MLB trade deadline: Whit Merrifield, Noah Syndergaard moved after Juan Soto blockbuster

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Nightengale: Padres are ‘all in’ on World Series after historic trade to land Juan Soto

It’s a deal that will live in infamy. Bob Nightengale looks at the blockbuster historic trade that sends Juan Soto to the San Diego Padres.

USA TODAY

Juan Soto’s trade to the San Diego Padres was the top headline on MLB’s trade deadline day, but some other big names were dealt as contenders jockey for the stretch run.

Earlier in the day, the 23-year-old Soto was traded by Washington just three years after winning the World Series. The Nationals got MacKenzie Gore, Luke Voit and four prospects in exchange for the next 2½ years of Soto’s career. 

Among a flurry of moves before clock struck  6 p.m. ET, the Atlanta Braves landed reliever Raisel Iglesias, the Blue Jays got two-time All-Star Whit Merrifield and the Phillies made a deal for starter Noah Syndergaard.

Catch up on everything that happened Tuesday:

The Royals sent utility man Whit Merrifield to the Blue Jays just minutes before Tuesday’s trade deadline, even though the two-time All-Star was unvaccinated against COVID-19 and had to miss Kansas City’s trip to Toronto last month.

Merrifield drew the ire of Royals fans when, prior to their trip to Toronto, he said: “Something happens and I happen to get on a team that has a chance to go play in Canada in the postseason, maybe that changes.”

Merrifield is making $7 million this season and is due $2.75 million next season along with a $4 million bonus for spending fewer than 110 days on the injured list in 2022. He has an $18 million mutual option for 2024 with a $500,000 buyout.

Toronto, which began Tuesday with a three-game lead over Tampa Bay for the AL’s top wild card, was missing outfielder George Springer in the lineup for the third time in the last four games against the Rays due to a right elbow injury.

– Associated Press

Philadelphia brought in a familiar face to strengthen its rotation, trading for Los Angeles Angels right-hander Noah Syndergaard. The Angels will get outfielder Mickey Moniak and prospect Jadiel Sanchez in the deal.

Syndergaard, who pitched for the Mets from 2015-2021, signed a one-year deal with Los Angeles in the offseason after declining New York’s qualifying offer.

Moniak gets a fresh start with a new organization after he was selected by Philadelphia with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 amateur draft. The 24-year-old Moniak is a .129 hitter in 47 career games.

Earlier in the day, the Phillies also acquired outfielder Brandon Marsh (Angels) and reliever David Robertson (Cubs). 

Philadelphia sent minor league pitcher Ben Brown to the Chicago Cubs for the 37-year-old Robertson, one of the top relievers on the market ahead of the trade deadline. The Phillies got Marsh from the Angels in exchange for catching prospect Logan O’Hoppe.

Philadelphia is fighting for one of three NL wild cards. It hasn’t made the postseason since 2011.

– Associated Press

The defending champions made a deal to solidify the back end of their bullpen right before the buzzer, landing reliever Raisel Iglesias in a trade with the Angels. Los Angeles is getting lefty Tucker Davidson and righty Jesse Chavez in return. 

The 32-year-old Iglesias received Cy Young votes last season and signed a four-year $58 million extension with the Angels this past offseason. His 3.17 FIP (4.04 ERA) suggest that he’s been unlucky so far in 2022. Iglesias joins closer Kenley Jansen and lefty A.J. Minter in the late innings for the Braves, who dealt reliever Will Smith earlier in the week.

Minutes before Tuesday’s 6 p.m. MLB trade deadline, the Yankees cleared roster space in an unanticipated manner.

Lefty starter Jordan Montgomery was shipped to the St. Louis Cardinals for center fielder Harrison Bader, who is currently on the injured list due to plantar fasciitis.

The left-handed Montgomery, 29, was having a solid season, posting a 3.69 ERA in 21 starts.

Bader, 28, a right-handed hitter, was batting .256 with a .673 OPS in 72 games, with 15 stolen bases in 17 attempts.

