As we start the month of July, we are starting to see some moves being made by GMs looking to get ahead of the chaos that is the Trade Deadline. With big names being mentioned to be on the block (see Casy Mize Rumors), it is often the smaller and less splashy deals that end up meaning the most to contenders in the end.
“Those under the radar deals that get made in the weeks leading up to the deadline are often the ones that move the needle most,” said one GM.
To that end, last week we saw the Cardinals acquire veteran reliever Matt Barnes from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for the legendary Victor Reyes and reliever Luis Escobar. Despite Reyes’ cult following (and MVP-level post-season performances), the Cards wanted to bring back the former World Champion closer in Barnes, who is someone who pitched in 31 games for them last season (so is familiar with the team personnel and should slide right in). The Cards bullpen is already amongst the best in the league, but GM Mitch knows that, come post-season, you need the bullpen to be elite and Barnes helps them get there. Milwaukee gets Reyes and Luis Escobar, a nice young reliever who had pitched well in limited action for the Cards this year. Hank also agreed to retain 100% of the remaining money on Barnes’ deal in order to get back the talent he did.
The injury-ravaged Padres also made a pair of trades as they sent pitching prospect Riley Cornelio and third base prospect Juan Ramos to the Marlins in exchange for veteran starting pitcher Chris Archer. Archer has had a great bounce-back year for the Marlins, who signed him to a shrewd free agent contract this past offseason (1+1 at $1.5M per year). He will slot nicely into the rotation (or as a swing man) for the Wild Card leading Padres, who are also chasing the Giants in a very close NL West. Cornelio and Ramos help add to the Marlins system as both players have some upside and are likely to get to the show one day, with Cornelio being the closest as he is currently pitching in AAA. The Padres also traded Jurickson Profar to the White Sox in exchange for full rights to Rule V pick Hector Vizcaino, who the Padres took in the Rule V but would like to continue to develop in the minors.
The Phillies also made a big move to acquire two much-needed high octane arms for their bullpen. The Phillies have a great club, but the bullpen has been a problem as they sit with the 11th best pen in the NL and have seen some terrible performances from their entire pen outside of Edgar Lopez and Melvin Adon. Coming to the Phillies from Colorado are relievers Carlos Sanabria and PJ Poulin. Sanabria is an electric arm who has been unable to put it together thus far in stints with the Nationals and Rockies. The right-hander was dealt to Colorado as part of the return for ace pitcher German Marquez at the deadline last season, but the Rockies decided to cut bait on him after less than one (awful) season. The Phillies have to hope that the third team is the charm for Sanabria, who is likely getting his last opportunity to be a big leaguer this time around. Poulin is a solid addition who has pitched well serving as the Rockies closer in 2024. The left-hander has been a victim of a bit of bad luck as his 4.94 ERA does not line up with his solid peripherals. “Sanabria is a bit of a head scratcher in my opinion as the guy has not been able to consistently find the plate, but Poulin is a guy that I expect to do well for them as that BABIP is not going to stay at near .500,” said a rival GM. The Rockies pick up a pair of solid prospects in Adam Kloffenstein and LF Cesar Quintas in the deal.
The Dodgers also made a big trade with the Cubs to acquire some more pitching as well as a 2B who is having a strong year in Nico Hoerner. Headed to LA is SP Taylor Widener, RP Joel Peguero and some cash along with Hoerner. LA sent top prospect Jonah Schaller to Chicago in the deal. Widener looks like he will serve in a swing role for the Dodgers, giving them some depth if they lose a starter to injury or poor performance. Peguero was having a stellar year for the Cubs in the pen, and will provide some additional bullpen strength for an already strong pen that is ranked #1 in the NL and anchored by Josh Hader. Hoerner slides in as the starter a 2B and provides some added offense to the club.
As the deadline draws closer expect more deals to be made, especially given how many teams are in contention for a playoff spot this year.