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Trade deadline recap: National League

Following one of the wildest deadlines in recent memory — and, perhaps, the most significant deadline trade in living memory — even die-hard baseball fans could be forgiven for losing track of all the action. To get you caught up, here’s a recap of the weird, the wild, and the wacky over the last few days.

San Diego: It’s highly unlikely that anyone reading this post is unaware of the sport-shaking mega-deal that sent Juan Soto to San Diego, and there isn’t much to say about it that hasn’t already been said by MLBTR’s Anthony Franco. Though they’ll almost certainly have to run the three-game Wild-Card-series gauntlet this year, hyper-aggressive president of baseball operations A.J. Preller — who also acquired top-line closer Josh Hader in a deal with the Brewers and free-agent-to-be Brandon Drury from the Reds — has pushed all of his chips into the center of the table, effectively giving his club three seasons to win a World Series. Soto is under control through 2024, and Hader will be a free agent at the conclusion of the 2023 season.

Given the size of the package Preller sent to Washington — and the caliber of players therein — anything less than at least one title will feel like a bust. That said, that no opposing pitcher will relish the prospect of facing Soto, Manny Machado, and Fernando Tatis Jr. (currently nearing a rehab assignment) in order is a massive understatement, and the Friars will be a force to be reckoned with come October. In San Diego, the future is now.

Atlanta: While one of the league’s hottest teams could have been forgiven for more-or-less standing pat — particularly after locking up third baseman and MVP candidate Austin Riley to a 10-year, $212M extension — the defending champs were once again active. President of baseball ops Alex Anthopoulos added a major piece to an already strong bullpen, acquiring Raisel Iglesias, in a last-minute deal with the Angels. The Braves also revamped the back half of their roster, acquiring Jake Odorizzi, Robbie Grossman and Ehire Adrianza to shore up their rotation, outfield mix, and bench, respectively.

Oddly, they also subtracted a bit, sending former closer Will Smith to the Astros in the Odorizzi deal and back-end bullpen stalwart Jesse Chavez to the Angels in the Iglesias deal, but there’s little doubt that the team is stronger after the moves than it was before. Odorizzi provides depth to a rotation that includes a struggling Ian Anderson and rookie sensation Spencer Strider, who may be on an innings limit. The switch-hitting Grossman is a strong righty bat who can share time with the left-handed Eddie Rosario following Adam Duvall’s season-ending surgery. Adrianza offers cover at several positions, including second base, where Ozzie Albies’ timeline on a return from injury remains murky. Iglesias both strengthens and balances a previously lefty-heavy bullpen that, in addition to Smith, had given a great many high-leverage innings to A.J. Minter and Tyler Matzek.

Milwaukee: In one of the stranger — if, perhaps, shrewder — moves of the deadline period, the first-place Brewers subtracted a pretty major piece, sending all-world closer Josh Hader to the Padres in exchange for a ready-made high-leverage replacement in Taylor Rogers, the oft-injured but wildly talented Dinelson Lamet, and a pair of prospects. It’s an on-its-face odd move for a serious contender to trade away its most dominant player, but it’s also the sort of tough decision small-market teams (a la the Rays) have had to make to keep a contention window open for as long as possible.

The addition of Rogers softens the blow considerably, and one day after dealing Hader, Milwaukee followed by acquiring righties Matt Bush and Trevor Rosenthal, further back-filling the ’pen to account for the loss of Hader. Trading Hader — who’ll be a free agent following the 2023 season and could top $15M in salary next year– now rather than in the offseason gave the Padres two playoff runs with the superstar closer but also maximized the Brewers’ return. Outfielder Esteury Ruiz, in particular, is a largely MLB-ready addition. Devin Williams, Rogers, Bush and eventually Rosenthal give the Brewers plenty of late-inning options.

New York: To the surprise of just about everyone, the Mets — who held a three-game division lead over the Braves entering play Tuesday — didn’t make any major moves. They did add a pair of potential contributors in Darin Ruf (exchanged for J.D. Davis, Thomas Szapucki, and a pair of low-minors pitchers to share DH duties with fellow recent arrival Daniel Vogelbach) and reliever Mychal Givens. They’d been linked to Josh Bell (sent to the Padres as part of the Juan Soto deal) and Trey Mancini (to the Astros) as well as Willson Contreras and Ian Happ (both among the only significant pieces not to move). Ultimately, general manager Billy Eppler didn’t pull the trigger on a move of the scale that had been expected of a first-place team owned by Steve Cohen.

