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Deadline Deep Dive: How Baseball’s Contenders Look Now

For the last month, your favorite device for receiving news about Major League Baseball has likely been buzzing with rumors and speculation about who would be traded to whom. It’s annual ritual, like high school football on Thanksgiving morning.

But as you might expect, not every transaction which had been discussed came to fruition. And a few players no one expected to be traded were dealt.

So now it’s time to tuck the process in for another year with a few thoughts about how it all turned out.

The New York Mets did not trade Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard or Zack Wheeler. Despite being one of the worst teams in baseball, the organization, now run by a three-headed general manager team, feels keeping the pitching corps together will be an important part of the rebuild. We will see. The Mets are a disaster. They celebrated the passing of the trade deadline with the worst loss in franchise history, Tuesday’s 25-4 drubbing in Washington, with Jose Reyes pitching the eighth.

trade deadline

Mike Stobe / Getty

The New York Yankees fulfilled their pledge to bolster their pitching staff with the acquisition of starters J.A. Happ and Lance Lynn and reliever Zach Britton. And they did so without great cost to one of baseball’s most-talented Minor League systems. The Yankees bullpen is now the best in the game, but now looking like it’s going to have to help the team at least win the Wild Card game before thinking World Series.

The Los Angeles Dodgers, already a powerful team, rebuilt the middle of their infield by trading for Manny Machado and Brian Dozier, who has averaged 35 homers in his last three seasons. Think of a lineup with Machado, Dozier, Cody Bellinger, Yasiel Puig, Max Muncy and Matt Kemp. That’s the best in the NL right now.

The Atlanta Braves, the big surprise this season, are taking their chances of winning the NL East very seriously. They added four big pieces to their young staff in starter Kevin Gausman and relievers Darren O’Day, Brad Brach and Jonny Venters. And they put power-hitting outfielder Adam Duvall, with 79 homers since 2016, into their lineup. And like the Yankees, they managed to do it without draining their pool of Minor League talent. Not one of their top 10 prospects was traded.

The Washington Nationals decided to stay put, primarily by declining to trade Bryce Harper, who along with Machado will be the most sought-after free agent this winter. The Nats likely feel they can still win the NL East, or sign Harper in the offseason, otherwise they would have moved him for what would have been a tidy package of prospects. Now, the Nats may lose him for nothing.

The Milwaukee Brewers had an interesting week, acquiring third baseman Mike Moustakas, second baseman Jonathan Schoop and reliever Joakim Soria. But now they have the problem of infield alignment. Schoop derails the plan to move Travis Shaw to second base. So now it seems Shaw will play first and The Moose third. Or maybe Shaw will play second (for the first time in his career) and Schoop shortstop. Who knows?

The Seattle Mariners picked up outfielder Cameron Maybin, reportedly a Yankees target, and pitchers Adam Warren, Sam Tuivailala and Zach Duke. Maybin has been around a long time and has played for many teams. The key here seems to be Seattle’s effort to tune-up its bullpen.

trade deadline

Jim Rogash / Getty

The Pittsburgh Pirates, suddenly resurgent in the NL Central (15-4 in last 19) fortified their pitching staff by picking up Chris Archer and reliever Keone Kela. Kela, one of the rising closers in the game, won’t be a free agent until 2021. And Archer is under control for three seasons. The Pirates sent two big prospects, Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows, to get Archer. But if he regains the form that made him a star in Tampa, no one will think twice about it.

And the Boston Red Sox, on the verge of sailing in the AL East, strengthened their injury-riddled starting staff with Nathon Eovaldi. But it was in the bullpen that the greater need seemed to be. Rumor was the Sox were trying to pry Kelvin Herrera from the Nats, which would have been a big get. A lot depends on how well Joe Kelly rebounds, but you might see Eovaldi in the bullpen in the postseason. And now they have Ian Kinsler to play second down the stretch.

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