The 2023 MLB trade deadline might as well have been called reunion week.
A stark number of players were reacquired by clubs for whom they had previously played. Maybe that’s because the market was strange this year, with only a handful of clubs genuinely out of contention in each league’s playoff race.
As is the case every year, this deadline will have ramifications for years to come, and the best deals may not have been the ones consummated on deadline day.
But here are the immediate winners and losers of the 2023 MLB trade deadline.
2023 MLB Trade Deadline Winners
New York Mets
The 2023 season has been an unmitigated disaster, but the Mets salvaged it at the deadline, thanks again to Steve Cohen’s seemingly endless supply of money. Cohen has been talking constantly about stocking his team’s barren farm system, and New York got a small but meaningful collection of talent in the Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer trades.
Since Cohen was willing to retain a hefty portion of Scherzer’s and Verlander’s contracts, the Mets came away with a pair of top-100 prospects, Luisangel Acuña and Drew Gilbert, who are now top-five prospects in their system.
The rest of this season is lost, and Scherzer told reporters New York has its eye set on 2025 and 2026. But the Mets still have money to spend in free agency to make a run in 2024 and a new supply of controllable talent down the road.
The Orioles are having a resurgent season, and general manager Mike Elias rewarded his first-place club by bringing in Jack Flaherty in a trade with the Cardinals just before Tuesday’s 6 p.m. ET trade deadline.
- See where Baltimore sits in our American League Pennant odds.
Elias may not have acquired the likes of Verlander or Scherzer, but he did dip into his team’s deep prospect pool to find a veteran starter. Flaherty has previously been an ace and can guide the ultra-young Orioles staff into the postseason.
With the best record in the AL, a young and confident offense, and a lights-out bullpen, Flaherty could end up being the final piece to a championship puzzle for the Orioles, who haven’t reached the World Series since winning it 40 years ago.
In danger of failing to win the AL West in a 162-game season for the first time since the Obama administration, Houston brought back Verlander, the reigning AL Cy Young winner and the ace with whom it has reached four World Series.
With that move, the Astros jumped to the third-shortest odds to win the World Series, per DraftKings, behind only the Braves and Dodgers. Verlander should join the better-of-late Cristian Javier and Framber Valdez, who threw a no-hitter Tuesday night, to make up a staff that should strike fear in many fans’ hearts.
The Rangers haven’t reached the playoffs in seven seasons yet find themselves atop the AL West with less than two months to play. Thus, they were clear buyers and did well by bringing in Scherzer and unheralded lefty Jordan Montgomery, who was lights out for the Cardinals after they acquired him at last year’s trade deadline.
Like the Orioles, the Rangers needed a reward for playing over their heads, particularly after free-agent signing Jacob deGrom went down early in the season with an elbow injury. With veteran starters to complement the likes of Dane Dunning in the rotation, Texas has enough to challenge Baltimore, Houston, and Tampa Bay atop the American League.
2023 MLB Trade Deadline Losers
New York Yankees
It’s hard to make sense of what the Yankees have done over the past month. New York was 10-15 in July and entered play Tuesday last in the AL East, which could’ve prompted a sell-off of rentals like Harrison Bader, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, or other controllable players who would yield more of a return prospect-wise.
Yet, the Yankees also opened August just 3.5 games out of a playoff spot with the frontrunner for AL Cy Young on their staff. They could’ve shocked their dormant offense with a jolt by bringing in Teoscar Hernández, Tommy Pham, or someone else less prominently named.
So which did the Yankees do? Neither.
GM Brian Cashman, renowned historically for trade-making before the deadline, was the only executive who did not make a deal in July. And when the clock ticked, all the Yankees added were two middle relievers.
Los Angeles Angels
I know the Angels are desperate since they want to sign Shohei Ohtani, and there is a path to the postseason for them since the Rangers and Orioles are unproven and the Yankees and Red Sox are floundering.
But GM Perry Minasian put all his chips into the middle of the table for a club effectively tied for fourth place in the AL West and has a 10% chance of reaching the postseason, according to Baseball Reference.
There’s no right decision regarding trading Ohtani, and the club still does expect to get Mike Trout back from a broken bone in his hand. But doubling down and offloading the club’s Nos. 2, 3, and 8 prospects, Edgar Quero, Ky Bush, and Mason Albright, for two months of Lucas Giolito, Randal Grichuk, and C.J. Cron may not even make the Angels a playoff-contending team.
Plus, Ohtani still seems likely to walk in free agency, and now there will be a huge mess to clean up in Orange County.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Sure, LA got Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly from the White Sox and Amed Rosario from the Guardians, but it missed out on adding a front-line starting pitcher to complement long-time ace Clayton Kershaw in October.
The Dodgers were linked to Verlander before the Mets ultimately traded him to Houston and reportedly had a deal in place for lefty Edwin Rodríguez, but he wouldn’t waive his no-trade clause to don Dodger Blue.
- See where the Dodgers rank in the latest National League Pennant odds.
LA is still on the short list of favorites, but the Braves still look better on paper to represent the NL in the World Series due to the Dodgers’ unproven starting staff.
That constitutes a failure at the trade deadline.
Cleveland sits just two games out of the lead of the hapless AL Central but sold off starting pitcher Aaron Civale in a deal with the Tampa Bay Rays and dealt Josh Bell to the Marlins before Tuesday’s deadline.
Maybe Cleveland needs to bolster its roster for the future to become more competitive in the AL instead of just in its division. But the Guardians remain in the mix for the Central title and a playoff spot, thanks to the exploits of perennial All-Star José Ramírez.
However, Cleveland is less likely to reach the postseason after selling at the deadline, and it didn’t get any marquee prospects, either.