A few weeks ago, I examined the five best trades from the 2018 trade deadline. Unfortunately, not every trade can be a winner. A great example from 2017 is the Yankees’ trade for Sonny Gray. The Yankees traded three highly-ranked prospects for former all-star Sonny Gray. Since coming to New York, Gray’s performance has been nothing short of disappointing, accumulating an ERA of 4.51 and a FIP of 4.40. Disastrous trades, like this one, happen every season and they can greatly damage teams in the hunt for a championship. Here are the five worst trades of 2018 based on the performance of the traded player and the perceived potential of the players given up.
5. LF Adam Duvall (Traded from the Reds to the Braves for RHP Lucas Sims, RHP Matt Wisler, and LF Preston Tucker)
This trade could be explained perfectly by the “I expect nothing, and I am still let down” meme. Coming into 2018, Adam Duvall had established himself as a power threat and solid fielder but had failed to take his game to the next level. After hitting over 30 homers and posting an OPS around .790 in the past two years, Duvall could not find his swing in 2018; he slashed a lackluster .205/.286/.399 through the first 105 games for the Reds. With Duvall’s trade value at an all-time low and youngster Jesse Winker on the rise, the Reds opted to shop Duvall around. The Braves unexpectedly became contenders in 2018 and their deep farm allowed them to make moves with ease, so the two teams agreed to a deal on July 30: the Braves sent over three disappointing, yet still young prospects in exchange for Duvall.
The Duvall trade was never meant to be a big deal for the Braves. The lefty was supposed to add a dependable glove in the outfield and a powerful bat off the bench after the trade but his dismal season continued in Atlanta. In 57 plate appearances, Duvall had one hit g extra-base hit, a double. Among players with 50 PA over the last two months of the season, Duvall’s -7 wRC+ was second to last. The Braves expected to be adding a power threat to their bench but instead received a very unreliable hitter player who racked up -0.6 WAR.
4. RHP Matt Andriese (Traded from the Rays to the Diamondbacks for RHP Brian Shaffer and C Michael Perez)
The Diamondbacks had a rollercoaster season of highs and lows in 2018. They had an outstanding record in the months of April and June but hit bottom in May and June with a .296 win percentage in both months. They were extremely inconsistent but still led their division for most of the season. Like most contending teams, the Diamondbacks looked to make improvements prior to the trade deadline. With the ever-increasing importance of relief pitchers, the Diamondbacks traded for Matt Andriese from the Rays and sent back two above-average prospects in return.
Andriese, a middle reliever with the Rays, posted solid peripherals prior to the trade: a 3.71 FIP and 3.61 xFIP. However, he fell apart once he joined the Snakes. After giving up the lead in his second game, Torey Lovullo, the Diamondbacks’ manager, lost faith in him in high leverage situations. For the rest of the season, Andriese only pitched in games that were already decided or in extra innings. The Diamondbacks’ bullpen imploded in September and the team lost its division lead. The entire purpose of this trade was so that the Diamondbacks would have greater bullpen depth and dependability, but Andriese failed to deliver what Arizona was looking for.
3. 2B Brian Dozier (Traded from the Twins to the Dodgers for 2B Logan Forsythe, 1B/OF Luke Raley, LHP Devin Smeltzer)
This trade is, in many ways, like the Adam Duvall trade I talked about above. Two players who, before this year, were known for their strong swings, but had been stumbling big time in 2018. Dozier’s peripherals were all down from prior years; he had a below average wRC+ for the first time since his sophomore season in 2013. The Twins, like Dozier, were anticipating competing for the AL Wild Card but had failed to meet expectations. Dozier was in his last year with the Twins so the team wisely decided to trade him and retool their farm. On July 31, Dozier was traded to the Dodgers for two prospects, one of whom has the potential to be a successful major leaguer, along with Logan Forsythe to offset some salary.
Dozier started nearly every game for the rest of the season at second base for the Dodgers, but his production worsened. In his first month, Dozier hit for an OPS of .763, which was seventy points higher than his season average but in September, Dozier played terribly, slashing a deplorable .087/.189/.217. He lost the starting job at second base and was relegated to pinch-hitting duties for the entirety of the playoffs. Dozier did not contribute anywhere near the level expected, especially when it mattered the most.
2. RHP Kelvin Herrera (Traded from the Royals to the Nationals for CF Blake Perkins, 3B Kelvin Gutierrez, and RHP Yohanse Morel)
Kelvin Herrera was a star reliever for the Royals during their golden years of 2014 and 2015, but as the team started to decline, so did Herrera’s play. After three straight years with an ERA+ north of 155 and a combined ERA of 2.30, Herrera fell apart in 2017 as his ERA climbed to 4.25. Through the first two and a half months of 2018, it seemed Herrera had returned to his former self with a 1.05 ERA and 2.69 FIP. The rebuilding Royals shrewdly decided to trade Herrera when his value was his highest and on June 18, Herrera was traded to the Nationals for two of the Nats’ top eleven prospects and a third, lower-rated one. I was actually at the Nats game that day, and it seemed like many fans thought that this trade filled an important role in the Nats’ roster and would help propel them back to the top of the division. The Nats were facing unlikely competition in the NL East from the Braves and Phillies and outside of Doolittle, the Washington bullpen had been very inconsistent all year. The Nats hoped this trade would rejuvenate their beleaguered pen. The outcome was just the opposite.
After moving to the nation’s capital, Herrera regressed back to his 2017 self, amassing an ERA of 4.34 and a FIP of 5.68. He was giving up more walks and homers and his strikeout numbers plummeted. He acted as the setup man, usually pitching the eighth inning, and filled in the closer role while Doolittle was injured. Soon after this trade, the Nats fell far behind in the division, then out of the playoff picture entirely. Herrera injured his foot in mid-August and sat out the remainder of the season. Herrera’s performance with the Nats was not horrendous, but he was worse than expected and did not return value anywhere close to what the Nationals expected when they surrendered three prospects.
1. 2B Jonathan Schoop (Traded from the Orioles to the Brewers for 2B Jonathan Villar, RHP Luis Ortiz, IF Jean Carmona)
It’s rare that a contending team both downgrades at a position and loses prospects as happened with this trade. At the 2018 trade deadline, the Brewers went all-in, attempting to upgrade both their pitching and hitting. They made a few beneficial trades, but this trade hurt them badly. Schoop was coming off a career year in 2017 but had yet to replicate that success in 2018. Luckily for the Orioles, Schoop went off the week before the trade deadline, winning AL Player of the Week and boosting his trade stock. The Brewers were in a tight race in the NL Central and eager to make moves to bolster their already-loaded roster. Jonathan Villar, the team’s starting second baseman, had been putting up below-average offensive numbers all season. On July 31, the Orioles and Brewers exchanged the two Jonathans and the Brewers sent an additional two prospects to Charm City.
The Brewers expected an upgrade at second base with Schoop’s hot bat coming in but instead got the short end of the trade. Schoop slashed .202/.246/.331, good for a 50 wRC+ during his tenure in Milwaukee good for a 50 wRC+. Villar, meanwhile, put up an 87 wRC+ in Milwaukee in 2018 and actually improved after the trade, posting 1.3 fWAR and a 102 wRC+ in Baltimore. Schoop saw less and less playing time as the season went on and during the playoffs, he batted just eight times in Milwaukee’s ten games. The Brewers simply downgraded at second base while also surrendering two of their top prospects. It makes you wonder if Milwaukee’s season may have ended differently had they not pulled the trigger on this trade.
Honorable Mentions: Jake Diekman, Asdrubal Cabrera, Brad Hand, Brandon Kintzler