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As baseball’s players and owners talk through the game’s future, with this current collective bargaining agreement expiring on Dec. 1, let’s hope they remember the glory of this 2021 trade...
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As baseball’s players and owners talk through the game’s future, with this current collective bargaining agreement expiring on Dec. 1, let’s hope they remember the glory of this 2021 trade deadline.
Are they sure they want to temper this by expanding the postseason next year and beyond?
For if this campaign featured a 14-team playoff, the notion that Major League Baseball has fancied for a while now, then the Cubs would’ve started play Friday two games out of the final National League wild-card spot (that’s with them already dumping some pieces), and the Nationals four. Would these two proud franchises have called it quits, or would they have geared up for one more run?
Of course, if you’re a Nats or Cubs fan, you very well might prefer the latter scenario. Yet baseball features the undisputedly best trade deadline of any sport — the most exciting buildup, the biggest names switching clubs and the most tantalizing post-transaction storylines — because of its high standard for an October invitation. Mediocre teams can employ many intriguing players ripe for a swap. Less so terrible teams. Last year, when it made sense to deploy a 16-team postseason to align with the COVID-shortened, 60-game schedule, the deadline proved lamer than “Another 48 Hrs.”
Yes, broadcasters love playoff games and both players and owners love money. But if the deadline can’t generate the same sort of revenue as playoff games, can’t something be said about dominating the sports landscape (all the more so in non-Olympic years) for a week?
OK, time to get off the soapbox and determine this deadline’s winners and losers:
- Blue Jays: The Twins stuck to their high asking price for frontline starting pitcher Jose Berrios, and Toronto met it, giving up Austin Martin and Simeon Woods-Richardson to land the best non-rental arm that got moved, as well as useful relievers Brad Hand and Joakim Soria. What a way to celebrate their long-awaited return to Rogers Centre. What a grind the American League East is going to be, with all four contenders upgrading.
- White Sox: Pairing Craig Kimbrel with Liam Hendriks gives them the best back-end bullpen in the game. Cesar Hernandez brings veteran steadiness to second base. If Eloy Jimenez’s groin injury, suffered just days after returning from a season-long injured-list stint, isn’t too bad, then these guys are primed to soar into the playoffs.
- Athletics: They didn’t mess around, getting Starling Marte from the Marlins — giving up pitcher Jesus Luzardo for the rental — and Yan Gomes and Josh Harrison from the Nationals. The AL wild-card race will be killer.
- Yankees: Major upgrades arrived in the forms of Joey Gallo, Andrew Heaney and Anthony Rizzo, and let’s see what Clay Holmes and Joely Rodriguez bring. They don’t rank higher because they jettisoned very useful reliever Luis Cessa to the Reds (along with Justin Wilson’s salary) in order to stay under the $210 million luxury-tax threshold and couldn’t find a taker for Luke Voit.
- Dodgers: They acquired the most accomplished starting pitcher on the market, Max Scherzer, and perhaps the best position player, Trea Turner, from Washington. They don’t rank higher because they still must cope with the consequences, on the field and off, of committing $102 million to known terrible person Trevor Bauer, currently on administrative leave amidst a sexual-assault investigation.
- Twins: They serve as the exception to the aforementioned rule that lousy teams generally don’t possess many attractive trade pieces. By getting a high return for Berrios and keeping their other high-ceiling players under control (Byron Buxton and Josh Donaldson), the most disappointing entity of 2021 can go right back to contention next year. Not trading impending free agent Michael Pineda surprised.
- Rays: Two words: Nelson Cruz. Shawn Armstrong and Jordan Luplow add depth. This team’s culture is such that the trade of high-leverage reliever Diego Castillo to Seattle gets treated like business as usual and doesn’t rock the boat.
- Astros: They just keep rolling, scandals and injuries be damned, as they added Kendall Graveman and Phil Maton to their bullpen. Get ready for more Dusty Baker in October.
- (tie) Braves and Phillies: If the Mets’ top two pursuers don’t impress in the standings, you have to love their aggressiveness. Atlanta has brought in four outfielders (Adam Duvall, Joc Pederson, Eddie Rosario and Jorge Soler) plus reliever Richard Rodriguez since the All-Star break. And Phillies first-year president Dave Dombrowski lived up to his reputation by acquiring pitchers Kyle Gibson and Ian Kennedy from the Rangers and bringing back Freddy Galvis, who started his career in the Land of Cheesesteaks, from the Orioles on Friday.
- (tie) Cubs and Nationals: There’s something to be said for ripping off the Band-Aid, and boy, did these two franchises do that, breaking up cores that each won a title. Now it’s on these front offices to make the most out of their returns and newfound payroll flexibilities.
- Mariners: You record your biggest win over the season, over the rival Astros, on Monday. On Tuesday, you trade your closer, Graveman, to the Astros. Facepalm emoji. While Seattle wound up replacing Graveman by getting Castillo from the Rays, why would you mess with a group vying to end the longest playoff drought (20 years) of any North American professional sports team?
- Rockies: Remember back in June, as the Cubs and Nationals hung in there, when it looked like Trevor Story would be the best player traded? Instead, he stayed put, and afterward told The Denver Post, “I’m confused and I don’t have really anything good to say about the situation and how it unfolded.” Yeesh. The best-case scenario will be the Rockies connecting on a compensatory draft pick after Story rejects the qualifying offer, no easy mission. Colorado also retained free-agent-to-be Jon Gray and reportedly hopes to sign him to an extension.
- Red Sox: The biggest surprise team of the AL picked up the currently injured Kyle Schwarber from Washington and a pair of low-profile bullpen arms, former Met Hansel Robles from the Twins and Austin Davis from the Pirates, a haul that paled in comparison to the Rays, Yankees and Blue Jays.
- Mets: I’ll allow for the possibility that Javy Baez could be a season-changing and -saving arrival. He’s that sort of special player. Though he’s not a perfect positional fit, at least once his pal Francisco Lindor heals his oblique, and Jacob deGrom’s setback cast a harsh light on the Mets’ inability to find starting pitching help beyond Rich Hill and Trevor Williams.
- Padres: To be fair, they brought in Adam Frazier from the Pirates and Daniel Hudson from the Nats. However, general manager A.J. Preller has developed a reputation for big-game hunting, and in this instance, the biggest game (Scherzer and Berrios) went elsewhere, Scherzer to the rival Dodgers, while the stunning Giants added Kris Bryant.
This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Ken Davidoff