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The 2023 MLB trade deadline: Was there drama?

Considering the stakes of professional sports trade deadlines, I feel that the Major League Baseball (MLB) Trade Deadline is often the most emotional of all. Not only is there a significant amount of money involved, but strong connections are also at stake. Professional baseball is unique in the sense that every team plays nearly every day between late March and early October. Through this regular exposure to the athletes, strong connections are made among the players as well as the fanbases. Players are able to develop their persona as the season progresses. For example, Joc Peterson’s pearl necklace a few years back, and Kiké Hernandez’s purple hair flair this spring are characteristics of players that entertain fans. Even the nicknames we fans make up for the players late into the season strengthen our love for the game and our favorite teams. 


Thus, it goes without saying that the MLB Trade Deadline is a highly anticipated day filled with significant emotions. 


This year the MLB Trade Deadline fell on Aug. 1, 2023. All trades on that day had to be finalized and submitted to the commissioner’s office by 6 p.m. ET. 


The trade deadline is stressful for fans, but for the players it is exponentially amplified. As a Red Sox fan, this was indeed present while observing Alex Verdugo’s performance worsen with an awfully quiet bat in the weeks leading up to the deadline. There was a significant amount of talk leading up to Aug. 1 that Verdugo would be traded from the Red Sox. As he seems to love his teammates and the organization, fans felt for him as they waited to hear the outcome of the Red Sox trades leading up to the deadline. Ultimately, Verdugo was not traded elsewhere and stayed put on the Red Sox lineup as an outfielder who typically has a hot bat. Following the deadline, Verdugo’s performance improved significantly. He is now happily back to playing like himself and fans are overjoyed to see him play without the weight of the world on his shoulders. Especially considering the role of social media in the trade deadline, it is nearly impossible to shut out the chatter about the deadline for players. 


Of all the MLB Trade Deadline stories from this year, I feel that two of the biggest trades were from the New York Mets to either Texas MLB team. First, and most prominent in my opinion, was right-handed pitcher Justin Verlander who was traded back to the Houston Astros after less than a season with the Mets. There was talk about his attitude while with the Mets playing a role in this trade, but that is somewhat to be expected. Pitchers can be diva-like when they are the best of the best. That is not to say that is respectable behavior, but some MLB players have unfortunately made this name for themselves, especially the pitchers. Second was Max Scherzer, another right-handed pitcher who was traded to the Texas Rangers. Despite losing two of their key pitchers, the Mets still have the man, the myth, the legend, designated hitter, Daniel Vogelbach. If you have not been graced to learn of this individual, I would recommend looking him up. I mean his walkup song was Milkshake by Chad Hugo, Kelis and Pharrell Williams for crying out loud! He is an icon and fan favorite as far as I am concerned. 


While still on the topic of pitching trades, Jack Flaherty was also traded. He was a St. Louis Cardinal for his entire seven-season MLB career up until this point. However, once the deadline approached, he too was traded. He is now a starting pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles. 


Another notable trade for the Red Sox organization was Kiké Hernandez who reunited with his former team, the LA Dodgers after the Sox let him go. Kiké was a great utility player for Boston until he was not. His bat was cold this summer when he was traded. Based on MLB social media posts he seems to be doing just fine with his old pals and teammates in LA. 


In terms of the Chicago teams, starting pitcher Lucas Giolito from the White Sox was traded to the Angels while Joe Kelly and Lance Lynn were traded to the Dodgers. The Southside shortstop, Tim Anderson, was on the table to be traded but was not let go. On the Northside of the city, all eyes were on the Chicago Cubs outfielder/first baseman, Cody Bellinger who was one of the top targets for this year’s trade deadline. Instead of making a trade, the Cubs held onto their Dodger-developed star player and shifted their focus to buying rather than trading. With Bellinger’s free agency, this was a huge move for the Cubs organization considering the numbers he’s been putting up.


The last of what I believe are the most notable trades from this season’s trade deadline was the Philadelphia Phillies signing right-handed pitcher Michael Lorenzen. He is now a starting pitcher for the Detroit Tigers. 


Pitchering rotations and bullpens can make or break a team’s record. A team can be winning by several runs in the ninth inning, but if their closing pitcher cannot rise to the occasion and close out games efficiently the game can quickly slip between their fingertips. This is why all eyes are primarily on the free-agent pitchers when the trade deadline occurs.


The Majority of teams were rather quiet at the trade deadline and not too much noise was made. Most notably, The Yankees and Red Sox chose to sit on the sidelines for this deadline. Many of the contending teams refrained from making any trades confidently believing they already had a shot at the postseason with their rosters. Big names like Ohtani and Bellinger were passed around but conclusively neither of them were ultimatley traded. 


Looking ahead, the remainder of the 2023 MLB season will certainly be exciting. My hope is that a team other than the Astros steps up big to make for an exciting World Series. As of right now, the top three teams in the league are the Atlanta Braves, the Baltimore Orioles and the Texas Rangers. Important to remember, anything can change, especially heading into the postseason. 


I hope this article made you proud, Justin Leung ’23 (former Sports editor). I have got big shoes to fill, especially with the MLB articles!

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