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The timing of Tuesday’s monumental trade of Juan Soto to the Padres was, to the neutral baseball observer, both a blessing and a curse. The deal went down (at least in principle, try as Eric Hosmer might to delay it) early enough that we weren’t forced to wait on pins and needles all day in anticipation of a resolution. But having the most consequential trade of the day (and perhaps ever?) occur before most of the other transactions were revealed cast a long shadow over the rest of the happenings from what was a wildly eventful day of wheeling and dealing.
In case you might have overlooked any of the notable non-Soto trades, fear not: We have you covered. Here’s a look at the five most interesting under-the-radar moves from this year’s deadline.
Yankees trade SP Jordan Montgomery to Cardinals for CF Harrison Bader
As another entry on this list will further illustrate, I’m a sucker for a one-for-one trade—particularly those of the big leaguer-for-big leaguer variety. Those are hard to come by, which makes this swap by the Yankees and Cardinals—two teams with their sights on a World Series run this fall—that much more interesting.
For the Cardinals, they simply limit to get another starting pitcher, and they were able to get a couple of solid lefties in Montgomery and José Quintana (from Pittsburgh). But the acquisition of Montgomery is interesting for both sides of the deal. Bader hasn’t played since June 26 and hadn’t hit as well as he had in recent years when he was on the field, but he’s provided elite center field defense since debuting for St. Louis in 2017 and is under contract for next season for just $5.2 million, giving the Yankees a quality player at a reasonable price (assuming he’s able to return to full strength).
Like Bader, Montgomery also has one more year of club control after this one before reaching free agency, but the Yankees have more pitching depth than just about any other team and should be able to withstand his departure without feeling too much of a strain on the the rest of the staff. If Bader is able to come back and contribute this year, though, he’s a potential game-changer on both sides of the ball and has the makings of a playoff X-factor.
Blue Jays trade IF Jordan Groshans to Marlins for RP Anthony Bass, RP Zach Pop from Marlins
Trades for relief pitchers dominate deadline day, and the Blue Jays snagged two quality arms from Miami in one move. In exchange for minor league infielder Jordan Groshans—who was a first-round pick in 2018 but has put up a meager .635 OPS in 73 games in primarily Triple A this year—Toronto landed both Bass and Pop to help fortify the backend of its bullpen.
Go to Bass’s Baseball Savant page—there’s a lot of red in there. Like many pitchers throughout the league, Bass has leaned more heavily on his slider than he ever has before, and the results have been outstanding. Hitters are whiffing on 40.7% swings against the pitch this year, with a .178 batting average and no home runs. Pop, meanwhile, throws a heavy sinker 83.2% of the time to generate an absurd 63.1% ground ball rate. Those two will join Jordan Romano, David Phelps, Yimi Garcia and Adam Cimber, and could be enormous difference makers in a postseason series (assuming the Jays are able to get there).
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Groshans was the 12th pick in the 2018 draft as an 18-year-old, and performed well in two pre-pandemic seasons. He made it to Double A in ’21 and put up a robust .297/.367/.450 slash line in 75 games, but has seen his play regress drastically this year, with just 10 extra-base hits and one homer in 304 plate appearances. There’s still time to develop into a starting caliber infielder, and if he does so this will be a worthwhile swap for the forward-looking Marlins.
Phillies trade C Logan O’Hoppe to Angels for OF Brandon Marsh
Speaking of one-for-one deals, how about this one? The Phillies and Angels swapped one top prospect for another (former) one, with the glove-first Marsh heading to Philadelphia to provide some much-needed defensive reinforcements. In his second big-league season, the 24-year-old Marsh has shone on that side of the ball, even while mostly playing out of position in left field. His nine outs above average are tied for the second-most among all outfielders, and while he alone can’t fix the Phillies’ defense (the team ranks near the bottom in nearly every metric), he’ll certainly help, even if his bat still has some progressing to do given his league-worst 36.2% strikeout rate.
For the Angels, they simply needed young, controllable bats, and O’Hoppe projects to be just that at a position where offense is tough to come by. The 22-year-old is a consensus top 100 prospect and represented the Phillies at the Futures Game this year, posting an .889 OPS at Double A. Will O’Hoppe be the key to the Angels making a push in 2023? Doubtful, but he’s certainly a nice acquisition for a farm system sorely in need of blue chip prospects.
Diamondbacks trade OF David Peralta to Rays for C Christian Cerda
This just feels like a Rays move, right? For the price of one 19-year-old catcher who has 63 professional games to his name, Tampa Bay secured an outfielder who posted a 119 OPS+ in Arizona and has a .490 slugging percentage this season against righties, a big plus for the matchup -minded Rays who have sustained numerous injuries that have hindered their offensive depth this season as they try to hang on to a wild-card spot.
Peralta will turn 35 next month and will be a free agent after this season, so this is clearly a short-term play for Tampa Bay as it carries on while Wander Franco, Kevin Kiermaier, Manuel Margot, Harold Ramirez and Mike Zunino are all currently on the injured list. One added bat won’t make or break a playoff race, but when you’re in the situation the Rays are in, every little bit will help.
Tigers trade RP Michael Fulmer to Twins for SP Sawyer Gipson-Long
The Twins needed pitching reinforcements, and while the acquisitions of closer Jorge López and starter Tyler Mahle are more headline-stealing deals, Fulmer can be just as impactful.
Since transitioning to basically a full-time reliever role last season, Fulmer has a 3.03 ERA in 110 innings, with 113 strikeouts and just eight home runs allowed. Among qualified pitchers this season, he’s been the most difficult in the league for opposing hitters to square up, allowing just one barrel every year. That, plus López, will go a long way in helping to stabilize Minnesota’s bullpen, which ranks third-worst in the majors in total fWAR (0.6).
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