The trade deadline has come and gone. It was marked by a striking lack of activity from some particularly talented teams, and then a final splash by the Astros in the waning minutes. Let SI's MLB experts—Jon Tayler, Emma Baccellieri, Matt Martell and Connor Grossman—take you through the biggest moments of baseball's busiest day.
5:42 p.m.: Parting thoughts from the staff on a strange and hectic day.
Jon Tayler: What looked to be a snoozer of a deadline got a needle full of adrenaline right to the heart at the last second, highlighted by Houston's big and bold Zack Greinke play. But for the most part, this was a July 31 that felt like Augusts of years previous, littered with minor trades designed to fill smaller roster holes. Getting rid of the waiver trade deadline pushed all that business up a month, and while there were some fireworks at the end, it's disappointing that so many teams did so little, particularly those—looking at you, Yankees and Dodgers—who should've made a splash to boost their World Series chances.
Emma Baccellieri: With Greinke + co., Houston is now looking scary-good... which is only heightened by the fact that there was so little activity from other contenders. Red Sox? Dodgers? Yankees? It's striking that there were so many teams who didn't make obviously needed upgrades—or even try to go for modest ones! Adding a reliever doesn't have to mean paying up for Will Smith or Felipe Vazquez, for instance. But we do, at the very least, have some more interesting wild-card races now.
Matt Martell: This deadline came down to three big blockbuster moves on three separate days—Stroman, Bauer, then Greinke—but there were a slew of lesser moves that could make a huge difference in the playoff races. It's also a shock that a number of first-place teams didn't make a splash. The Yankees, Cardinals and Dodgers didn't do much of anything to improve their rosters. The Twins upgraded their bullpen, but the real winners besides the Astros were wild-card contenders: the Giants, Nationals, Phillies, Indians and Rays.
4:58 p.m.: The Zack Greinke deal shades of Verlander two years ago, barely getting across the finish line in time. The Cubs trade away a reliever and Bumgarner seemingly confirms a deal was never close.
4:40 p.m.: Cleaning up loose ends on other deals of note:
4:23 p.m.: More deals rolling in late: Scooter Gennett to the Giants and San Francisco reliever Sam Dyson heads to Minnesota.
Jon Tayler: That's another nice pickup for the Giants. What a good deadline for Farhan Zaidi.
Emma Baccellieri: This is something I've never thought about before: Can a no-trade clause include a provision about... what it means to waive it? Like, it feels weird if teams can play games with giving you absolutely no time to waive it but also weird if a player can say "I need.... three weeks to think about it, and then I'll get back to you."
4:14 p.m.: A stunner: Zack Greinke traded to the Astros, per The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal.
Emma Baccellieri: AHHHH
Jon Tayler: DEADLINE BACK, BABY.
Matt Martell: Astros are the World Series favorites. Have to be. Game Over.
4:09 p.m.: More buzzer beaters: Nick Castellanos to the Cubs, Aaron Sanchez to the Astros
4:07 p.m.: The Yankees made a pitching move and the Rays and Marlins got a deal in at the buzzer. Also, a late rumbling about Blue Jays pitcher Aaron Sanchez.
Jon Tayler: BIG MOVE.
Emma Baccellieri: Oh hey HERE's the Yankees pitching move we've been waiting for!!
4:00 p.m.: The deadline has arrived. Here's what we know right now.
Jon Tayler: Literally nothing but relievers today. What a bummer.
3:46 p.m.: The Braves added another arm to their bullpen, this time from the Giants.
Emma Baccellieri: I completely forgot about him.
Jon Tayler: So the Giants got rid of their fourth- and fifth-best relievers. Impressive work by Farhan Zaidi.
Matt Martell: The Giants have to be considered winners at this deadline, right?
Jon Tayler: Yes, they've done quite well. Got a very nice piece in Dubon for Pomeranz and Black, got out from Melancon's contract, kept the stars, still viable wild-card contenders.
Emma Baccellieri: I realize there's not SO much left on that contract anymore to make it a serious stumbling block, but wow, I'm impressed the Giants moved him.
3:40 p.m.: If nothing of note happens in the next 20 minutes, who are the three biggest losers of this deadline?
