MLB trade deadline analysis: AL West leaders loaded up on starting pitchers

Aug 1, 2023, 11:38 PM

New York Mets pitcher Justin Verlander delivers against the Washington Nationals in the first innin...

New York Mets pitcher Justin Verlander delivers against the Washington Nationals in the first inning of a baseball game, Sunday, July 30, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

The arms race in the AL West began with Lucas Giolito and quickly escalated.

After the Los Angeles Angels acquired Giolito and signaled their intentions to make a bid for the postseason, division rivals Texas and Houston answered with some big moves of their own, acquiring Max Scherzerand Justin Verlander before Tuesday’s trade deadline. That should set up quite a race down the stretch.

Scherzer and Verlander, who were previously teammates with both the Tigers and Mets, were dealt by New York to two AL West rivals. Verlander returns to Houston less than a year after winning the Cy Young Award with the Astros. That was the third of his career, matching Scherzer’s total.

Here’s a look at the biggest buyers and sellers at this year’s deadline, and how they’ve reshaped their futures:


Texas Rangers (61-46, first place in AL West)

Acquired: C Austin Hedges, LHP Jordan Montgomery, C Kevin Plawecki, RHP Max Scherzer and RHP Chris Stratton.

Traded: SS Luisangel Acuña, RHP Spencer Howard, LHP John King, RHP Tekoah Roby and SS Thomas Saggese.

Analysis: After losing Jacob deGrom and now Nathan Eovaldi to injuries, the Rangers will have to hope Scherzer and Montgomery can keep their rotation afloat. Their spot atop the division is precarious, but they’ve not giving it up without a fight. ___

Houston Astros (61-47, second place in AL West)

Acquired: RHP Kendall Graveman and RHP Justin Verlander.

Traded: OF Ryan Clifford, OF Drew Gilbert and C Korey Lee.

Analysis: The Astros lost Verlander to the Mets via free agency last offseason, only for him to return with New York covering the majority of the $57.5 million the right-hander is still guaranteed through the end of next season. No wonder Houston didn’t feel the need to do much else.


Los Angeles Angels (56-52, third place in AL West)

Acquired: 1B C.J. Cron, RHP Lucas Giolito, RF Randal Grichuk, RHP Dominic Leone and RHP Reynaldo López.

Traded: LHP Mason Albright, LHP Ky Bush, LHP Tucker Davidson, SS Jeremiah Jackson, RHP Jake Madden and C Edgar Quero.

Analysis: This is what you do when you don’t even want to think about what happens if you miss the playoffs again this year. The Angels, who are closer to fourth in the division than second, decided to hold onto Shohei Ohtani and make a run at the postseason. They acquired Giolito and López — both of whom can leave via free agency this offseason — and gave up Quero, the game’s No. 65 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.


Los Angeles Dodgers (60-45, first place in NL West)

Acquired: RHP Joe Kelly, RHP Lance Lynn, SS Amed Rosario and LHP Ryan Yarbrough.

Traded: RHP Phil Bickford, LHP Justin Bruihl, SS Derlin Figueroa, LHP Adam Kolarek, RHP Jordan Leasure, 2B Devin Mann, RHP Nick Nastrini, RHP Noah Syndergaard and RF Trayce Thompson.

Analysis: The Dodgers seemed like a realistic landing spot for someone like Verlander or Chicago White Sox ace Dylan Cease, but none of that came to fruition. They reached a deal to acquire Eduardo Rodriguez from Detroit, but that fell through because of his no-trade clause.


Tampa Bay Rays (66-44, second place in AL East)

Acquired: RHP Aaron Civale, C Alex Jackson, RHP Manuel Rodríguez and RHP Adrian Sampson.

Traded: 1B Kyle Manzardo, RHP Evan McKendry, RHP Luis Patiño and RHP Josh Roberson.

Analysis: After slugging their way to a 13-0 start, Tampa Bay has ceded first place to Baltimore. The Rays made an interesting deal with Cleveland, acquiring Civale, who is under contract through 2025. They gave up a top-50 prospect in Manzardo to do it.



Chicago White Sox (43-65, fourth place in AL Central)

Acquired: LHP Ky Bush, RHP Juan Carela, LHP Jake Eder, RHP Jordan Leasure, C Korey Lee, RHP Nick Nastrini, RHP Luis Patiño, C Edgar Quero and RF Trayce Thompson.

Traded: 3B Jake Burger, RHP Lucas Giolito, RHP Kendall Graveman, RHP Joe Kelly, RHP Reynaldo López, RHP Lance Lynn and RHP Keynan Middleton.

Analysis: This was an impressive haul for the White Sox, considering they ended up holding onto ace Dylan Cease. Quero immediately becomes the No. 2 prospect in their system, with Eder, Nastrini and Bush slotting into their top seven.


New York Mets (50-56, fourth place in NL East)

Acquired: SS Luisangel Acuña, RHP Phil Bickford, OF Ryan Clifford, OF Drew Gilbert, C Ronald Hernandez, SS Jeremiah Jackson, RHP Justin Jarvis, LHP Adam Kolarek, SS Jeremy Rodriguez and 2B Marco Vargas.

Traded: LF Mark Canha, RHP Dominic Leone, CF Tommy Pham, RHP David Robertson, RHP Max Scherzer and RHP Justin Verlander.

Analysis: The Mets continued to throw their financial weight around, even when selling off star players. Their willingness to cover some of Verlander and Scherzer’s huge salaries helped facilitate those deals, and New York netted a top-50 prospect in Acuña. However, Scherzer’s comments about what the New York front office told him suggest the Mets may take a more patient approach to free agency this coming offseason.


St. Louis Cardinals (47-61, last place in NL Central)

Acquired: LHP John King, RHP Adam Kloffenstein, 2B César Prieto, RHP Sem Robberse, RHP Tekoah Roby, LHP Drew Rom, SS Thomas Saggese, RHP Zack Showalter and RHP Matt Svanson.

Traded: SS Paul DeJong, RHP Jack Flaherty, RHP Jordan Hicks, LHP Jordan Montgomery and RHP Chris Stratton.

Analysis: It’s unusual to see the Cardinals in this position. Although they couldn’t touch the very best prospects in Baltimore’s loaded system, they did acquire Prieto, who has hit .349 across Double-A and Triple-A this year.


Detroit Tigers (47-60, third place in AL Central)

Acquired: 2B Hao-Yu Lee and SS Eddys Leonard.

Traded: RHP Michael Lorenzen.

Analysis: A quieter deadline than Detroit would have liked after its failed attempt to trade Rodriguez to the Dodgers. The Tigers did manage to flip Lorenzen to Philadelphia after signing him to a one-year contract before the season.



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MLB trade deadline analysis: AL West leaders loaded up on starting pitchers