famously couldn’t travel to Toronto when the Royals played there a few weeks ago because he wasn’t vaccinated against COVID-19. At the time, however, he did say “If what was standing between me and the playoffs was this vaccine, I would consider getting it,” and presumably, the Blue Jays reached out to confirm he would get the shot. Otherwise, the trade makes little sense, because Merrifield is currently not allowed to cross the US-Canada border.
We’ll start there before moving on to the rest of the deals that went down prior to the deadline, including the Braves’ curious decision to acquire Angels closer Raisel Iglesias.
Whit Merrifield traded to Blue Jays
Assuming Merrifield is allowed to join the Blue Jays and play, he’ll enjoy a significant lineup and park upgrade. Of course, it’s not clear if he’ll claim the second base job from Santiago Espinal or recede into more of a utility role, spelling Espinal and others. The only reason it’s in question is because Merrifield has struggled this season, hitting .240/.290/.352, but he did have his best month in July, hitting .286. His vaccination status is another complicating factor, because unless he already received the shot, he would likely need to wait a few weeks to be cleared. He can meet the Blue Jays in Tampa and play their next three series, but if he isn’t cleared by Aug. 12, the start of the next home stand, he won’t be able to play.
Meanwhile, the Royals have an interesting replacement lined up at second base in Michael Massey. The prospect came up for three games when Merrifield was unavailable for a series in Toronto a couple weeks ago (due his vaccination status, fittingly). Massey isn’t a big-name prospect, but his production has been on point. The 24-year-old has hit .312 with 16 homers, 13 steals and a .903 OPS between Double- and Triple-A. –Chris Towers and Scott White
Raisel Iglesias traded to Braves
This buzzer-beater was arguably the most surprising deal of the day. The Braves paid big for closer Kenley Jansen this offseason, but he’s signed for only one year. They inherit three-plus years of Iglesias, who could take over as closer next year. It’s possible he and Jansen enter into a timeshare of sorts, but since Iglesias has some work to do to bring his ERA down, my guess is he’ll recede into a setup role for now. He remains a late-inning force in spite of that ERA, but if he’s not the one collecting saves, he’s not of much use except in specialized Fantasy formats.
The Angels don’t have an obvious heir for ninth-inning duties, but Ryan Tepera has continued to work the eighth inning in spite of his 4.26 ERA and is the early favorite. –Scott White
Jordan Montgomery traded to Cardinals for Harrison Bader
The Yankees have made upgrading their defense a priority since the offseason, and they made another move to that end prior to the deadline in adding Bader, a 2021 Gold Glove winner. Bader is on the IL dealing with plantar fasciitis and had his rehab assignment paused last week due to renewed soreness, but he is expected to be available in the coming weeks. He’ll also provide some speed for the Yankees lineup with his career-high 15 steals, though it’s fair to wonder if the foot injury might slow him down in that regard. This is a park and lineup upgrade for Bader, but probably not enough of one to fundamentally change his Fantasy appeal (except, of course, in AL-only leagues, where he’s now eligible).
On the other side of the trade, the Cardinals upgrade their rotation with Montgomery, a lefty who routinely puts up slightly-above average production. However, at least for Fantasy purposes, slightly-above average pitchers look a lot better playing in St. Louis than they do in Yankee Stadium. Montgomery also has multiple plus swing-and-miss pitches with his changeup and curveball, and it’ll be interesting to see if the Cardinals tweak his approach to maximize strikeout potential. This figures to be an upgrade for Montgomery, though he remains more of a low-end starting SP than a must-start one. –Chris Towers
Noah Syndergaard traded to Phillies
Syndergaard has come back from Tommy John surgery a shell of what he once was, his fastball lagging by 3 mph and his strikeout rate plummeting. Frankly, he’s been lucky to have only a 3.83 ERA, judging from his 4.27 xFIP and 4.25 xERA, and going to a smaller park isn’t going to help things. He has a 5.17 ERA on the road compared to 2.96 at home. The one silver lining is he’ll now be part of a five-man rotation after being stuck in a six-man all year, which should make for more two-start weeks moving forward, but he’s going to remain more of a matchups type in Fantasy. –Scott White
The Padres strike again, acquiring a versatile bat in the midst of a breakout season. Drury has played mostly third base for the Reds but will likely bounce around for the Padres, giving everyone else a chance to rest their legs at DH. The big question is whether is surprising production will translate to a bigger venue like Petco Park. His xHR if he played every game there is 17, according to Statcast, as compared to the 20 he has actually hit. He has also batted just .241 with a .771 OPS on the road compared to .298 and .915 at home. Even with the improved supporting cast, it’s possible Drury’s numbers begin to drag bit, making him a sell-high candidate where applicable. –Scott White
The Twins are acquiring Mahle at his best. The right-hander got off to a miserable start this year, but his season turned on a dime in late May. Over his past nine starts, he has a 2.83 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 10.0 K/9, which are even better numbers than during his breakthrough season a year ago. What tops it off, though, is that the Twins are getting him out of Cincinnati. where he has a career 5.02 ERA compared to 3.74 on the road. The difference is mostly in the home run rate (1.9 per nine innings at home vs. 0.8 on the road). Mahle tends to put the ball in the air, and Great American Ball Park is a smaller venue. Target Field is much better suited for his abilities and could see him threaten for top-30 status at starting pitcher.
