NL Central Trade Deadline Review

NL Central Trade Deadline Review

by July 31, 2021 5 comments

The National League Central had an interesting approach to the trade deadline. Some teams were busy, and some excelled. Others were lazy and, quite frankly, looked like failures.

Let’s dive into each of the five teams’ deadline showings.

Be sure to check out all of our division grades: AL East | AL Central | AL West | NL East | NL West

Chicago Cubs

No fanbase wants their team to blow things up and suddenly rebuild. However, if it has to happen, it should be done exactly how the Cubs executed it this past week. Chicago dealt Anthony Rizzo to the Yankees, Ryan Tepera and Craig Kimbrel to the White Sox, Kris Bryant to the Giants, and Javier Baez to the Mets. They were able to fetch a massive haul in return, including six new faces to add to MLB Pipeline’s ranking of the 20 best Cubs prospects. Turning the page to a new chapter can be painful, but the Cubs successfully unloaded several one- or two-year rentals in exchange for a glowing future. Chicago’s deadline performance should be considered a major win.

Grade: A

Cincinnati Reds

The Reds didn’t make a plethora of moves, but they did add Luis Cessa and Justin Wilson in a trade with the Yankees that was lopsided in Cincinnati’s favor. This helped soften the blow of acquiring Mychal Givens in a move that was necessary but expensive. When you consider that the Reds entered the deadline week with one need (bullpen help), it’s clear to see that Cincinnati succeeded in its mission. After all, a splashy move isn’t always required for teams at the deadline. An A grade isn’t quite justifiable, but a B is more than fair.

Grade: B

Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers weren’t a team that made too many headlines at the deadline, which is unfortunate considering they pulled off several impressive trades. Milwaukee was able to acquire infielder Eduardo Escobar as well as relievers Daniel Norris and John Curtiss in exchange for four non-major prospects. In particular, the addition of Curtiss will go a long way in shoring up the Brewers’ bullpen. They also added Rowdy Tellez earlier in July, giving them another impact bat. Sometimes, a handful of moderate moves is better than one big, flashy splash. That seems to be the case here. Nicely done, Milwaukee.

Grade: A-

Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates entered the deadline as one of the biggest sellers on the market, and they did not disappoint. Pittsburgh wheeled and dealed, bidding adieu to the likes of Adam Frazier, Clay Holmes, Kevin Kramer, Tyler Anderson, Richard Rodriguez, Austin Davis, and Braeden Ogle. That’s a lot of players on the way out, but it’s also a lot on the way in. The Pirates had their choice of prospects to acquire in return for these trade chips and made the most with what they had. Take a look at the Rockies, who were the perfect example of what not to do. Unlike Colorado, Pittsburgh realized they had limited time to acquire key prospects in exchange for the players they had. They jumped on that opportunity and now the future of their franchise is better because of it.

Grade: B+

St. Louis Cardinals

Yikes. The Cardinals made two trades at the deadline, and it was enough to give them a pathetic C- grade. Their first deal was acquiring J.A. Happ from the Twins in exchange for John Gant and prospect Evan Sisk. This was a terrible deal as St. Louis landed a high-ERA starter in exchange for Gant, who has been serviceable as of late, and a young southpaw. If this deal occurred alone, it would have garnered a D- grade. However, the Cardinals bailed themselves out by trading struggling outfielder Lane Thomas for veteran starter Jon Lester. This veteran presence should help them down the stretch, giving them a key rotation piece without trading a massive prospect haul.

Grade: C-


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Andersen is a teenage sportswriter and reporter whose articles have appeared across the Prime Time Sports Talk, Sports Illustrated Kids, FantasyPros, and SB Nation platforms. He has also received credit from RotoWorld, CBS Sports, ESPN, Bleacher Report, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, The Athletic, SB Nation, NBC Sports, NY Post, and dozens of other sports sites for his reporting work.

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