The Minnesota Twins stocked up their sputtering pitching staff on Tuesday leading up to the trade deadline, acquiring All-Star closer Jorge López from the Baltimore Orioles, starter Tyler Mahle from the Cincinnati Reds, and reliever Michael Fulmer from the Detroit Tigers.
Minnesota also acquired veteran catcher Sandy León from division rival Cleveland in a minor trade that sent minor league pitcher Ian Hamilton to the Guardians. In the four deals, the Twins traded away a total of nine prospects.
The 29-year-old López is in the middle of a breakout season for the Orioles, with a sparkling 1.68 ERA and 19 of his 20 career saves. The 27-year-old Mahle is 5-7 with a 4.40 ERA in 19 starts with 114 strikeouts over 104⅓ innings for the Reds. The 29-year-old Fulmer has a 3.20 ERA with 39 strikeouts in 39⅓ innings for the Tigers, who sent him down the hallway in the last-minute swap before they played the Twins at Target Field.
The Twins, who took a one-game lead in the AL Central into their game on Tuesday night, have a 5.30 team ERA since the All-Star break.
López and Fulmer join a Twins team that has been desperate to find reliable late-inning options beyond Jhoan Duran. Griffin Jax has been a find after his conversion from a starting role in 2021, but Emilio Pagan was recently moved into lower-leverage situations and Tyler Duffey has an ERA (4.57) almost two runs higher than his cumulative total of the previous three seasons.
Mahle will help shore up a rotation that has been ravaged by injuries, with Bailey Ober, Josh Winder, Chris Paddack, Kenta Maeda, and Randy Dobnak all sidelined. The Twins acquired Mahle’s former teammate, Sonny Gray, in a March trade with the Reds.
Baltimore received minor league pitchers Cade Povich, Yennier Cano, Juan Nuñez, and Juan Rojas from Minnesota for López. Only Cano has major league experience, but Povich was a third-round draft pick last year.
Cincinnati got the bigger haul of minor leaguers — infielders Christian Encarnacion-Strand and Spencer Steer, and lefthanded pitcher and former Central Catholic standout Steve Hajjar.
Including 2021 first-rounder Chase Petty, who went to the Reds for Gray, the Twins have now traded four of their first five picks from last year’s draft. Hajjar, Povich, and Encarnacion-Strand went in the second, third, and fourth rounds, respectively.
The surprising Orioles are in the mix for an AL wild card, just 2½ games out of the final spot entering play on Tuesday. But they traded slugger Trey Mancini to Houston as part of a three-team deal Monday before shipping López to the AL Central leaders.
Making $1.5 million this season, López is arbitration-eligible in each of the next two winters and can’t become a free agent until after the World Series in 2024.
With 17 walks, 54 strikeouts, and a .174 opponent batting average in 48⅓ innings, López has produced quite the turnaround after taking a 6.04 career ERA into this season. He previously split his time between starter and reliever, but full-time focus on a late-game role has served him well.
López previously pitched for Milwaukee and Kansas City. The native of Puerto Rico was a second-round draft pick by the Brewers in 2011 and made his major league debut in 2015.
Cano, a 28-year-old righthander from Cuba, made his major league debut in May and was sent back to Triple A St. Paul on Monday. He had a 9.22 ERA in 10 appearances for the Twins and will report to Triple A Norfolk.
The 22-year-old Povich is 6-8 with a 4.46 ERA in 16 starts at High-A Cedar Rapids this season. The lefthander is the most-touted player going to the Orioles, ranked as the No. 22 prospect in the Twins’ organization by MLB.com.
The 18-year-old Rojas and the 21-year-old Nunez have been assigned to the Orioles’ team in the Florida Complex League.
The Twins got Fulmer for 24-year-old righthander Sawyer Gipson-Long.
Later on, the Orioles acquired outfielder Brett Phillips from the Rays for $100,000 on Tuesday.
The 28-year-old Phillips, who was designated him for assignment Monday, hit .147 in 75 games for the Rays this year. Phillips grew up in Seminole, Fla., and was a Rays fan. Phillips was popular with his home fans, and the team gave away Devil Rays basketball jerseys featuring his name during a game last week.
Phillips was part of one of the most memorable moments in franchise history for Tampa Bay when he hit a two-out single in the bottom of the ninth in Game 4 of the 2020 World Series against the Dodgers. Two runs came home on the play, and the Rays won, 8-7, causing a wild celebration.
Phillips was 7 for 7 on stolen base attempts this year for Tampa Bay, but he struck out 85 times in 184 at-bats.
