It was certainly eventful. And in a welcome way, normal.
In a year in which so much is different about baseball and the world at large, the Trade Deadline felt fairly similar. Sure, it happened on Aug. 31 instead of July. Sure, there were new buyers at the market thanks to an expanded postseason. But there were blockbusters. There were moves for rentals. There were some swaps that didn’t end up happening. (Here’s looking at you, Lance Lynn.) And of course, there were trades for prospects.
Now that the Trade Deadline is past us, today’s Toolshed takes a breath and breaks down some prospect-related takeaways from Aug. 31.
The Padres improved without mortgaging their future: Let's start with who San Diego picked up in the last week alone -- Mike Clevinger,Austin Nola, Austin Adams, Dan Altavilla, Jason Castro, Mitch Moreland, Trevor Rosenthal and Greg Allen.
Now a reminder of who is still in the system -- MacKenzie Gore, Luis Patiño, CJ Abrams, Luis Campusano, Adrian Morejon, Ryan Weathers (along with Robert Hassell and Cole Wilcox, neither of whom could be traded yet because they're 2020 Draft picks).
The Padres entered trade season with six Top-100 prospects, went out and filled several of their holes (including finding a new ace in Clevinger) and ended traded season with ... five Top-100 prospects. (More on the one they lost in a bit.) That feels like a tremendous accomplishment for general manager A.J. Preller and the San Diego front office.
Sure, there aren't many Major Leaguers the club picked up who could have justified a price as high as any of the Padres' top young talents, but the Clevinger deal was an indication of just how many prospects the club could afford to give up and still remain one of the strongest systems in the game. Losing Gabriel Arias, Joey Cantillo and Owen Miller -- all of whom were ranked among the Padres' top 12 prospects entering Monday -- as well as Edward Olivares (Royals), Jeisson Rosario (Red Sox) and Hudson Potts (Red Sox) might put a serious dent in other farms. San Diego can keep on trucking because of the big names still up top. Remember this is an organization for which Jake Cronenworth wasn't even a top-10 prospect to start the season. Now Patiño and Morejon are in the Majors, Gore should not be far from joining them and Abrams/Hassell/Wilcox/Weathers should give Padres plenty of hope that the farm won't be dry after this first onrush of talent either.
San Diego already had its best odds of reaching the postseason since 2006. With the moves made in the last couple days, the Padres increased their chances of making a deep playoff run. They also gave themselves pretty good odds that this run won't be a one-off too.
"More waves coming," Preller told reporters, including MLB.com's AJ Cassavell, on Monday.
Mariners become latest to bet on Trammell: As for that one Top-100 prospect San Diego did part with, that was No. 59 Taylor Trammell, whom the club acquired at last year's Deadline in a deal with Cincinnati. The 22-year-old outfielder moves onto his third organization in Seattle following his inclusion in the seven-player swap that primarily sent catcher Nola south.
That's a story in itself, that the Mariners could turn a 30-year-old catcher -- who they signed as a Minor League free agent in January 2019 -- into a Top-100 prospect (and more) after 20 months in the organization. Such was Nola's late-blooming development in the Pacific Northwest.
But back to Trammell, who can be divisive as a prospect even though he's ranked highly by MLB.com. The left-handed slugger is a plus runner, can handle outfield defense well and has the chance to be above-average overall with the bat. His arm is the only below-average tool on paper. What perhaps made him expendable to two different organizations was the fact that the skill set hasn't yet translated into on-field production. Trammell hit just .234/.340/.349 in 126 games between two Double-A clubs last season. He certainly ended on a bright note, however, by going 13-for-42 (.310) with three homers in the Texas League postseason. (One of those homers was a ninth-inning grand slam in the series-clinching win by Amarillo.) These brief tastes of potential -- which also include an MVP turn at the 2018 All-Star Futures Game in which Trammell homered and tripled -- keep prospect evaluators and clubs coming back for more, even if they haven't been matched with consistency yet.
For his part, Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said he'd been chasing Trammell for years, dating back to the 2016 Draft when the club held the 11th overall pick. They took Kyle Lewis instead, and four years later, he's the leading candidate for the AL Rookie of the Year award with one month to go.
Therein lies the rub of Trammell's new system. Lewis has developed into one of the Majors' most exciting outfielders, and Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez are top-20 overall prospects who could be up in the Emerald City by this time next year. That's to say nothing about 2018 All-Star Mitch Haniger, who has missed the 2020 season due to core and back injuries. At last check, there are only three outfield spots in a typical Major League lineup.
