The Los Angeles Dodgers fortified their chances to repeat as World Series champions by acquiring starter Max Scherzer and shortstop Trea Turner as MLB teams completed a historic trade deadline scramble that saw 10 different 2021 All-Stars change teams.
The Dodgers, who trail the Giants by three games in the highly competitive National League West, were able to orchestrate a blockbuster deal to plug the hole in their rotation left by Trevor Bauer, who remains on leave as he is investigated for sexual abuse.
Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young Award winner and eight-time All-Star, steps into a formidable rotation that still features Walker Buhler, Clayton Kershaw and Julio Urias – plus left-hander Danny Duffy, who was acquired from the Kansas City Royals on Thursday.
Turner is batting .322 this year with 18 home runs and has 21 stolen bases, earning him his first All-Star selection earlier this month. He will add his combination of speed and power to a Los Angeles lineup that already leads the National League in runs scored.
In return for the two All-Stars, the Dodgers sent four minor league players to the Washington Nationals, including a pair of top-50 prospects in catcher Keibert Ruiz and pitcher Josiah Gray.
The Nationals were among the biggest sellers at the deadline, sitting in fourth place in the NL East and having just announced that 2019 World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg will undergo season-ending neck surgery.
On Thursday, Washington sent relief pitcher Brad Hand to the Toronto Blue Jays and dealt slugger Kyle Schwarber to the Boston Red Sox. The fire sale continued on Friday, with the Nationals sending catcher Yan Gomes and infielder Josh Harrison to the Athletics and trading veteran lefty Jon Lester to the St. Louis Cardinals.
The other notable sellers at the deadline were the Chicago Cubs, who gutted nearly the entire core that helped them win the World Series in 2016.
Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo each played a vital role in that championship five years ago but were sent packing this week with all three playing in the final seasons of their contracts.
The New York Mets added Baez, who will likely start at shortstop until Francisco Lindor is healthy then play second base, as well as pitcher Trevor Williams in exchange for 2020 top draft pick Pete Crow-Armstrong.
Bryant, who had previously said he would consider re-signing with the Cubs this offseason, yielded a modest return in a trade with the NL West-leading Giants.
The Cubs also had the leading closer on the market, sending Craig Kimbrel to the crosstown White Sox for second baseman Nick Madrigal and pitcher Codi Heuer.
Rizzo was the first to go, traded Thursday to the New York Yankees, whose first basemen have slugged an MLB-worst .323 this season.
The Yankees are in third place, thanks mostly to an anemic offense that has scored the second-fewest runs in the American League, but took huge strides at the deadline. Earlier on Thursday, the Yankees secured towering slugger Joey Gallo in a trade with the woeful Texas Rangers, giving the Bronx Bombers two new power threats from the left side of the plate.
Despite entering Friday fourth in the AL East, the Toronto Blue Jays dealt two prospects to the Minnesota Twins for right-handed starter Jose Berrios. Even if Toronto misses the playoffs this season, Berrios is still just 27 and remains under team control through 2022.
The Atlanta Braves drew attention around the league for being buyers, despite star center fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. being out for the rest of the season. The Braves made multiple deals on Friday and since the All-Star break have added catcher Stephen Vogt, pitcher Richard Rodriguez and four outfielders: Adam Duvall, Joc Pederson, Jorge Soler and Eddie Rosario.
Elsewhere in the NL East, the Philadelphia Phillies also strengthened their position by acquiring All-Star pitcher Kyle Gibson from the Rangers and by re-uniting with infielder Freddy Galvis.
Add in earlier trades that sent Nelson Cruz to the Tampa Bay Rays, Adam Frazier to the San Diego Padres and Eduardo Escobar to the Milwaukee Brewers to reach 10 of this year’s All-Stars moved at the deadline, the most ever.