MLB trade season is here. The clock is ticking as executives try to prepare their teams for the stretch run before the deadline at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 2. All eyes are on Juan Soto, the 23-year-old Washington Nationals superstar who is suddenly on the trade block.
We will be following every twist and turn of the trade winds around Soto and the rest of the league right here. Check back for updates as the madness unfolds.
Astros get a catcher in Christian Vázquez
The Houston Astros have reportedly filled a hole at catcher by dealing for Boston Red Sox backstop Christian Vázquez. A strong defender, Vázquez is also in the midst of another strong offensive season. He’s batting .282 with eight homers, and his park-adjusted OPS is better than average for the third time in four years.
While he’s not the same offensive force as the Cubs’ Willson Contreras, one of the marquee names on the trade market, he is a more acclaimed defender who is expected to more easily pick up the duties of handling a playoff-bound pitching staff. He has plenty of October experience, having piloted the 2018 Red Sox to a World Series win.
Astros catchers are hitting a league-worst .159/.228/.297, so this counts as a major upgrade. They were reportedly hesitant to shake up the catching corps too much because of the stellar defense and leadership of Martin Maldonado.
Adding a quirk to this deal? The fact that the Red Sox are in Houston, so Vázquez’s post-trade travel will consist of walking to the other clubhouse.
The 31-year-old had played with the Red Sox his entire career, having originally been drafted by the club in 2008. He will reach free agency at the end of the year.
Dealing away Vázquez wasn’t the only Boston move Monday. They also flipped reliever Jake Diekman to the White Sox for catcher Reese McGuire, a player to be named later and cash. Meanwhile, they reportedly struck a deal for Reds outfielder Tommy Pham to reinforce the major-league club. This seems like a clear case of buying and selling for a team that has dropped into the AL East basement but still has some shot at the playoffs.
Astros acquire Trey Mancini from Orioles in 3-team deal
Trey Mancini, the longtime Orioles first baseman and DH, is reportedly heading to Houston in a three-team trade that will send outfielder Jose Siri to the Tampa Bay Rays. The right-handed slugging Mancini fits the Astros’ preference of hitters who strike out less than average and still pack pop.
Mancini, who was taken by the Orioles in the 8th round of the 2013 MLB draft, is hitting .268/.347/.404 with 10 homers, 16 doubles and 35 walks. If anything, he might be hitting even better than it appears; his power numbers have taken a hit due to the new wall configuration at Camden Yards. This likely takes Houston out of the market for Josh Bell, the switch-hitting Nationals first baseman who should soon join a contender’s lineup.
The Astros are always in the market for solid players like Mancini, but with the Orioles looking ahead of schedule in their rebuild (they’re just three games out of the final wild-card spot with a 51-51 record), some thought the Orioles might hold on to him so they can make a serious playoff push this year.
Instead, it seems the Orioles will at least move on from a player set to enter free agency and acquire some young arms — Rays prospect Seth Johnson and Astros prospect Chayce McDermott. The Astros will also get Rays pitching prospect Jayden Murray, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
Yankees trade for Oakland’s Frankie Montas, relief help
The New York Yankees are dealing for Oakland A’s starting pitcher Frankie Montas and reliever Lou Trivino, per YES Network’s Jack Curry. The 29-year-old Montas boasts a 3.18 ERA this season and was probably the best starter left on the board after the Seattle Mariners nabbed Luis Castillo.
Since the start of 2021, Montas has a stellar 3.30 ERA over 291 2/3 innings. The sustained success has come alongside a greater emphasis on his terrific splitter, which plays off 96 mph heat that he can throw as a four-seamer or two-seamer. In return, the Yankees will reportedly send back their best pitching prospect, left-hander Ken Waldichuk, along with pitching prospects JP Sears and Luis Medina and second base prospect Cooper Bowman. It’s a hefty return that clearly compares to the Luis Castillo trade. The Yankees have been adamant about not trading shortstop prospects Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza, and this move was accomplished without those youngsters.
Montas was one of few marquee pieces the A’s held on to after a winter fire sale. He will remain under team control through 2023, giving the Yankees a No. 2-caliber starter to bolster an already strong rotation.
With his team on a 108-win pace, Yankees GM Brian Cashman is being aggressive. He already added stellar relief pitching rookie Scott Effross from the Cubs on Monday.
Padres acquire Josh Hader from Brewers in surprise closer swap
The San Diego Padres are adding one of the game’s best closers, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports. The Padres are sending their own closer, Taylor Rogers, to the Milwaukee Brewers alongside a raft of young players for Josh Hader, the dominant left-hander.
The Brewers, who can either make Rogers the closer or elevate their own dominant setup man Devin Williams, have reportedly listened on Hader deals off and on ever since Williams emerged on the scene.
In the deal, per Passan’s report, they add several other talented players, including Esteury Ruiz, a young outfielder who could factor into their lineup immediately. The Brewers currently lead the NL Central by three games over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Juan Soto rumors: Could a generational talent be on the move?
Are you ready for the seismic move that would be a Juan Soto trade? The latest whispers say the Nationals have three suitors for Soto who are more likely than the rest: The San Diego Padres, St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers. The Padres and Dodgers, NL West foes, engaged in a bidding war a year ago for a different Nationals superstar — Max Scherzer. The Dodgers eventually pulled out a surprise blockbuster that secured both Scherzer and shortstop Trea Turner.
Get up to speed on the potential for a Soto deal with all our coverage so far.
Shohei Ohtani likely staying put
The Shohei Ohtani situation was never as urgent as the Soto talks, but the Los Angeles Angels at least gauged the market as they spiral toward yet another losing season despite employing Mike Trout and Ohtani. The New York Post’s Jon Heyman reported Monday afternoon, however, that Ohtani will be staying put through this season.
The two-way sensation, in contention for his first Cy Young and a second straight AL MVP nod, can become a free agent after 2023 and has stated a desire to play for a winning team. As the Angels flail at surrounding him with contending pieces, it may behoove them to consider trading him this winter.