The 2021 MLB trade deadline has come and gone, and Chicago’s baseball teams have made not one but two significant crosstown trades. It was the wildest trade deadline for Chicago’s MLB franchises in quite some time.
Craig Kimbrel (pictured above) and Ryan Tepera are now members of the White Sox, while Nick Madrigal, Codi Heuer and Bailey Horn are headed to the Cubs. Kimbrel has a 0.49 ERA for the Cubs and is arguably the best closer in baseball. Madrigal, meanwhile, is out for the season with a hamstring injury — but could be a fixture in the Cubs’ middle infield for the next decade.
The White Sox were already World Series contenders, and the deadline activity only solidified that notion.
They are also now the favorites to win the American League. On Friday morning at DraftKings, the Sox were +300 to win the pennant while the Astros were +250. Now, Chicago is +250, and Houston is +270.
On the other side of town, the Cubs also dealt Kris Bryant to the Giants, Javier Baez to the Mets and Anthony Rizzo to the Yankees. Jed Hoyer blew up the Cubs in his first trade deadline in charge.
Before Friday, the story of the trade deadline was two of the highest-profile franchises in the league, the Dodgers and Yankees, loading up.
The Dodgers were the consensus World Series favorites at Illinois sportsbooks the week heading into the trade deadline. And then they added Max Scherzer and Trea Turner from the Nationals. The reigning World Series champions were already stacked, and they added the biggest haul of any team at the deadline.
Elsewhere in the AL, the Astros had the shortest World Series odds of any team going into the deadline. They added closer Kendall Graveman from the Mariners, who has a sub-1 ERA.
The Red Sox and Rays also added sluggers Kyle Schwarber and Nelson Cruz, respectively.
Still, the White Sox were as bold as anyone, and they are more likely to win the World Series now than they were a few days ago.
Post-MLB trade World Series odds
Here’s a look at the updated World Series odds at Illinois sportsbooks:
Evaluating the White Sox trade deadline
In addition to Kimbrel and Tepera, the Sox also traded for former Indians second baseman Cesar Hernandez. Hernandez was Chicago’s first acquisition on Thursday, and he fills a massive hole. When Madrigal went down for the season with a hamstring injury, the Sox didn’t have any great internal options at second base.
Hernandez is now tied for the team lead with Jose Abreu in home runs. His departure also makes the Indians worse, who are in second place in the AL Central by eight games.
Obviously, that tells us everything we need to know about what Cleveland thinks of its Playoff chances.
With that said, Hernandez is about a league average hitter by OPS+ (97, 100 is average) and his defensive metrics aren’t as good as they were in his 2020 Gold Glove season. Still, he’s a clear upgrade over Danny Mendick and Leury Garcia.
The Hernandez addition matters, but it pales in comparison to Kimbrel and Tepera. Chicago arguably has the best bullpen in the league now. Throwing Kimbrel and Tepera on top of Liam Hendriks, Michael Kopech and Aaron Bummer could prove to be unfair.
The Sox got better. They may not win the World Series, but they certainly increased their chances of doing so this year.
Evaluating the Cubs trade deadline
The Cubs are now clearly in rebuild mode.
With Bryant, Baez, Rizzo, Tepera and Kimbrel gone, the Cubs likely won’t be relevant in the betting market for a few years. The Brewers are easily the best team in the NL Central and are set up for long term success.
Of course, the last time the Cubs rebuilt, it resulted in a World Series. In netting Madrigal, Heuer, Pete Crow-Armstrong (from the Baez trade), Joey Bart and LaMonte Wade Jr. (Bryant trade), Chicago got some potentially foundational pieces for their next great team.
In June, it looked like a Sox vs. Cubs World Series was within the realm of possibilities. That ship has sailed, but at least Chicago should have one team playing into October this year.