The MLB trade deadline passes, with perhaps the most major deal being the Astros acquiring Justin Verlander. And really, who doesn’t want to relive 2017 except everybody? The Mets clearly have punted on next season too, considering the money they’re kicking to Houston to cover an option year that Verlander is probably going to get. Whatever you think of the Astros, and plenty of people think plenty of things, laurel-resting isn’t something they’re interested in. They could, with a recent record like they have, decide that maybe this isn’t the year. They’ve earned that credit with their fans. But they don’t, which puts them in great opposition to teams that should be grabbing various bulls by various horns — the Cincinnati Reds and Baltimore Orioles.
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Let’s look at the facts here. The Reds and Orioles are both in first place. The Reds are in first in a division that is filled with teams that are basically the goth kids at recess. The AL East is quietly falling apart behind the Os. The Rays are hurt everywhere. The Jays can’t beat anyone in the AL East, which is going to make it awfully hard for them to make up ground. The Yankees are ass-tastic, and the Red Sox max out as the little engine that could. It’s hard not to see that the time is now for both.
Here are some other facts. The Reds are estimated to have a $50 million payroll right now for next year. And that’s if they pick up the club option on Joey Votto (watch Reds fans and sharp objects if they don’t). The Os? They have something like $30 million committed for next year. Both of these teams could take on all of Verlander’s contract without taking a dime from the Mets, therefore lowering what they’d have to send back to Queens, and their payrolls would still amount to a rounding error on their owners’ books.
Oh, there’s more. Both the Orioles and Reds have too many players bubbling underneath the surface to even fit them all on an MLB roster at once. Matt McLain, Elly De La Cruz, Jonathan India, Noelvi Marte, Cam Collier; they ain’t all gonna fit in the Great American Ballpark. If the Reds front office has any confidence it can scout itself, pick two and get yourself Dylan Cease or something that’ll be around for a while (though Cease isn’t probably ever going to be a Cy Young candidate again like last year, but that ilk). The Marlins need all sorts of hitting. They’ve got pitching for days.
Same story for the Orioles. Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, Colton Cowser, Ryan Mountcastle, Jordan Westburg are already up. Jackson Holliday, Heston Kjerstad, Joey Ortiz, Connor Norby, Coby Mayo (can you get a more prospect-y name than Coby Mayo?) are not far away. Where the fuck are they gonna put ‘em all? Load up and see what you can pry loose. Make an offer for Corbin Burnes the Brewers can’t refuse (applicable to only Baltimore probably)?
Oh sure, the Reds and Os have their “plan.” Allow me to go Joker here for a second. The Padres had plans. The White Sox had plans. The Tigers had plans. The Yankees had plans. The Mets had plans. Where did it get any of them? Nothing in the future is guaranteed. Is every GM terrified they’re going to end up getting yelled at by Frank Costanza?
Baltimore has one of the best bullpens in the league. They need like two starters in the playoffs to make some serious noise. They currently, barely, have one in Kyle Bradish. Maybe they can use Grayson Rodriguez as a three- or four-inning guy come October. If a team is as loaded with young position players as both of these teams are, there isn’t much to lose. The ones you trade become good players? Great, but if you know what you’re doing, the ones you keep do too. This year ends up being a free hit even.
The Reds may not get the first-round bye as the Os will if they win the AL East, but the NL is trash. What wildcard team scares anyone? The Giants? Name three Giants. You can’t do it. Same goes for the Brewers, who picked up the husk of Carlos Santana to improve their offense (94 OPS+ the last three years). The Marlins can’t hit. Sure, maybe eventually you get your ass beat by Atlanta. Gotta beat them at some point in the future, why not now?
But no, Gotta stick to the plan, which involves making sure everyone on the field is paid in gift cards and movie passes. Always promise tomorrow to sell tickets today. Even when today is right here.
This is pretty funny in retrospect now that the Guardians have been no-hit five times in the past three seasons:
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