Thoughts on the 2023 MLB trade deadline
Some miscellaneous thoughts on yesterday’s MLB trade deadline:
- Another clichéd rant about the Yankees could not be contained in a single bullet point, so check out my column for more analysis of that particular shitshow.
- The Red Sox had an underwhelming deadline, adding only utilityman Luis Urías from This feels like a major missed opportunity for Chaim Bloom, who still seems reticent to pull the trigger on deals involving prospects. Boston has quietly morphed into a very good offensive team, somewhat redolent of the vaunted 2013 squad, but arms were desperately needed to facilitate a deep playoff run. The Sox will surprise some folks down the stretch, but their overall timidity still feels anachronistic. And foregoing the chance to augment a decent team, Bloom is now firmly on the hot seat with an expiring contract.
- It was good to see the Padres keep their core together and add a few marginal pieces. They are all-in, driven by committed ownership and a voracious front office, whose disruptive zeal is exemplary. Despite being two games below .500, San Diego has strong underlying metrics and one of the deepest, most balanced rosters in baseball. Do not count them out of securing a wildcard, and few teams will want to play the Padres in October.
- Good on the Angels for keeping Shohei Ohtani and trying to win. It will likely prove futile and myopic in the long run, but they are going for it now. The standings are ominous, the farm is bare, and Mike Trout is injured, but having Ohtani is better than not having Ohtani – for any length of time. Championships matter more than prospects, and Anaheim is taking a shot. I applaud the Angels.
- Contrary to public opinion, and the ‘go-for-it’ rhetoric endorsed above, I also thought the Mets took a shrewd approach to the trade deadline. Yes, the Mets spent $353 million to languish in fourth place, far adrift of a playoff spot. And sure, the optics of blowing it up mid-season are difficult to countenance. But turning ancient Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer into three highly-regarded prospects makes sense for this franchise. Steve Cohen will stop at nothing to make the Mets a perennial contender, and that includes admitting past mistakes en route to swift mitigation. Across town, Brian Cashman could learn a thing or two about that.
- MLB severely restricts the way teams can wield financial advantages. From luxury tax penalties and revenue-sharing to international signing restrictions and draft slot recommendations, the league is obsessed with parity. There is even talk of limiting off-field spending – on front office executives and analytical systems, for instance – in future, towards that dubious vision of a level playing field. What the Mets did this week – eating over $70 million in salary to obtain better quality prospects – is one of the few ways a franchise can still flex its resources with impunity. Mets fans should be happy they have a senior management team willing to maximise every crack in the game’s watertight terrain. That attitude, and that perseverance, creates a winning culture.
- Many critics are already accusing the Mets of ‘buying’ top prospects. There are calls for reform and regulation to dissuade such cavalier spending. However, none of those claims are true. In Cohen’s eyes, the Mets had already spent that money. The $216 million outlay on Verlander and Scherzer was already accounted for. If anything, then, the Mets salvaged $70 million and acquired plenty of exciting young talent this week. Sounds like a good GM to me. Maybe Billy Eppler should stick around after all.
- It was amazing to watch the Cubs’ players band together and produce a remarkable 10-1 run to force a pivot in approach from their front office. The Cubs have looked pretty solid to me all year, but they were eight-and-a-half games out of a playoff spot on 17 July. Impending free agents Cody Bellinger and Marcus Stroman figured to be moved at the deadline, and another retool seemed likely in Chicago. Then the Cubs got hot. Then Mike Tauchman turned into superman. Then Jed Hoyer had to buy. He did, adding Jeimer Candelario, and now the Cubs seek a first true playoff appearance – discarding 2020, because meh – in five seasons. That would be fun to watch. They are only four games out in the division.
- The Seattle Mariners continue to confound, true to their destiny. Though trading a dominant closer while still in the wildcard chase seems counterproductive, and very often is, I actually like the M’s return for Paul Sewald, who they sent to Arizona. Seattle landed rookie outfielder Dominic Canzone, cost-controlled utilityman Josh Rojas and Double-A prospect Ryan Bliss from the Diamondbacks. I particularly like Rojas, who is perpetually underrated. It will be interesting to see him play regularly for the Mariners, who supplemented their core without necessarily waving the white flag for 2023.