But in the midst of a rebuild, Seattle needs to take on all the talent it can get regardless of position. The outfield situation will sort itself out in due course, and if it comes down to finding three spots for five legitimate Major League outfielders, then Dipoto's dreams will have come true. Trammell is a talent worth betting on. The next part of that bet is seeing his talent translate into performance on the field, and the wait for that in his new organization will need to spill into 2021.
Indians got deeper: If someone said at the beginning of the 2020 season that Cleveland would be selling on Clevinger at the Deadline, it would have caused some panic in northeast Ohio that the coming season had gone horribly wrong. On a team level, it really hasn't. At 21-14, the Tribe sits one game behind the White Sox in the AL Central and would be the AL's fourth seed if the season ended today. However, Clevinger's disregard of the COVID-19 protocols (leading to a trip to the restricted list and an option back to the alternate site), along with Triston McKenzie's impressive arrival in the Majors, made the right-hander expendable.
In exchange for the 29-year-old, outfielder Allen and a player to be named later, the Indians received Major Leaguers Cal Quantrill, Austin Hedges and Josh Naylor and prospects Arias, Cantillo and Miller. Focusing on the latter trio for the purposes of this column, those three might not move the needle for the average fan, but they do provide even more depth to a Cleveland system that is surprisingly deep for an organization with only one Top-100 prospect -- Nolan Jones.
The Indians have proved incredibly adept at turning pitching prospects with impressive control into even better Major Leaguers. Current Cy Young favorite Shane Bieber, who was never a Top-100 prospect, is the best example, and Aaron Civale and Zach Plesac also fit the bill. The hope is that Cantillo could be the next one in line. Now sitting as the No. 15 prospect in his new system, the Hawaiian southpaw becomes the top left-handed pitcher in the club's Minor League ranks, in part because of his solid control. Cantillo struck out 144 and walked only 34 over 111 2/3 innings between Class A and Class A Advanced in a breakout 2019, all while showing below-average to average velocity. If the Indians can generate even more heat from him, he has every chance at becoming their next success story.
Similarly, Arias and Miller don't fill needs in the Indians system so much as they fit a mold. Following their arrivals, seven of Cleveland's top 19 prospects are of the middle-infield variety. Miller might be the most advanced of the group from a developmental standpoint, having played all of 2019 at Double-A, and he could compete for a second-base job in Cleveland soon, thanks to an above-average hit tool from the right side. Arias will be in the mix as Francisco Lindor's eventual replacement at shortstop along with Tyler Freeman, Brayan Rocchio and 2020 first-rounder Carson Tucker. Arias' impressive defensive work at the six and budding offensive skills eventually could give him a leg up, but the competition he brings is better for the system as a whole, especially with the loss of a franchise cornerstone looming around the corner.
Players to be named: Thirty -- count 'em, thirty -- players to be named later were traded in August alone. Three were sent from the Phillies to the Brewers in the David Phelps deal. The reason for such a large number was that clubs weren't officially allowed to deal players not in their 60-man player pools during the season. That couldn't stop teams from talking about such players, however, and it was clear that organizations hadn't agreed to check back on prospects later. They just planned to literally name them at a later time.
This mockery of the process was laid bare when the names of certain yet-to-be-traded prospects were leaked. We know that 2019 picks Marcus Smith and Dustin Harris are headed from Oakland to Texas in the Mike Minor trade. We also know that No. 16 Blue Jays prospect Griffin Conine will join Miami at some point as part of the Jonathan Villar deal. Trades not involving leaked names will take much longer to evaluate from a fan perspective.
Being able to unofficially trade prospects only to leave them in limbo for weeks until the end of the season is reminiscent of the reason why the Trea Turner Rule was instituted to allow earlier trades for recent Draft picks. The 60-man player pool hopefully will be left in the COVID era of 2020, and so will PTBNL-reliant trades.
What didn't happen: Yes, there was a blockbuster between Cleveland and San Diego and plenty of other smaller deals to chew on across baseball. But there was no Zack Greinke to the Astros for multiple prospects 15 minutes after the deadline officially passed. The Rangers, who had popped up in several big rumors for Lynn and Joey Gallo, made much smaller moves involving Minor, Todd Frazier and Robinson Chirinos. The potential huge move of Josh Hader away from the Brewers never materialized. The Dodgers and Yankees stayed quiet on virtually all fronts, even though they had the prospect capital to pull off a Lynn deal. Deadline Day came and went with only one Top-100 prospect switching sides. In a season without Minor League Baseball, a few other blockbusters could have provided some real excitement and shock value to those who follow the lower levels. Alas, like so many other things, we'll have to wait for next year.
Sam Dykstra is a reporter for MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB.