Jeff Passan, ESPN 50d

MLB deadline madness takeaways - From blockbuster trades to Mets' Kumar Rocker mess

MLB, Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, New York Mets, Minnesota Twins, Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres, Texas Rangers, Washington Nationals, Toronto Blue Jays

For all of the superlatives lavished on the 2021 MLB trade deadline -- amazing, nonstop, best ever! -- the reality is that it happened almost by accident. Had the Chicago Cubs not spoiled their season by losing 11 games in a row, they are not shipping off the entire core of their 2016 championship. Were the Washington Nationals not a disappointment for a second consecutive season, they would not have spent Thursday acting like they were conducting a going-out-of-business sale.

And yet there both were, wheeling and dealing, driving the market to places it hasn't been in years, fomenting a wild final 48 hours that saw 31 deals with major league players consummated. No sport knows how to do a trade deadline like baseball, and with some time to decompress and take in the breadth of what happened, it's much easier to see themes emerge from deadline madness.

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