The trade deadline has come and gone, and MLB rosters have been reloaded for the post-season push. Despite the change to roster rules this year which removed the possibility of post-deadline waiver trades, we still got a flurry of moves after the supposed window had closed. A former Cy Young Award winner was the biggest name involved. Let’s start with him.
Winner: Zack Greinke
We didn’t get word of Houston landing Zack Greinke until 13 minutes after the 4 p.m. ET deadline:
If you want to label the Astros as the winners here I won’t quibble, but they were already a World Series favorite without him. Yes, Houston improved an already wonderful rotation by adding the veteran right-hander, but Greinke is a big gainer here too.
Greinke left a perennial contender in the Dodgers to take record money from the Diamondbacks. Arizona had designs on winning but only made the playoffs once in his first three seasons and are only on the fringes of contending this year. Now, Greinke is back with a loaded team, one expected to seriously for the World Series through the end of his contract in 2021.
The playoffs are better with Zack Greinke, so maybe we are the real winners.
Given that the Mets are the Mets, it feels weird to associate them with any sort of success, but the fact that they nabbed one of the most coveted starting pitchers on the block in Marcus Stroman is a win. Stroman is one of 12 qualified pitchers in MLB with a sub-3.00 ERA. His peripherals are solid, too: his 78 DRA- (anything below 100 is better than average) is better than fellow rumored trade subjects Robbie Ray (84) and Madison Bumgarner (89), to name a few.
There are questions about Stroman’s fit with the Mets. His 56.3-percent ground ball rate is second among MLB qualified starters, while New York’s infield defense is atrocious. The Mets rank in the bottom six teams in FanGraphs defense at second base, third base, and shortstop., and are in the bottom five in Defensive Runs Saved by infielders, per Sports Info Solutions.
But once you factor in that the Mets’ only cost was two minor leaguers that weren’t rated very highly, this trade becomes more favorable for New York.
Other teams selling pitchers are very annoyed at the Blue Jays return for Stroman, which one rival called “dogs*it.” If that’s all it took to get Stroman, fear is the price goes down for other pitchers unde control— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) July 30, 2019
Text from an American League executive: "The Blue Jays' return for Stroman is embarrassing compared to what the Indians just got for Bauer."— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) July 31, 2019
That the Mets also kept Noah Syndergaard means they are at least set up well for 2020, with a rotation headed by Jacob deGrom, Syndergaard, Stroman, and Steven Matz. An improvement at minimal cost makes this an easy win for the Mets.
For weeks it has been obvious that the Dodgers needed a bullpen upgrade — not to make the playoffs, which a lock at this point, but to improve their chances in October. They didn’t get Felipe Vazquez from the Pirates, they didn’t get Will Smith from the Giants, and they didn’t even Ken Giles from Toronto. None were traded. But Jake Diekman and Shane Greene were, and the Dodgers didn’t bite. Maybe the price was too high, who knows?
Los Angeles did get a left-handed reliever in Adam Kolarek, but had an otherwise underwhelming trade deadline. The Dodgers must be betting big on their internal options, perhaps planning on moving hard-throwing young starters Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May to the bullpen, along with Kenta Maeda and Julio Urias playing major relief roles down the stretch.
On its face, the idea of Cleveland trading one of its best starting pitchers while holding the top American League wild card spot seems absurd, even coming from a team that seemed so complacent about its playoff chances that it’s sleepwalked through two straight offseasons.
But then we see the return for Bauer, and it makes much more sense. Five players came to Cleveland in the deal: Yasiel Puig and Franmil Reyes immediately help an Indians offense that ranks just 10th in the AL in runs per game (they’re third in runs allowed per game). Cleveland can slot Reyes at designated hitter, where his bad defense won’t hurt them, and the Indians added long-term plays in pitcher Logan Allen, a top-100 prospect before this season, Victor Nova and Scott Moss.
Losing Bauer, MLB’s leader in innings pitched in 2019, is a blow for Cleveland, but with this trade it’s clear the Indians are betting on the returns of ace Corey Kluber (limited to just seven starts this season with a broken forearm), Danny Salazar, and Carlos Carrasco, in order to shore up a rotation currently headed by Shane Bieber and MacGyver’s paper clip and gum wrapper. If the (likely) playoff-bound Indians can get any kind of pitching this October, they’ll now have a better offense to go with it.
Like the Astros and Dodgers, the Yankees’ berth in October is all but secured. But with injuries mounting and a struggling starting rotation, New York sought pitching. Then they saw two of their reported targets in Stroman and Bauer went to non-contending teams. The Yankees did make one trade on July 31, but it was boring as hell.
The Yankees have acquired LHP Alfredo Garcia from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for RHP Joseph Harvey.— Yankees PR Dept. (@YankeesPR) July 31, 2019
That’s not going to move the needle.
Winner: Yasiel Puig
Throughout his career, Yasiel Puig has been a must-watch player. You just never know what you’ll see.
In 2015 we thought we had the definitive post-trade reaction of a player on the field when Wilmer Flores was crying when he learned he was headed to Milwaukee. That trade ultimately didn’t happen which made the moment even more bizarre, but that image of Flores has been usurped by a ready-to-duel Puig on Tuesday night:
This is Puig playing a starring role in a mass brawl on behalf of his Cincinnati teammates after being traded to Cleveland. He was only with the Reds for four months, but he leaves a legend.
Loser: Tanner Roark
Roark was driving ahead to Cincinnati’s next stop, in Atlanta, when he learned he had been dealt to the A’s. His delicious processed meat was rudely interrupted with the news of his new destination.
Tanner Roark learned of his trade in an @arbys parking lot. He wanted a beef and cheddar (and curly fries). He was driving to Atlanta, where he lives in the off-season. @JonHeyman approves. He will not be driving to Oakland— C. Trent Rosecrans (@ctrent) July 31, 2019
By sending minor league outfielder Jameson Hannah to the Reds, the A’s were able to meat Cincinnati’s demand. It’s just too bad that Roark’s roast beef quest was interrupted, even briefly.
[Ed note: we’re sorry. Eric insisted]