The Twins did give up Spencer Steer and Christian Encarnacion-Strand to get him. They’re two of the biggest prospect risers this year, contributing considerable power in the upper levels. Between this trade and the Luis Castillo one, the Reds have done a fine job remaking the farm system. –Scott White
Robertson presumably steps into the closer role he was already filling for the Cubs. Granted, Seranthony Dominguez was doing a good enough job of it, but the Phillies still hadn’t fully committed to him in the role, having Brad Hand split save chances with him. Robertson has more closing experience and will lengthen the Phillies bullpen by allowing Dominguez and Hand both to set up. With Scott Effross having already been traded by the Cubs and Mychal Givens following Robertson out the door Monday, Rowan Wick might be the front-runner for saves in Chicago. He filled in for Robertson earlier in the year, but his numbers have taken a turn for the worse since then. –Scott White
Brandon Marsh traded to Phillies for Logan O’Hoppe
This was one of those deadline deals that catches everyone off guard since it doesn’t fit into the usual buyer/seller rubric. Granted, the Phillies are on the fringes of contention and could use a true center fielder like Marsh, but since he was one of the Angels‘ top prospects entering last year, it’s curious to see them part with him already. His first full season has been a disappointment, with his strikeout rate keeping his batting average down and his power not playing up as hoped. A move to a smaller venue can only help. O’Hoppe, meanwhile, has had a breakout season at Double-A, slashing .269/.385/.492 with 15 homers in 74 games and could be ready to take over as the Angels starting catcher at some point next year. –Scott White
The Padres’ acquisition of Juan Soto was, obviously, a pretty complicated trade, given the magnitude of the player at the center of it, and it took a while to find out what the final details would be. When the dust settled, Luke Voit found himself shipped off to Washington to complete the deal, in what is certain to be a lineup downgrade. Voit goes from hitting behind Manny Machado and Jake Cronenworth to hitting behind … Victor Robles and César Hernández? Yeah, the Washington lineup is going to be pretty gross, and while this is a bit of a park upgrade for Voit, he’s hitting just .231/.321/.425 since the start of 2021, so it’s hard to get too excited. He’s a low-end corner infield option at this point. –Chris Towers
Hosmer wasn’t able to put much of anything together in four seasons with the Padres, and now the 32-year-old will be given a chance to resuscitate his career with the Red Sox. His swing has never been optimized for power and is unlikely to change now, but he’s a career .354 hitter with three home runs and an .889 OPS at Fenway Park. Its odd configuration has made for unlikely success stories in the past, and it’s possible Hosmer sees a big enough BABIP boost to become halfway useful again. He does still excel at putting the bat on the ball, after all. His acquisition leaves few at-bats for Bobby Dalbec, but a J.D. Martinez trade could change that. –Scott White
Joey Gallo traded to the Dodgers
Joey Gallo seemed to be in desperate need of a change of scenery after hitting .159/.291/.368 in 140 games since being traded to the Yankees, and the writing for a trade was on the wall as soon as the Yankees acquired Andrew Benintendi last week. That trade became official Tuesday as Gallo was sent to the Dodgers, who are buying low with an eye on fixing Gallo’s swing. You know you’re getting a lot of strikeouts and a lot of walks with Gallo, but he has just 12 homers this season as he hasn’t been holding up the third part of the three-true-outcomes approach. The issue is that Gallo isn’t generating the same kind of power he used to, with career-worst marks in average exit velocity and max exit velocity, leading to a career-worst expected wOBA on contact. The Dodgers will try to unlock that power in acquiring Gallo, though he’s only worth adding right now in NL-only leagues with the park switch, especially since he may not play every day in L.A. either.
