Major League Baseball changed the plan and now it’s a trade deadline. We always labeled this a non-waiver deadline, but that all changed Friday prior to 4:00 PM when, as the clock ticked, 80 players changed uniforms. Ten All-Stars from rosters of the NL and AL are elsewhere Saturday morning.
The Cubs and Nationals combined to trade 17 players and were in an obvious selling mode as they cleaned house.
Yes, this was an unprecedented deadline. The complexion of teams changed and it was hit the refresh button on Twitter feeds which became a reliable source of buzz and reality.
The Yankees made a splash and changed the complexion of their lineup with the additions of first baseman Anthony Rizzo and outfielder Joey Gallo. It does make a difference adding two left handed hitters, a perfect fit for that short right field porch at Yankee Stadium.
The Mets added Two-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner Javier Baez. He joins Francisco Lindor, a childhood friend from Puerto Rico and World Baseball Classic double play partner that made a splash when Puerto Rico competed in the WBC.
The reality, though, is these deadline trades improved both teams. More importantly, Baez will command short as Lindor recovers from an oblique strain and then will shift to second when the Mets shortstop returns. The Mets got an impact player that can help them as they continue their hold on first place in a division that is still up for grabs with the Phillies and Braves in reach.
The deadline also sent a statement as the Braves and Phillies went shopping for pitching and outfield help. They were not alone as teams in contention beat the deadline and went shopping in what is expected to be an interesting stretch run for Major League Baseball.
Recall, the 2015 deadline, then non-waiver, and the Mets went shopping. I first reported here at NYsportsday, the Mets were on the verge of obtaining Yoenis Cespedes who would eventually become an impact bat in their lineup. Cespedes’ numbers lived up to expectations and the Mets came up short to the Royals in their quest for their first World Series title since 1986.
Then, it was a different time as the economics of baseball have since changed with contracts and an item known as a luxury tax threshold. It is apparent acquisitions for the Mets and Yankees did not put them over that threshold limit.
So they went shopping to improve and the Yankees are realistic in their chances for one or two AL wild cards that are within reach. Any chance of catching the division leading Red Sox is highly improbable, unless the Yankees play close to .700 ball these remaining eight weeks.
But the Yankees are always realistic and obsessed with playing baseball deep into October, which reflects again the never ending efforts of GM Brian Cashman with the acquisitions of Gallo and Rizzo.
The underachieving Yankees went shopping and obtained Andrew Heaney, a left handed pitcher from the Angels. They got another good bullpen arm with the addition of right hander Clay Holmes from the Pirates. Again, the Yankees were not concerned and did not exceed their salary threshold. Cashman and the Yankees made their splash.
Sandy Alderson was instrumental in his first stint with the Mets and obtained Cespedes at a cost at that 2015 deadline. This deadline was different because the Mets had needs to boost their rotation or add another pitcher for the bullpen and six years later the economics are different.
The Mets made their splash with Baez, though the Twitter feeds from a fan base praised their billionaire owner Steve Cohen for making a move. Baez, though, on some Twitter feeds, was not the preferred choice at the expense of trading outfield prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong, a 19-year old who is a few years away, and that had to be resentment of a previous regime that obtained the high salary and underachieving Robinson Cano from the Mariners for highly touted prospects.
Alderson said Friday, pitching, a need for the Mets, is difficult to obtain. To get, you have to give and the balance was not an even scale in a market to buy an arm that was not under team control and looked upon as a borrowed player.
In a way, this is the ups and downs of baseball economics and the trade deadline as the Mets made their last minute splash for Javer Baez.
“This was about sustaining success,” Alderson said. “We had to balance, I guess some always do, the present with the future. We gave up a really good prospect but we weren’t prepared to sell the farm.”
Baez is expected to be penciled in the Mets lineup Saturday night. Despite a high strikeout ratio, Baez is hitting .248 with 22 home runs.
The Cubs made Baez available as they cleaned house of their 2016 roster that ended a long World Series drought and delivered a title to Wrigley Field.
As the deadline approached, Lindor was petitioning the Mets front office to make make that splash and get Baez as a teammate, which adds another dimension and improvement to a Mets lineup that averages four runs per game but has improved since the All-Star break. The Mets now sit fifth in the league with a ,272 team batting average.
“I couldn’t be happier,” Lindor said. “I’m going to be playing alongside a good friend of mine, a great person, a great baseball player, and somebody who’s going to help us win. It can’t get any better. I’m very happy. I can’t wait for him to come out here and put on a show for everybody.”
So the Mets improved despite not picking up a possible starter for their rotation. There is, however, continued concern of not having two-time NL CY Young Award winner Jacob deGrom for another month as he is still experiencing inflammation in his right elbow.
Explaining the trade for Baez, interim GM Zack Scott made reference to the versatility of Baez, Jeff McNeil, J.D. Davis, and Dominic Smith. “That alone will allow us to find the best spot for everyone,” Scott said. “There are some extra things he (Baez) has that make him unique. He’s played in an environment where there were expectations to win. He’s won. He’s not going to back down from this kind of market. He’s going to thrive in it.”
“I’ve always been a fan of his [Baez] from afar,” said manager Luis Rojas about his newest addition to the lineup.
Now Rojas does not have to look far. Javier Baez will be penciled in his lineup and for the Mets and that eventual World Baseball Classic reunion in the infield will be an important cog for their success down the stretch.
Yes, this was a trade deadline splash for the Mets and Yankees. Then again, some trades work and some don’t but this splash Friday was a good one.
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