MLB trade deadline winners and losers: Dodgers go big, Padres strike out in wild NL West race

PHOENIX — It was the wildest, craziest, frenzied and most exhilarating trade deadline in baseball history.

In a span of two days, there were more than 30 trades with nearly 90 players and all but a few teams joining in. 

There was an MVP, a Cy Young winner and dozens of All-Stars switching teams from coast to coast.

Two of the last five World Series champions completely dismantled, with the Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals becoming unrecognizable.

The New York Yankees refused to go away. The Los Angeles Dodgers kept spending.

The Toronto Blue Jays, back home for the first time in 270 days, gave their home fans something to celebrate.

And the Chicago White Sox and Cubs ended their cold war with the Cubs handing over the keys to one of the game’s premier closers in Craig Kimbrel, and the White Sox personally jump-starting the Cubs’ rebuild.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this,’’ Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

Nobody has.

Pretty amazing what a single trade deadline can mean when there’s no typical Aug. 31 plan with a non-waiver deadline.

It was thrilling.

“It’s about maximizing our odds of winning a championship whenever we can,’’ Dodgers president Andrew Friedman said about the club’s record-setting $275 million payroll. “[Owner] Mark Walter has demonstrated that at literally every single turn, this is just yet another example of that and we’ll figured it out as we get to the offseason.

“Hopefully, with champagne-soaked eyes.’’

It was heartbreaking.

“It’s been tough to say goodbye to everybody,’’ Nats manager Davey Martinez said, tearing up on his Zoom call. “But these guys all have a special place, not only here for the city of Washington and the Nationals fans, but definitely a special place in my heart. I’ll miss these guys.

“But we’ll have a special bond, especially the guys that were here in ’19.’’

There were winners and losers everywhere across the board, but here the five biggest winners and losers after the dust settled.

The Dodgers landed Trea Turner and Max Scherzer in a trade with the Nationals.

Winners

Los Angeles Dodgers

Come on, did anyone really expect the Dodgers to stop spending money when they have a chance to repeat?

Their payroll ballooned to a major-league record $275 million, but if they win another World Series they’ll be asking Los Angeles city officials to fork over the cost of the ticker-tape parade.

The Dodgers showed they’re all in by acquiring not only three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer, but also All-Star shortstop Trea Turner.

They plan on keeping Scherzer after he becomes a free agent, potentially giving him the salary that was supposed to go to Trevor Bauer.

They also hope to convince Turner to stay past 2022.

Their best recruiting tool?

How about another gaudy World Series ring. 

New York Yankees

The Yankees proved that you really don’t have to hang onto your prospects and con your fanbase that they’re all going to be stars.

They even gave up better prospects than needed just to force teams to eat $8.8 million worth of salaries, assuring they remained below the $210 million luxury tax.

And they sure got a whole lot better with left-handed sluggers Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo.

Oh, and for good measure, they pick up a left-handed arm in Andrew Heaney

They’re not going to catch the Boston Red Sox, and likely not the Tampa Blue Jays, either, but that second wild-card spot is open, and they’ll take their chances winning that game with ace Gerrit Cole on the mound.

Chicago White Sox

They have an eight-game lead in the American League Central, and everyone else in the division has already surrendered. Yet, making the playoffs isn’t enough. Winning the American League pennant isn’t enough. They want a World Series championship.

So, what do they do? Instead of they are trying to make small upgrades to their bullpen, they get the absolute best reliever on the market: Eight-time All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel from the Chicago Cubs.

They now have the most talented bullpen in all of baseball with Kimbrel, fellow All-Star closer Liam Hendriks and Michael Kopech. If the White Sox have a lead after the fifth inning, in the words of Hall of Fame broadcaster Hawk Harrelson, “This game is ovah!’’

Toronto Blue Jays

They are on the outside looking in for a playoff berth. No matter. The Blue Jays believe their opportunity for the playoffs is right now, and they cracked that window wide open by grabbing Minnesota Twins ace Jose Berrios, even if it cost them their top two prospects.

They wound up remaking virtually their entire bullpen with the additions of Brad Hand, Adam Cimber, Joakim Soria and Trevor Richards.

The Blue Jays are going to be awfully scary in the future, but on Friday, they sent the message that the future begins now.