While Givens, who’s had an excellent year with the Cubs, should strengthen an already strong bullpen and Ruf will likely improve surprisingly anemic DH production, manager Buck Showalter will have to largely get by with in-house options the rest of the way.

Los Angeles: The Dodgers entered the deadline period as co-favorites to land Juan Soto and reportedly attempted to at least engage the Angels on Shohei Ohtani. Despite these lofty aspirations, the owners of the NL’s best record had a comparatively quiet deadline, with no move remotely rivaling the Max Scherzer/Trea Turner blockbuster of a year ago.

Instead, the Andrew Friedman-led front office kept things relatively cool (at least by their recent standards), acquiring reliever Chris Martin from the Cubs for utility man Zach McKinstry and struggling outfielder/DH Joey Gallo from the Yankees for pitching prospect Clayton Beeter. Nothing the Dodgers could have done would have changed much in the regular season — even with Juan Soto and Josh Hader headed to San Diego, L.A. is all but a lock to win the NL West and a first-round bye. Manager Dave Roberts will have largely have to make do with what he’s got as the Dodgers attempt to get back to the World Series following 2021’s disappointing NLCS loss to the Braves.

St. Louis: Though they came up short in the Juan Soto bidding and watched rumored target Frankie Montas head to the Bronx, the Cardinals — who sat 2.5 games back of the Brewers in the NL Central and a game behind the Phillies for the final NL Wild Card spot entering play Tuesday — hardly stood pat. The Cards added left-handed starter Jose Quintana and right-handed reliever Chris Stratton in a deal with the Pirates, as well as southpaw Jordan Montgomery from the Yankees. Though the latter move came at the cost of currently injured but broadly productive outfielder Harrison Bader, there’s little doubt that the Cards emerge from the deadline with a much stronger pitching staff for the final ride of Adam Wainwright, Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina than they had before.

The Cards entered the deadline with little stability in rotation beyond Wainwright, Miles Mikolas and Dakota Hudson. With offseason signee Steven Matz still on the shelf (and ineffective when he’s been on the field), Quintana and Montgomery should immediately solidify the rotation and give the St. Louis faithful a real shot to send their aging legends into the sunset with a playoff appearance — if not a division title.

Philadelphia: Though only on the periphery of the NL East race, the Phils added several pieces at the deadline, headlined by starter Noah Syndergaard. Thor isn’t the dominant force of his first several Mets years, but he has had a solid bounce-back season with the Angels and will solidify the back end of an already solid rotation — and, perhaps, take the ball in the decisive third game in the Wild Card round.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski also added young outfielder Brandon Marsh to an outfield mix that badly needed a plus defender of this type. Veteran reliever David Robertson strengthens a middle-of-the-pack bullpen and takes the place of struggling veteran Jeurys Familia, who was designated for assignment. The Phils also picked up infielder Edmundo Sosa in a small deal with the Cardinals, adding a standout, versatile defender — albeit one with a light bat.

Washington: The departure of generational talent Juan Soto from a team that went from a World Series title to cellar-dwelling in a flash makes Tuesday a sour day for Nats fans, but the haul Mike Rizzo pulled back in return for Soto (and first baseman Josh Bell) could portend much sweeter days ahead. The Nats all but emptied out the top ranks of the Padres’ farm system, adding a coterie of high-caliber prospects in left-hander MacKenzie Gore, shortstop C.J. Abrams, outfielders Robert Hassell III and James Wood and righty Jarlin Susana alongside make-weight first baseman Luke Voit. In a smaller deal, the Nats also picked up minor-league outfielder Trey Harris in a swap sending Ehire Adrianza to the Braves.

Time will tell if Rizzo’s return matches the value of perhaps the best pure hitter since Barry Bonds, but with his club unlikely to contend anytime soon and Soto making clear he had no interest in the best extension offer the Nats were willing to give him, he may not have had much of a choice. They may no longer have Soto, but Washington fans will have more than their fair share of young talent on display for at least the next half-decade.

