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Grading Every MLB Trade Deadline Deal

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Evaluating the deals from the craziest day in baseball season

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

There is only one thing I enjoy more than than the trade deadline. That’s evaluating the deadline moves and handing out grades to all teams involved. Thus, what follows are my impressions of the deals that went down at the deadline, graded in A,B, C, D, F form. For the purpose this article, I considered a C+ to be an average mark.

I took the liberty to link each of MinorLeagueBall’s trade analysis piece in the recap of the deals. So, if you want to take a closer look at a specific trade, that is your ticket.

The Scott Kazmir Trade (Athletics/Astros)

Oakland gets: C Jacob Nottingham (A) and RHSP Daniel Mengden (A+)

Houston gets: LHSP Scott Kazmir

Full Recap:

Analysis: The Astros get the arm they need, but giving up Nottingham is quite a blow to their organizational catching depth, especially with Jason Castro struggling. I’m not in love with Mengden, but this is still a good deal for the A’s.

Astros: Grade B-

Athletics: Grade A

The Aramis Ramirez Trade (Brewers/Pirates)

Full recap:

Milwaukee gets: RHP Yhonathan Barrios (AAA)

Pittsburgh gets: 3B Aramis Ramirez and Cash

Analysis: I think this trade is a win-win for both sides. Barrios was set for Rule 5 eligibility after this season, and the Pirates didn’t seem to inclined to protect him anyway. Pittsburgh should see an uptick in production from A-Ram in a better and more energized situation.

Pirates: Grade A-

Brewers: Grade B

The Juan Uribe/Kelly Johnson Trade (Braves/Mets)

New York (NL) gets: 3B Juan Uribe, LF/3B Kelly Johnson

Atlanta gets: RHSP John Gant (AA), RHSP Rob Whalen (A+)

Full Recap:

Analysis: Uribe and Kelly Johnson are both very solid veteran players having above-average offensive season this year. Gant projects as a swingman/fifth starter type. Whalen could be a No. 4 guy, but he’s pretty far away. The Braves are on the losing side here.

Mets: Grade A+

Braves: Grade C

The Johnny Cueto Trade (Reds/Royals)

Cincinnati gets: LHSP Brandon Finnegan (AAA), LHSP John Lamb (AAA), LHSP Cody Reed (AA)

Kansas City gets: RHSP Johnny Cueto, Cash Considerations

Full Recap:

Analysis: Kansas City really needed pitching. And they got one of the best arms in baseball in Cueto. The Reds re-stocked the farm by prying three lefties from the Royals. Cody Reed will be the determinant here. If he pans out as a No. 3 starter, Cincinnati wins. If not, I’d say this is a good deal for the Royals. I would like to have seen the Reds get more for an ace like Cueto.

Royals: Grade A

Reds: Grade C+

The Tyler Clippard Trade (Athletics/Mets)

Oakland gets: RHSP Casey Meisner (A+)

New York (NL) gets: RHP Tyler Clippard and Cash Considerations

Full Recap:

Analysis: I hated this deal for New York when it first went down. But after thinking on it a bit, Meisner seems like fair price to pay for a reliable relief arm like Clippard. New York needed a pen upgrade, and Tyler certainly fits that bill. He will be even more important to the Mets following Jenrry Mejia’s suspension. Meisner projects as a No. 3-4 starter with a plus fastball, an above-average change-up, and a developing curve. He has a very projectable frame. Great get by Oakland.

Mets: Grade B-

Oakland: Grade A-

The Troy Tulowitzki Trade (Rockies/Blue Jays)

Colorado gets: SS Jose Reyes, RHSP Jeff Hoffman (AA), RHP Miguel Castro (AAA), RHSP Jesus Tinoco (A)

Toronto gets: SS Troy Tulowitzki, RHP LaTroy Hawkins

Full Recap:

Analysis: In my opinion, the Blue Jays won this trade big-time. Adding an elite offensive shortstop and a quality relief arm makes Toronto a force to be reckoned with in the AL. Yes, they gave up Hoffman. But he has not been as dominant post-TJ and he looks more like a mid-rotation starter to me. Castro and Tinoco Another reason I am giving the Rockies a hard time: they took back $56 million in salary from Jose Reyes’ contract in this deal. Tinoco is the sleeper in this deal and saves Colorado from receiving a D.

