The MLB regular season is almost over, so it is fair to have our preliminary judgment on trades that were made throughout the season. Obviously, the ones that will get the most attention are the ones involving big names like Manny Machado and Chris Archer. But there have been a handful of other trades that didn’t get much hoopla, but have paid off in big ways, but no one seems to notice. Here they are:
Tommy Pham- St. Louis Cardinals to the Tampa Bay Rays
Pham broke out as a 29-year-old in 2017, hitting .306/.411/.520 with 23 home runs. The good old three, four, five line with power. However, 2018 was not too kind to him, as he posted a .730 OPS with the Cardinals and was part of an outfield logjam. He was not happy about the trade, but maybe it was the best thing for him because he is getting more regular playing time and is performing.
Since going over to the American League, the 30-year-old is hitting a ridiculous .344/.439/.616 with six home runs in 148 plate appearances. He has just barely cut down his strikeout rate while increasing his walks. Pham has also elevated the ball more while hitting it harder, according to FanGraphs, which is always a good formula. He has been everything Tampa Bay could have asked for, and then some. The Cardinals essentially sold low on him, and it’s looking like a terrific investment for the Rays.
David Freese- Pittsburgh Pirates to the Los Angeles Dodgers
Freese was a last-second get for the Dodgers ahead of the waiver trade deadline on August 31. There was more confusion than excitement because it came out nowhere and the Dodgers had already acquired two infielders in Manny Machado and Brian Dozier. But in his short time, the veteran has performed like those two were supposed to.
He has 12 hits in 32 at-bats and is slugging .656 while doing damage against lefties like he was brought into to do. He had his biggest game as a Dodger Monday night, going 3-4 with a homer and collecting two hits (and the homer) off Dodger-killer Robbie Ray.
Luke Voit- St. Louis Cardinals to the New York Yankees
Voit hardly got playing time with the Red Birds. He was a good hitter in the minors, but they shipped him off to New York in the summer, and he has been another revelation for the Pin Stripes. In 125 plate appearances, the 27-year-old has a 1.001 OPS and 11 home runs. Whether it’s sustainable or not is another story, but playing in Yankee stadium sure helps.
Dylan Floro- Cincinnati Reds to the Los Angeles Dodgers
Floro has quietly turned into one of the better relievers in the league. The move wasn’t met with any hoopla by fans, but he is yet another guy that no one seemingly wanted that has turned into a stud with Los Angeles. The righty was solid with the Reds but has been excellent in blue, posting a 1.30 ERA, .904 WHIP, and 31 strikeouts in 27 innings. The strong strikeout rate is surprising, but it hasn’t taken away from his ability to induce groundballs, which he’s doing 54.7% of the time. And hitters are slugging less than .200 off him. Floro has emerged as a guy Dave Roberts can trust in high-leverage situations.
Kevin Gausman- Baltimore Orioles to the Atlanta Braves
He has slowed up a bit in recent starts, but Gausman has been pitching the best of his career since he switched over to an Atlanta Braves jersey. In nine starts since switching over to the National League, the 27-year-old has a 2.80 ERA and 1.098 WHIP. This is after he had a 4.43 ERA with Baltimore in over 20 starts.
The most noticeable difference has been the change in his pitching arsenal. He has focused on just four pitches, and in doing so, cut down the usage of his slider and upped it with his split-fastball, which has become a weapon. He has always had talent, but the Orioles have always been bad at developing young and talented pitchers. Maybe a shift to another club that has done that well in developing arms over the years, along with actually playing for something, will help him live up to his potential.
Jonny Venters- Tampa Bay Rays to the Atlanta Braves
Venters was acquired because the Braves bullpen needed a proper left-handed specialist, and it appears that they have their man. Bullpen arms that aren’t of the tier like Craig Kimbrel, Kenley Jansen, Aroldis Chapman, Zach Britton, Brad Hand, and Andrew Miller do not usually get too much attention, especially when traded. But Venters has done what he was acquired to do: get lefties out.
He has a 2.45 ERA in 18.1 innings and limited lefties to a .158 batting average during August and a .111 mark in September. He doesn’t strike many guys out but has been a groundball specialist, posting a 67.3 groundball rate since coming over.