Jon Tayler: Yankees, Dodgers, and uh, honestly a lot of teams. Every contender had at least one hole they needed to fill and all of them aside from the Nationals and Braves didn't do that.
Matt Martell: The Astros
Jon Tayler: Oooh. The Twins. They're a big old loser.
Emma Baccellieri: Oh yeah, the Twins! Sheesh. I haven't heard them linked to anything all day.
3:31 p.m.: Oh, Mets.
Jon Tayler: Thirty minutes to the deadline and the Mets are trying to sell and buy at the same time. Remarkable work there.
Emma Baccellieri: Me facing any deadline in college.
Jon Tayler: The best player traded today so far has been Shane Greene. Man.
Emma Baccellieri: I can't believe the Red Sox haven't picked up even a fringe-y reliever
3:15 p.m.: The Dodgers didn't address their bullpen needs, instead opting for another position player apparently.
Matt Martell: This is interesting.
Jon Tayler: Man, how many multi-position players do the Dodgers need? I wonder what that means regarding Chris Taylor's return date.
Emma Baccellieri: Also, wait, isn't Gyorko hurt?
Matt Martell: Gyorko is waiting to begin his rehab assignment, but is technically ready to do so. The Cards basically transferred him to the 60-day IL and said sit tight. This has to mean another move is coming, right? For the Cards?
Emma Baccellieri: I'd imagine so...
Jon Tayler: I'd imagine this is just St. Louis clearing dead weight off the books or they prefer Tommy Edman as the utility infielder—Gyorko is a free agent next year anyway (or will be when his team option gets declined).
3:11 p.m.: A "big" relief name is about to be off the board, according to Ken Rosenthal.
Jon Tayler: Greene is Fine with a capital F. Kind of think the Braves should be aiming higher, though.
Matt Martell: At some point, though, the Braves have to get somebody in their bullpen, and Vazquez and Giles are probably the only two guys on the market who are better (if the Giants don't deal Smith).
Jon Tayler: The price is probably best on Greene, though he feels like a ticking time bomb given how wildly he's outperformed his peripherals. A cutter-sinker-slider pitcher, he relies on weak groundballs to generate outs, though he's upped his swinging-strike rate by quite a bit from last year (8.4% in 2018 to 11.1 this season). A lot of that seems thanks to his slider, which is getting way more vertical movement this year, so maybe that's something you can bank on going forward. Still the Braves needed someone, even if it's not one of the elite options, and Greene is far from the worst choice.
3:00 p.m.: We're an hour out from the deadline. Nothing too crazy has gone down—yet. How will the next 60 minutes unfold?
Jon Tayler: Nothing big happens as the August-in-July deadline continues. The prices on guys like Ray, Bumgarner and Smith seem too high. The best player moved is Zack Wheeler, but that's it.
Matt Martell: The Yankees get Zack Wheeler from the Mets for Clint Frazier, Miguel Andjuar, Clark Schmidt and PTBNL.
Jon Tayler: If Brian Cashman pays that much for a rental starter, I'll eat my dog's food every meal for a month.
Emma Baccellieri: I would love to see some huge splashy deadline crasher come through... but I don't think it is, unfortunately. I do think we'll see Vazquez to the Dodgers, since that just seems to make too much sense not to.
2:51 p.m.: The Phillies added a productive piece for their outfield by picking up Corey Dickerson from the Pirates.
Jon Tayler: Makes sense. The Phillies have roughly two functional outfielders at the moment and Dickerson probably cost next to zero.
Matt Martell: Dickerson has shown recently that he's healthy after being injured for most of the first half. He's slashing .328/.391/.557 in July. Great add for the Phillies.
2:37 p.m.: The Nationals have acquired former Bryce Harper nemesis Hunter Strickland—the team's third bullpen addition in the last hour or so.
Jon Tayler: Every Nationals-Phillies game is now must-watch.
Emma Baccellieri: Yessssssssss
2:33 p.m.: The ever-sneaky A's have bolstered their pitching staff.
Jon Tayler: The A's have never met a back-of-the-rotation starter they didn't want to use for two months down the stretch, and Roark very much fits that bill. His cost is likely minimal, Oakland could always use an extra starter, and the Reds' acquisition of Trevor Bauer pushed him out of Cincinnati's starting five, so this makes sense all the way around.
