The deadline is over! Well, the non-waiver trade deadline, at least. We may see more moves next month! Winners and losers columns always are a tricky thing to write, because in the end we'll wind up with one winner and 29 losers no matter what happened the past few days. But here are some winners and losers of this fast and furious trade deadline period.
Winner: Kansas City Royals. The Royals are my clear winners in that they had two glaring holes and fixed them both in acquiring a No. 1 starter in Johnny Cueto and second baseman/outfielder Ben Zobrist. No team's World Series chances improved more than the Royals', in part because they already were well on their way to a division title. But Cueto improves their odds of winning the best-of-five Division Series and advancing farther in the postseason, and Zobrist ultimately will get Omar Infante's nothing bat out of the lineup. It's amazing, really: A year ago, the Royals were 55-52 on July 31 and had only gotten there with a recent hot streak; they'd been 48-50 just a few days earlier. They were criticized for not trading James Shields. But from July 30 to Aug. 23, they went 19-4 -- three weeks that turned the fortunes of the franchise. Baseball's laughingstock for nearly two decades, the Royals could be headed to a second straight World Series.
Winner: Toronto Blue Jays. Hey, when you pick up two players the likes of David Price and Troy Tulowitzki, you done good, even if the cost in prospects -- lefty Daniel Norris ranked No. 15 on Keith Law's midseason top 50 and right-hander Jeff Hoffman was the team's first-round pick in 2014 -- was high. The Jays have the longest playoff drought in the majors, so even capturing a wild-card spot would be worth it, especially if Price lines up to start that game. The Jays, however, are banking that their run differential -- the best in the American League -- and the new additions, which also includes relievers LaTroy Hawkins and Mark Lowe and outfielder Ben Revere, will play out to a big surge down the stretch that will catch the Yankees for the division title. The downside? They don't even win a wild card in a crowded field, lose Price via free agency and see Norris and Hoffman develop into stars.
Loser: Detroit Tigers fans. It was a great four-year run with four straight division titles and three 90-win seasons, but the Price sale was the capper on a disappointing season. The Tigers aren't heading into a full rebuild mode but the once-imposing rotation is now in shatters, the offense wasn't good enough to carry the team this year, and you have to wonder if this era of Tigers ends up going down in history as one of the most talented to never win a World Series, much like the late '90s Mariners or 1960s Giants.
Winner: Houston Astros. They picked up two star-caliber players in Scott Kazmir and Carlos Gomez and did so without gutting their farm system. They did give up Brett Phillips, the No. 35 player on Keith's list, in the Gomez deal, but Gomez is controllable for another season. Importantly, general manager Jeff Luhnow also acquired Kazmir early enough to get two extra starts out of him. The results of those two starts: No runs allowed and two Astros wins, including one over the Angels. Keep those two games in mind if the Astros end up edging out the Angels by a win or two for the AL West title.
Loser: Everyone involved who made Wilmer Flores cry on the field.
Winner: Cole Hamels. Escape!
Winner: San Francisco Giants. Mike Leake isn't as sexy a pickup as aces Cueto and Price, but this has the makings of a terrific under-the-radar pickup by GM Bobby Evans similar to the Giants getting Jake Peavy last season, when he went 6-4 with a 2.17 ERA in 12 starts for San Franrancisco. The Giants were in on Hamels, but Leake was a good backup plan and he could put up nice numbers moving from Great American Ball Park to pitcher-friendly AT&T and throwing that sinker in front of a good defensive infield.
Loser: Seattle Mariners. Not only is a team that was a preseason favorite to compete for the World Series suffering through a miserable year; they didn't even have much to trade off to help restock a bad farm system. Dustin Ackley and Lowe brought back fringe prospects, but ownership reportedly nixed trading Hisashi Iwakuma, the one asset they had who could have brought something interesting in return. Does any team have a bleaker future than Seattle? Even with the Phillies you can pretend to envision a future with Maikel Franco and J.P. Crawford and some of the kids acquired in the Hamels deal.
Winner: Jeffrey Loria's bank account. He managed to dump the contracts of Mat Latos and Mike Morse. Ka-ching!
Loser: Los Angeles Dodgers fans complaining the team didn't get Price. Come on, you already have Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke! Mat Latos and Alex Wood should help the rotation. Don't be so greedy.
Winner: Aroldis Chapman rumors. Diamondbacks! Yankees! Astros! Would anybody get the flamethrowing closer? Would the Yankees really add him to a bullpen that already includes Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller? Considering how teams are trying to emulate the Royals' postseason of a deep and overpowering bullpen possibly compensating for a mediocre rotation, it made for the most intriguing rumor on deadline day.
Loser: Aroldis Chapman not traded. Boo!
Loser: Chicago Cubs. Dan Haren has a 3.42 ERA but he's allowed 21 home runs in 129 innings -- and 14 in 62 innings away from Marlins Park. The Cubs are only two back of the Giants for the second wild card, but Haren is unlikely to make a big impact in Wrigley given his home run issues.
Loser: New York Mets' fans angst. The Gomez trade ... Flores' tears ... fears that the Wilpons were too cheap to pick up a bat ... that brutal loss to the Padres on Thursday ... it was worse than taking the subway in 100-degree temperatures. And then ...
Winner: New York Mets fans. In the end, they get Yoenis Cespedes ... and didn't have to give up Zack Wheeler, like they would have in the Gomez deal from a couple of days ago. Cespedes is just a rental, but holding on to Wheeler is a good thing. Cespedes was hot in July -- .291, eight home runs -- and his current .323 OBP is higher than 2013 and 2014, but he's a streaky hitter and probably should remain in left field even though he played a little center his first year with the A's.
Loser: Us. And by "us," I mean the failure of the San Diego Padres and GM A.J. Preller to do anything, like everyone speculated. Because ...
#Padres largely standing pat because GM A.J. Preller believes the team can reach the postseason, source says.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 31, 2015
Padres playoff odds via FanGraphs: 4 percent.
Hey, you never know. Maybe the Padres end up being the big winner after all.