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Tipsheet: Yankees land Gallo, Brewers muscle up as deadline nears

Tipsheet: Yankees land Gallo, Brewers muscle up as deadline nears

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For months and months and months, slugging outfielder Joey Gallo was tied to the Cardinals in the rumor mill.

Sure enough, the sputtering Texas Rangers failed to sign Gallo to a long-term extension. Sure enough, the team decided to trade him – but to the New York Yankees, who added still another hefty homer/strikeout hitter to their attack.

The Cardinals’ need for outfield help dissipated when Tyler O’Neill delivered his breakout season and Harrison Bader swung a hot bat coming off the injured list.

This team has its outfield now – and prospects Lars Nootbaar, Alec Burleson and Nick Plummer offer additional promise for next season and beyond.

Elsewhere on the trade front, the Milwaukee Brewers added some much-needed offensive help by securing infielder Eduardo Escobar from the Arizona Diamondbacks.

This is the dilemma facing Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak: Not only is his team well back in the National League Central race, it is chasing a first-place team that can get even stronger before the deadline.

The Oakland A’s also muscled up by landing outfielder Starling Marte from the Miami Marlins.

Meanwhile the Washington Nationals are  finally getting serious about trading Our Town's Max Scherzer. Cardinals fans are begging for him, but Max is calling the shots on this trade and all signs point to the West Coast.

The Los Angeles Dodgers could use him to replace Trevor Bauer, whose baseball future gets more uncertain by the week, The front-running San Francisco Giants offer a clear opportunity for postseason play while the San Diego Padres may see him as their wild card game starter.

TALKIN’ BASEBALL

Here is what folks are writing about the trade deadline:

David Schoenfield, ESPN.com: “There is also no doubt that Gallo is tailor-made for the short porch at Yankee Stadium. Of his 145 career home runs, 75 have gone to right field and 39 to center field. The Yankees also desperately needed a left-handed bat. Gallo's 25 home runs in 2021 are more than the 22 the Yankees have hit all season from the left side. Still, why are the Yankees making this big of a trade given the state of their season? After all, they entered the evening a distant 8.5 games behind the Red Sox in the American League East, three games behind the A's for the second wild card (and the A's made their own significant addition on Wednesday in acquiring Starling Marte from the Marlins) and not really showing any signs that they're anything other than mediocre. Gallo also cost the Yankees, in Jeff Passan's words, ‘a massive haul of prospects.’ Time will tell on that side of the trade, but a massive haul of potential is still a steep price to pay, no matter the return, and teams chasing a playoff spot like the Yankees are usually reluctant to trade away prospects for a playoff run that is hardly a lock. Gallo is also a career .211 hitter -- .223 this season -- who mixes awe-inspiring displays of power with a frustrating number of strikeouts, 125 in 95 games this season (which actually gives him a career-low 32.2% strikeout rate). That's another strikeout hitter added to a lineup that already has the fourth-highest strikeout rate in the AL.”

Dan Szymborski, FanGraphs: “Coming into the season, there were good reasons to think that the Yankees, while a formidable team, had significant downside. For example, apart from Gerrit Cole, pretty much every starter likely to pitch in the majors had an injury history that raised serious concerns. But pitching isn’t where the Yankees actually ended up struggling. Rather, it’s been an offense that ranks 13th in the American League in runs scored that has been the biggest issue. The Yankees hit 306 home runs in 2019, but are on pace for nearly a hundred fewer this season.”

Matt Snyder, CBSSports.com: “Escobar, 32, is hitting .246/.300/.478 (107 OPS+) with 14 doubles, three triples, 22 homers, 65 RBI, 50 runs, a steal and 2.1 WAR this season. He's mostly played third base, but he's also gotten a healthy number of reps at second base. Early word from Milwaukee is that they envision him playing all over the place. Their biggest needs at the time of acquisition would be first base and third base, at least in the case of the latter until Travis Shaw returns from his shoulder injury.  The Brewers entered Wednesday night 59-42 and in first place in the NL Central by seven games. They are also last in the NL in batting average, ninth in on-base percentage and 12 in slugging. They've been better of late, but could still use an offensive boost, especially with Christian Yelich -- who is having a terrible year by his lofty standards -- currently on the COVID-injured list.” 

