There are 30 Major League Baseball teams, 10 playoff spots, and anything can happen in August — but a great trade can make you a whole lot more confident about the postseason or the years beyond. In the weeks leading up to the non-waiver trade deadline, there was plenty of speculation about who would be packing their bags to head to a new city: Where would Baltimore's Manny Machado end up? (Los Angeles). Would the Nationals let go of Bryce Harper? (No). Who would get starter Chris Archer from Tampa Bay? (You'll never guess).
Now that the Tuesday deadline has passed, we have the answers. Here are the winners and losers of the 2018 trade deadline.
Winner: The AL West
There is nothing more boring than an unequal division (sorry, Orioles fans), but thankfully there is quite the race heating up in the American League West over the second wild card spot, and it's about to get a lot more exciting thanks to some late trade deadline moves. The Oakland Athletics came out of nowhere to be one of the most exciting teams heading into August, and they didn't have to give up much to acquire an impressive relief arm in the Mets' Jeurys Familia. The Seattle Mariners aren't letting the A's intimidate them, though: Their top acquisition ahead of the trade deadline was Adam Warren, a solid Yankee bullpen arm that the M's retrieved for international signing bonus pool money. Pitching battles are always great, and these teams still have 10 more games against each other before the season ends.
Loser: Kansas City Royals
Even though the Kansas City Royals are looking to rebuild, they didn't have much they were willing to offer to buying teams ahead of the trade deadline. Their biggest move was the sale of Mike Moustakas to the Brewers, in return for MLB-ready outfielder Brett Phillips and right-hander Jorge Lopez. Despite being one of the worst teams in baseball, the Royals made the dubious decision to hold onto their Whit Merrifield chip, preventing them from making anymore moves towards the future during the waiver-free trade frenzy.
Loser: The Houston Astros clubhouse
The Toronto Blue Jays passed off closer Roberto Osuna to the Houston Astros on Monday night, reigniting criticism of MLB's policy of allowing accused domestic violence perpetrators to play in the postseason even as PED violators are barred. Although Osuna is still under a criminal investigation in which he has pleaded not guilty to an assault charge, MLB determined the allegations credible enough to give him a 75-game suspension, which will end on Aug. 5. Members of the Astros clubhouse have traditionally been outspoken about abusers having no place in the sport, and an uncomfortable Justin Verlander fielded questions about the perhaps less-than-welcome addition to the team on Monday night. If ultimately convicted, Osuna could also spend more time away from the field and face complications in traveling to away games.
Loser: Baltimore's bang for their buck
The Orioles slept on their opportunity to get big returns ahead of deadline season, a decision that became increasingly obvious in their late July trading. Although the team made one of the most anticipated moves of July — sending All-Star Manny Machado to the Dodgers in return for prospects — the trade was still considered a great deal for Los Angeles, with Baltimore coming up shorter than they would have if they'd shopped Machado in the offseason or last year. The O's also sent Cy Young finalist Zach Britton to their division rival, the New York Yankees, in return for a handful of minor league pitchers, another move that was likely too little too late for a truly great return. Center fielder Adam Jones is another piece they've probably waited too long to offload (he said he wouldn't approve a move to Philadelphia). The team made several other trades, including sending pitchers Kevin Gausman, Brad Brach, and Darren O'Day to the Braves for prospects, and second baseman Jonathan Schoop to the Brewers for prospects and infielder Jonathan Villar.
Winner: New York Yankees
The New York Yankees forked over good talent for rental starter J.A. Happ, roped in Baltimore's Zach Britton to cement the best bullpen in the Major Leagues, and scooped up Luke Voit as a possible DH while Aaron Judge is out. On Monday night, they additionally took right-hander Lance Lynn from Minnesota, a move that received a muted reception from fans but offers upside given Lynn's track record before 2018. Even when you consider giving up up-and-coming hitters Brandon Drury and Billy McKinney to Toronto for Happ, it's an open question whether either would have seen much time in the Bronx anyway. By the trade deadline, the Yankees had solidly patched up a pitching hole in their rotation, made the scariest bullpen in baseball downright terrifying, and ensured Judge can take whatever time he needs to get healthy. Wins all around.
Loser: Baseballs at Tropicana Field
Pour one out for the poor baseballs at Tropicana Field — they are about to be obliterated by outfielder Tommy Pham. The former Cardinal was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays in return for three prospects, a move that raised a few eyebrows with the Florida team 21 games back. Even though Pham has wilted a bit this year, the Rays appear confident that his 2017 season was not a fluke. They might be onto something — his hard-hit ball percentage is a whopping 47.5 percent this year, putting him somewhere in the range of Mike Trout and Aaron Judge. That's gotta hurt.
Winner: Manny Machado
Versatility is valuable at the trade deadline, and there is no better example than Manny Machado, who is back on third base with the Los Angeles Dodgers despite only playing shortstop during his time with the Baltimore Orioles. Although the Golden Glove-winning former third baseman had insisted "I'm a shortstop, I play shortstop" when asked if he'd change positions in early July, Machado is now joking: "I came here for a couple of months, and it was to try to help this team win in whatever way I could — whether it's third base, outfield, second, wherever it is." That flexibility and good sportsmanship means he could be playing in a division series this October for the first time since 2012.
Loser: San Francisco Giants beat writers
It was an insane trade deadline, but there has been nothing but crickets from AT&T Park. It appears that the San Francisco Giants are the only team in the Major Leagues to have made no trades since the All-Star break, Joe Sheehan reports. That doesn't mean there won't be some excitement in the future — Andrew McCutchen could very likely be moved in August — but for a completely chaotic July 31st, things were quiet by the Bay.
Winner: New York Mets fans
Aces Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard are staying in New York for the time being, eliciting a sigh of relief from anxious Mets fans, who knew their team was in the mood to sell. While there have been plenty of rumors in the past month about their imminent departures — with the Mets 12.5 games back, and a less-than-ideal farm system, anyone should be fair game — the fan favorites nevertheless survived the deadline. Still, it might have been best in the long run if the Mets went back to square one in their rebuild and dropped deGrom while he can still fetch peak value. While the fans win this round, this might ultimately end up being an L for the team.
Loser: Washington Nationals
The Washington Nationals had a choice to make before 4 p.m. on Tuesday: Do they go after one last playoff chase in the Bryce Harper era? Or do they face the music — they are back six games in the NL East — and start converting soon-to-be free agents like Gio Gonzalez, Shawn Kelley, Ryan Madson, Kelvin Herrera, Jeremy Hellickson, and Harper, into future potential? By doing basically nothing ahead of the trade deadline — right-handed reliever Brandon Kintzler went to the Cubs about an hour before the deadline in exchange for a pitching prospect — the Nationals squandered the opportunity, even after having reportedly made it known to other teams that Harper was available.
Winner: Dramatic irony
The Pittsburgh Pirates win this trade deadline's Head-Desk Award with their surprise last-minute get of Rays right-hander Chris Archer. In the offseason, the Pirates traded away top starter Gerrit Cole and bat Andrew McCutchen with their eyes on an overhaul, but seven games out of first place in the National League Central they have abruptly decided to make a push for it anyway, pick up Archer, and hand over top prospects Austin Meadows and Tyler Glasnow in the process. Yes — that means they gave up more for Archer than they got for Cole. Despite being the biggest pitcher realistically on the table at the deadline, Archer had a 6.61 ERA coming out of April (although it's since bobbed that back down to 4.31 as he's been solid since coming off the DL), and Cole, by comparison, has an ERA of 2.55 over with the Astros. "The Pirates are officially moving up in my power rankings of teams I don't understand," tweeted The Athletic's Lindsey Adler.