The MLB trade deadline came and went, and now we wait to see how the moves pan out for the teams involved. With only a few weeks left to play, it’s time to figure out who set themselves up nicely for the stretch run. The Houston Astros seem like they won the trade deadline and set themselves up as World Series favorites, but five other teams also gave themselves a fighting chance as well.
6. San Francisco Giants
Our first team didn’t necessarily make any Earth-shattering moves, but putting them in the “win” column at the trade deadline is more about the moves they didn’t make. The Giants resisted the urge to deal ace pitcher Madison Bumgarner. That gives them a legitimate shot to stay in the playoff race for manager Bruce Bochy’s final season before retirement.
5. Atlanta Braves
With the Washington Nationals surging, the Braves needed to do something to help their thin bullpen. They did just that, adding Chris Martin, Shane Green, and Mark Melancon. The Braves’ bullpen ERA is 5.63 since July 1, which is ranked 27 in the entire league. They needed additional depth, and they made sure they got it at the MLB trade deadline. Greene is the best of the newcomers after being selected for the All-Star team this year with a 1.18 ERA.
4. Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks may have lost an ace in Zack Greinke (more on that below), but they also gained a couple of excellent pitching prospects in return.
Arizona picked up Zac Gallen and Mike Leake from the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals, respectively. Gallen had a 2.72 in seven starts with the Marlins. Leake had a 3.00 ERA in July, his best of the season thus far. Even if the Diamondbacks don’t make a run at the playoffs, their trade deadline moves made sense. While you can’t replace a pitcher the caliber of Greinke very easily, they now have more depth in the starting rotation.
3. Cleveland Indians
Life came at Trevor Bauer fast. One second Terry Francona was taking him out of a game in Kansas City only to have Bauer throw the ball over the centerfield wall in frustration. The next second, he was traded to Cincinnati.
What makes the Indians winners is what they got in return. The Tribe added Yasiel Puig and Franmil Reyes to their lineup. Both hitters provide a well-needed jolt of power to an Indians offense that underwhelmed this year. It hurts to lose Bauer — he has been a reliable arm that helped them get to the postseason the last four years — but the offensive firepower received in return will surely make up for it.
2. New York Mets
The rumor mill had the Mets dealing ace Noah Syndergaard for prospects this season. So it came as a fairly big shock when the Mets did the absolute opposite. Not only did they hold onto Syndergaard, but they also traded for Toronto Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman.
The move sets up the Mets rotation for next year. They now have Stroman, Syndergaard, and Jacob deGrom under team control in 2020, and it only cost them two minor leaguers. While several executives around the league were reportedly furious at the Blue Jays relatively small haul for Stroman, one can’t argue the Mets didn’t do well in the deal.
1. Houston Astros
In 2017, the Houston Astros acquired Justin Verlander at the trade deadline from the Detroit Tigers. They then defeated the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, and Los Angeles Dodgers on their way to a championship.
This year, they targeted another ace in Greinke. Adding Greinke gives the team another ace and a worthy arm to finally replace Dallas Keuchel. It creates a variety of matchup problems in a short series. It’s going to be tough sledding for any team in October looking to win four games against the Astros when they face Verlander and Greinke twice.