Mound Musings: Examining the Trade Deadline Deals

Mound Musings: Examining the Trade Deadline Deals

This article is part of our Mound Musings series.

The trade deadline has come and gone, and wow, what a ride! We even saw a young superstar in Juan Soto moved, for a considerable haul, not surprisingly. And, everybody was looking for pitching – not at all surprising given the many injuries and sub-par performances on the mounds this season – but there wasn't all that much starting pitching available. That didn't slow down all of the contenders. They cleaned out the handful of starters, then went to work in earnest on stockpiling relief arms.

I think teams are again seeing the potential problems that will arise as innings totals accumulate. That is contributing to more injuries, and undoubtedly creating ineffective pitchers who are simply running out of gas. Therefore, while quality was again important, there were some pitchers – both starters and relievers – who were added just to provide innings. Extra arms equal at least some rest for the pitchers you are counting on. That said, let's see how changes in latitudes might impact the key arms involved:

Luis Castillo to Seattle:

As the deadline drew close, the Mariners quickly threw their line in the water and hauled up the biggest catch of the day – the biggest pitcher in the sea anyway. This is probably as good as it could get for Castillo who moves out of the Cincinnati launching pad, and will now work in front of a better fielding team that is loaded with youthful enthusiasm as well as talent. He drew a rough

The trade deadline has come and gone, and wow, what a ride! We even saw a young superstar in Juan Soto moved, for a considerable haul, not surprisingly. And, everybody was looking for pitching – not at all surprising given the many injuries and sub-par performances on the mounds this season – but there wasn't all that much starting pitching available. That didn't slow down all of the contenders. They cleaned out the handful of starters, then went to work in earnest on stockpiling relief arms.

I think teams are again seeing the potential problems that will arise as innings totals accumulate. That is contributing to more injuries, and undoubtedly creating ineffective pitchers who are simply running out of gas. Therefore, while quality was again important, there were some pitchers – both starters and relievers – who were added just to provide innings. Extra arms equal at least some rest for the pitchers you are counting on. That said, let's see how changes in latitudes might impact the key arms involved:

Luis Castillo to Seattle:

As the deadline drew close, the Mariners quickly threw their line in the water and hauled up the biggest catch of the day – the biggest pitcher in the sea anyway. This is probably as good as it could get for Castillo who moves out of the Cincinnati launching pad, and will now work in front of a better fielding team that is loaded with youthful enthusiasm as well as talent. He drew a rough assignment in his first Seattle start taking on the Yankees in the Bronx, but he held up pretty well, and his mates got him plenty of run support to log a win. His fantasy value just skyrocketed. He might very well be a top 10, or close to it, pitcher in next year's spring draft.

Frankie Montas (and Lou Trivino) to New York (AL):

Presumably the Yankees were in the hunt for Castillo, but when he signed with Seattle, they turned up the heat on Montas and landed him with some bullpen help in Trivino. Both should be useful additions with Montas likely stepping into the No. 2 spot in the rotation behind Gerrit Cole. He missed some time recently with minor shoulder issues, but he came back and the Yankees must feel it's not an ongoing problem. Going from one of the worst teams to one of the best should more than make up for the tougher ballpark. Trivino isn't great, but with the Yankee's injury-riddled pen, he should see some higher-leverage innings. Montas' value receives a significant boost.

Jose Quintana to St. Louis:

After several lackluster seasons with the Cubs, Quintana moved to Pittsburgh this year and has enjoyed his best season since 2017. The bump in performance certainly increased his perceived value at the deadline, and moving to a much better team with one of the better defensive squads in the game should increase his fantasy value, but don't get too carried away. Quintana is not prone to missing very many bats and probably slots in as the No. 3 or No. 4 starter in the Cardinals rotation. He looks like a competent mid-rotation starter in fantasy circles.

Jake Odorizzi to Atlanta:

This very much looks like a trade that helps both teams. The Astros were overloaded in the rotation – how often do we hear something that outrageous – so much so that Oidorizzi was in danger of losing his spot, so they swung a deal with the Braves to acquire some much-needed bullpen help. Now he moves to Atlanta where he should settle into the middle of their rotation assuming he can stay healthy. He has made just 12 starts in 2022 due to injuries but has been relatively effective. Both teams have strong lineups, so his fantasy value is probably a wash.

