The 2019 Major League Baseball trading deadline came in with a flurry and left like a tornado. Leading up to July 31st rumors were swirling all over the place, especially around the Yankees, whose pitchers were battered like a pinata over the ten days leading up to the deadline. They were knocked around at levels not seen since the 1930's Yankees.
That's going back "a bit of a while".
The deadline rumors were so hot there was talk the Yankees and Mets might make a real trade, actually swapping starting players. The Mets and Yankees have never made a significant trade as each team is deathly afraid of being on the wrong side of sending Lou Brock or Nolan Ryan to a cross-town rival in exchange for players who end up coaching Division II baseball two to three years down the line.
In addition to not ending up with players that can help your team for years to come, while giving up players who help your cross-town rival win a World Series or two, the back pages of the daily tabloids would have a field day for years at the expense of the team that ended up on the short side of a deal such as this between the two clubs.
While Jacob DeGrom, Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres were off limits, there were whispers the Mets were going to trade Noah Syndergaard to the Yankees for Miguel Andujar, Clint Frazier and a high-end prospect. Steven Matz' name was also thrown into the mix in a couple of scenarios.
While that doesn't rise to the level of Ted Williams for Joe DiMaggio, the aforementioned rumored trades between the Mets and the Yankees had the potential of being franchise-altering deals for both teams for years to come.
There was added credence to these deals happening as the Yankees were rumored to be seriously interested in trading for Marcus Stroman, Madison Bumgarner or Zack Greinke. Or some combination of two of these three starting pitchers. Any one of which would have bolstered a shaky Yankee staff that at the time had no idea when ace Luis Severino was going to make his 2019 pitching debut.
For the first time in quite a while, the Yankees did not have much leverage at the trading deadline.
Not only did the Yankees and Mets not make a trade of any significance, or one at all for that matter, the Mets scooped the Yankees by trading for Marcus Stroman. Talk about an unexpected move! Instead of being sellers, the Mets fooled everyone in baseball and became buyers. In the process the Mets put a crimp in the Yankees plans by stealing a player away from them right under their nose.
Adding insult to injury, Zack Greinke made it clear the day of the trading deadline he was not going to waive his no-trade clause and allow himself to be traded to the Yankees. If that wasn't bad enough, he ended up being dealt to the Houston Astros, who have recently become a bit of a bitter rival of the Yankees.
As if the Astros needed more good players!
The trade of Zack Greinke from the Arizona Diamondbacks to the Houston Astros ironically echoed one of the famous things Yogi Berra said he didn't say; "It feels like déjà vu all over again."
It was erily similar to the Astros trading for Justin Verlander on August 31st, 2017, when they somehow snuck him through the waiver wire at the last minute. All he did after that was win Game 7 of the ALCS against the Yankees and help lead the Astros to the franchise's first World Series Championship.
How many Yankee fans had a mild panic attack envisioning Zack Greinke doing the same for the Astros in 2019? It doesn't help that Justin Verlander is still pitching for the Astros and is in serious contention for the 2019 Cy Young award.
Despite cooling off a bit after a hot streak in early to mid-July that put the San Francisco Giants within shouting distance of a wild card, Giants' management decided to hold onto Madison Bumgarner by turning down all comers who were looking West for some gold to put them over the playoff hump.
The trade for Stroman, combined with the relief of not trading one of their better pitchers, catapulted the Mets to a hot streak the club hasn't seen since it's magical ride to the 2015 World Series. They have arguably been the best team in baseball since the trading deadline and are now within spitting distance of a wild card berth. It has been argued the Atlanta Braves and the National League East division crown are not out of the realm of possibility for the revitalized Mets.
After trading for Zack Greinke, the Astros are now neck and neck with the Yankees for the best record in the American League and the vaunted home field advantage throughout the playoffs. This is not insignificant as there is nary a Yankee fan who can forget the Yankees were up three games to two in the 2017 ALCS before having to head to Houston for games six and seven. A part of the reason those games did not go well for the Bombers can certainly be attributed to playing on the road in a hostile environment.
The trade deadline seems to have made as significant an impact on the pennant race as it has in years. When considering some of the blockbuster trades that have been made in the past, that's saying something.
The Yankees clearly do not want to repeat in 2019 the scenario that played out in 2017. The Astros would be giddy about events playing out in the same manner. The Mets are beside themselves with joy as they are in the thick of the wild card race, and possibly in a division race.
It should be extremely interesting as August rolls into September and October approaches.
Strap yourselves in baseball fans, it could be a wild ride!