Yankees send Gallo to Dodgers, get Bader from Cardinals
Joey Gallo’s unproductive tenure with the Yankees ended when he was traded to the Dodgers for minor league righthander Clayton Beeter.
Later on, the Yankees worked on improving their defense, acquiring Gold Glove-winning center fielder Harrison Bader from the Cardinals for lefthander Jordan Montgomery.
A speedy 28-year-old from Bronxville, N.Y., Bader has not played since June 26 because of plantar fasciitis in his right foot. When he returns, he likely would play center field in a move that would put Aaron Judge back in right and see Aaron Hicks in left, with Giancarlo Stanton as the designated hitter.
Montgomery was 3-3 with a 3.69 ERA in 21 starts. His departure came one day after Frankie Montas was acquired from Oakland to join Gerrit Cole, Nestor Cortes, and Jameson Taillon in the rotation.
Gallo, a 28-year-old outfielder, was acquired from Texas on July 29 last year and hit .159 for the Yankees with 25 homers, 46 RBIs, and 194 strikeouts in 421 at-bats. He was booed repeatedly by fans at Yankee Stadium, lost playing time in recent weeks to Matt Carpenter. and became superfluous when New York acquired Andrew Benintendi from Kansas City last week.
Gallo, a two-time All-Star, has a $10,275,000 salary and is owed $3,613,187 for the remainder of the season. He is eligible for free agency after the World Series.
Beeter, 23, was 0-3 with a 5.75 ERA this season at Double A Tulsa, striking out 88 and walking 35 in 51⅔ innings. He was drafted by the Dodgers with the 66th pick in the 2020 amateur draft and signed for a $1,196,500 bonus.
Mets give up four players for Ruf
The first-place Mets acquired reliever Mychal Givens and designated hitter Darin Ruf in separate deals ahead of Tuesday’s trade deadline.
New York got a much-needed boost for its bullpen by landing Givens from the Cubs for minor league pitcher Saúl González. Givens, a 32-year-old righthander, was 6-2 with two saves and a 2.66 ERA in 40 games for the Cubs this season.
Earlier in the day, Ruf was obtained from the Giants for J.D. Davis and three pitching prospects in an exchange of righthanded bats.
Lefthanders Thomas Szapucki and Nick Zwack also went to the Giants along with right-hander Nick Zwack.
Ruf has hammered lefthanded pitching this season and throughout his career, something Davis was unable to do in his part-time role primarily at designated hitter this year.
The 36-year-old Ruf is batting .216 with 11 homers, 38 RBIs, and a .701 OPS overall in his third season with San Francisco following three years in South Korea with Samsung. But he brings an .886 OPS and nine home runs in 132 plate appearances against lefties, providing a platoon partner at DH for lefthanded-hitting Daniel Vogelbach, obtained July 22 in a trade with Pittsburgh.
Ruf can play first base and left field, though defense is not his strength.
Davis, 31, was batting .238 with four homers and 21 RBIs in 66 games for the NL East leaders. His primary position on the field is third base, and he’s also played first base and left field.
Phillies add Robertson, Marsh, Syndergaard
The Phillies acquired veteran reliever David Robertson, center fielder Brandon Marsh, and righthander Noah Syndergaard in three trades.
The Phillies sent minor league outfielders Mickey Moniak and Jadiel Sánchez to the Angels for Syndergaard, who returns to the NL East after spending his first six seasons with the Mets.
The 29-year-old Syndergaard went 5-8 with a 3.83 ERA in 15 starts after agreeing to a $21 million, one-year deal with Los Angeles in November.
Moniak gets a fresh start with a new organization after he was selected by Philadelphia with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 amateur draft. The 24-year-old Moniak is a .129 hitter in 47 career games.
Philadelphia sent minor league pitcher Ben Brown to the Cubs for the 37-year-old Robertson, one of the top relievers on the market ahead of the trade deadline. The Phillies got Marsh from the Angels in exchange for catching prospect Logan O’Hoppe.
Philadelphia, which is fighting for one of three NL wild cards, hasn’t made the postseason since 2011.
The well-traveled Robertson also played for the Phillies in 2019, making seven appearances before he was sidelined by an elbow injury that required surgery. He didn’t make it back to the majors until he pitched in 12 games with Tampa Bay in 2021.
Robertson is 3-0 with a 2.23 ERA and 14 saves in 36 appearances this year. The righthander finalized a $3.5 million, one-year contract with the Cubs on March 16.