Blue Jays: Grade A+

Rockies: Grade C-

The Ben Zobrist Trade (Athletics/Royals)

Oakland gets: LHSP Sean Manaea (AA), RHSP Aaron Brooks (AAA)

Kansas City gets: 2B/UT Ben Zobrist

Full Recap:

Analysis: Another win-now trade for Kansas City. Another "win" in the trade category, at least in my opinion. In this deal, KC fills its black hole at second base and adds a real threat in the lineup for their playoff run. Manea is a nice return for Oakland. Arm issues and command problems have held him back. But few lefties can reach 95 mph and throw a plus change. Brooks is probably a middle relief guy. I expected the A’s to snag a bit more for the highly-coveted Zobrist, but it is not a bad deal on their side.

Athletics: Grade B

Royals: Grade B+

The Jonathan Papelbon Trade (Phillies/Nationals)

Washington gets: RHP Jonathan Papelbon

Philadelphia gets: RHSP Nick Pivetta (AA)

Full Recap:

Analysis: Washington gets a reliever that should help them down the stretch. Philly gets rid of Papelbon’s hefty contract and me-first attitude. They also land a decent prospect in return. A win for both sides.

Phillies: Grade B

Washington: Grade B

The David DeJesus Trade (Rays/Angels)

Los Angeles (AL) gets: OF David DeJesus

Tampa Bay gets: RHSP Eduar Lopez (R+)

Full Recap:

Analysis: The Angels likely won’t get burned by a 20-year-old in Rookie Ball. But they may regret trading a quality prospect for an aging hitter with a .698 OPS. An underrated trade by the Rays here.

Rays: Grade A

Angels: Grade C-

The David Murphy Trade (Indians/Angels)

Los Angeles (AL) gets: OF David Murphy

Cleveland gets: SS Eric Stamets (AA)

Full Recap:

Analysis: I have a hard time justifying this trade from Cleveland’s perspective. Stamets has some value, but he has shown no real major league hit tool and (at best) projects as a glove-minded utility man. You’d expect a better return for a cheap outfielder slashing .295/.342/.433.

Angels: Grade A+

Cleveland: Grade D-

The Cole Hamels Trade (Phillies/Rangers)

Texas gets: LHSP Cole Hamels, LHP Jake Diekman, $9.5M Cash

Philadelphia gets: LHSP Matt Harrison, C Jorge Alfaro (AA), LF Nick Williams (AA), RHSP Alec Asher (AAA), RHSP Jerad Eickhoff (AA), RHSP Jake Thompson (AA)

Full Recap:

Analysis: With the Rangers receiving $42M in salary relief from this trade, Texas will actually only be paying Hamels a very reasonable $10.3M per year. And, with the exception of Nick Williams, who I think can be very solid, Texas did not relinquish any no-doubt prospects, either. Asher and Eickhoff look like back-end starters or bullpen arms. Alfaro has big power potential, but has yet to cash in on that yet. If he turns it around in Philadelphia, the whole scope of this deal will be drastically changed. A very good trade for the Rangers.

Rangers: Grade A

Phillies: Grade B

The three way blockbuster: Dodgers, Braves, and Marlins

Braves get: LHP Paco Rodriguez, 2B Hector Olivera (AAA), RHSP Zach Bird (A+), 5th pick in Comp A round (#35 overall)

Los Angeles (NL) get: LHSP Alex Wood, RHSP Mat Latos, LHP Luis Avilan, RHP Jim Johnson, 1B/LF Mike Morse, RHSP Bronson Arroyo, CF Jose Peraza (AAA)

Miami gets: RHSP Jeff Brigham (A+), RHP Victor Araujo (A+), RHP Kevin Guzman (A)

Full Recap:

Analysis: The Dodgers come out big winners here. They not only add two solid mid-rotation starters, but also strengthen their pen, bench, and farm system. I don’t actually mind this deal from the Braves side. Yes, Alex Wood is a very good piece, and Peraza has potential. However, Hector Olivera should be very good at the major league level and Bird plus a comp pick will likely yield more value than Peraza. This is a straight salary dump from Miami. I’d be surprised if any of the prospects going their way turn out as more than middle relievers.