Man, so far this deadline has been a lot of marginal upgrades that you probably would've seen in August in years previous. No big names or blockbusters as of yet today, and we've only got 90 minutes to go.
2:29 p.m.: Instead of a reunion with former Brewers reliever Will Smith, Milwaukee snags Drew Pomeranz from the Giants' bullpen in addition to hard-throwing pitcher Ray Black.
Matt Martell: This is a steal for the Giants. The Giants get the Brewers' No. 3 prospect. Middle infielder who could help the Giants win now. His Triple-A numbers are very good: .279 BA, .809 OPS, 16 HR.
Emma Baccellieri: Well, color me confused. Dubon is one of Milwaukee's top prospects (middle infield—Giants could clearly use the help there) and sounds to be very close to major-league ready.
Jon Tayler: So calling Pomeranz to the Brewers "significant" is just a tiny bit of an overstatement, but this is a very good trade for the Giants, who give up a middling arm in Pomeranz (albeit one that's been far better in relief) and a pure thrower in Black for a highly regarded infielder in Dubon, who can definitely help now. Milwaukee keeps adding pitching to try to bolster a bullpen, and Pomeranz has seen his velocity spike since leaving the rotation, but this feels like an overpay for an inconsistent, injury-prone pitcher who isn't an impact piece.
2:11 p.m.: The Nationals added another bullpen arm in Mariners reliever Roenis Elias, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
Connor Grossman: Can we give the Nationals some credit for addressing a weakness like some other teams seem unwiling to do?
Emma Baccellieri: Yeah, I'm liking today so far for the Nats! They so sorely needed this relief depth, and they've gotten out to get it—neither of these additions are particular flashy, but they're not giving up much to get them (assuming there isn't anything notable about the return for Elias, which... does, in fact, feel safe to assume) and their biggest weakness is now very clearly stronger than it was a few hours ago.
Jon Tayler: Fun Roenis Elias fact: This is the third time that GM Jerry Dipoto has made a trade involving him.
Matt Martell: Yes, the Nationals get credit for addressing a weakness, although to be fair to the others, the Nats' bullpen has to be the biggest weakness of any contender. I think they're going to benefit from both of these trades, even if Hudson's peripherals aren't encouraging and Elias struggled earlier this month. Personally, I really like Elias, whose 4.40 ERA is somewhat inflated due to two rough outings in this month.
Jon Tayler: Yeah, Elias is nothing special, but he doesn't have to be for the Nationals, who simply need depth and stability. This has been a good day for them: two useful relievers acquired at low cost, especially given how none of their NL East or wild-card competition has done anything to better themselves of yet.
2:00 p.m.: Reliever Daniel Hudson is on the move, reportedly heading from the Blue Jays to the Nationals.
Matt Martell: Good move for the Nationals. Any bullpen move would help them out, but Hudson is a significant upgrade over almost everybody they're throwing out there right now.
Emma Baccellieri: Johnston's a 23-year-old in High-A right now.
Matt Martell: Welp.
Jon Tayler: Yeah, rentals just aren't worth anything right now.
Emma Baccellieri: In keeping with that, Johnston is not on the Nationals' prospect list at Baseball Prospectus, Baseball America, or FanGraphs.
Jon Tayler: As far as budget relief options go, you could do worse than Hudson. His peripherals are pedestrian—48 strikeouts and 23 walks in 48 innings—but he throws hard, with a 96-mph fastball that has crazy amounts of spin, and his slider gets a good amount of swings and misses. Plus, the Nationals gave up nothing to get him and will only owe him $500,000 or so for the rest of the season, so this won't affect their ability to pick up additional relief help.
For the Blue Jays, better something than nothing for a 32-year-old reliever who was going to be a free agent at the end of the season, I guess. Still, it's another sign of just how undervalued rental players have become in this market that all a useful pitcher returns is a 23-year-old non-prospect pitcher who has yet to reach Double A.
1:31 p.m.: Do the Yankees and Dodgers have to make moves to address their pitching woes? Are they losers of the deadline otherwise?
Jon Tayler: I feel like both teams definitely should make moves, and right now they'd be my losers if nothing happens if only because they have obvious needs that didn't go filled. New York can make noise about getting back Dellin Betances and Luis Severino and that being just as good as a trade, but that's spin. I don't know what Los Angeles' excuse will be, but they can't let this day go by without adding at least some relief help.