MacKenzie Gore to Washington:

The most intriguing trade of the deadline period became even more interesting for me when Gore was included in the package that landed Soto with the Padres. Not surprisingly, I have mixed emotions. He goes from a very strong team that just got much stronger, to a rebuilding team that appears to be years from a competitive state. That said, a healthy Gore has top-of-the-rotation stuff when healthy, so he could blossom into an ace given that exceptionally high ceiling. He's currently shut down with some elbow issues, but thankfully there was no structural damage, so no surgery. His value comes in 2023 and beyond, albeit pitching for the Nationals will reduce that value considerably.

Tyler Mahle to Minnesota:

I love the "changes in latitudes" angle with this deal. After a few seasons pitching his home starts in hitter heaven, Mahle gets a chance to strut his stuff in much friendlier surroundings, and with a pretty potent team behind him. I have tracked him the past couple of years and have noted some fairly significant improvements. His command has actually improved, and he is missing more bats, both of which bode well for his future with the Twins. He's not an ace, but I could easily see pursuing him as a potential acquisition if his current owner isn't asking for the Earth and the moon.

Noah Syndergaard to Philadelphia:

As much as I like Mahle's new home, I am more than a little concerned about the new surroundings in which Thor finds himself. While the Phillies boast a more potent offense, they play in a much more hitter-friendly park, and defensively, they are, in a word, atrocious. Normally, that would be just a mild concern, but Syndergaard has been pitching to contact more this season, reducing the usage of his breaking pitches, presumably to protect his surgically repaired elbow. More balls in play with that park and that defense is a recipe for distress. Maybe the outlook will improve in 2023, but I am compelled to decrease his expected value based on potential peripheral damage for the rest of 2022.

Mitch White to Toronto:

This one is a little harder to measure. White pitched fairly well while shuttling back and forth between Los Angeles and Oklahoma City, appearing in 15 games – 10 starts for the Dodgers. He appears to be an insurance policy for the Blue Jays and might fill a similar role. When everyone is healthy, their rotation is fairly set, but Ross Stripling just went on the IL for what is expected to be a minimal stay, so White could some innings this weekend. He could a viable streamer against selected opponents, but his overall fantasy value without a fulltime spot in the rotation is probably limited.

Jordan Montgomery to St. Louis:

It might be surprising to like a deal where someone leaves the Yankees, but in some ways I can see this benefitting Montgomery. I have been on his bandwagon for quite some time, and that vaunted Yankees offense should have provided enough run support to make him a big winner – but it didn't. Despite a respectable 3.69 ERA with a 1.10 WHIP, Montgomery is just 3-3 over his 21 starts. That's an incredible 15 no decisions. Now he benefits from a much better defense and pitches in a much less hostile division, so maybe his luck changes. Take a shot and move him up a notch.

Max Castillo to Kansas City: 

Just a brief note on Castillo who was acquired by Kansas City in the Whit Merrifield deal. Overall, I would say he is not quite ready for prime time, but in watching him, I do feel like there is some upside there, and he at least deserves to be on your radar.

And, in the bullpen, there were many moves of note … 

Scott Effross to New York (AL):

The Cubs continue to clean house, this time with a key set-up guy moving to New York. Effross has been steady this season for the Cubs, pitching almost exclusively in the seventh or eighth innings, and he should continue in that role for the depleted Yankees. While I'm not a big believer in his stuff, his net fantasy value probably jumps up a notch pitching for a team that likes to win a lot of games.

Josh Hader to San Diego:

Wow. Arguably the best closer in the game over the past few years moves to San Diego. I know he has struggled a bit recently, and I could suggest a better team and a more pitcher-friendly park could improve his numbers, but to be honest, I really don't believe it matters. Hader is a stud in any ballpark, pitching for any team that can provide him with a fairly steady diet of ninth-inning leads. He can pitch for me any time. 

