. It threatened to be a relatively boring one, but things got spicy after 4 p.m. ET buzzer when the news of last-minute deals came to light. Still, and several high-profile teams were head-scratchingly quiet. . Let’s check out some winners and losers of this year’s deadline.
Apparently, the plan for a playoff rotation is to hope Luis Severino is back and pitching at his ceiling, Masahiro Tanaka regains a semblance of consistency, James Paxton gets right and Domingo German holds up — with the fallback options being either CC Sabathia or J.A. Happ. This is because the Yankees did absolutely nothing to shore up the rotation from outside-the-organization transactions.
The Yankees recently saw their starting pitchers just completely battered by the Twins and Red Sox’s offense and failed to address the rotation in front of the deadline. We can’t know how close they were on Marcus Stroman or if they ever had a shot at the likes of Madison Bumgarner and Mike Minor, but not adding anything means they have a possibly-big weakness heading toward October.
They are also a loser because their chief competition in the American League had a huge day …
Well that was something, wasn’t it? After the deadline, we all learned the Zack Greinke from the Diamondbacks for a package of prospects. The Astros have a stellar lineup, lock-down back-end of the bullpen and now a big three in the rotation of Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Zack Greinke. That’s the odds-on favorite to win the World Series right now. They didn’t only add Greinke, either, as they added right-handers Aaron Sanchez and Joe Biagini from the Blue Jays and Martin Maldonado to be their backup catcher.
Loser: Red Sox
Red Sox relievers have a 5.18 ERA in July and it was 4.92 in June. Their only outside-organization addition to the ballclub this month was starter Andrew Cashner. I can’t believe they didn’t go get anyone. They had great success with using starters in relief creatively in the playoffs last year, but they have to get there first and that’s a serious concern.
Winner: Zack Greinke
Greinke goes from a stale situation in Arizona where they lost their two best position players this past offseason to what now looks like the best team in baseball. He’s 35 and while sometimes it comes off like he doesn’t care about much other than getting paid, surely he’s competitive internally. He’s pitched in five different playoff series, but none of them were the World Series. He might be hoisting a World Series trophy in three months and that wasn’t on the table for the rest of his deal in Arizona, in my opinion.
What was once a double-digit lead in the AL Central was down to three games entering deadline day. With Jake Odorizzi having fallen back, the Twins only have one frontline pitcher in Jose Berrios. The bullpen has been a mess at times, too. The only help they got Wednesday is reliever Sam Dyson. He’s having a fine season and will help — and they also recently added Sergio Romo — but this was an underwhelming performance by the front office when they should have had the urgency to be aggressive. As with the Yankees, they might have been aggressive and just gotten screwed by circumstances beyond their control, but their chances of winning the AL Central went down in the past 24 hours, because …
It appears that Trevor Bauer had become a headache, so the Indians decided to deal from strength with Corey Kluber likely coming off the injured list in a few weeks to take that rotation spot. In doing so, they landed slugger Franmil Reyes to solidify their DH spot for years along with young lefty Logan Allen — and we’ve seen what the Indians can do in developing young starting pitching for years — and Yasiel Puig to beef up their power. Team that with Jose Ramirez getting his groove back and what was once an embarrassing Indians offense actually looks pretty strong.
It bears repeating sentiment from above: It’s possible the Dodgers were trying to be aggressive and just weren’t getting cooperation. That doesn’t prevent us from saying this deadline was a net loss for the Dodgers. The back-end of their bullpen is a mess and even Kenley Jansen is shaky these days. The Dodgers have played themselves into this situation: If they don’t win the World Series, the season is a failure. Possibly unfair, but it’s reality. The only addition to the bullpen is lefty Adam Kolarek and that’s underwhelming. I thought they need to be bold and do something like getting both Felipe Vazquez and Edwin Diaz. Maybe those guys were too pricey or unavailable, but now the Dodgers are going to head to the playoffs with an Achilles heel and they’ll have to be able to hold leads against offenses like the Braves, Cubs, Yankees, Twins and/or Astros in order to achieve the ultimate goal. They’ll need an awful lot of internal improvement in the bullpen for that to happen.
If Diaz and/or Vazquez were unavailable or had asking prices that were way too high, we have to point out the Braves getting Shane Greene was a win. They badly needed to fix the back-end of their bullpen — it was on display Wednesday afternoon — so getting Greene, Chris Martin and Mark Melancon certainly checks that box. It might not be the sexiest trio of names, but they have upgraded.
Loser: Pirates/Felipe Vazquez
Vazquez is 27 and under team control through 2023 (the last two years are club options) on a very cheap deal. That’s the type of player teams build around, but the Pirates aren’t set up to contend at any point soon and this is probably the peak of his value. They could have waged a bidding war between teams like the Red Sox, Dodgers, Braves, Cubs, Nationals and more if he were realistically made available. Instead, all the reporting around the situation was the Pirates’ asking price was so high it was turning teams away. Vazquez loses out here because he’s stuck on a bad team, probably for a while.
Winner: Nicholas Castellanos
The day began with Castellanos in the lineup for a team that is 31-72 and he’s going to be a free agent after the season. It’s all relative, because playing baseball for a living would be pretty damn awesome, but to show up to the ballpark every single day knowing your team is probably going to lose wouldn’t be great. Now he gets moved to a team that has made the playoffs four straight seasons and is right in the middle of the race this season in the Cubs. Also of note: Comerica Park suppresses home runs and we’re past the part of the year in Wrigley Field is cold and often has the wind blowing in. He’ll get plenty of hot games with the wind blowing out to pad that home run total in front of free agency.
The defending NL Central champs are looking up at both the Cubs and Cardinals. The rotation is a mess with both Brandon Woodruff and Jhoulys Chacin injured and the bullpen outside of Josh Hader hasn’t been reliable, either. They did make bullpen additions in Jake Faria, Drew Pomeranz and Ray Black, but none seem like the types to move the needle. The only starter they added was Jordan Lyles, who has a 5.36 ERA this season.
One to watch: Giants
They have gone 19-6 since June 29 and that just isn’t sustainable at all. My best guess is they end up regretting not trading their two most tradable pieces in Bumgarner and Will Smith.
That being said, it’s hard to justify to a fan base that has seen the team win the World Series from a wild-card spot that trading two of your best players when you’re only 2 1/2 games out of a wild-card spot is the correct move. Trying to win is always more important than giving up.
Again, my guess is we end up looking back at this stretch of winning and remember it as the time the Giants got hot and screwed over new club president Farhan Zaidi.
Another to watch: Mets
To reiterate, I’m not going to bash a team for trying to win when within striking distance. The Mets were five games out of the second wild-card spot entering play on deadline day. They actually bought Marcus Stroman and decided to keep trade targets Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Edwin Diaz. I can’t see them making a playoff run and think they should be more focused on building around younger players like Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Amed Rosario, Michael Conforto, Dominic Smith and Brandon Nimmo. This would’ve meant dealing at least Wheeler and Syndergaard might’ve brought back the type of return to justify moving him, too.
We shall see. It was definitely an interesting path to take for the Mets.