MLB Trade Deadline: National League Central

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MLB Trade Deadline
CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 16: (L-R) Anthony Rizzo #44; Javier Baez #9 and Kris Bryant #17 celebrate after Baez scored the winning run on a wild pitch in the bottom of the 9th inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field on August 16, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the Reds 7-6. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Friday was a big day as the 2021 MLB Trade Deadline was officially set to be at 4 PM ET and it sure was one of the best deadlines in recent memory. The baseball world was set on fire as superstars galore were moved leading into and at the MLB Trade Deadline. Front offices sure looked like they knew what direction their teams were headed and they pounced on the opportunity.

The National League Central was certainly intriguing as teams got better and some sold pieces, especially the 2016 World Series Champions in what was a crazy day in Chicago. The division race is certainly not over and a couple of teams proved that with the moves they made. 

MLB Trade Deadline: National League Central

Brewers

Eduardo Escobar

This was an A-plus deal for the Milwaukee Brewers. In a deal a day before the MLB Trade Deadline, the Brewers traded outfield prospect Cooper Hummel and infield prospect Alberto Ciprian to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Eduardo Escobar. Escobar is a utility player with the ability to play not only in the infield but in the outfield as well. That’s highly coveted in today’s game and a player the Brewers see as important moving forward.

He has some power as he’s hit 22 home runs in Arizona with 65 RBI’s. With Escobar’s performance this season, he was awarded his first All-Star game in his career. He’ll be a great fit for a team all-in to contend.

Daniel Norris

The Brewers needed to go out and find a left-handed pitcher and they did that on deadline day in the form of Daniel Norris. They acquired Norris from the Detriot Tigers in exchange for prospect Reese Olsen. With Milwaukee pulling away in the division, they shifted their focus on strengthening their bullpen for the stretch run.

Norris has had an inconsistent career, putting up a 4.57 ERA in 149 games. He hasn’t had a strong season for the Tigers as he’s pitched in 38 games and tallied an ERA close to six. Norris has shown the ability to have great potential, he just hasn’t put it together for an extended period. A fresh start on a contending team might bring out that potential.

John Curtiss

Getting John Curtiss was a significant move before the MLB Trade Deadline. This is the type of depth in the bullpen that teams thrive on. In 35 games for the Brewers, Curtiss has only given up 11 earned runs and has an ERA of 2.48 in 40 innings pitched. He also has great command of the strike zone, not walking many guys. Curtiss will be a great addition to a bullpen that already has two of the best relievers in the game. 

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Reds

Although the Cincinnati Reds didn’t make any trades on deadline day, they made key moves a couple of days before the deadline. One of those moves was a significant one by getting relief pitcher Mychal Givens from the Colorado Rockies. In 31 games for Colorado, he’s only given up nine earned runs for an ERA of 2.73. The Reds got even better in the bullpen as they traded for Luis Cessa from the New York Yankees. In 30 games, he’s 3-1 with a 2.75 ERA and 32 strikeouts.

These two are just what the Reds needed but they also added some insurance by getting 10-year veteran Justin Wilson in that Yankees deal. He’s been a reliable piece in the past but 2021 had not been his year. In just 18 innings for the Yankees, he had a 7.50 ERA. The Reds desperately needed to address their bullpen if they wanted a chance to compete and that’s exactly what they did.

Cardinals

J.A. Happ

The St. Louis Cardinals have been known to stay quiet at the MLB Trade Deadline over the past several years. This year was no different except for a couple of late additions that aren’t significant. Their first move was to acquire starter J.A. Happ from the Minnesota Twins for John Gant and a pitching prospect.

Happ has a 6.77 ERA this season but given the Cardinals’ situation, they needed a pitcher who can throw strikes and get innings so Happ was the guy. Gant did well early on as a starter for the Cardinals but also had a little luck going his way. With the lack of command and a lot of walks, the Cardinals didn’t think Gant was going to make it much longer on the team. This isn’t the trade everyone wanted but it’s something.

Jon Lester

To many’s surprise, the Cardinals traded for starting pitcher Jon Lester late at the deadline. It wasn’t too long ago that he won the World Series with their rival, Chicago Cubs. He moved on to the Washington Nationals and it hasn’t gone well. In 16 starts, he’s 3-5 with a 5.02 ERA. The Cardinals don’t have a current healthy starter under the age of 33 once these guys move into the rotation (Flaherty and Mikolas hurt), which is worrisome. One thing Lester is known for being is a bulldog and a competitor as he’ll give everything he has to St. Louis.

Cubs

The Cubs have officially started the rebuild at this year’s MLB Trade Deadline. Cubs fans were seen in pain as they traded their favorite players for prospects for the future. Kris Bryant was traded to the San Francisco Giants, Anthony Rizzo was traded to the New York Yankees, Javier Baez was traded to the New York Mets, and Craig Kimbrel was traded to the Chicago White Sox.

From their starting lineup in game seven of the 2016 World Series, only two players remain and they are Jason Heyward and Willson Contreras. What was thought to be a dynasty in the making is no more. The Cubs as we knew them will be in a long rebuilding process that hopefully won’t take 100-plus years.

Pirates

The Pittsburgh Pirates continue to rebuild and some say it’s not even a good rebuilding process. They have some good pieces throughout the years but they’ve either been traded or not used properly. Before the MLB Trade Deadline, the Pirates traded Adam Frazier to the San Diego Padres. Frazier was a hit machine getting plenty of playing time in Pittsburgh. On deadline day, they traded reliever Richard Rodriguez to the Atlanta Braves. All of this is to acquire prospects as Pittsburgh looks to keep getting future pieces instead of keeping their good players. 

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