– Pete Caldera, NorthJersey.com

Originally part of San Diego’s package in the Juan Soto trade, veteran first baseman Eric Hosmer utilized his no-trade clause to nix a deal to Washington before the Padres ended up trading him to the Red Sox.

The Red Sox are sending pitching prospect Jay Groome to the Padres in exchange for Hosmer and prospects Corey Rosier and Max Ferguson. Hosmer is due $39 million from 2023-2025 and Boston will also receive cash in the deal

San Diego followed up on the Soto trade by making a move for Reds utilityman Brandon Drury, who was enjoying a career year in Cincinnati with 20 HR and 59 RBI in 92 games.

The 29-year-old has played all four infield positions this year – primarily third base – and has experience in the outfield. Drury could get at-bats at designated hitter the Padres’ new-look lineup with Soto and first baseman Josh Bell.

The Reds are getting 18-year-old shortstop prospect Victor Acosta, the Padres’ sixth-ranked prospect (after the Soto trade) according to MLB.com.

With two of the best pitchers available on the trade market, the Cincinnati Reds opted to boost their farm system. The Reds traded right-handed starting pitcher Tyler Mahle to the Minnesota Twins for a group of three prospects Tuesday afternoon. 

The prospects include infielder Spencer Steer, left-hander Steven Hajjar and third baseman Christian Encarnacion-Strand. Steer is the headliner, rated No. 4 in the Twins’ organization by Baseball America. Hajjar is rated No. 11 and Encarnacion-Strand is ranked No. 14. 

Mahle had a 5-7 record and a 4.40 ERA in 19 starts with the Reds this season, striking out 114 and walking 39 in 104 1/3 innings. He made two starts ahead of the trade deadline after a stint on the 15-day injured list with a right shoulder strain.

It’s the second time the Reds have traded a starting pitcher to the Twins this season. They swapped Sonny Gray for pitching prospect Chase Petty in March.

– Bobby Nightengale, Cincinnati Enquirer

Seemingly always in the market for bullpen help, the Philadelphia Phillies struck a deal with the Chicago Cubs for closer David Robertson. 

An All-Star in 2011 with the New York Yankees, Robertson made only 19 appearances from 2019-21 because of injuries. However, he’s rebounded in a big way with the Cubs this year, posting a 2.23 ERA with 14 saves.

Class A right-hander Ben Brown, 22, goes to Chicago in the deal.

The Philadelphia Phillies have struck a deal to land outfielder Brandon Marsh from the Los Angeles Angels. In return, the Angels receive catching prospect Logan O’Hoppe, FanSided’s Robert Murray reports

Marsh, 24, is a speedy outfielder who can fill the Phillies need in center. However, he has the highest strikeout rate of any qualified hitter in the majors this season at 36.2%.

Meanwhile, the New York Mets are acquiring outfielder/first baseman Darin Ruf from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for veteran third baseman J.D. Davis and prospects, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

Ruf, who has a .886 OPS vs. left-handers this season, gives the Mets a right-handed complement to lefty sluggers Dan Vogelbach and Tyler Naquin, who were also acquired just before the deadline.

One of the surest bets of this year’s trade deadline was that the New York Yankees would part ways with outfielder Joey Gallo, whom they acquired to much fanfare at last year’s trade deadline.

However, in Gallo’s one year in the Bronx, he has gone from an All-Star and Gold Glove defender to a struggling part-timer. In 140 games in pinstripes, he has produced a .159/.291/.368 slash line with 25 home runs and a whopping 194 strikeouts. 

In a recent interview, Gallo was quite candid about his struggles, both physically and mentally, in New York.

Once the Yankees picked up left-handed hitting outfielder Andrew Benintendi from the Royals, Gallo’s days were clearly numbered. 

The Los Angeles Dodgers have agreed to send 23-year-old Class AA right-hander Clayton Beeter to the Yankees for Gallo, according to multiple media reports.