Taylor Rogers (and Dinelson Lamet) to Milwaukee:

So, here's the flip side of the Hader coin. Can a team be better having dealt away baseball's best closer? I wouldn't say better really; let's call it deeper. The Brewers have a premier set-up guy in Devin Williams, and now they add an experienced closer in southpaw Rogers and they pick up a huge upside arm (if he can ever get and stay healthy) in Lamet. We don 't know for sure how they deploy the Williams/Rogers duo, but my guess is Williams gets the lion's share of save chances while Rogers often works the eighth inning unless matchups favor using him in the ninth inning at times.

Jake Diekman to Chicago (AL):

The question begs to be asked, why does a team with an awful bullpen deal away a viable left-handed relief pitcher? Diekman has stretches of competence, but he has always had trouble throwing strikes. Maybe an occasional hold, but move on.

Will Smith to Houston:

This is the other side of the deal that sent Odorizzi to Atlanta. Smith provides much-needed depth, especially from the left side, to the Astros bullpen, but perhaps more importantly, he brings experience pitching in very stressful situations. He will generally serve as a late inning set-up arm with the possible chance at an occasional save. He has struggled this year, but I expect a bit better from him during the stretch run.

Matt Bush to Milwaukee:

A long time ago Bush was a highly coveted young pitcher, a first-round selection in the 2004 draft, but a laundry list of physical and personal problems kept him from realizing his full potential. Now a fulltime reliever, he is tossing some of the best innings of his career. He adds depth to the Milwaukee pen and will probably pitch primarily in the middle innings, sometimes going more than one inning, but his fantasy value is limited.

Jorge Lopez to Minnesota:

The Twins lead the AL Central despite inconsistency in the bullpen, but it looks as if they may have taken a huge step in solving that problem. Lopez stepped up and did a very good job in Baltimore – he's a big part of the reason they have been respectable this year. I look for Lopez to continue being a reliable guy in the ninth inning, and he should see more save opportunities pitching for a better team. Move him up a bit on the food chain.

David Robertson to Philadelphia:

Robertson may be joining a growing list of relief pitchers the Phillies acquire to fill critical innings roles only to find them lacking. He did save 30-plus games in three consecutive years, but that was in 2014-16, and the now 37-year-old had only borderline stuff even then. My guess (hope) is the Phillies will use him as a set-up guy for their best reliever, Seranthony Dominguez, but they may opt to have him try closing to free up the very versatile Dominguez for work whenever the need arises. Stranger things do happen.

Raisel Iglesias to Atlanta:

In a last-minute deal, the Braves acquired Iglesias from the Angels to reinforce their bullpen. He saved 50 games over the last season and a half, but he'll likely serve in a set-up role and provide insurance for closer Kenley Jansen. He could see an occasional save chance when Jansen needs a day off, but his fantasy value in most leagues that don't count holds probably takes a significant hit.

Endgame Odyssey:

The post-deadline Odyssey has a few closer questions to explore beyond those mentioned above. With Lopez now in Minnesota, the most frequently mentioned replacement is Felix Bautista, but Dillon Tate and Cionel Perez might also figure into the mix. In Pittsburgh, David Bednar was not dealt, possibly because he has suffered some ongoing back issues. In fact, he just went back on the IL again, opening the door a bit for Wil Crowe to possibly see a few save opportunities. The Cubs dealing Robertson leaves a vacancy in the ninth inning. It could be open auditions, with Rowan Wick the slight favorite. In truth, nobody there excites me. I like Jose Quijada to take over for the departed Iglesias with the Angels. He's got pretty good stuff and could turn into a respectable endgamer. With Trivino now in New York, the A's have no set-in-stone closer. Dany Jimenez filled in earlier this season with mixed (generous) results. They prefer to monitor A.J. Puk's workload, but it may be time for him to take his shot. And, in a couple nontrade related situations, Nationals closer Tanner Rainey underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this week, so Kyle Finnegan will have that gig for some time, but if he stumbles, don't forget about Carl Edwards. In Texas, it could be interesting to see who comes out on top between former closers Jose Leclerc and Jonathan Hernandez, with Matt Moore the darkhorse in that ninth-inning derby.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brad Johnson
For more than 30 years, pitching guru Brad "Bogfella" Johnson has provided insightful evaluation and analysis of pitchers to a wide variety of fantasy baseball websites, webcasts and radio broadcasts. He joined RotoWire in 2011 with his popular Bogfella's Notebook.
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