Looking Back at the 2016 MLB Trade Deadline

Looking Back at the 2016 MLB Trade Deadline

by August 25, 2021 0 comments

The 2021 MLB Trade Deadline just passed with a ton of deals being made in one of the most exciting years in recent memory. Of course, the thing on most people’s minds was winners and losers. So, we need to think about recent trade deadlines and how those deals panned out. To start, let’s look at 2016, which is arguably the best deadline of the past five years.

1. Dodgers Acquire RHP Josh Fields from the Astros for DH Yordan Alvarez

You probably know about this trade for being really, really bad. But what goes understated often is how good Fields was. He had an 11.8 K/9 for Houston but was struggling in 2016. The Dodgers traded for Fields and his 6.89 ERA with a 2.83 FIP. The results weren’t even bad. Fields had a 2.61 ERA over 124 games for the Dodgers. He was effective in the postseason, except for allowing two runs without recording an out in the 2017 World Series against the Astros.

While Fields was a reliable arm for a few years in Los Angeles, obviously the Astros won this deal. Alvarez is just 24 and has turned into one of the best hitters in the league. He hit 27 home runs in 87 games with a 1.067 OPS in 2019, winning AL Rookie of the Year. He was hurt for just about all of 2020 but has been healthy again in 2021. Alvarez has hit 25 homers so far with a .881 OPS. Besides bad defense, there are no signs of Alvarez stopping his production. The Astros acquired a middle-of-the-order slugger for a decent relief arm. That’s a massive win.

Verdict: Astros Win

2. Giants Acquire LHP Matt Moore from the Rays for IFs Matt Duffy, Lucius Fox, and RHP Michael Santos

Once the top pitching prospect in baseball, Moore was the ace of the Rays’ staff before injuries played their part. Still, it was a surprise to see the Rays deal him in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery when he had a 4.08 ERA. Of course, Moore never returned to that form. He had a 5.12 ERA over two seasons for San Francisco before being dealt to Texas. Now, he is a struggling pitcher on the Phillies.

Duffy was the headliner in this trade as he was the NL Rookie of the Year runner-up in 2015, the season before this trade. He would never reach his 2015 108 OPS+ in a Rays uniform. Over three seasons, Duffy had a measly .708 OPS. Neither Santos nor Fox have played in the major leagues or are in the Rays’ system. However, Fox is significant. Last year, he was traded to Kansas City for Brett Phillips. Phillips had a huge walk-off hit in last year’s World Series and has become a fan favorite in Tampa Bay with a 110 OPS+ and great defense.

Verdict: Rays Win

3. Mets Acquire OF Jay Bruce from the Reds for IF Dilson Herrera and LHP Max Wotell

Hey look, a trade where the buyers win! Bruce was a consistent power threat over nine seasons and had hit 25 homers in 97 games in 2016. The Mets did not get exactly what they paid for in the homestretch, as Bruce hit eight home runs with a .685 OPS. But the next year, he hit 29 bombs before being dealt at the waiver deadline to Cleveland. Bruce returned to New York in 2018 but he was far from himself. He also retired earlier this season.

What did the Mets give up? Not much. Wotell did not make it to the majors. Herrera was a big prospect at the time and the Mets dealing him was shocking. However, his Reds career started and ended in 2018, when he hit five home runs with a .682 OPS in 53 games. A big dud.

Verdict: Mets Win

4. Nationals Acquire RHP Mark Melancon from the Pirates for LHP Felipe Rivero and LHP Taylor Hearn

Melancon was an elite closer for a number of years with Pittsburgh. He led the majors with 51 saves in 2015 before posting a 1.51 ERA in 2016. After the trade, Melancon had a 1.82 ERA in just under 30 innings as the Nationals received a much-needed bullpen arm. Melancon left for the Giants in free agency and now leads the majors in saves again, this time with San Diego.

You may know Rivero as Felipe Vazquez as he changed his name legally the next year. He was an all-star closer for years with Pittsburgh. Value-wise, the Pirates crush this trade. However, Vazquez is not exactly a stand-up guy. That will cancel out all his good deeds on the field. Hearn was dealt to the Rangers for Keone Kela, who is a teammate of Melancon’s this year. Hearn has been a fine arm for the Rangers this season.

Verdict: No Contest

5. Rangers Acquire OF Carlos Beltran from the Yankees for RHPs Nick Green, Erik Swanson, and Dillon Tate

This trade was the most significant thing concerning Beltran and a Texas team. What’s that? A cheating scandal? Beltran was pretty average as a Ranger. In fact, just two percent better than average, with a 102 OPS+. That’s not bad but it was also it for his Rangers tenure. At the time, this seemed like a ton to give up for the veteran.

Green is actually still a work in progress. The 26-year-old has a 4.13 ERA with an 8.4 K/9 for AA and AAA this year in the Yankees organization. So, he could be something with the Yankees. However, Tate and Swanson are more notable. Swanson was dealt to Seattle (more on that later), where he has a 2.77 ERA in 26 innings this year. It was a massive shock to see the Rangers move on from Tate, who they selected 4th overall the year before. The Yankees turned him into a reliable bullpen arm in Zack Britton. Tate has a 4.27 FIP as a reliever over three seasons in Baltimore. The Yankees did not get that much out of this deal, but the prospect flipping makes everything better for them.

