Throughout the decade, several trades consisted of large player packages going to both teams. But as the decade moved past the halfway point, teams locked in on high-valued players and were willing to offer a significant return in prospects. Continuing the trades of the decade series, this article will focus on five noteworthy trades between 2016 and 2019.
Boston Red Sox received SP Chris Sale & Chicago White Sox received 2B/3B Yoán Moncada, SP Michael Kopech, OF Luis Alexander Basabe, and RP Victor Diaz.
For the White Sox, 2016 consisted of heavy rebuilding, and the organization made the most of opportunity. The first blockbuster deal included Chris Sale being dealt to the Red Sox, which proved beneficial for both teams. Sale became a key piece for Boston to ultimately win the 2018 World Series. On the other side, the White Sox received prospects who are now ready to make an impact at the MLB level. At the time, Yoán Moncada and Michael Kopech were No. 1 and No. 30, respectively, on MLB’s top 100 prospects list.
Moncada, currently on a five-year, $70 million deal with a 2025 club option, had his breakout season in 2019 batting .315/.367/.548 with 25 home runs, 83 runs, and 79 RBIs over 559 plate appearances. Kopech, 23, recovered from Tommy John surgery during the 2019 season, but entered 2020 spring training with no restrictions and ready to earn a rotation spot. In his four appearances before undergoing surgery in 2018, Kopech went 1-1 with a 5.02 ERA over 14.1 innings pitched with a 9.42 K/9 ratio.
Washington Nationals received OF Adam Eaton & Chicago White Sox received SP Lucas Giolito, SP Reynaldo López, and P Dane Dunning.
As non contenders, the White Sox traded many of their top players in return for then-minor league prospects, like the aforementioned trade. Shortly after the deal with the Red Sox was announced, the White Sox sent Adam Eaton to the Nationals in return for a package of pitching prospects in December 2016. Once again, this trade benefited both organizations. Eaton was a part of the Nationals 2019 World Series championship team and the White Sox loaded up their pitching prospects.
The White Sox’s 2020 projected rotation consists of many arms acquired during the 2015-16 offseason, such as Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo López, and Kopech. Giolito had his best campaign of his career in 2019, where he went 14-9 over 29 games. He threw 176.2 innings with a 3.41 ERA and 11.62 K/9 ratio. López hasn’t found the same success as Giolito, but the potential as a mid-rotation pitcher is evident. Between 2018 and 2019, López threw 372.2 innings with a combined 7.73 K/9 ratio, 4.64 ERA, and 4.6 WAR.
Washington Nationals received CP Sean Doolittle and RP Ryan Madson & Oakland Athletics received RP Blake Treinen, SP Jesús Luzardo, 2B/3B Sheldon Neuse.
With a 95-65 record and first place finish in the National League East in 2017, the biggest need for the Nationals at the trade deadline was relief pitching. In one move, the Nationals answered that need by acquiring Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson from the Oakland Athletics. Doolittle, who will be a free agent at the conclusion of the 2020 season, was the reliable closer the Nationals wanted. Since 2017, Doolittle recorded 78 saves in 87 opportunities, pitched 156.1 innings, and has a 2.82 ERA. Madson had a fantastic season in 2018. He pitched to a 1.83 ERA and 0.80 WHIP over 59 innings with 67 strikeouts and only nine walks. However, he regressed in 2018 and was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers before electing free agency in October 2018.
Blake Treinen, currently on a one-year, $10 million deal with the Dodgers, had an almost immaculate season for the A’s in 2018. Treinen threw 80.1 innings for a 0.78 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and 100 strikeouts over 68 games. In 43 attempts, Treinen had 38 saves. Unfortunately for Jesús Luzardo, injuries sidelined him for a majority of the 2019 season. First, a left rotator cuff strain kept him off the field for the first two months of the season. Second, Luzardo suffered a setback, a Grade 2 lat strain, in July while on a rehab assignment. After several months, Luzardo, a 22-year-old left-handed starter, made his MLB debut as a relief pitcher in 2019, where he recorded two saves in six games over 12 innings. He had a 12.00 K/9 ratio and a 1.50 ERA.
Pittsburgh Pirates received SP Chris Archer & Tampa Bay Rays received SP Tyler Glasnow, OF Austin Meadows, SP Shane Baz.