R.J. Anderson, CBSSports.com: “Scherzer's situation is more complex than the typical trade candidate's. He has the ability to block any trade thanks to his 10-5 rights (as in, 10 years of major league service and five consecutive with his current team), and his agent Scott Boras has implied that he may require financial coaxing in order to consent to a deal. It's also worth noting that Nationals ownership squashed a Bryce Harper trade several deadlines ago, and it's at least possible they would stand in the way of moving Scherzer. (Though that scenario seems less likely given the Nationals' recent poor play.)”

Bradford Doolittle, ESPN.com: “The Oakland starting rotation has been one of baseball's most consistent units all season. The veteran-laden bullpen has been up and down, but remains a relative strength, especially after the acquisition earlier this week of lefty Andrew Chafin. The team defense hasn't been as elite as expected, but is certainly not a problem. The offense, on the other hand, has been middling with clear weak spots: Right field, third base and shortstop. In Marte, Oakland gets an outfielder putting up career-best percentages who will help them on both sides of the ball. His defensive metrics in center field are in the average-range and Oakland already has a solid defender at that position in Ramon Laureano. However, both players have strong arms, and while Laureano is probably the better overall defender, Marte has a better average sprint speed, so it's not clear who Bob Melvin will choose to slide over to right field. Really, he can't go wrong. The primary driver for all of this is how Marte upgrades the Athletics' lineup. Oakland's collective right-field OPS this season is .651, a figure driven by poor seasons from Stephen Piscotty, Seth Brown and others. Marte's OPS this season is .859, and going back to the start of the 2019 seasons, it's .832. It's a huge upgrade.”

Zach Crizer, Yahoo! Sports: “The Braves looked like a powerhouse coming into 2021, despite some projection systems’ skepticism, but have been decimated by injury. Ronald Acuna Jr. and Mike Soroka are gone for the season and Marcell Ozuna is extremely unlikely to be back after a domestic violence arrest. But GM Alex Anthopoulos is unlikely to concede. Atlanta is still just four games behind a New York Mets team also plagued by injuries, with serious upgrades very feasible. Right now, the lineup revolves around reigning NL MVP Freddie Freeman, star second baseman Ozzie Albies and the powerful Austin Riley. Beyond that, they are running out a series of journeymen and Quad-A fill-ins. Anthopoulos already snagged Joc Pederson from the sinking Cubs, and a couple more similar acquisitions of even average big leaguers could pay serious dividends for a club giving way too many at-bats to Abraham Almonte, Orlando Aarcia and Ehire Adrianza. Replacing those names in the everyday lineup with Starling Marte and a versatile hitter like Eduardo Escobar could bring the Braves much closer to even with New York.”

Gabe Lacques, USA Today: “The trade deadline is one of baseball’s unofficial holidays, hyped by the league, fueled by its own media cottage industry and viewed as a source of hope for fans across generations. Old heads might recall such heists like the Atlanta Braves acquiring John Smoltz from Detroit for Doyle Alexander, or the Houston Astros stealing their own Hall of Famer, Jeff Bagwell, from Boston for Larry Andersen. Younger fans, accustomed to building their own franchises via video games or fantasy leagues, dream on incoming prospects and share with their elders a simple refrain: Better to trade a player than get nothing for them. Yet increasingly, nothing is exactly what those clubs end up receiving. A USA TODAY Sports analysis of 94 July trade-deadline deals from 2015 to 2019 that shipped 204 prospects from buyers to sellers confirms a strongly held feeling throughout the industry – that teams are holding their top prospects tighter than ever, making it exceedingly difficult to extract value for star players. Of the 204 prospects dealt in that five-year span, just 38 have amassed at least 1.0 Wins Above Replacement for the acquiring team.”

MEGAPHONE

“At the end of the day, it’s a new opportunity for me. I’m so happy that the organization in Milwaukee is giving me an opportunity to help this team win. You saw me every day here playing really hard. I’ll do the same thing over there. I’ll make people happy there, too. I’m going to play 200 percent every day.”

Escobar, to reporters in Texas, after learning he was now a Brewer.

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Jeff Gordon is an online sports columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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