A stunning last-minute deal for Yu Darvish should make Los Angeles, a big league-best 74-31, a prohibitive favorite in the National League. Darvish will team with Clayton Kershaw to form the top 1-2 punch in anyone’s rotation, and the Dodgers’ overall roster depth is unmatched.
Snagging Sonny Gray from Oakland gives New York the front-line starter it needed for its middling starting rotation. Already equipped with the best bullpen of any playoff contender, the Yankees are now a real threat for a 29th World Series title.
Other teams, such as Arizona and the Chicago White Sox, aced the deadline in different directions.
The Diamondbacks added a power bat two weeks ago in J.D. Martinez and didn’t have to pay much for him.
Meanwhile, there are likely regrets in outposts like Detroit, Houston, Milwaukee and Texas. The Tigers and Rangers either didn’t get enough in the seller’s role or, in Texas’ case, might have bailed on its playoff chances prematurely.
As for the Astros and Brewers, both swung and missed in regard to beefing up their pitching staffs. It won’t hurt Houston until October, as it owns a 16-game lead in the American League West, but Milwaukee might have seen its long-shot chances of beating the Cubs in the NL Central take a major hit.
Below, the four teams that should pat themselves on the back tonight and the four whose general managers might be in for some second-guessing:
DEADLINE ADDITIONS: Acquiring J.D. Martinez from Detroit two weeks ago gave the Diamondbacks the top hitter on the market. Martinez has already popped five homers in his first two weeks with the team and gives Paul Goldschmidt the protection he needed. The top five hitters in the Arizona lineup, especially against right-handed pitching, are as good as anyone’s top five.
WHAT’S MISSING: The Fernando Rodney Experience has been somewhat rocky in late innings this year. His ERA is 5.08, but the D-backs are apparently sticking with him for now. Inserting him into the ninth inning of a playoff game probably won’t put any Arizona fan’s mind at ease.
Chicago White Sox
DEADLINE ADDITIONS: No, this team won’t be in the playoffs this year, or the year after, and maybe the year after that. But set your clocks to 2020, the year general manager Rick Hahn’s trading comes to fruition.
In dealing the likes of Jose Quintana, Todd Frazier, David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle and Melky Cabrera, Hahn piled on more prospects. Adding Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease to the likes of Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech and Reynaldo Lopez means a South Side vs. North Side World Series could happen next decade.
WHAT’S MISSING: Mostly at the moment, a major league team. Aside from Jose Abreu, Matt Davidson and a few other guys, the White Sox are a bad team. The present will be painful. The future could be a lot of fun.
Los Angeles Dodgers
DEADLINE ADDITIONS: What do you give the team that’s already 43 games above .500 and is 62-19 in its last 81 games? How about perhaps the best available starter on the market?
In acquiring Yu Darvish from Texas just before the 4 p.m. ET deadline, the Dodgers can now roll out Clayton Kershaw and Darvish for the first two games of any playoff series. Picking up lefties Tony Watson and Tony Cingrani are two sneaky good moves that will aid the bullpen.
WHAT’S MISSING: A clean bill of health for the starting rotation. All of them, even Kershaw and Darvish, can land on the DL with seemingly every pitch. Otherwise, what’s not to like? This team may have the best depth 1-through-25 on its roster.
New York Yankees
DEADLINE ADDITIONS: Taking a page from the Cubs’ and Indians’ playbooks last October, general manager Brian Cashman loaded up on pitching. Robertson and Kahnle only beef up an already deep bullpen.
The big move was acquiring Sonny Gray from Oakland, giving the Yankees a sorely needed front-line starter. The move comes with one caveat, though: Gray’s numbers throughout his career are worse against AL East opposition. Guess where he’s pitching now?
WHAT’S MISSING: The rest of the starting rotation is a bit underwhelming — Hello, Jaime Garcia, nabbed from Minnesota on Sunday — and also subject to injuries. However, if New York makes the postseason and can take a lead to the sixth inning, look out.
DEADLINE SUBTRACTIONS: The Tigers have finally dipped their toes into the water of an overdue rebuild. But the Martinez trade didn’t net enough return, a bad way to start what could be a hard process.
Detroit did better with Sunday night’s shipping of reliever Justin Wilson and catcher Alex Avila to the Chicago Cubs. Jeimer Candelario could give the team a better option at third base than Nick Castellanos next year, and 18-year-old shortstop Isaac Paredes has held his own in the Midwest League.
WHAT’S MISSING: Justin Verlander‘s contract meant there was no real chance he would be dealt. It also means trading him over the winter won’t be easy, not with that average salary or the diminishing returns. The organization has to commit more than what it did this July to properly restock the organization.
DEADLINE ADDITIONS: It didn’t matter what they did or didn’t do at the deadline. The Astros are going to win the AL West. But there is a growing sentiment that their pitching staff might come up short in October.
However, all they could come up with at the deadline was Francisco Liriano, the Toronto starter having another rough year. The plan is to have him come out of the bullpen to give them a second lefty, but can he adjust to bullpen life after a career of starting?
WHAT’S MISSING: Word was they tried hard to pry Zack Britton from Baltimore, which would have given them the lockdown closer they needed in October. But the price of poker was apparently too high and Houston opted to hold the hand it has. Which is overwhelming for now, but might not be enough this fall.
DEADLINE ADDITIONS: That the Brewers are only 2 1/2 games out of first place in the NL Central is a surprise, and that they led the division for much of the first half was a bigger shocker.
Milwaukee was at one time tied closely to Sonny Gray, who would have loved a reunion with his college pitching coach, Derek Johnson. But general manager David Stearns drew the line at top outfield prospect Lewis Brinson, and wasn’t willing to cross it. So the Brewers settled for beefing up the bullpen with Jeremy Jeffress and Anthony Swarzak.
WHAT’S MISSING: The front-line starter that Gray would have provided. Beating the Cubs probably wouldn’t happen with or without Gray, but not adding him lessened their chances. That puts even more pressure on a bullpen that has been up and down.
DEADLINE SUBTRACTIONS: General manager Jon Daniels decided this team wasn’t going anywhere as currently constituted, so they backed up the truck. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy departed for Colorado, followed by Jeffress and the last-minute stunner involving Darvish.
A team that is still theoretically in striking distance of the second wild-card spot has basically cashed it in. The message that sent to its fans can logically be questioned, although Daniels’ track record doesn’t exactly scream Norv Turner.
WHAT’S MISSING: The return for Darvish was OK, with second baseman Willie Calhoun the prize of the bunch, but it wasn’t a dollar-for-dollar swap, either. It’s hard to see the Rangers going to an all-out rebuild, but it’s all right to wonder what their next step is going to be in the offseason.
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