After Thursday’s deals, some may have assumed that Major League Baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline had arrived early.

Although that isn’t the case, what Thursday did mark is one of the final travel days prior to Tuesday’s deadline – 15 games are scheduled each day over the weekend and nine are scheduled for Monday.

For the teams who handled some chores ahead of Tuesday’s crunch, let’s break down the deals and assign grades:

Brewers bolster bullpen adding Soria from White Sox

Brewers: B-

There’s a case to be made that Joakim Soria was actually the second-best available reliever on the market behind Zach Britton. He’s striking out more batters and walking fewer than Jeurys Familia; he’s suppressing home runs at a rate completely unfamiliar to Brad Hand, who called Petco Park home for two-and-a-half years prior to being traded to the Cleveland Indians. Point is: he’s 34, he’s cheap, and he’s good. The only question is, did the Milwaukee Brewers really need the bullpen help? Considering the prospect heading back to the Chicago White Sox, it seems like J.A. Happ could have been in play for the Brewers, who desperately need starting pitching.

White Sox: A-

Kodi Medeiros is a nice addition to one of the game’s deepest farm systems, immediately becoming Chicago’s No. 19 prospect, per MLB Pipeline. The 22-year-old left-hander is four years removed from being selected in the first round of the MLB draft – 12th overall out of high school. He has gradually climbed the ladder of the Brewers’ farm system with a plus-grade slider, and is enjoying his best year yet after earning a promotion to Double-A. Medeiros is striking out 24 percent of the batters he faces while suppressing home runs, and is coping with a high walk rate. All told, it has equaled out to a 3.14 ERA and 4.17 FIP over 20 games (15 starts). While Medeiros is the get of the deal, Chicago also snatched right-hander Wilber Perez, who is a more speculative piece. Still in rookie ball at 20 years old, Perez should have advanced beyond this stage by now, but his 29 percent strikeout rate while not giving up a home run is awfully nice.

Yankees land Happ from Blue Jays

Yankees: A

There’s a strong case to be made that the New York Yankees are actually finished after bolstering their rotation with J.A. Happ. Of course, the loss of Aaron Judge to injury may necessitate some other marginal move, but they’re in a good spot. Still 4 1/2 games back of the division lead, they now have one ace buoyed by two reliable rotation arms and a bullpen that could manage a game from the fifth inning on. If there were more available starters – particularly impactful ones – perhaps the grade would be slightly lower, and maybe we would expect more from Brian Cashman. But, this is likely the best case scenario for them, especially considering who they shipped out.

Blue Jays: D

It’s bad. There is something to be said for the Toronto Blue Jays landing a major-league piece in Brandon Drury, who is set to enter arbitration for the first time this offseason. But there’s also a discussion to be had over acquiring a replacement-level big leaguer. Let’s be charitable and omit the 18 games he’s played with the Yankees this year, which were impacted by injury and in a bench role. In his two full years with the Arizona Diamondbacks (2016-17), the 25-year-old posted a .275/.323/.453 slash line, and hit three percent worse than the league average by wRC+. The middling offensive production wouldn’t be so bad if he was defensively gifted, but he also cost the D-Backs roughly 11.4 runs (more than a full win) by FanGraphs’ defensive metrics. Billy McKinney, the prospect who came in the Drury package, has gone from being an interesting piece in the Yankees’ haul for Aroldis Chapman to a 23-year-old who seems like a fringy big leaguer. His Triple-A slash line of .267/.316/.519 over one-and-a-half seasons is fine. It’s fine. This is fine.

Rangers trade Hamels to Cubs

Cubs: C

Off the top, it would be remiss not to mention that this isn’t the Cole Hamels the Texas Rangers acquired back in 2015, who was well on his way to his 10th consecutive 3-WAR season. The 34-year-old left-hander has been miserable on the mound this year, owning a 4.72 ERA and an even worse 5.20 FIP. The good news for the Chicago Cubs is, they don’t need him to recapture his dominant form or even be a top-of-the-rotation arm. Instead, he just needs to be better than Tyler Chatwood, who is walking one out of every five batters he faces at the moment (19.4%). Even for Hamels, that’s attainable.

Rangers: B+

The return is still only reported, but the package is centered around right-hander Rollie Lacy – who does not rank among the Cubs’ top-30 prospects – as well as another low-level arm. Lacy, 23, was just promoted to High-A, which some would deem troubling given his age. Over two levels in 2018, Lacy owns a 2.45 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in 80 2/3 innings of work. The fact the Rangers got anything for Hamels is somewhat remarkable, even if Texas agreed to pay $9 million of his remaining $14-million obligation.

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

Menu