Verdict: Yankees Win

6. Dodgers Acquire LHP Rich Hill and OF Josh Reddick from the A’s for RHPs Jharel Cotton, Frankie Montas, and Grant Holmes

Reddick would become a key contributor for the 2017 Astros in their victory against the Dodgers. In 2016? He was a wimpy hitter for Los Angeles, with a .643 OPS. No wonder no one remembers this stint. Hill was actually a great pickup for L.A. He stayed for four seasons and posted a 3.16 ERA with a 10.6 K/9. Sure, Reddick did not do much. But Hill makes this deal impossible for the Dodgers to be fleeced.

Holmes and Cotton were both hyped-up players but neither has become much. Holmes is still in the A’s system but has an 8.41 ERA in AAA. At age 25, Holmes is not done. Montas is by far the best player Oakland acquires here. It took a while but he has established himself as a key piece in their rotation. He had a 2.63 ERA in 2019, although he was busted for PEDs. This season, Montas has a 3.84 ERA with a 10.1 K/9. This trade comes down to Hill for Montas. Montas does have years of control left. Both teams take a big victory here.

Verdict: Both Win

7. Giants Acquire Will Smith from the Brewers for RHP Phil Bickford and C Andrew Susac

This is a minor trade compared to the rest. However, Smith was an effective reliever for the Giants over three seasons. He has a 2.70 ERA with a 12.7 K/9 while converting 48 saves. He left in free agency for Atlanta after 2019. The Brewers really got fleeced. Susac had a 39 OPS+ over 17 games as a backup catcher in Milwaukee. Bickford is an interesting case. The former first-rounder debuted for the Brewers this year, allowing two runs in one inning. He was then flipped to the Dodgers, where he has become an effective arm. Bickford has a 2.39 ERA with 46 strikeouts in 37.2 innings for Los Angeles. The Brewers really did not get much out of either deal.

Verdict: Giants Win

8. Rangers Acquire C Jonathan Lucroy and RHP Jeremy Jeffress from the Brewers for OFs Lewis Brinson, Ryan Cordell, RHP Luis Ortiz

This deal was very significant at the time, not only because Lucroy was arguably the league’s second-best catcher at the time. Lucroy had denied a trade to Cleveland, who would make it all the way to the World Series while the Rangers flopped. His .865 OPS down the stretch did not hurt. He struggled the next season before a trade to Colorado. Jeffress had a 4.67 ERA in 51 appearances with Texas before being traded back to Milwaukee.

All three of these prospects were later flipped by the Brewers. Brinson was famously dealt for MVP Christian Yelich. They also got Jonathan Schoop for Ortiz and Anthony Swarzak for Cordell. So, while the three players they actually got in this trade amounted to nothing, Milwaukee was able to massively benefit their team by being savvy with assets. Plus, Lucroy fell off while Jeffress returned.

Verdict: Brewers Win

9. Indians acquire LHP Andrew Miller from the Yankees for OF Clint Frazier, LHP Justus Sheffield, and RHPs Ben Heller and J.P. Feyereisen

Miller has not aged gracefully, which is a shame as he was an elite bullpen piece for many teams. He received Cy Young votes with the Yankees and helped carry Cleveland to the World Series. He had a 1.55 ERA with the Indians in 2016 and a 1.44 in 2017. His K/9 was over 13.5 each year. He declined in 2018 but the main purpose was for 2016.

All four pieces the Yankees got have played in the majors. Frazier is a key player. An on-and-off bat with defensive issues at times, Frazier’s overall career OPS is .761. His bWAR is just 0.2, so not ideal. Sheffield was packaged with Erik Swanson to Seattle for James Paxton, who was good but not amazing over two seasons in New York. Heller was just a depth arm while Feyereisen has become something special, but for the rival Rays. The Yankees could still win this, but the Indians cannot lose the trade.

Verdict: Indians Win

10. Cubs Acquire LHP Aroldis Chapman from the Yankees for SS Gleyber Torres, RHP Adam Warren, OF Billy McKinney, and OF Rashad Crawford

The Cubs do not win the 2016 World Series with Chapman. He had a 1.01 ERA in the regular season with them and had four postseason saves. The Cubs won the World Series. That’s all. The Yankees signed Chapman right back the next offseason, and he has been a chaotic-yet-good closer for them. Torres hit 38 home runs in 2019 but has an awful 89 OPS+ this year. He is still 24, so do not write him off completely.

While Crawford did not do anything with the Yankees, Warren was actually on his second stint with the team. He was an effective reliever for three seasons after the trade. The final piece is McKinney, who is currently on the Dodgers. McKinney just played a few games as a Yankee. But, they traded him with Brandon Drury to the Blue Jays for J.A. Happ in 2018. Down the stretch, Happ had a 2.69 ERA in 11 starts for New York. Not too bad.

Verdict: Both Win

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