Matt Martell: I think they both have to make moves, but they don't have to be the biggest names, though that's preferable. The Dodgers could fill their bullpen with multiple lesser guys (Roenis Elias from Seattle, Daniel Hudson).
Emma Baccellieri: I don't think they're necessarily losers, but I do think it's Not Great. The Yankees' need for a little extra rotation depth has been clear for a long time, and it's frankly strange to me that it hasn't been addressed already. (Sure, Severino's reportedly about to return to fill that out, but who knows just how long it might take for him to get all the way back to tip-top shape?) The Dodgers' bullpen need seems a little less pressing to me, though certainly still something to address, and I would be really surprised if they don't come away today with someone.
Jon Tayler: I think the Dodgers could certainly survive with an Elias or a Hudson, though at a certain point, coming off two straight World Series losses, don't you want to do everything in your power to avoid a third? If that means sacrificing one of your top prospects for Felipe Vazquez, isn't that worth it?
Not that Vazquez is a guarantee of a title, but he's a way better bet to help you get there than second-tier options like Elias or Hudson.
12:59 p.m.: Catcher Martin Maldonado is on the move—again—according to ESPN's Jeff Passan. He's heading to the Astros and utilityman Tony Kemp will go to the Cubs in return.
Jon Tayler: Three hours to go and it's hard to imagine anyone topping this Maldonado blockbuster.
Emma Baccellieri: Kemp was recently part of a pretty fun gender reveal.
Jon Tayler: So the cubs are getting Kemp and a PTBN very later.
Matt Martell: This is a solid depth-for-depth trade that could be good for both teams. The Cubs love utility guys and Kemp could help them out at 2B and in the corner outfield. Also, the Astros need catching depth behind Chirinos. Smart move to go get a guy they know, especially because they didn't have room for Kemp.
Emma Baccellieri: Seems pretty straightforward for both sides—after letting Brian McCann walk this winter, Houston never really made any move to fill out their depth at catcher, and they could use another reliable option to back up Robinson Chirinos besides Max Stassi
Also, this is the kind of deal that I felt like we were going to see today since it can no longer happen in August. Is this beginning of the fringe-y depth-additions-for-contenders flood??
Jon Tayler: It's weird on Houston's part because they let Maldonado walk this winter, replacing him and McCann with Chirinos but, as Emma noted, never adding any depth beyond that. He can't hit at all, but he knows the pitchers, and Kemp—who was DFA'd last week—isn't much to give up. Equally weird on the Cubs' part is that they gave up Mike Montgomery, a useful lefty, for all of four games of Maldonado before cutting him loose. Maybe Montgomery was a bad fit as a guy who wanted to start, but it's still a confusing use of resources, though as Matt noted, Kemp has versatility and is a weapon off the bench as a pinch-runner.
12:30 p.m.: Brewers slugger Jesus Aguilar is on the move to Tampa Bay, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan. The Rays will reportedly send back RHP Jacob Faria.
Jon Tayler: Extremely Rays trade.
Emma Baccellieri: Oh dang.
Matt Martell: This could be a win for both teams. Right now, this makes sense for the Rays. They needed a righthanded power hitting bat at 1B or DH. Aguilar has lost his playing time in the Milwaukee lineup. Give him a fresh start in Tampa.
Aguilar is due to breakout in Tampa. His expected stats are far better than what he's doing right now. xBA is .246, xSLG is 447, xwOBA is .342. His actual BA is .225, actual slugging is .374, actual wOBA is .304.
Emma Baccellieri: It's been a rough year for Aguilar... but he has looked slightly better lately, some of his numbers-beneath-the-numbers have looked pretty good (his hard hit rate is very similar to last year, and his expected slugging percentage is considerably higher than his actual slugging percentage), which makes this feel like a very classic Rays move to pick up a guy who might otherwise be undervalued on this market and see what they can get from him.
