MLB
August 31, 2020
BY Bryan Zarpentine

Winners and Losers of the 2020 MLB Trade Deadline

With more than half of the league making the playoffs in this wacky 2020 season, it wouldn't have been a surprise if the MLB Trade Deadline passed with a whimper. However, there ended up being a lot more action than expected. Granted, there weren’t a ton of blockbuster deals, there was a lot of action and player movement to sift through. Fortunately, we’ve processed all the information and crafted a complete list of winners and losers from the trade deadline as the abbreviated 60-game MLB season moves into its final month.

Winner: San Diego Padres

The Padres appear to be the biggest winner of the trade deadline as San Diego is going for it in 2020 after not making the playoffs since 2006. The club made a flurry of moves over the last few days, adding catchers Jason Castro and Aaron Nola, veteran reliever Trevor Rosenthal, and slugger Mitch Moreland, who’s having an outstanding season.

The Friars' biggest move came Monday afternoon when San Diego acquired Indians ace Mike Clevinger. The Padres have gotten strong performances from their rotation this season, but adding Clevinger takes the San Diego rotation to another level. He’s a proven frontline starter who will help the Padres matchup against any team in a playoff series, perhaps even the Dodgers.

Loser: The Teams Chasing Lance Lynn

Clevinger was the biggest name on the move Monday, but that almost wasn't the case. Lynn was nearly the best player moved on deadline day, but the Rangers failed to pull the trigger on a deal involving the 33-year-old, who is still under contract through next season.

Through eight starts, Lynn is 4-1 with a 1.93 ERA and would be an obvious choice for the Cy Young if not for Cleveland’s Shane Bieber. 

The Dodgers and Yankees were the two teams that were linked with Lynn leading up to the deadline. Both teams are still in good shape, but adding Lynn would have given either team a massive boost as we rage toward the playoffs. 

Winner: Miami Marlins

Don’t adjust your screen: the Marlins were actual buyers at the deadline and did a good job of improving their team. As the Fish rallied to beat Jacob deGrom and the Mets to climb to .500, they also acquired Starling Marte from the Diamondbacks. The price was high, as Miami parted ways with lefty Caleb Smith and promising righty Humberto Mejia. But Marte is having a great year, hitting .311 with an OPS of .827.

Marte will fill a spot in a Miami outfield that has lacked consistency from the club’s young players. Marte is also under team control for next year, so he’s not just a rental. Ironically, the Marlins traded away Jonathan Villar, although they have some internal options at second base, including Jon Berti, a good athlete and a pesky hitter.

Loser: New York Mets 

Speaking of the Mets, they were big losers Monday. As mentioned, they lost a game that deGrom started and have now dropped four straight games. On the one hand, they added depth with Robinson Chirinos, third baseman Todd Frazier and Miguel Castro. However, none of those trades addressed the team’s biggest need, which is rotation depth.

The Mets didn’t appear to be in the mix for Lynn, nor did they get their hands on any of the other starting pitchers who were dealt. They are now five games under .500 and in trouble.

Winner: Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays transformed their starting rotation last winter, and they did it again over the past few days. Toronto added Taijuan Walker, Ross Stripling and Robbie Ray to a rotation that has gotten strong performances from Hyun Jin Ryu and Chase Anderson. Granted, Ray has been a disaster this year, but he’s worth a shot. Stripling is also a useful swingman who can give the bullpen added depth. The Blue Jays also added slugger Dan Vogelbach, who was an All-Star last year despite a horrendous 2020 campaign thus far, as well as versatile infielder Jonathan Villar.

In short, the Jays added more veterans around its young core and improved their overall depth. 

The Blue Jays are in prime position to reach the playoffs and could even challenge the Yankees for second place in the AL East.

Like the Marlins, they are a surprise contender making a playoff push.

Loser: Baltimore Orioles 

Surprisingly, the Orioles weren’t out of contention just a few days before the trade deadline, but they are surely out of it now. Starter Tommy Milone and relievers Mychal Givens and Miguel Castro were all traded away. Givens, in particular, has been an important piece for the Baltimore bullpen for several years. Meanwhile, Milone was undoubtedly the team’s best starter this year. While it’s understandable that the club would want to keep rebuilding (and they got some nice prospects in return), staying pat and seeing if they could make a run in September with eight playoff spots available might have been nice for the fanbase.

Winner: Chicago Cubs

The Cubs have been comfortably in first place for most of the season, so they were under no pressure to make any moves. But they decided to make some deals, anyway. The Cubbies made several small acquisitions this week, adding Jose Martinez, Cameron Maybin, and relievers Josh Osich and Andrew Chafin.

Separately, the four moves don’t move the needle much. But Chicago has added another DH option in Martinez, a versatile and athletic outfielder in Maybin, and two lefties to their bullpen. The Cubs made several small improvements to their roster, any of which could pay off in October.

Loser: Boston Red Sox Fans

As if being 12-22 and sitting behind the Orioles wasn't bad enough, Red Sox fans had to watch their team be sellers at the trade deadline. Boston traded away Mitch Moreland, Josh Osich and Kevin Pillar on Monday. That was after trading Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree to the Phillies last week.

The good news is that the club’s core players remain in Boston. 

However, the trade deadline was a reminder to Red Sox fans that the team is rebuilding and it could take some time until they are ready to challenge for the AL East crown, especially with how the Yankees, Rays and Blue Jays have looked this year.

Winner: Oakland A’s

The A’s didn’t need to do much, as they are a virtual lock to make the postseason and could challenge for the best record in the American League. They still added two starters Mike Minor and infielder Tommy La Stella. Minor has had a tough time in Texas this year, but he’s someone who could turn things around with a change of scenery. He gives them depth in the rotation with youngsters Frankie Montas and Sean Manaea struggling.

Meanwhile, La Stella will fill the black hole at second base. After a career year in 2019, La Stella has carried it over into 2020, adding depth to an already powerful Oakland lineup. The A’s were already one of the best teams in baseball, and they are now a little better.

Loser: Washington Nationals

At last year’s trade deadline, the Nationals added key pieces to their bullpen that ended up helping them save their season and eventually win the World Series. But there was no help this year. Washington isn’t exactly throwing in the towel, but it doesn’t look good. The Nats began Monday seven games under .500 and last in the NL East, although they're not too far behind Miami for a guaranteed playoff spot.

The fact that the Nationals did nothing at the trade deadline is a sign that the front office doesn’t believe they have another run in them. 

In a month’s time, the reigning World Series champs will likely give up their crown without a return to the postseason.

Photo: Getty Images