Robertson made his big league debut in 2008 and spent his first seven seasons with the Yankees, winning the World Series in 2009. He has 151 saves and a 2.89 ERA in 709 career appearances.
The 22-year-old Brown was selected by the Phillies in the 33rd round of the 2017 amateur draft. The righthander was 3-5 with a 3.08 ERA in 16 appearances with High A Jersey Shore this year, including 15 starts.
Marsh is a lefty-hitting, righty-throwing 24-year-old with speed and power projection. He ranked among Los Angeles’s top prospects before debuting in the majors last season, but he has struggled in the big leagues. He’s a .239 hitter in 163 games with 10 homers, 14 stolen bases and a .653 OPS.
His defense is well regarded, and that’s an area Philadelphia sorely needed to upgrade. Marsh trails trails only two outfielders in Outs Above Average, according to Statcast.
The Phillies have stayed in the playoff race despite losing 2021 NL MVP Bryce Harper because of a broken thumb on June 25. He’s expected to begin swinging a bat soon and should return before the end of the season.
Philadelphia also designated veteran outfielder Odúbel Herrera and reliever Jeurys Familia for assignment. The move could end Herrera’s eight-year tenure with the team that included a lengthy ban under Major League Baseball’s joint domestic violence policy.
The 22-year-old O’Hoppe has developed into one of the majors’ top catching prospects. He was batting .275 with 15 homers and 45 RBIs in 75 games with Double A Reading.
Brewers roll dice on Rosenthal
The Brewers continued to reshape their bullpen following the departure of four-time All-Star closer Josh Hader by acquiring injured reliever Trevor Rosenthal from the Giants just before the trade deadline.
Milwaukee sent minor league outfielder Tristan Peters to the Giants.
Rosenthal hasn’t pitched since 2020 due to a variety of injuries but is hoping to make it back this season. When Rosenthal signed a $4.5 million, one-year deal with San Francisco on July 21, Giants manager Gabe Kapler said the righthander was several weeks away from being ready.
Rosenthal, 32, has a 3.36 ERA and 132 saves in 373 career regular-season appearances, with 93 of those saves coming for St. Louis from 2014-15.
The NL Central-leading Brewers also acquired righthander Matt Bush from the Rangers on Monday night for infielder Mark Mathias and pitching prospect Antoine Kelly. That came after Hader was sent to San Diego earlier Monday in exchange for former Padres closer Taylor Rogers and righthander Dinelson Lamet, as well as outfielder Esteury Ruiz and pitching prospect Robert Gasser.
Merrifield heads north, despite status
The Royals sent utility man Whit Merrifield to the Blue Jays just minutes before Tuesday’s trade deadline, even though the two-time All-Star was unvaccinated and had to miss Kansas City’s trip to Toronto last month.
It’s unclear whether Merrifield, who has primarily played second base, has received or is planning to get the shot required of all players traveling to Canada.
Merrifield drew the ire of Royals fans when, prior to their trip to Toronto, he said: “Something happens and I happen to get on a team that has a chance to go play in Canada in the postseason, maybe that changes.” Many in Kansas City took that to mean he wouldn’t get vaccinated for his last-place team but would be open to it for a contender.
In exchange, the Royals received speedy outfielder Samad Taylor and righthander Max Castillo, both of whom could help their big league team as soon as this season. The 24-year-old Taylor is hitting .258 with nine homers and 23 stolen bases in 70 games for Triple A Buffalo while the 23-year-old Castillo has a 3.05 ERA in nine appearances for Toronto.
The 33-year-old Merrifield was hitting .240 with 30 extra-base hits and 15 stolen bases in 95 games this season. But he’s proven to be dependable, playing every game for Kansas City each of the past three seasons, and he’s twice led the league in hits, led the league in stolen bases three times, and had an AL-leading 42 doubles last season.
Merrifield is making $7 million this season and is due $2.75 million next season along with a $4 million bonus for spending fewer than 110 days on the injured list in 2022. He has an $18 million mutual option for 2024 with a $500,000 buyout.
DeGrom dazzles in debut
Jacob deGrom dazzled in his first major league start in more than a year, allowing one run on three hits and striking out six in five innings before a bullpen meltdown cost the Mets in a 5-1 loss to the host Nationals.
Sidelined for the second half of last season by an elbow injury and shut down late in spring training because of a stress reaction in his right scapula, deGrom got a standing ovation from a crowd full of Mets fans prior to his first game back in almost 13 months. Serenaded with applause when he delivered a 99-mile-per-hour fastball on his first meaningful pitch since July 7, 2021, deGrom threw 46 of 59 for strikes. He averaged 99.7 m.p.h. on 31 fastballs, throwing 13 in triple digits and topping out at 101.6 m.p.h.