Jon Tayler: It's been a down year for Aguilar, thanks in part to an increase in groundballs (35.7% last year, 41.3 this season) and a weird inability to hit fastballs (.233 BA/.379 SLG after .328/.604 in 2018) or lefthanders (.205/.290/.325). Still though, his walk and strikeout rates are mostly unchanged, as is his hard-hit rate, and he's been better in July (.298/.346/.574). It's a decent buy-low opportunity for the Rays, who desperately need righthanded power at the 1B/DH spot, and a change of scenery might be good for Aguilar, who's intermittently lost his job to Eric Thames in Milwaukee.
Emma Baccellieri: Unsurprising that Milwaukee wanted to bring back pitching—Faria's been up and down between Triple A and the big leagues this year (mostly working in relief now, though he only converted from being a starter last year) and he can add a little bit of depth to a staff that needs it.
Jon Tayler: It's worth noting for the Rays, though, that they willingly gave away a righthanded power hitter this offseason in C.J. Cron for exactly nothing. Tampa really could stand to stop doing stuff like that if serious contention is an actual goal.
Matt Martell: From the Brewers standpoint, piggyback starting Lyles and Faria actually would make a ton of sense. Opponents are slashing .348/.377/.500 the third time through the order vs. Lyles. He's been bad in his first time through, too, though his second time facing an order, he's been very good. Wonder if he gets better if the Brewers are only going to let him face a lineup twice. And then have Faria back him up after.
Emma Baccellieri: Right, they got really flexible with their pitching roles last year down the stretch (Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, etc.) and it makes a lot of sense to imagine them doing the same this year. Lyles and Faria are a perfect set to do it, too.
12:03 p.m.: The Giants hold a lot of the power today with Bumgarner and relievers Will Smith, Sam Dyson, Tony Watson and more that could fetch a quality return. How much of a missed opportunity would it be if they didn't move any of them, despite their presence in the NL wild-card race?
Matt Martell: If they don't trade anyone, it's a huge missed opportunity. They could get a good return for one of their relief pitchers. But also, I think it would be a missed opportunity to deal Bumgarner.
Jon Tayler: Color me surprised that they haven't been able to find a package to their liking for Will Smith, the best reliever on the market and someone I thought for sure would induce a deadline-inspired overpay from a reliever-needy team. But I don't consider this a missed opportunity necessarily: There's no point in trading guys for less than what you want, and a wild-card run is still feasible if unlikely (though I wouldn't put money on the Giants being one of the last two left standing in that particular race). There's still something to be said for running out a competitive roster when you're still alive and giving the fans something to be happy about. This game doesn't have to be a constant cold calculus in which prospects > veterans 100% of the time.
And it's worth considering, too, that Farhan Zaidi and company may feel like any draft picks netted from qualifying offers to Smith and Bumgarner could be worth more than whatever's currently on the table/being offered by other teams.
Emma Baccellieri: Yeah, I agree with Jon. All quiet on Smith's front really jumps out to me; it's strange that there hasn't been more buzz about potential deals in the last few days there, given how widely he would have seemed to be coveted. But with Bumgarner... who knows what they're getting offered (teams no longer get quite so starry-eyed about the allure of a guy's postseason track record!), they aren't totally out of this race, and there's certainly a fan-related cost to dealing a beloved veteran. I don't think they're necessarily leaving a whole ton on the table by deciding to keep him.
Jon Tayler: The market bottoming out for non-elite rental players in the last two years or so has been a quiet killer of the deadline, and I think you're seeing that with Bumgarner especially. Half a dozen teams could use him, but I imagine none of them are offering the kind of prospect package that makes moving him enticing.
11: 46 a.m.: Things are heating up. Big time.
Emma Baccellieri: Hey, folks, we have a TRADE, albeit one that seems like it was done by an auto-generator to be as minor and boring as possible (name a better team combo to fit that description than White Sox-Rangers, I dare you)
11:28 a.m.: A Noah Syndergaard trade isn't happening, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
Jon Tayler: The only sensible outcome for the Mets after trading for Marcus Stroman was either A. Keeping things as they were or B. Adding help. Trading away Syndergaard would have been the kind of 14th-dimensional chess that cheap teams do to wriggle past the constraints of being cheap. I don't think Syndergaard is long for the Mets overall—I'd bet heavily on a swap with San Diego this offseason—but it would've been criminal not to take a shot in a crowded yet not impossible wild-card race with a much better rotation.
