We were lucky enough to witness a dramatic last hour at the trade deadline. The deadline, for the first time a sole one, saw some shocking moves announced just past the 9pm UK time mark, one of which was Zack Greinke to the Houston Astros.
It ended up being a pretty eventful day as many teams received what they were desperately looking for due to being aggressive. On the other hand, some teams, even with obvious needs, went without any transactions as the deadline passed by.
There’s no question that even if you’re a first-place team, you won’t be truly prepared for the culmination of the regular season battle (especially if you’re in the National League) or the postseason without being at least a bit active on the mid-summer market. That’s been the case with all of the last five World Series champions – from the 2014 Giants and Jake Peavy to the 2018 Red Sox and Nathan Eovaldi and Steve Pearce.
So, let’s take a look at who won the trade deadline and who… well, pushed itself even farther away from competing this season:
Winners: Houston Astros
The longtime Diamondback was enjoying a great season with 10-4 record and 2.79 ERA. It was a trading session that took us back to 2017, when the Astros acquired Justin Verlander. What dividends did it pay? First world championship in the team’s history.
Greinke and Sanchez join Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Wade Miley and make Houston even more unpredictable come October, which will excellently balance with their monster lineup. Although the Astros did give up some of their standout young talent, plus Derek Fisher, it’s nothing compared to how strong the team became to chase a second title in three years.
Losers: New York Yankees
From all the teams currently leading their divisions, the Yankees had the biggest need – the rotation.
One could argue that it’s been almost non-existent as of late and even the expected return of ace Luis Severino doesn’t give the starting pitching more hope. It’s not like there weren’t any great pitchers on the market – Mike Minor, Zack Wheeler, Mike Leake and Tanner Roark, considering the seasons all four have had, would to some level become the best pitcher on their staff.
But I think there are two things the Yankees general manager doesn’t take into the equation. Firstly, there’s no point in holding on to prospects so hard when you’re in so desperate a need for something, which will help you win this year. Because the concept of the “prospect game” is that you hold on to them to win later if you don’t have the pieces to win now – but the Yanks’ chance is now due to one of the deepest position player rosters ever seen. Secondly, if we’re talking value and being realistic – nothing less can be enough for at Minor or Roark.
Winners: Atlanta Braves
The Braves showed in a great way that they are a very self-conscious organization and that they are willing to work very hard on fixing an obviously bad part of their game that can drive them down over the course of the season.
They knew very well that their biggest need was the bullpen and focused especially on that components, eventually landing Chris Martin from Texas, Mark Melancon from the Giants and, most importantly, Shane Greene from the Detroit Tigers. I’ve thought a lot over the last few days how the Braves rotation is rather underrated and doesn’t need an upgrade that badly. And now the team looks way more complete.
Due to their hot streak, a week or two ago I was ready to say that the Nationals are the most playoff-ready team in the division. But after today, the Braves are looking better and might be ready to finally put the NL East race to sleep.
Losers: Milwaukee Brewers
Now they got at least four or five good relievers but their starters are in an almost as bad a situation as last year. They don’t have many starters who can throw many innings on the mound. Brandon Woodruff and Zach Davies have had great campaigns – credit where credit is due. But still, the bullpen game worked to some extent last October, but was exposed against the Dodgers in the NLCS.
Even worse is that the Brewers don’t have the depth to offer anything worthy for a starting pitcher. One comment I read sums it up perfectly: “Fans expect us to get one of the aces. But who can we offer a team: Yelich and Hiura? No way.”
Winners: Oakland Atheltics
Maybe it hasn’t been talked about as much as it should be but the A’s also made a huge step towards being a way more balanced ballclub, with the starting pitching now way closer to matching the quality of the bullpen and the offence.
Tanner Roark was an absolute bargain. When Oakland acquired Homer Bailey and Jake Diekman, getting an upgrade in both the rotation and the bullpen, I knew that was setting up an even bigger move. And they would eventually get the second-best pitcher from the 3rd-best staff in baseball.
Losers: Cincinnati Reds
C’mon, Reds, are you kidding me?
After the one-year deals, the win-now offseason trade with the Dodgers and the Trevor Bauer trade to set up a counter-trade of Roark or Bauer for major league offensive talent, you trade Roark for checks again Jameson Hannah?
All season long Cincinnati was just one piece that can spark the bats away from being on the better side of the mix in the National League Central. They’ve had the 3rd-best starting pitching ERA, for long had one of the best bullpens.
Everything leading up to a Roark or Bauer trade for that offensive spark was done right until Roark went to the A’s for Oakland’s #8 prospect. Now they end up with considerably the same kind of rotation and having parted ways with Yasiel Puig and Scooter Gennett, whose display last year and hot batting in his last couple of games could’ve been the key.