Dodgers: Grade A

Braves: Grade B

Marlins: Grade D

The David Price Trade (Tigers/Blue Jays)

Detroit gets: LHSP Daniel Norris (AAA), LHSP Matt Boyd (AAA), LHSP Jairo Labourt (A+)

Toronto gets: LHSP David Price

Full Recap:

Analysis: I understand that David Price is a great fit for the Blue Jays. Still, I really don’t like the way this deal is structured. As it stands, the Blue Jays give up a future number three in Norris, as well as two very intriguing prospects. That may not be too much for a superstar rental. But who are we kidding: even if the Jays make the playoffs (they would not be in if the season ended today), they are betting their future almost entirely on the one game playoff with the Yankees six games ahead in the AL East. That is a very risky proposition. On the Tigers side, the franchise has to be ecstatic about their return. It is a much better package than what they gave up to acquire David in the first place.

Blue Jays: Grade C+

Tigers: Grade A+

The Brandon Moss Trade (Indians/Cardinals)

Cleveland gets: LHSP Rob Kaminsky (A+)

St. Louis gets: 1B/LF Brandon Moss

Full Recap:

Analysis: I do my best to temper criticism against the Cardinals, arguably the most intelligent franchise in baseball. However, I just cannot wrap my head around giving up a legitimate top prospect for a power hitter with an 89 OPS+. Cleveland is a huge, huge winner here.

Indians: Grade A++

Cardinals: Grade F

The Dustin Ackley Trade (Mariners/Yankees)

New York (AL) gets: 2B/OF Dustin Ackley

Seattle gets: LF Ramon Flores (AAA), RHSP Jose Ramirez (AAA)

Full Recap:

Analysis: This trade won’t drastically change the Yankees 2015 season. Ackley, though, gives the team much-needed depth at second base and, as a lefty, is a good fit at the short porch in Yankee stadium. The Mariners bring back two useful players in Flores and Ramirez. I see the former as a fourth outfielder and the latter as a 6th-7th inning reliever.

Yankees: Grade B-

Mariners: Grade B

The Joakim Soria Trade (Tigers/Pirates)

Detroit gets: SS JaCoby Jones (AA)

Pittsburgh gets: RHP Joakim Soria

Full Recap:

Analysis: The Pirates made a good decision to trade JaCoby Jones in exchange for veteran relief help. They have a boatload of young shortstops in the pipeline. And, even though Jones has major league starter potential, he is struggling in A-ball as a 23-year-old. He probably projects more as a utility guy at that point. In the Tigers’ case, that is not a bad return for a half-season of a reliever. But it also is not a great one.

Pirates: Grade B+

Tigers: Grade B-

The Carlos Gomez Trade (Brewers/Astros)

Milwaukee gets: RF Domingo Santana (AAA), CF Brett Phillips (AA), LHSP Josh Hader (AA), RHSP Adrian Houser (AA)

Houston gets: CF Carlos Gomez, RHSP Mike Fiers, International Bonus Slot

Full Recap:

Analysis: Three top-100 prospects in exchange for a year and a half of a declining Carlos Gomez and a number four starter is a very good return for Milwaukee. I can justify the Astros’ side too, but Brett Phillips is a huge loss to their farm system.

Brewers: Grade A

Astros: Grade C+

The Mike Leake Trade (Reds/Giants)

Cincinnati gets: RHSP Keury Mella (A+), 3B/1B Adam Duvall (AAA)

San Francisco gets: RHSP Mike Leake

Full Recap:

Analysis: It might seem alarming that a mediocre arm like Mike Leake cost the Giants their number one prospect, but this is actually a very fair trade overall. Mella has a very good fastball and the body of a starter. However, it remains to be seen if he can actually reach his potential. Duvall is one-tooled guy who can provide power of the bench. One more check in favor of the Giants, reportedly, San Fran is looking to lock up their new starting pitcher long term after this season.

Giants: Grade B

Reds: Grade B+

The Gerardo Parra Trade (Brewers/Orioles)

Baltimore gets: OF Gerardo Parra

Milwaukee gets: RHSP Zach Davies (AAA)

Full Recap:

Analysis: This trade is perfectly fair on all accounts. Parra has been excellent this year and will be huge for the Orioles down the stretch. Davies is major league ready and has a chance to slot into the back-end of Milwaukee’s rotation for a long time. Some may have expected more for Parra, but teams hold their prospects tighter these days when dealing for rentals. The Orioles earn a higher grade because they acquired an elite player without giving up an elite prospect.