Cincinnati: The Reds, mired in mediocrity, continued a payroll-driven sell-off. Cincinnati held several of the more intriguing pieces of the deadline period in starters Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle and versatile infielder Brandon Drury. The team broke the deadline logjam, sending Castillo to the Mariners late last week for a quartet of prospects headlined by infielders Noelvi Marte and Edwin Arroyo. They hardly stopped there, however, shipping off Mahle to the Twins for three prospects, Drury to the Padres for one, and outfielder Tommy Pham to the Red Sox for a player to be named later.

How long it will take for them to return to contention remains to be seen, but the substantial prospect haul brought back in the last few days should help speed things along. For the time being, though, the product on the field is going to be underwhelming.

Chicago: One of the more confusing teams to read in the offseason, the Cubs had several substantial pieces — including Willson Contreras and Ian Happ — rumored to be on their way out. Instead, they’ll remain on Chicago’s north side for at least the remainder of the season. Happ has a year of control remaining, but the decision by the Cubs front office to hang on to Contreras, one of the better bats (non-Soto division) available at the deadline and a free agent at season’s end, is perhaps the most vexing non-move of a deadline in which trades came fast and heavy.

The team did make several deals, however, effectively emptying out the top half of their bullpen. Chris Martin is now a Dodger (in exchange for utility man Zach McKinstry), and Scott Effross, David Robertson and Mychal Givens were shipped out to Yankees, Phillies and Mets, respectively, each in exchange for a minor-league arm. Whether they seek to either hold on to Contreras long-term or simply receive draft pick compensation by issuing him a qualifying offer at season’s end remains to be seen.

Miami: The Marlins — owners of perhaps the most impressive reserve of young, controllable arms in the big leagues — entered the deadline period on the far periphery of the NL Wild Card race. This is something of a disappointment for a team that shelled out real money to add pop to their lineup (they signed Avisail Garcia ahead of the lockout and Jorge Soler after it) with little to show for it, leading to speculation that the club might trade one of its many controllable arms (per the rumor mill, Pablo Lopez) for a controllable bat.

No such deal came to fruition, but GM Kim Ng did send relievers Zach Pop and Anthony Bass to the Blue Jays for 2018 first-rounder Jordan Groshans. The shortstop, who’s also seen time at third and in the outfield, has an intriguing profile and has consistently gotten on base at all levels of the minors, but his power output has fallen off a cliff in his first taste of Triple-A.

San Francisco: Despite listening to offers on impending free agents Carlos Rodon and Joc Pederson in the midst of career years, the disappointing Giants — currently hovering around both .500 and the periphery of the NL Wild Card race but well shy of last year’s torrid pace — largely stood pat at the deadline, making only a handful of minor moves. They acquired infielder Dixon Machado (from the Cubs) and catcher/infielder Ford Proctor (from the Rays) before swapping Darin Ruf for J.D. Davis, pitcher Thomas Szapucki and a pair of minor-league arms. They also traded away a handful of more minor pieces, including catcher Curt Casali and left-hander Matthew Boyd (to the Mariners for a pair of minor leaguers), and rehabbing right-hander Trevor Rosenthal (to the Brewers for another minor leaguer).

Pittsburgh: With several members of the Pirates’ loaded farm system making their way to the bigs this season, things may finally be starting to look up for the long-suffering Pittsburgh faithful. While 2022 won’t be the year that ends the club’s seven-season playoff drought, the Bucs entered the deadline as clear sellers. They made only a single significant move, sending reclamation project Jose Quintana (signed in the offseason for only $2MM) and reliever Chris Stratton to the division-rival Cardinals for a young arm with some big-league experience in Johan Oviedo and third base prospect Malcom Nunez.

Arizona: A team on the rise but with little to offer in the way of attractive rental talent, the Diamondbacks had one of the quieter deadlines across the majors. They did make a pair of moves, however, shipping David Peralta to the Rays for low-minors catcher Christian Cerda and righty Luke Weaver to the Royals for 26-year-old corner infielder Emmanuel Rivera, who hasn’t hit much in parts of two big-league seasons but showed real pop in the minors.

Colorado: The Rockies gave the rumor mill a bit of grist, with starter Chad Kuhl and reliever Carlos Estevez both reportedly drawing interest, but they ended the day the only team in the majors not to make a trade in the deadline period. They did shell out a bit of money, signing 37-year-old closer Daniel Bard to a two-year, $19M extension on Saturday — a move that perplexed many onlookers given Bard’s age and status as an otherwise prototypical trade candidate.

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