(That shouldn't be mistaken for the Mets looking at their sub-20% playoff chance and going hog wild on buying; just that there's no point in making the team worse now and in the future, especially if you do have a shot.)
Connor Grossman: Sadly, Jon is right. I was holding out hope for an 11th-hour deal to shake up the market big time. Thought maybe a Mystery Team would emerge in the Dodgers to snipe Syndergaard.
Jon Tayler: The package of prospects the Dodgers would've had to give up to get Syndergaard goes against pretty much every prospect-hoarding impulse in Andrew Friedman's brain.
Emma Baccellieri: This is what I thought made the most sense for the Mets after picking up Stroman. They kinda set the asking price against themselves there, and so it didn't seem like it would be particularly likely for them to get too much back in this market for Syndergaard. Maybe he goes this winter, when the incentives are a little bit different for various teams. But for now, this feels right to me. Meanwhile, Wheeler rumors make sense, of course, since he'll be a free agent this winter.
Matt Martell: Once the Mets traded for Stroman, this was the only thing to do, but now they also need to add. They need to get some sort of infield upgrade, defensively. Maybe they get Kyle Seager from the Mariners, who's starting to heat up after coming back from injury. But instead of trading the Mariners another top prospect, the Mets should just take on Seager's salary and that's it. Don't repeat the disastrous Cano-Diaz deal.
Jon Tayler: The day the Mets take on a full salary will be the first sign of the impending apocalypse.
Matt Martell: Okay, then deal another prospect and get someone like Seager. Now that they're in, and then re-committed to being in, they need to go all-in this season. Then, as you said, look to trade Syndergaard this offseason for prospects.
Jon Tayler: I do think it's all very on brand of the Mets to spend a week more or less declaring that you're going to trade Syndergaard and then failing to do it. Nothing about their deadline moves so far suggests any real kind of strategy or plan—or at least not one that they're capable of sticking to.
11:05 a.m.: Slow start to the morning. At least we have a Mike Leake rumbling.
Connor Grossman: Of all players to give a full no-trade clause to...why Mike Leake?
Matt Martell: Because the Cardinals thought he was better than he is
Emma Baccellieri: My favorite no-trade clauses are the ones with highly specific choices. Wasn't there a player a few years ago who just didn't want to play in Cincinnati or Minnesota?
Matt Martell: Trevor Bauer's next contract: No trades to teams with Gerrit Cole. Jason Vargas: No trades to teams with reporters. I also completely forgot Mike Leake pitched for the Giants. He's definitely going to be That Guy in 10 years.
Jon Tayler: Isn't he already a That Guy? I'd forgotten he was a top-10 draft pick.
10:31 a.m.: Let's set the table with predictions right away about anything trade-related.
Jon Tayler: The Yankees get Robbie Ray, if only because they have to get a starting pitcher and all their other options are either gone or not as good. Brian Cashman’s patience is usually a positive for the Yankees, but he may be holding out too long right now. He has to do something.
Emma Baccellieri: I think we're going to see the pitching market get weeeeird. Stroman and Bauer are off the board, and neither went to a team who would have previously been identified as a contender. Syndergaard doesn't seem to be moving now. Matthew Boyd reportedly might be out, too. Bumgarner's a toss-up. And there are still a lot of teams out there that need pitching. So... Greinke seriously in play? Someone willing to hand over a decent return for, uh, Mike Leake or Trevor Richards? Let's get crazy.
Matt Martell: Zack Greinke ends up a Cardinal. St. Louis pays almost all of his remaining salary, trades Arizona one of their third base prospects: Elehuris Montero (their No. 4-ranked guy per MLB Pipeline), Edmundo Sosa (No. 16) or Malcolm Nunez (No. 18). It seems like Greinke would not waive his no-trade clause to go to a big market team like the Yankees, but St. Louis makes a ton of sense for him. It's odd to think the Cardinals could miss the playoffs for a fourth straight season. This would help prevent that.
Connor Grossman: Hold my beer, please. Either Madison Bumgarner or Noah Syndergaard gets moved to the Yankees or Astros in a last-minute deal. Both teams are craving a quality starter, and while the chances Syndergaard ends up a Yankee are close to zero, a trade for Bumgarner doesn't seem out of the question. Conversely, imagine a front three for the Astros this postseason of Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Noah Syndergaard. See ya.