2023 MLB Trade Deadline grades: Mets get high marks, Yankees don’t

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Justin Verlander Mets MLB trade deadline
Justin Verlander (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

MLB’s trade deadline may not have provided the frenzied wheeling and dealing that last year’s period did surrounding Juan Soto — but it certainly did its best. 

The Mets led the way as baseball’s largest sellers, sending away two future Hall-of-Fame aces as they pivot in an entirely new direction. 

On the other side of New York, the Yankees have left plenty puzzled with general manager Brian Cashman’s philosophy of basically standing pat — a strategy that might have just doomed the Bronx Bombers as they look to keep up in the American League playoff picture.

From Queens to the Bronx, and everywhere else across the MLB landscape, here is how we marked each squad’s trade deadline.

2023 MLB Trade Deadline Grades

AL East

Baltimore Orioles’ Austin Hays (21) and Anthony Santander (25) celebrate with Adam Frazier (12) after Frazier hit a three-run home run against the New York Yankees during the seventh inning of a baseball game Wednesday, May 24, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Baltimore Orioles: There was a hope that the upstart, surprising Orioles would make a big splash to indicate that they’re going all in on a season in which they shockingly hold the AL East lead. But the plan stays the same in Baltimore as they did little to fill the few holes they have. In need of a pitcher, they went out and got Jack Flaherty from the St. Louis Cardinals — a move that still leaves plenty to be desired. Grade: C

Tampa Bay Rays: The pickup of Aaron Civale from the Cleveland Guardians bolsters Tampa Bay’s pitching staff as they try to keep up with Baltimore. His numbers have been solid, going 5-2 with a 2.34 ERA this season, but his strikeout rate is down, his walk rate is up, and so is his average exit velocity. He won’t have the benefit of seeing a lot of weak American League Central opponents anymore. Grade: B-

Toronto Blue Jays: Toronto was proactive in potentially addressing Bo Bichette’s time on the injured list by getting Paul De Jong, which was a solid pickup. They’ll hope that Jordan Hicks can provide a boost to the bullpen, too. But an inability to add a starting pitcher when the rotation has been suspect is a glaring omission. Grade: C+

Boston Red Sox: If anyone can get Luis Urias back on track, it’s Chaim Bloom, and this could prove to be a difference-making pickup down the stretch as they’ve exceeded expectations to stay in the playoff race. Getting a couple of arms for a pitching-needy organization in return for Enrique Hernandez also was important. Grade: B

New York Yankees: For a team whose offense has been overwhelmingly stale, for a team that needs legitimate starting pitching help behind Gerrit Cole as Carlos Rodon still struggles, the Yankees opted to look the other way. Instead, they only brought on reliever Kenyan Middleton. Underwhelming, confusing, and disheartening for the last-place team in the AL East. Grade: F


AL Central

Lucas Giolito
Lucas Giolito (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

Minnesota Twins: Despite leading the American League Central, the Twins looked an awful lot like a club disinterested in winning. A bland offense received no improvements and the stable of pitchers got a reclamation project in Dylan Florio. So much for trying to win the division. Grade: F

Cleveland Guardians: Again, another team in the thick of a mediocre divisional hunt didn’t do much to help their chances of winning now. They swapped one former Met, Amed Rosario, for another former Met, pitcher Noah Syndergaard. Kyle Manzardo is seen as a first baseman of the future, acquiring him and dealing Josh Bell to the Miami Marlins. But he has to recover from a shoulder injury. Grade: C

Detroit Tigers: The Tigers didn’t move any relievers that were garnering interest on the market and they couldn’t find a way to swap Eduardo Rodriguez, who invoked his no-trade clause to block a deal with the Dodgers. Grade: D+

Chicago White Sox: A team that began the season with reasonably high hopes, the White Sox sold at the deadline after a disappointing first half. They got a solid haul for Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Lance Lynn, Jake Burger, and Joe Kelly, which will only help them build a legitimate contender in the AL Central moving forward. Grade: A-

Kansas City Royals: One of the worst teams in baseball managed to take what few assets it had to get some pitching in return. Grade: B-


AL West

Max Scherzer Mets padres
Max Scherzer (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Texas Rangers: The Rangers are living up to expectations and pushing the Houston Astros atop the AL West. They cushioned the blow of losing Jacob deGrom by bringing on Max Scherzer from the Mets and Jordan Montgomery. They also brought in Aroldis Chapman to bolster the bullpen earlier this summer. Grade: A

Houston Astros: Two of the biggest needs for the Astros were addressed by Jim Crane. They hooked up with the Mets for a reunion with Justin Verlander, sending their top two prospects, while their bullpen got a new arm in Kendall Gravement. Grade: A