This transaction between the Pirates and Rays may go down in history as one of the worst and most lopsided trades in history. In his prime, Chris Archer was someone with a lot of up-side, which he showed while on the Rays. Archer’s name continuously swirled in the trade rumor wind until he was finally dealt to the pirates in 2018. Up until his trade, Archer was an effective workhorse on the mound, throwing 200-plus innings and striking out 200-plus batters in three of his six seasons. But since being traded, Archer has only thrown 172 innings for the Pirates. Over that time, Archer has also pitched to a subpar 4.74 ERA. Before being traded, Archer threw 1,063 innings with 1,146 strikeouts, logging a 3.83 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. Archer was never an ace, but any team that acquired him would have significantly bolstered their pitching staff. That is what the Pirates saw in Archer, but overlooked in Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows.
The return the Rays received came to fruition in 2019 and showed the baseball world how bad of a trade the Pirates made. Before an injury sidelined Glasnow for a majority of the season, he was untouchable. Over 60.2 innings pitched, Glasnow went 6-1 with a 1.78 ERA and 0.89 WHIP. He had 76 strikeouts, 14 walks and held opponents to a .186 batting average. Meadows had a breakout season of his own, too. Over 591 plate appearances, Meadows slashed .291/.364/.558 with 33 home runs, 83 runs, 89 RBIs, and 12 stolen bases, all good for a 4.0 WAR. Glasnow and Meadows won’t become free agents until the conclusion of the 2023 and 2024 seasons, respectively.
Milwaukee Brewers received OF Christian Yelich & Miami Marlins received OF Lewis Brinson, OF Monte Harrison, 2B Isan Díaz, and SP Jordan Yamamoto.
Arguably the most memorable trade of the 2017-18 offseason the one that sent Christian Yelich to the Brewers. Yelich had already proven to be an elite hitter while with Miami, but his production with the Brewers is what earned him his seven-year, $188.5 million extension with a mutual option for the 2029 season, no-opt-outs, and a full no-trade clause. Yelich has been phenomenal throughout his career, slashing .301/.383/.492, knocking in 500 RBIs and blasting 139 home runs — 44 of those coming in 2019. As for Miami’s return, no players have had an impact on the diamond like Yelich, obviously, but there is plenty of promise for them to blossom into superstar-caliber players.
Lewis Brinson, a former first round draft pick, was acquired by the Brewers in 2016 as part of a deal that sent catcher Jonathan Lucroy and relief pitcher Jeremy Jeffress to the Texas Rangers. During Brinson’s 1.115 years of service time, a span of three seasons, Brinson’s career .183/.238/.293 slash line isn’t exciting, but at 26 years old, he still has time to develop. Jordan Yamamoto made his MLB debut in 2019 after being called up from Double-A Jacksonville. Over 78.2 innings, 15 games started, Yamamoto went 4-5 with a 4.46 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 36 walks, and 82 strikeouts. Isan Díaz also made his MLB debut in 2019 where he played in 49 games. Over 201 plate appearances, Díaz slashed .173/.259/.307 with five home runs, 17 runs and 23 RBIs. Again, Díaz’s numbers don’t jump off the page, but he is only 23 years old and has plenty of time to develop at the MLB level. Lastly, Monte Harrison is currently on Miami’s Triple-A affiliate roster and slashed a respectable .274/.357/.451 with nine home runs, 41 runs, 24 RBIs, and 20 stolen bases.
(2012) The Toronto Blue Jays received SP R.A. Dickey, C Josh Thole, and C Mike Nickeas & The New York Mets received SP Noah Syndergaard, C Travis d’Arnaud, C John Buck, and OF Wuilmer Becerra.
(2017) The Chicago Cubs received SP José Quintana & The Chicago White Sox received OF Eloy Jiménez, SP Dylan Cease, 1B/3B Matt Rose, and 2B/SS Bryant Flete.
(2019) Cincinnati Reds revived SP Trevor Bauer from the the Cleveland Indians. The Indians received OF Yasiel Puig and SP Scott Moss from the Reds & The Indians received OF Franmil Reyes, P Logan Allen and 3B/OF Victor Nova from the San Diego Padres. The Padres received OF Taylor Trammell from the Reds.
(2019) Houston Astros received SP Zack Greinke & Arizona Diamondbacks received 1B/OF Seth Beer, SP Corbin Martin, pitcher J.B. Bukauskas, and OF Josh Rojas.
(2020) The Los Angeles Dodgers received OF Mookie Betts and SP David Price from the Boston Red Sox. The Dodgers also received RP Brusdar Graterol, OF Luke Raley, and the 2020 Competative Round B draft pick from the Minnesota Twins & The Red Sox received OF Alex Verdugo, 2B/SS Jeter Downs, and C Connor Wong from the Dodgers. The Twins received SP/RP Kenta Maeda and C Jair Camargo from the Dodgers.