The Yankees seemingly did pretty well in getting Double-A pitcher Clayton Beeter for Gallo. Beeter has a 5.75 ERA this season, but has a big fastball and good stuff if he can tamp down the walks, of which he has 35 in 51.2 innings this season. –Chris Towers
It’s one of the biggest trades in major-league history. We knew an organization would need to empty the vault to acquire a 23-year-old generational talent, and the Padres were willing to do so, sending maybe the biggest prospect package in baseball history. It’s a seismic trade in the real world, but the impact on the Fantasy game is fairly minimal. Soto is going to do what Soto does. He’s going to do it in a better lineup, albeit in a slightly worse venue, but generational talents like him generally aren’t confined by venue. Likewise, Bell has hit .315 with four homers and a .976 OPS in 14 career games at Petco Park, so it seems like his skills also translate to that venue well enough.
For more, including a full breakdown of the prospects going the other way,. –Scott White
The Twins have been hesitant to fully insert Jhoan Duran into a conventional closer’s role, and this deal seems like it provides an answer to that problem. Lopez has been tremendous for the Orioles this season, sporting a 1.68 ERA with 54 strikeouts in 48 ⅓ innings, earning a selection as the Orioles sole All-Star. While it’s not guaranteed he’ll be the Twins closer, that seems like the likeliest outcome, with Duran remaining as a multi-inning fireman who will get the occasional save. Lopez goes to a better team, but probably sees a slight tick down in value with Duran around to vulture the occasional high-leverage save opportunity.
The Orioles got four pitching prospects, with Cade Povich the headliner, though likely one who is a few years away from contributing. The more relevant news on Baltimore’s side is the likely ascension of Felix Bautista to the closer’s role. The Orioles have had a surprisingly strong bullpen this season, but Bautista profiles best as a closer with his big fastball. He’s worth adding in all category leagues, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he had more saves than Lopez the rest of the season after this trade. –Chris Towers
Bass returns to the Blue Jays, where he had seven saves in 2020, after two up-and-down seasons with the Marlins. He’s been exceptional this season, sporting a 1.41 ERA and 9.1 K/9, and figures to give the Blue Jays another option to get leads to Jordan Romano in the ninth. Pop has a 3.60 ERA thanks to a ground-ball heavy approach, but doesn’t get many strikeouts, and is likely more like a middle relief option for the Blue Jays.
The Marlins got a recent top-100 prospect in Groshans in return, however the 22-year-old has likely played himself off prospect lists with his showing at Triple-A this season. Groshans’ power has evaporated at the highest level of the minors, as he has just one home run and eight doubles in 67 games, sporting a .250/.348/.296 line. He’s still making a lot of contact and walking a bunch, but he’ll have to find a way to hit for more power to matter, even in NL-only leagues, since he doesn’t run. He’s a nice buy-low target for the Marlins, but he looks a long way from contributing for Fantasy and will likely report to Triple-A for Miami. –Chris Towers
This deal wasn’t quite finalized as of late Monday, but it has the potential to shake up the Braves rotation in less-than-desirable ways. Odorizzi himself is … whatever. His fastball gets whiffs at a decent enough rate, and he’ll deliver a quality start from time to time. But if his acquisition signals a return of rookie sensation Spencer Strider to the bullpen as a way of curtailing his innings, then the baseball world will weep. Mark Bowman of MLB.com suggests the Braves could go six-man for a couple turns and then reevaluate. Maybe Ian Anderson goes back to struggling. Maybe Odorizzi himself gets bumped to the bullpen. In any case, it’s cause for some consternation. –Scott White
Quintana has put together a respectable ERA this year but has only a 3-5 record to show for it. Wins remain the most valuable pitching statistic in most scoring formats, and the Cardinals certainly offer him a better chance at them than the Pirates did. Of course, he doesn’t help his case when he fails to go six innings, as he has 15 of his 20 starts this season. Maybe the Cardinals will ride him a little harder than the Pirates did — it’s not like his pitch counts have been particularly high, after all — but even then, we’re talking about little more than a matchups type given his lackluster WHIP and strikeout rate. –Scott White
The Astros have gone the defensive route at catcher the past couple years with Martin Maldonado and won’t lose much in that regard with Vazquez. They will get a boost in offense, though. Vazquez has rebounded from a down year to become the eighth-best catcher in both major scoring formats. Perhaps more interesting than his involvement in this deal is prospect Enmanuel Valdez going back the other way. The 5-foot-9 utility player has been surprisingly productive between Double- and Triple-A this year, slashing .327/.410/.606 with 21 homers in 327 at-bats. His small stature and lack of defensive home keep him low on traditional rank lists, but he could surprise in Fantasy if he gets a chance to fill in for an injured Trevor Story at second base. –Scott White
Though he certainly hasn’t lived up to his 91st percentile average exit velocity or 84th percentile hard-hit rate, Pham has made strong enough contributions across the board to rank 40th among outfielders in Head-to-Head points leagues and 35th in Rotisserie. You might presume his home venue has something to do with it, but Pham has only slightly better numbers at Great American Ball Park than on the road. He might make out better at Fenway Park, its odd configuration known for boosting hitters’ BABIPs, but most likely, his value stays right about the same. Meanwhile, his departure gives players like Nick Senzel and Jake Fraley an easier path to at-bats, but there isn’t some potential standout waiting in the wings. –Scott White
This seemingly low-key deal could actually have an impact in Fantasy given how consequential the park change is for Mancini’s swing in particular. He pulls the ball in the air more than the average hitter (about 25 percent of time, according to FanGraphs), which would normally be a good indicator for power, but the Orioles of course moved their left field fences way back this year. Minute Maid Park, meanwhile, is most known for its short porch in left field. The venues couldn’t be farther apart for that stretch of outfield fence — we’re talking dozens of feet — and fittingly, Statcast suggests Mancini would have more than twice as many home runs, 22 overall, if he had played all his games in Houston this year.