Orioles: Grade A-

Brewers: Grade B

The Jonathan Broxton Trade (Brewers/Cardinals)

St. Louis gets: RHP Jonathan Broxton, $3M

Milwaukee gets: LF Malik Collymore (R+)

Full Recap:

Analysis: The Cardinals acquires some bullpen help and might be able to catch lightning in a bottle down the stretch. Milwaukee adds an athletic lottery ticket. Win-win

St Louis: Grade B

Milwaukee: Grade B+

The Dan Haren Trade (Marlins/Cubs)

Chicago (NL) gets: RHSP Dan Haren

Miami gets: RHSP Ivan Pineyro (AA), SS Elliot Soto (AA)

Full Recap:

Analysis: Haren has been pretty good this year (3.42 ERA, 1.093 WHIP) and will strengthen the Cubs rotation. Pineyro has fifth starter/swing man/middle reliever potential. Soto is organizational depth at this point. An underrated trade by the Cubbies.

Cubs: Grade A-

Miami: Grade C+

The Kevin Jepsen Trade (Rays/Twins)

Minnesota gets: RHP Kevin Jepsen

Tampa Bay gets: RHSP Chih-Wei Hu (A+), RHSP Alexis Tapia (R+)

Full Recap:

Analysis: Contenders could always use bullpen help, so Jepsen’s 2.81 ERA will certainly help the Twins down the stretch. However, I think the Rays got the better end of this deal. Hu is an interesting prospect with (some say) a terrific palmball. Tapia is a projectable long-term arm with good control and stuff. Nice return for a 31-year-old reliever.

Rays: Grade A

Twins: Grade C

The Mark Lowe Trade (Mariners/Blue Jays)

Toronto gets: RHP Mark Lowe

Seattle gets: LHSP Rob Rasmussen (AAA), LHSP Nick Wells (A), LHSP Jake Brentz (R+)


Analysis: Lowe is having an excellent season, but he is a replaceable arm despite his eye-popping numbers. Rasmussen should be a good, controllable relief arm for Seattle. Brentz and Wells are both young prospects who can hit the upper-90s and flash good command. Chalk this up as win for Seattle.

Mariners: Grade A-

Blue Jays: Grade C

The Ben Revere Trade (Phillies/Blue Jays)

Toronto gets: CF Ben Revere

Philadelphia gets: RHP Alberto Tirado (A+), RHP Jimmy Cordero (AA)

Full Recap:

Analysis: I really like Ben Revere as a player. Yes, he’s getting expensive. But these days players who can hit, play defense, and run at above-average levels are very rare. Tirado is a tough prospect to relinquish. His fastball can reach the upper-90s and he owns a nasty slider. He has been moved to the bullpen, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Philly give him another chance at sticking as a starter. Cordero looks he should be like a quality middle reliever in time. Still, due to Revere’s nice base of skills, I think this is a win for Toronto.

Toronto: Grade B+

Philadelphia: Grade B

The Yoenis Cespedes Trade (Tigers/Mets)

New York (NL) gets: LF Yoenis Cespedes

Detroit gets: RHSP Michael Fulmer (AA), RHSP Luis Cessa (AA)

Full Recap:

Analysis: I have mixed feelings about this trade. Cespedes is a perfect fit for the Mets. But giving up Michael Fulmer is a tough pill to swallow. Ultimately, though, I think New York will be better for it. Fulmer has the stuff to develop into a strong number two or three starter, but his injury problems are worrying. He likely fits better in the ‘pen. Cessa is a nice depth add to the Tigers replenished system. He can reach 96 miles per hour, has good command, and slots in as the organization’s #9 prospect, according to

Mets: Grade B

Tigers: Grade A-

The Sam Dyson Trade (Marlins/Rangers)

Texas gets: RHP Sam Dyson

Miami gets: C Tomas Telis, LHP Cody Ege (AA)

Full Recap:

Analysis: Not an incredibly interesting deal here. Miami gets a future back-up catcher and LOOGY, while the Rangers add a solid, if unspectacular, reliever. For me, though, Texas comes out on top. A proven and controllable pitcher, even if he only relieves, is a more valuable commodity than a 24-year-old 5’8" catcher and lefty with below-average stuff and inconsistent command.

Texas: Grade B+

Marlins: Grade C-

The JA Happ Trade (Mariners/Pirates)

Pittsburgh gets: LHSP JA Happ

Seattle gets: RHSP Adrian Sampson (AAA)

Full Recap:

Analysis: Happ is your prototypical fifth starter. He is not good. He is not bad. He is just consistent and will give his team a chance to win. Sampson projects as a back-end rotation piece given his decent command, low 90s fastball with movement, and developing secondary offerings. I think this is a very even deal.

Pirates: Grade B-

Mariners: Grade B-