Beeter is the Dodgers’ No. 15 prospect, according to MLB.com.

The Toronto Blue Jays added a pair of relievers for the stretch run, acquiring right-handers Anthony Bass and Zach Pop from the Miami Marlins for shortstop prospect Jordan Groshans. 

Bass has been outstanding this season, with a 1.41 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and just one home run allowed over 44 ⅔ innings. Pop has split time between Miami and Class AAA Jacksonville. They’ll provide depth behind closer Jason Romano.

Groshans, a top-100 overall prospect entering this season, has struggled at Class AAA Buffalo, posting a .250/.348/.296 slash line with one home run in 279 plate appearances.

The San Diego Padres are making a huge statement in their bid to reach the World Series by landing the trade deadline’s biggest prize, agreeing to acquire All-Star outfielder Juan Soto and first baseman Josh Bell from the Washington Nationals.

In return, the Nationals receive first baseman Luke Voit, left-hander MacKenzie Gore and a package of four prospects, shortstop C.J. Abrams, outfielders Robert Hassell III and James Wood, and right-hander Jarlin Susana. 

ANALYSIS: Padres show they’re all-in with Soto, Hader acquisitions

Veteran first baseman Eric Hosmer was originally part of the Nationals’ haul for Soto and Bell — however, he has a limited no-trade clause that prohibited him from being traded to several teams, including the Nationals, without his permission. 

However, Voit was later added to the trade so it could be finalized.

Earlier this season, the Soto turned down a record-breaking 15-year, $440 million contract offer to stay with the Nationals. Even though the deal would have been the largest in baseball history, it would only average $29.33 million per year — making him the 20th highest-paid player in annual value.

Desperate for bullpen help, the Minnesota Twins have acquired 2022 AL All-Star Jorge Lopez from the Baltimore Orioles. 

The O’s will receive left-hander Cade Povich, right-handed reliever Yennier Cano and additional low-level prospects in exchange for the 29-year-old Lopez.

In by far the best season of his seven-year career, Lopez has made the transition from struggling starter (3-14, 6.07 ERA in 2021) to lights-out closer — converting 19 of 23 save chances and pitching to an ERA of 1.68 in 44 appearances. 

The Twins have gone through several closers after trading 2021 All-Star Taylor Rogers to the Padres this spring. Emilio Pagan leads the team with nine saves, but has blown six other save chances and has an ERA of 4.75. Five other Twins relievers have picked up at least one save. 

MLB teams aren’t the only ones looking to improve their rosters at the trade deadline. In the upcoming issue of USA TODAY Sports Weekly, Steve Gardner offers his winners and losers from a fantasy standpoint. Here are a few of each: 

WINNERS

SP Luis Castillo, Mariners. Somehow, Castillo managed to put up a 2.86 ERA and 1.07 WHIP with Cincinnati – in one of the most homer-happy ballparks in the majors. In Seattle, he’ll have a much more neutral home park and a better defense behind him. The schedule helps as well with the M’s having 25 games left against sub-.500 division opponents the Angels, Rangers and A’s — and none against the first-place Astros.

RP Devin Williams, Brewers. MLB saves leader Josh Hader’s fantasy value wasn’t going to change whether or not he changed teams. Once he did though, going from the Brewers to the Padres, Williams’ immediately becomes a top-10 fantasy closer in Milwaukee. Possibly top five. (The Orioles’ Felix Bautista gets a similar boost in value with Jorge Lopez traded to Minnesota.)

1B Trey Mancini, Astros. Mancini was one of the hitters most impacted by the Orioles moving the left field wall back 30 feet this season. After hitting 14 homers at Camden Yards a year ago, Mancini had just five there this season (one of them of the inside-the-park variety). Hitting fly balls at a career-high rate, the Crawford Boxes in Houston, by comparison, should seem like just a short pop fly away for Mancini.