The 34-year-old two-time NL Cy Young Award winner got all but one of his strikeouts swinging and was much sharper than his final rehab start in the minors last week when he allowed four runs in four innings on 67 pitches. He left with a no-decision after Francisco Lindor homered for the NL East leaders in the sixth.
Mets reliever Stephen Nogosek (0-1) took the loss after allowing a two-run homer to Luis Garcia and a solo shot to Yadiel Hernandez in the sixth. Yoan López also gave up a homer in the seventh, when he got big help from center fielder Brandon Nimmo on a diving catch to end the inning.
Gausman shines for rolling Jays
Kevin Gausman allowed one hit and struck out 10 over eight masterful innings and the Blue Jays opened a nine-game trip with a 3-1 win over the Bay Rays.
The Blue Jays have won 11 of 13 and increased their lead over Tampa Bay to four games for the top AL wild-card spot.
Jordan Romano worked the ninth to get his AL-best 25th save despite allowing Taylor Walls leadoff homer in the ninth.
Gausman (8-8) walked Randy Arozarena leading off the first, hit Isaac Paredes with a pitch with one out, then retired 14 in a row before Walls singled for the Rays’ first hit to start the sixth. The righthander threw 75 of 103 pitches for strikes.
Toronto went up 1-0 in the first when Vladimir Guerrero Jr. doubled and scored on a single by Bo Bichette off Drew Rasmussen (6-4). Guerrero has a 13-game hitting streak.
Danny Jansen flared a two-run single to center with two outs in ninth.
Mariners fend off Yankees
Pinch-hitter Sam Haggerty opened the seventh inning with a go-ahead homer, Andrés Muñoz escaped a bases-loaded jam in the ninth, and the host Mariners hung on for a 8-6 victory over the Yankees after blowing a four-run lead.
The switch-hitting Haggerty batted for lefthanded hitting Jarred Kelenic against lefthander Lucas Luetge (3-4) and broke a 6-6 tie by lifting a 1-and-0 cutter into the left-field seats.
Haggerty homered two days after getting stitches above an eye, an injury sustained when he was hit by his helmet, thrown after he failed on a bunt.
Haggerty connected after Josh Donaldson hit a tying two-run homer in the sixth off Logan Gilbert, Donaldson’s first homer since July 8.
Muñoz, throwing at up to 102.6 m.p.h., loaded the bases with two outs after DJ LeMahieu singled, and Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo walked. Muñoz, struck out pinch-hitter Gleyber Torres on a slider for his second save.
Seattle is 5-8 since entering the All-Star break with 14 straight wins.
Eugenio Suárez and Cal Raleigh hit early homers off Jameson Taillon, who allowed four walks — all of whom scored. Taillon gave up six runs (five earned) in 4⅔ innings.
Blue Jays find two arms for bullpen
The Blue Jays added depth to their bullpen by acquiring relievers Anthony Bass and Zach Pop and a player to be named from the Marlins for shortstop prospect Jordan Groshans. Bass is 2-3 with 1.41 ERA in 45 games, while Pop has a 2-0 record and a 3.60 ERA over 18 outings. Groshans, taken 12th overall in the 2018 draft by Toronto, is hitting .250 with one homer and 24 RBIs over 67 games with Triple A Buffalo. Toronto lefthander Andrew Vasquez was claimed off waivers by the Phillies. The Blue Jays also designated lefthander Anthony Banda for assignment . . . Former All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy says he is retiring, more than a year after playing his last major league game. The Brewers said Lucroy will be inducted into the team’s wall of honor Saturday. Lucroy played for the Brewers from 2010-16 and was an All-Star in 2014 and 2016. Lucroy, 36, hasn’t played in the majors since appearing in seven games last season for Washington and Atlanta. His final game was for the Braves at Miami on July 10 last year and he became a free agent on July 22 when he refused an outright assignment to Triple A Gwinnett. Lucroy played 1,210 regular-season games with the Brewers, Rangers (2016-17), Rockies (2017), Athletics (2018), Angels (2019), Cubs (2019), Red Sox (2020), Nationals (2021), and Braves (2021). Lucroy finished fourth in the MVP balloting in 2014, when he batted .301 with a .373 on-base percentage, 13 homers, and 69 RBIs for the Brewers. He led the majors that year with 53 doubles, which remain the highest single-season total by a catcher in major-league history.