He won’t play all his games in Houston even now, it’s worth noting, but he’ll play enough that he could be a top-40 outfielder moving forward. –Scott White
Stock up for Montas, of course, who goes from the team with the worst record in the AL to the one with the best. As good as the rest of his stat line looks, it’s his 4-9 record that’s made him only the 52nd-best starting pitcher in points leagues and the 46th-best in 5×5. It might be 9-4 if he had been with the Yankees from the get-go, and I’d expect him to be a top-25 starting pitcher moving forward. Of course, there’s also the matter of him going from one of the best pitcher’s parks to one of the worst, but that’s not going to impact him as much as his 5.01 road ERA would have you believe. For a full explanation why as well as a breakdown of the prospects (namely Ken Waldichuk) going the other way,. –Scott White
Hader will continue to do his thing, just for a new team. The Padres are just as much in contention as the Brewers, so he remains as prolific of a saves source as always. The bigger question is who closes now for the Brewers. Rogers seems like the easy choice, but the Padres had just removed him from the role after an ugly month of July in which he allowed 10 earned runs in 9 2/3 innings. So the better bet might be Devin Williams, long thought to be a closer in waiting with his Airbender changeup (h/t @PitchingNinja) and career 14.7 K/9.
Because Rogers throws lefty and Williams righty, it could become a platoon of sorts, but the Brewers will want to make sure Rogers is right before they go that route. We should all be rooting for Williams to claim the role outright. He has top-three closer potential.
To make up the talent gap between the two lefties, the Brewers also got Esteury Ruiz, Dinelson Lamet and prospect Robert Gasser. The most interesting of these names for Fantasy purposes is Ruiz, who put up monster numbers in the minors prior to his promotion just before the All-Star break, highlighted by 60 stolen bases in 77 games. He hadn’t done much with the big club, and was in fact optioned right away by the Brewers. He could eventually claim the starting center field job from Tyrone Taylor, though. –Scott White
Castillo will enjoy a significant park upgrade with this move, which you could argue makes less of a difference for a pitcher who consistently ranks among the top five in ground-ball rate. But Castillo has faded his sinker in recent weeks for more four-seamers — a change that has yielded positive results overall, with his K/9 going from 7.8 before May 31, when he first ramped up the four-seam use, to 10.1. Still, it has made him less ground ball-oriented, and relatedly, he has a 3.64 ERA at home this year compared to 2.09 on the road. So what does that mean, practically speaking? Probably that we should treat Castillo like a top-20 starting pitcher in Fantasy again. For a more complete breakdown of this deal,. –Scott White
Peralta had already lost his grip on an everyday role with the Diamondbacks, and that certainly won’t change with a team like the Rays. He is, after all, batting .268 with an .823 OPS against righties compared to .114 with a .462 OPS against lefties, which at least gives him some utility in daily five-outfielder leagues. His acquisition means Josh Lowe is back in the minors, not that the former top prospect was contributing anything worthwhile. It also helps clear the path for Diamondbacks prospect Corbin Carroll, however remote his chance of debuting this year are. –Scott White
This trade probably means the Yankees are giving up on Joey Gallo as more than a spot starter, and things could tighten up even more once Giancarlo Stanton returns from his bout with Achilles tendinitis. So far, though, Benintendi looks like an everyday part of the lineup, having already made a start against a lefty since coming over. He’s been serviceable in Fantasy this year because of his high batting average, but it’s been an even more hollow one than in years past. It’s possible he makes more of an effort to pull the ball now, taking aim for the short porch in right field, but I wouldn’t hold your breath on that. –Scott White
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