LOSERS

SP Frankie Montas, Yankees. With the Mariners landing Castillo first, the Yankees made a strong and successful push for the No. 2 starting pitcher on the market. Montas’ 4-9 record belies his excellent 3.18 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. However, he has taken full advantage of the spacious Oakland Coliseum this season. Over 12 starts in Oakland, Montas has a 2.06 ERA; in seven starts on the road, his ERA is over 5.00.

OF David Peralta, Rays. Primarily a platoon hitter, Peralta shouldn’t see much of a change in his role playing primarily against right-handers. However, the AL East is the toughest division in the majors and the Rays like to tweak their lineups more than most teams. The Rays also acquired outfielder Jose Siri on Monday and should have Manuel Margot and Harold Ramirez coming back off the injured list soon.

Fantasy managers in AL- and NL-only leagues. This could change with a flurry of activity on deadline day. But as the final 24 hours of trading began ticking down, the number of inter-division deals was disappointingly small. Perhaps the possibility of a Juan Soto trade has kept a number of other deals on hold. No matter the reason, hoarding one’s FAAB dollars until the last minute in hopes of grabbing a superstar from the opposite league seems to be yet again a dangerous gamble.

The San Diego Padres are now seen by multiple observers as the “most motivated” team to put together a package for Juan Soto, in the words of The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

They have several high-level prospects — including shortstop C.J. Abrams and outfielder Robert Hassell III — which would be essential to creating a package the Nationals would accept. 

Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post goes even further, calling the Padres the “most likely landing spot” for Soto. In addition, he says the Padres could also acquire first baseman Josh Bell as part of a Soto deal.

What makes the Padres different from the other rumored suitors for Soto is that they might have a bit more trouble getting him to sign a long-term extension before he becomes a free agent at the end of the 2024 season. That’s because they already have two huge contracts already on the books in Fernando Tatis (14 years, $340 million) and Manny Machado (10 years, $340 million). However, Machado’s contract does allow him to opt out after the 2024 season.

According to USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale, the Padres wouldn’t necessarily have to deplete their farm system for years to come if they acquired Soto. They could always trade him for more top prospects before he becomes a free agent.

The New York Yankees have been sitting atop the baseball world all season, but were much more worried about their team than they ever publicly revealed.

So, what did they do?

They grabbed Oakland A’s ace Frankie Montas on Monday when they couldn’t get Cincinnati Reds ace Luis Castillo. They passed on Brewers All-Star closer Josh Hader, who went to San Diego, but turned around and acquired Oakland closer Lou Trivino in the Montas trade. They acquired Cubs rookie reliever Scott Effross, too. They’re out on the Juan Soto sweepstakes, but acquired Andrew Benintendi from the Kansas City Royals last week.

– Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Brewers let teams know early in July that four-time All-Star closer Josh Hader was available, believing they could still win the NL Central without him, but warned the asking price would be steep. 

Well, they soon will find out if they’re correct in their assessment, trading Hader to the San Diego Padres on Monday for closer Trevor Rogers, starter Dinelson Lamet, pitching prospect Robert Gasser and outfield prospect Esteury Ruiz. 

“Trading good players on good teams is difficult, and that certainly is the case with Josh,” Brewers president David Stearns said. “We also recognize that to give our organization the best chance for sustained competitiveness, to avoid the extended down periods that so many organizations experience, we must make decisions that are not easy.” 

– Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY Sports

There was a time, not too long ago, when the Detroit Tigers envisioned a much different approach at the 2022 trade deadline — 6 p.m. Tuesday, less than two hours before they play the Twins in Minnesota.

On paper, the Tigers were lined up to compete. But on the field, due to myriad injuries and poor performances, the Tigers have the third-worst record in the AL, and the offense — averaging 3.21 runs per game — is one of the worst in baseball history.

“I’m just trying to make sure our guys realize we put ourselves in this situation,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “We have to deal with the consequences of the stress, anxiousness, curiosity and the reality that, if I was on the outside and I had a contending club, I would have a few pieces that I would want here, too.”

– Evan Petzold, Detroit Free Press