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Highlights of the 2021 MLB Trade Deadline

         This year’s MLB trade deadline was probably the craziest trade deadline in history. Very few teams were afraid to make moves at the deadline. Some teams surprisingly gave up many top prospects as they attempted to make moves toward a championship in the year following a shortened season. Only a few teams truly blew everything up while a few teams appeared to attempt to commit to the championship. Overall, there were a few trades that needed to be highlighted based on surprise or impact. 

         One of the best offensive teams in baseball needed additional pitching help to make a final push for the playoffs. The Toronto Blue Jays have an extremely potent offense led by first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and shortstop Bo Bichette. Even with such a high-power offense, the team still is in fourth place in their division. So, the Blue Jays decided to go and get the second-best starting pitcher in the trade market. According to MLB Trade Rumors, the Blue Jays traded prospects Simeon Woods Richardson and Austin Martin for starting pitcher Jose Berrios from the Minnesota Twins. Martin was often considered to be a top 20 prospect in all of baseball, so many people were surprised that the Blue Jays were ready to trade him. This trade was also surprising because the Blue Jays were not super close to the top of their division, so they weren’t guaranteed a playoff spot. Berrios is a very solid starting pitcher that isn’t a free agent until after 2022. However, he has been inconsistent in past years and has frequently been struck with injuries. The trade appeared to favor the Twins as they got a very strong prospect, but if the Blue Jays end up competing in the playoffs, then the Blue Jays may see the trade as a complete win.  

         The Chicago White Sox were set to be one of the best teams in all of baseball with such a strong core of young players, however injuries early in the season put a strong season at risk. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez, outfielder Luis Robert and infielder Nick Madrigal all suffered injuries early in the season. However, the White Sox stayed strong and ended up starting out the season very well and currently they lead their division by over 10 games. With this success, the White Sox front office decided to attempt to make the team even better. So, they decided to go and trade for Chicago Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel. After two disappointing seasons with the Cubs, in the 2021 season, Kimbrel has been one of the best relievers in all of baseball. This led the White Sox to trade Madrigal to the Cubs. Madrigal has had a solid career so far as he hits for a high average. The White Sox already had a strong closer in Liam Hendricks, but now they have a two headed monster at the back of their bullpen making it very difficult for teams to come back late in games. 

         One team brought in two power bats to a lineup that already had a lot of power. The New York Yankees traded for first baseman Anthony Rizzo from the Chicago Cubs and outfielder Joey Gallo from the Texas Rangers. According to the NY Times, the Yankees gave a 19-year-old outfielder in rookie ball and pitcher Alexander Vizcaino to the Cubs for Rizzo. They also gave up four other prospects when they traded for Joey Gallo. When the Yankees traded for Rizzo and Gallo, they had very few left-handed power bats on the team. But following the trade deadline they ended up with two very good ones. The Yankees at the trade deadline were not close to leading their division; they were in third place in the division. However, general manager Brian Cashman believed that the team was talented enough to turn it around. The Yankees are full of talent on both sides of the field. Starting pitcher Gerrit Cole has not been playing up to his potential after MLB put a ban on extra substances on baseballs. The offense has been hindered due to injuries and poor play. Infielder Gleyber Torres is having a particularly down year. However, the team has a ton of potential, which is why they decided to trade for more players at the deadline. The team did not give up any top tier prospects at the deadline, so even if they don’t go deep in the playoffs, they still have a solid farm system for years to come. 

         The Chicago Cubs not only traded Rizzo and Kimbrel, but they also traded shortstop Javy Baez to the New York Mets and third baseman Kris Bryant to the San Francisco Giants. All these players were former All-Stars, and Bryant even won a Most Valuable Player award. Baez, Bryant and Rizzo were fan favorites as they helped lead the team to a World Series title in 2016. However, after a disappointing start to the season, the team decided it was time to rebuild. This led the Cubs to trade all these players. Additionally, the Cubs were going to have a difficult decision to make in the offseason if they didn’t trade these players as all four of these players were set to be free agents this offseason. Many Cubs fans were disappointed to see their favorite players leave; however, it appears as if some of them weren’t going to even stay in the offseason due to money constraints. The return for these players wasn’t as people expected. Madrigal from the White Sox was a key player that they traded for, but he is injured so he won’t play for the rest of this season. In the trade with the Mets, the Cubs got outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong who isn’t the most touted prospect but has a very high ceiling. The Cubs also traded pitchers Ryan Tepera and Trevor Williams to various teams, but the returns were minimal. All things considered, the Cubs did well at the deadline knowing that they were not going to be able to keep all these players. 

         The final trade was one of the biggest trades in MLB history. Hours before the final trade was announced, rumors rose that the Washington Nationals were set to trade starting pitcher Max Scherzer to the San Diego Padres. This was a big move as the Padres were attempting to compete with the Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers for the division. Scherzer is having an incredible season where he is again one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. However, even with the rumors floating around, no trade had officially been announced. That was until a report arose saying that the Dodgers were trading for Scherzer. This was a big trade for the Dodgers as they were in desperate need of starting pitching as Trevor Bauer was placed on administrative leave and Clayton Kershaw was on the injured list. Just a trade for Scherzer would have been impactful, however the Dodgers also closed in on obtaining All-Star shortstop Trea Turner in the same trade with the Nationals. Turner is often considered to be one of the most underrated players in all of baseball as he has always been overshadowed by his fellow teammates. He is possibly the second-best shortstop in all of baseball. The Dodgers ended up giving two top 100 prospects in all of baseball. They gave up catcher Keibert Ruiz and starting pitcher Josiah Gray. This trade was instantly a win for both teams. The Nationals needed to retool as they invested heavily into starting pitchers Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin, who have underperformed. Ruiz is a catcher who is nearly ready to enter the MLB and Gray a starting pitcher who is already ready. Although they gave up Scherzer and Turner, Scherzer was set to be a free agent this offseason, so there was a strong chance that he was going to leave the team anyway. Turner was reported to not accept the Nationals’ attempts at a contract extension. The Dodgers on the other hand got possibly two top 20 players in all of baseball, which is added onto a team that already has incredible players. Once again, the Dodgers shocked the world with this trade as they somehow always surprise everyone by getting the best players available at the deadline even if they do not need them. It appears as if the Dodgers are playing video games as they can get anyone that they want. Even though the Dodgers have one of the best teams in history, baseball is a game that changes every day, so even with a team assembled out of a video game, they still may get shocked and not win the World Series.

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