Los Angeles Angels: The Angels have to go for it to compel Shohei Ohtani to stay next season and did just that. The problem as they traded two of their top five prospects while most of their new arrivals are impending free agents (Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, CJ Cron, Randal Grichuk). Grade: C+

Seattle Mariners: While the Mariners are still in the Wild Card hunt, they dealt away their closer in Paul Sewald and could do no better than improving their bench when a larger splash was needed. Grade D

Oakland Athletics: They got rid of Shintaro Fujinami’s contract and cleared a path for Aledmys Diaz and top prospects by moving Jace Peterson. But for a team that needs a complete overhaul, there wasn’t a whole lot they could do. Grade: C


NL East

Drew Gilbert Mets
Drew Gilbert (screenshot)

Atlanta Braves: As one of the best teams in baseball, there wasn’t much the Braves needed to do. Yet they bolstered their bullpen by picking up Brad Hand and Pierce Johnson. Grade: B

Miami Marlins: The Marlins are going for it, acquiring first baseman Josh Bell from the Guardians, third baseman Jake Burger from the White Sox, and reliever David Robertson from the Mets. However, they overpaid to do so, including the swapping of helium prospect Marco Vargas to the Mets. Grade: B

Philadelphia Phillies: The Phillies needed a starting pitcher and they got one in Michael Lorenzen from the Tigers. Infielder Rodolfo Castro adds depth, but another outfielder would have done well for a team that hasn’t gotten everything out of its most important bats. Grade: B

New York Mets: Basically selling everything not nailed to the floor, the Mets parted ways with Robertson, Mark Canha, Tommy Pham, Dominic Leone, Justin Verlander, and Max Scherzer in just six days. With it, they completely overhauled a thin farm system that has catapulted its pipeline toward the top of the majors. Steve Cohen said he’d build up the prospect pool and he did just that, picking up their No. 2 and No. 4 prospects (Luisangel Acuna and Drew Gilbert) along with alluring talents like Kyle Clifford and Vargas. Grade: A

Washington Nationals: Tre, only managed to get Jeimer Candelario off their books when they had other key trade chips like Kyle Finnegan, Joey Meneses, and outfielder Lane Thomas. An opportunity missed. Grade: C-


NL Central

Mark Canha Mets
Mark Canha (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Cincinnati Reds: Another first-place team in a tight divisional race that didn’t do enough, the Reds could’ve used a frontline starter to cement themselves as a legitimate, fun contender. Instead, they whiffed. Grade: D

Milwaukee Brewers: The Brew Crew got the veteran bats they needed in Carlos Santana and Mark Canha. They also picked up a solid bullpen arm in Andrew Chafin — a statement of contention for a team on the cusp. Grade: B

Chicago Cubs: A team that could’ve gone either way at the deadline, the Cubs chose to buy when they could’ve sold high on the likes of Marcus Stroman or Cody Bellinger. The problem is that they didn’t make that big of a splash. Jeimer Candelario led the way in terms of new arrivals. Grade: C

Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pirates continue to stock up their already strong farm system by trading Rich Hill, Ji-Man Choi, and Carlos Santana. Jackson Wolf is a high-upside pitcher that could make the jump to the majors while plenty of intrigue surrounds 17-year-old outfielder Estuar Suero. Grade: B+

St. Louis Cardinals: It’s rare that the Cardinals are sellers, and they did all that they could do be just that, unloading Jack Flaherty, Jordan Montgomery, Jordan Hicks, and Génesis Cabrera. There could have been more, though, as Tyler O’Neill and Dylan Carlson were hot commodities. Grade: B


NL West

Juan Soto Yankees Derek Jeter
San Diego Padres’ Juan Soto, right, celebrates with Ha-Seong Kim (7) and Austin Nola after hitting a three-run home run during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds Saturday, July 1, 2023, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers were in the market for Justin Verlander and nearly came away with Eduardo Rodriguez. They had to settle for Lance Lynn while bringing back Enrique Hernandez and taking a flier on Amed Rosario. Grade: B-

San Francisco Giants: Just 2.5 games out of the division lead, the Giants did absolutely nothing, bringing on AJ Pollock as their big prize. Grade: F

Arizona Diamondbacks: The Diamondbacks needed a closer and they got him in Paul Sewald. They needed a veteran bat and they got it in Tommy Pham’s. Grade: A-

San Diego Padres: The Padres bought. Not much, but they did. The hope is that their thoroughbred roster on paper will hit its stride because there really is no other option. Grade: B-

Colorado Rockies: Look what happens when the Rockies are actually active sellers. They got really solid returns for CJ Cron and Randal Grichuk. Grade: B

For more on the MLB trade deadline, visit AMNY.com