The Bay Area

They play in one of the best ballparks in San Francisco and the worst in Oakland, but with the moves they made this week, fans in Northern California are hoping for a repeat of that 1989 World Series – without the earthquake.

The Oakland Athletics, chasing the powerful Houston Astros, opened the week by grabbing outfielder Starling Marte of the Miami Marlins, and closed it by acquiring veteran catcher Yan Gomez and veteran utilityman Josh Harrison.

The A’s may have their most talented team in years entering the postseason.

The San Francisco Giants, the biggest surprise in baseball, aren’t satisfied with just making the postseason. They are planning for a deep October run, grabbing perhaps the most versatile player in the game in Kris Bryant, without giving up any of their top prospects.

Losers

Seattle Mariners

They were just a game out of a wild-card berth when they traded closer Kendall Graveman to the Houston Astros, setting off a complete clubhouse firestorm. Sure, getting three years of control for Abraham Toro, who has no position, for two months of Graveman makes sense on paper. But this is a game played with human beings and not spreadsheets.

It may have been the right move if the Mariners were at least five games out of a wild-card spot, but not when you haven’t reached the postseason in 20 years and tear the hearts out of your players.

“We were unwilling to meet the prices to the targets we did have,’’ Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto said. “We were resistant to trading our top prospects for a short-term gain.’’

Try telling that to your players.

San Diego Padres

They were all in during the winter, grabbing starters Yu Darvish, Blake Snell and Joe Musgrove, and did acquire Pirates All-Star second baseman Adam Frazier ahead of the deadline.

Yet, so much more was expected. They lost out on Twins ace Jose Berrios, Nationals ace Max Scherzer and Rangers slugger Joey Gallo and had to settle for reliever Daniel Hudson and fourth outfielder Jake Marisnick.

This is hardly what the Padres needed at the trade deadline, particularly when their starters have failed to complete five innings in 47 of their games this season, second-most in baseball. In comparison, the Dodgers have had only 16 games in which their starter failed to go at least five innings, and the Giants have had 25.

Their bullpen has already pitched 434 innings, the most in the National League.

They needed pitching help. They didn’t get any.

St. Louis Cardinals

Sure, they have no chance to catch the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central, and probably weren’t going to catch the San Diego Padres for the second wild-card spot, but there still are two months left in the season. They are getting ace Jack Flaherty and Miles Mikolas back in a few weeks.

And the Cardinals surrendered.

Their only moves were acquiring Twins veteran J.A. Happ, who has an 8.74 ERA in his last 14 starts, and Nationals veteran Jon Lester, who has a 5.02 ERA.

It’s a tough day for a veteran Cardinals team and passionate fanbase to swallow.

Boston Red Sox

Sure, Chris Sale is coming back in August. Yes, the Red Sox are playing with house money as the biggest surprise in the American League. But with a chance to do something special, all they did was acquire injured slugger Kyle Schwarber and struggling Twins reliever Hansel Robles (3-4, 4.91) while the Yankees, Blue Jays and Rays beefed up.

This is a rotation that has badly struggled since June 1.

Cover your eyes and take a look at the before and after:

Nick Pivetta’s ERA before June 1: 3.86 ERA; after 5.17 ERA.

Martin Perez: 3.55 ERA; after 4.91 ERA.

Garrett Richards: 3.83 ERA; after 6.65 ERA.

Eduardo Rodriguez: 5.64 ERA; after 5.55 ERA.

They better hope that Sale returns to his form quickly – or that rotation could be in huge trouble.

Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals

Everyone knew this day was coming, but, man, was in painful to watch.

The Washington Nationals shipped away eight veterans, including their biggest stars in Scherzer and Turner, and now have 12 prospects from six organization.

“It’s been a tough couple of days,’’ GM Mike Rizzo says. “And [Thursday] was probably as tough a day as I’ve had as a general manager.’’

The Cubs also stripped their foundation down to the studs, trading off three popular players from their 2016 World Series team in Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javy Baez.

“There was no reason to go halfway,’’ Cubs president Jed Hoyer said. “The fact that we could not escape is that we were a fourth-place team. We lost 11 in a row and the Brewers took off on us. With that happening, I don’t think you let a crisis go to waste."