The MLB trading season has arrived. The clock is ticking as executives try to prepare their teams for the stretch run before the 6 p.m. deadline on Tuesday, Aug. 2. All eyes are on Juan Soto, the 23-year-old Washington Nationals superstar who is suddenly on the block.
We’ll be tracking every twist and turn of the trade winds around Soto and the rest of the competition here. Check back for updates as the madness unfolds.
Nationals, Cubs on the clock as deadline day comes
As of midnight on the August 2 deadline, Juan Soto will remain with the Washington Nationals. So is Josh Bell, the powerful first baseman who can hit the first baseman and who is also expected to leave at 6 PM. With the Soto sweepstakes clogged up in the batting market, the Chicago Cubs are the other big seller who still owns key pieces.
Chicago has versatile All-Star outfielder Ian Happ dangling from the trading bloc, with some suitors reportedly looking at him as a backup plan for Soto. Closer David Robertson stays with the Cubs even though he is arguably the most outstanding reliever dealt at the deadline.
Furthermore, there are other important names to watch on Tuesday Marlins starter Pablo Lopez – reportedly attracting interest from the Dodgers – and Yankees slugger Joey Gallo, who is likely to have a disastrous Bronx stint coming to an end.
Astros get a catcher in Christian Vázquez
The Houston Astros reportedly filled a hole at catcher by dealing for Boston Red Sox backstop Christian Vázquez. Vázquez is a strong defender and is also in the midst of another strong offensive season. He hits .282 with eight home runs and his park-adjusted OPS is above average for the third time in four years.
While not the same offensive force as Willson Contreras of the Cubs, one of the big names in the trading market, he is a more acclaimed defender who is expected to more easily take on the duties of dealing with a playoff-bound pitching staff. He has a lot of experience in October, having steered the Red Sox to a World Series victory in 2018.
Astros catchers get a league-worst .159/.228/.297, so this counts as a major upgrade. Reportedly, they were hesitant to shake up the catch corps too much because of Martin Maldonado’s great defense and leadership.
Add a quirk to this deal? The fact that the Red Sox are in Houston, so Vázquez’s post-trade journey will consist of walking to the other clubhouse.
The 31-year-old played his entire career with the Red Sox and was originally drafted by the club in 2008. He will reach free agency by the end of the year.
Trading out Vázquez wasn’t Boston’s only move on Monday. They also knocked over reliever Jake Diekman to the White Sox for catcher Reese McGuire, a player to be named later and cash. Meanwhile, they have reportedly struck a deal for Reds outfielder Tommy Pham to join the top-tier club. This seems like a clear case of buying and selling for a team that has fallen into AL East’s basement but still has a shot at the playoffs.
Astros takes over Trey Mancini from Orioles in three-team deal
Trey Mancini, the longtime first baseman and DH of Orioles, is reportedly going to Houston in a three-team trade that will send outfielder Jose Siri to the Tampa Bay Rays. The right-handed slugging Mancini suits the Astros’ preference for batters who take less than average outs and still pack pop.
Mancini, who was won by the Orioles in the 8th round of the 2013 MLB draft, hits .268/.347/.404 with 10 home runs, 16 doubles and 35 walks. If anything, he can hit even better than it looks; his power numbers have taken a hit due to the new wall configuration at Camden Yards. This likely puts Houston out of the market for Josh Bell, the switch-hitting Nationals first baseman who should soon be joining a contender’s lineup.
The Astros are always looking for solid players like Mancini, but with the Orioles ahead of schedule in their rebuilding (they’re just three games away from the final wildcard spot with a 51-51 record), some thought the Orioles may be holding him so they can make some serious playoff push this year.
Instead, it looks like the Orioles will at least transition from a player set to go into a free agency and acquire some fledgling weapons – Rays prospect Seth Johnson and Astros prospect Chayce McDermott. According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the Astros will also get Ray’s pitching prospect Jayden Murray.
Swapping Yankees for Frankie Montas from Oakland, Emergency Relief
The New York Yankees act for Oakland A’s starting pitcher Frankie Montas and reliever Lou Trivino, by Jack Curry from YES Network. The 29-year old Montas has a 3.18 ERA this season and was probably the best starter on the board after the Seattle Mariners took out Luis Castillo.
Since the start of 2021, Montas has a great 3.30 ERA over 291 2/3 innings. Its continued success has been matched by a greater emphasis on its awesome splitter, which plays 96 mph of heat it can throw like a four or two chamois. In return, the Yankees will reportedly return their best pitching prospect, southpaw Ken Waldichuk, along with pitching prospects JP Sears and Luis Medina and second base prospect Cooper Bowman. It is a substantial yield that can clearly be compared to the trade of Luis Castillo. The Yankees were adamant about not trading shortstop prospects Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza, and this move was accomplished without those youngsters.
Montas was one of the few marquees to hold the A’s after a winter fire sale. He will remain under the control of the team until 2023, giving the Yankees a second-caliber starter to bolster an already strong rotation.
With his team on a pace of 108 wins, Yankees GM Brian Cashman is aggressive. He already added stellar reliever-pitcher Scott Effross of the Cubs on Monday.
Padres takes over Josh Hader from Brewers in surprising closer trade
The San Diego Padres add one of the game’s best endings, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports. The Padres send their own closer, Taylor Rogers, to the Milwaukee Brewers alongside a string of young players for Josh Hader, the dominant left-hander.
The Brewers, who can bring Rogers closer together or elevate their own dominant setup man Devin Williams, have reportedly been listening to Hader deals ever since Williams came on the scene.
In the deal, according to Passan’s report, they are adding several other talented players, including Esteury Ruiz, a young outfielder who could be immediately included in their lineup. The Brewers currently lead the NL Central with three games over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Juan Soto Rumors: Could a Generational Talent Be on the Move?
Are you ready for the seismic movement that would be a Juan Soto trade? According to the latest rumors, the Nationals have three suitors for Soto who are more likely than the rest: the San Diego Padres, St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers. The Padres and Dodgers, NL Western enemies, were engaged in a bidding war a year ago for another Nationals superstar – Max Scherzer. The Dodgers eventually pulled off a surprise blockbuster that secured both Scherzer and shortstop Trea Turner.
Stay tuned for the potential for a Soto deal with all of our coverage to date.
Shohei Ohtani probably stays put
The situation in Shohei Ohtani was never as urgent as the Soto talks, but the Los Angeles Angels at least gauged the market as they headed into another losing season despite employing Mike Trout and Ohtani. However, Jon Heyman of the New York Post reported on Monday afternoon that Ohtani will stay this season.
The two-way sensation, battling for his first Cy Young and second consecutive AL MVP nod, could become a free agent after 2023 and has expressed a desire to play for a winning team. As the angels surround him with warring pieces, they may well consider trading him this winter.