The MLB trade deadline has come and gone. Which feels strange, since we’ve been talking about it around here since May or so. But pencils are now down.
The Mets and Yankees are pretty much finished products, save some call-ups and potential waiver claims. These are the teams that will bid to win the World Series come October.
Some post-deadline thoughts …
The Yankees did tremendous work. General manager Brian Cashman had a great deadline while working within owner Hal Steinbrenner’s parameters and protecting the team’s top prospects. Frankie Montas is the starter they desperately needed. Scott Effross and Lou Trivino will be valuable bullpen pieces. Andrew Benintendi is a colossal upgrade once he starts hitting. And the Harrison Bader move was inspired (as long as he’s healthy come crunch time). The Yankees have strengthened their pitching and they are better equipped to play defense and put the ball in play. That’s how you win in the postseason. I do think they should feel better about their championship aspirations post-deadline.
The Mets did curious work. They added some bats — Tyler Naquin, Darin Ruf, Daniel Vogelbach — but not the big bopper to slide in every day and protect Pete Alonso. They added to the bullpen, but they got a righty (Mychal Givens) when they needed a lefty.
General manager Billy Eppler did not make a big splash, which was surprising because everyone figured owner Steve Cohen wanted that. But then again, outside of Juan Soto and Luis Castillo there really were no big splashes. And if the Cubs were making ridiculous demands for Willson Contreras, that’s how it goes. The Mets weren’t going to jeopardize their farm system for a quick boost. It wasn’t a great deadline for the Amazins. But the outcry in some corners made you think the Wilpons were back. That’s probably an overreaction. As long as Jacob deGrom is good to go — and he looked like he is on Tuesday night — the Mets will be fine.
The one guy one of the locals should have traded for. Whit Merrifield would not have been an obvious fit for either the Mets or Yankees. But he’s a versatile, winning player who will prove invaluable to the Blue Jays the rest of the way. He would have made a big impact on either side of town.
We’ll try again for Juan Soto in 2025. If the Mets and Yankees weren’t going to trade for Soto, the Padres feel like an ideal landing spot for future pursuit. There’s no way Scott Boras is not going to have Soto hit free agency. And once he’s there, we doubt the Padres re-sign him. This feels like a three-year sprint to win a World Series and then smile because it happened rather than cry because it’s over. I don’t necessarily think either team will get Soto, but they will have a puncher’s chance.
The new playoff format is winning me over. We’ve got 11 teams either in wild card position or within two games, plus the division leaders. Teams in the middle of the pack are going for it. It was disappointing the Orioles sold, though. And a Braves-Padres best-of-three will be electric if we get it. I was skeptical that MLB was creeping toward the everyone-gets-in feel of the NBA and NHL when it went to six teams in each league. And I still am skeptical. But this regular season feels exciting. If that translates into good games in October — and more enticing matchups — I’ll be fully on board.
The final word on Joey Gallo. He is, by all accounts, a nice guy who tried hard, but his inflexible hitting approach and the pressures of New York rendered him incapable of functioning here. That’s OK. And even though the Dodgers are very much expecting to play pressure-packed baseball in October, the laissez faire atmosphere in Los Angeles will certainly benefit Gallo. But it’s not like the Yankees has a sudden epiphany with Gallo. Even if they tried to make it feel that way after the Subway Series incident.
Gallo couldn’t show his face on the streets of Manhattan because Boone and Cashman tortured him by keeping him around. They could have designated him for assignment weeks ago. They could have traded him for a prospect of Clayton Beeter’s caliber weeks ago. It’s fair to feel pity for Gallo and wish him well, but let’s not act like this is all a creation of the nasty New York fans and media. This whole debacle is largely on Cashman and Boone.
James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]