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MLB trade deadline biggest winners, losers

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The MLB trade deadline has passed, which means some teams got better for the short term, and some teams got better for the long term. However, that also means some teams got better immediately, and some teams, well, let’s just say didn’t. 

The Padres made the biggest splash before the deadline expired by acquiring Josh Bell and Juan Soto on Tuesday. Don’t forget they acquired arguably the best left-handed reliever in Josh Hader from Milwaukee on Monday. So, if you thought the National League pennant was a two-team race between the Dodgers and the Mets, think again. The Padres might not be a threat to the Dodgers for the Division, but they certainly are for the pennant. Even better news for San Diego, Fernando Tatis Jr. faced live pitching on Monday, which means the superstar shortstop is getting closer to returning. 

San Diego is currently 60-46 and the No. 2 seed in the Wild Card standings, but that’s without Soto, Bell and Tatis Jr. having played a single game for them this season. Add those three to an already above average lineup, and you might just have yourself the best lineup in baseball.

The Padres might have the fourth-best ERA in the NL at 3.76, but the bullpen struggled at times to pull their weight. Entering Tuesday, the Padres bullpen was just below league average in ERA. That should change with an All-Star like Hader, who leads baseball with 29 saves.

Best of all, Hader is not your typical closer that is only good for three outs. The Brewers used Hader for three-plus outs quite a bit and rarely gives up home runs. In 2020 and 2021, Hader allowed just six combined home runs. Pitching in pitcher-friendly Petco Park should only make those numbers even better. 

From a starting staff standpoint, San Diego is good, too. Joe Musgrove and Yu Darvish are a top-three 1-2 punch in the game, and even though Sean Manaea and Blake Snell have had their ups-and-downs this year, they’re dangerous when they’re rolling right. Don’t forget about Mike Clevinger. Clevinger missed all of last year due to Tommy John, but he’s 3-3 with a 3.13 ERA in 12 starts this year, and has recorded a quality start in his last three outings. 

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It might take a while for this team to get comfortable with one another since, but come postseason time, San Diego is definitely a threat. They’re currently favored to win the NL pennant only behind the Dodgers and Mets, and rightfully so, but they’re definitely worth putting money on. The line has changed dramatically since acquiring Soto and Bell, but at 5.5/1 (+550) via PointsBet, you should jump on it immediately. Same thing to win the World Series. The line is 12/1 (+1200), but that’s only going to drop from here on out, unless the Padres completely wet the bed. 

As for the trade deadline biggest loser, that’s usually hard to nail from past seasons, but maybe not for this season. The American League Central is still a three-team race between Minnesota, Cleveland and Chicago. Despite trailing both the Twins and Guardians in the standings, the White Sox for the most part are still favored to win the Division. 

The Twins are currently in first place, but are only a game up on the Guardians, and two ahead of the White Sox. However, the Twins got better before the deadline. Minnesota’s bullpen has been its biggest problem all year, and they improved that area by acquiring All-Star closer Jorge Lopez from Baltimore. Plus, the Twins acquired right-hander starter Tyler Mahle from Cincinnati and right-hander pitcher Michael Fulmer from Detroit. So, Rocco Baldelli no longer has to go by committee between Tyler Duffey, Emilio Pagan and Jhoan Duran for the closer role. Lopez is the guy, and a much-improved option over the other three.

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The White Sox stayed pretty quiet before the deadline, but did improve their bullpen, which has struggled to stay healthy and perform at times this season, by acquiring left-handed reliever Jake Diekman from Boston on Monday. Diekman worked a perfect inning of relief, including two strikeouts, in his debut with Chicago on Monday. Combine Diekman with All-Star Liam Hendricks, Joe Kelly and hopefully for Sox’ fans Aaron Bummer, who missed considerable time due to injury, and all of a sudden, that bullpen looks OK.

No doubt the White Sox have struggled to score all season — 17th in baseball with 450 runs — but they’re starting to get back to 100 percent. Eloy Jimenez has hit safely in eight straight games and looks to finally be healthy. Luis Robert didn’t play on Tuesday, but he was placed back on the active roster on Tuesday, and is simply a game-changer when on the field. And don’t forget the White Sox have the second-easiest schedule remaining, a huge advantage for a team in a tight Division race. 

So, who does that leave us with? The Cleveland Guardians. A team who got so close to a World Series in 2016 — don’t forget they had a 3-1 series lead over the Cubs — and still haven’t won a World Series in 72 years, currently the longest active World Series drought in baseball. What did they do to improve their playoff chances? Squat. That’s right. Diddly squat.

Cleveland decided to stay silent on the trade block and fully invest in the guys on their active roster and the guys in their farm system. If you’re a Guardians fan, I feel sorry for you. This team has a legitimate shot at this division, but they didn’t do anything to improve their chances. It’s not like they’re an elite team. Make no mistake about it, this team has flaws. 

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Cleveland has the second-fewest home runs, and ranks in the lower half of the league in runs and slugging percentage, but no, they didn’t go out and get a power bat. Josh Bell was available, Eric Hosmer, even Joey Gallo. But no, the Guardians chose to do nothing. 

How about that starting rotation? Shane Bieber is a top of the rotation arm, but what about anyone else. Aaron Civale, Triston McKenzie and Zach Plesac? Stop. None of them are a bona fide No. 1 arm, at least not this year. Plenty of good starters were available — Noah Syndergaard, Jordan Montgomery, etc. — and would have helped. But no. Cleveland did nothing. It’s probably going to be the reason they don’t win the AL Central. 

Cleveland is now 4-1 (+400) to win the AL Central, but is it worth betting? You might want to wait a week or so and see exactly where Cleveland still stands. Chicago and Minnesota both improved before the deadline, and just might catch fire soon. The line will still have value in a week, but don’t be surprised if Cleveland is three or four games back, not one or two. This division was there’s if they wanted it, and didn’t take advantage. One blockbuster move could have made them the team to beat, but they chose to sit on their hands and stay silent. Fair warning: Bet Cleveland with caution.

Deadline biggest winner: San Diego Padres

Trade deadline biggest loser: Cleveland

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