2022 MLB trade deadline: Which teams have put themselves in a position to make the postseason?
With the trade deadline passed, we take a look at the biggest movers and shakers as the dust settles, and see who has improved their chances for fall ball
With the dust still settling on the MLB trade deadline and the predicted last-minute flurry of moves, it is only fitting that we ask who will be the teams that see the return on all of this backroom negotiation. With much of the horse trading held up by the Juan Soto saga, the deals were perhaps not as big across the league as they might have been had he been traded earlier on.
Last season saw the moves made at the deadline secure a lineup that would eventually lift a fairly average Atlanta Braves team to become World Series champions. A similar sort of hope is pegged on the San Diego Padres after they landed what could be the biggest deal of them all in the one-two punch of Soto and Josh Bell from Washington.
There are six teams who are in the best post-season form up to now, and whose future will hinge on the deals done. Let’s start with that big deal in San Diego.
San Diego Padres
There is no doubt at all that the biggest winners in the 2022 trade deadline shuffle is the San Diego Padres. Not only did they land two of the biggest bats in the league when they pulled off the coup of getting Josh Bell thrown into the Juan Soto package, but they managed to grab perhaps the top closing pitcher in baseball in Josh Hader.
The Padres went from a long-distance also-ran in the NL West to a post-season contender in a matter of two days. They should get into a Wild Card spot at least, even if the Dodgers are too far ahead to realistically chase, but this is where their newly revived lineup should pay dividends for them. Going into September and beyond, the Padres will have one of the most potent offenses in baseball and real depth added to an already strong bullpen. They could be in for a long ride in the post season, perhaps even pulling off the same big trick that Atlanta did last season and trade their way to the World Series.
The defending champs are a team who have come off losing out in the trade wars by comparison. Just two weeks ago, they had very few needs and were looking like a serious contender for the NL pennant in October. Fast forward and an injury depleted outfield and a gap left by Ozzie Albies in the middle infield makes the Braves jump onto the trade radar.
They managed to pick up Robbie Grossman to help their outfield along and Jake Odorizzi brings a solid arm to their bullpen, but none of their moves were earth-shattering, and nowhere near the lineup that they brought into last season’s back nine.
They recouped a familiar face in bringing back Ehire Adrianza from the Nationals and locked down Austin Riley to a career-long contract, but substantially, the Braves chances are no better now than they were last week, and in the light of some of the improvements made around the National League, that is a worry. They should still make the playoffs, but their hill to climb is significantly steeper than it was before.
For the other team in last year’s Fall Classic, it is a different story. The Astros were coming into the second half of the season as one of the strongest teams in baseball, looking to be a strong contender to represent the American League in the World Series. They had three obvious needs that they were looking to trade for, and they have addressed them all, making them big winners in these negotiations.
Trey Mancini is a big bat at first base, adding to an already prodigious offense, but the biggest need that they filled was behind the plate. With Martin Maldonado solid behind the dish but disastrously weak with the bat, and Jason Castro just as flaky in the opposite direction, picking up Christian Vásquez from the Red Sox is the move that should add the most bang for the buck to this Astros lineup.
The last minute trade of Jake Odorizzi for Will Smith gives the Astros a reliever from the left side of the dish to add spice to a strong bullpen, something that will be a big help in the coming months.
Los Angeles Dodgers
With one of the strongest batting orders in baseball, the Dodgers are running away with the National League West, and much of the focus for the fan base has been adding even more power to this offense. It was with this mindset that they picked up Joey Gallo from the Yankees, and while that may cause groans on the west coast, and cheers in the Bronx, there is reason to be cautiously positive about this move.
Gallo has shown that he can be a powerful weapon from his time in Texas, and while the pressure cooker of New York did not suit him at all, dropping his batting average so low as to make some wonder why he is still in the majors at all, he might be able to get back to his productive ways in an environment like Los Angeles. Let’s be realistic, he will only ever be a supporting cast member, but the Yankees demand that their three outfielders plus DH be the top four hitters in the country, and that kind of expectation was never going to work with Joey. In LA, by contrast, the order is so deep with power hitters that anything that he can add will be spice to the gumbo.
New York Yankees
The biggest win that the pinstripes came away with was in nabbing Frankie Montas from the A’s. He came as a two-fer deal with Lou Trivino, making their one-two combo deal almost as big as the Padres Soto-Bell package. The Yankees were in dire need of help in their rotation, and Montas is one of the best starters in the game.
Adding to their coup on the mound, they also picked up a huge piece of offensive production in Andrew Benintendi, making their woes at the bat likely to clear up in the coming days. Shipping Gallo off to LA frees up a spot in the lineup where the solid production of Benintendi will add to the incredible power run that Aaron Judge is on at the moment. All in all, the Yankees come out of this as clear winners.
New York Mets
For a team with a new owner and a desire to spend money, their lack of serious acquisition means that even though the still sit three and a half games clear at the top of the NL East, their position is not bettered over what it was already. They should still get into the playoffs, and are as strong a team as they were before, but if you were looking for that big signing to push them over the top, you can forget about it.
With the Braves nipping at their heels and the Padres getting significantly stronger, the Mets are not likely to win the pennant this season.
There are a few other teams who have won big in the trade negotiations, and not all of them are so clear-cut and obvious. The Cincinnati Reds have managed to come away as overall winners in the long run, by selling rather than buying. They got huge returns for two of the top pitchers in the game, Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle, with each trade involving several infielders, pitchers, and players as yet to be named, plus cash considerations that will set up the Reds for three or four years to come. Unloading Tommy Pham gives them a future Red Sox pick, which is a big win for an ageing player on a short contract.
The St Louis Cardinals also come away from these dealings a bit better off, and by adding Jose Quintana and Chris Stratton to their rotation, they should be able to shove their way past the Brewers in the NL Central going into the playoffs. Sometimes, the smart move is the slow one.