Earlier today, a market update went up on Phillies’ pitcher Jeremy Hellickson. While Hellickson has improved substantially this year, rumors of this caliber aren’t typically what the trade deadline revolves around. With due respect to Hellickson, baseball fans want big names and captivating, franchise-altering rumors.
Let’s rewind one year. It’s worth remembering at this time, that last year’s deadline was July 31—one day earlier than this season’s August 1. Let’s flip back to t-minus 11 days until deadline day then—July 20, 2015. Any guesses on how many moves had been made by that time? We’ll give you a moment to rhetorically guess. Put a number in your head.
The answer is four. That’s not at typo. It was four. The Athletics had acquired Cody Martin from the Braves, The Angels had acquired Rafael Lopez from the Cubs, the Cubs traded for Clayton Richard from the Pirates, and the Marlins got Chris Reed from the Dodgers. Those four players have combined for 17.1 innings of major league action this season.
Granted, the point of two of those deals was to acquire international draft signing slots, but where were the fireworks? Those names even pale in comparison to Drew Pomeranz.
Let’s continue our walk through memory lane, just in case anyone forgets what the remaining deals looked like.
One week before the deadline Aramis Ramirez and Scott Kazmir found new teams on rental deals. A day later Conor Gillaspie, Steve Cishek, and Juan Uribe were involved in trades as well. These are names but still not really franchise-altering stuff really. I seem to remember the fireworks from last year, but these moves don’t strike me as anything special.
Fast forward to just five days from deadline day and the Royals link up with the Reds on a swap involving Johnny Cueto. While Cueto took time to acclimate during the remainder of the regular season, the Royals ended up winning the World Series thanks in part to his contributions. Reminder: this is July 26.
How about the morning you woke up to find out Troy Tulowitzki had been traded? His name wasn’t even involved in any rumors leading up to the swap, yet the Blue Jays and Rockies got together in one of the most memorable blockbusters in recent memory.
On the same day, Ben Zobrist got traded to the team that he would win a World Series ring with and name his child after. Beyond franchise-altering, that’s life changing for one family. Just three days before the deadline.
Unfortunately, there are other ways to alter your franchise as well, as Jonathan Papelbon was also acquired by the Nationals that same day in a move that would lead to the penultimate moment of the Nats’ season and Matt Williams’ career as a manager.
Over the next 72 hours, 26 additional trades involving 80 players would be agreed upon. Deals including top rumored targets like Cole Hamels and David Price and stretching to less rumored names of Carlos Gomez and Ben Revere.
Do you remember more clearly now how exciting last year’s deadline was? And this time last year, a name as big as Pomeranz hadn’t even moved—which is pretty remarkable since he’s now been traded four times. We’ve even been treated to a Mike Montgomery swap involving top prospect Dan Vogelbach.
So, while rumors shape around top targets like Jonathan Lucroy, imagine the deals that are shaping involving players we may not have even known were available. Who will be this year’s Jeff Bridich or Alex Anthopoulos?
Because, while it may seem slow right now, one of these days you’ll wake up to alerts on your phone that that player got traded to your team. And there’s still plenty of time for that to happen.