But now that it has been a month, teams have settled into who they are, and we're all strapping in for the final stretch. Heck: Noah Syndergaard doesn't even look that weird in a Phillies uniform. (All right, he kind of does.) Thus, we can cobble together some takeaways from the Trade Deadline, things we've learned since we were all barraged and bombarded with trades as we entered August.
So, here are the five things we've learned since the Trade Deadline:
1. Sometimes a trade works out for neither team.
On Aug. 1, the Brewers were riding high. They had a three-game lead in the National League Central, they'd won seven of their last 10 and it felt like their bullpen had a downright surplus of incredible arms. So they got creative, and a little risky: They traded Hader, who had worn a Brewers jersey in the last four All-Star Games and was perhaps their most recognizable player, to the Padres for a package of players: Taylor Rogers, Dinelson Lamet (whom they almost immediately designated for assignment), speedy prospect Esteury Ruiz and left-hander Robert Gasser. Brewers fans (and some Brewers players) were scratching their heads: They traded their incredible closer in the middle of the pennant chase. Padres fans, on the other hand, were elated: They now had the best closer in baseball, and Soto and Josh Bell! Wow!
Well. The Brewers promptly blew leads in three of their next four games, and while Rogers hasn't been bad for them, just about everything else has fallen apart. They're 14-18 since waking up on Aug. 3, and that division lead has gone from three up to … 8 1/2 games back. But Padres fans aren't doing backflips either. Hader has been a nightmare for the Padres, putting up a 17.55 ERA in nine appearances and temporarily losing his closing spot. And now both teams are fighting with each other for one of the final NL Wild Card spots. Some trades are duds for everybody.
2. Maybe the Guardians know what they are doing.
The only move the Guardians made at the Deadline was trading Minor League catcher Sandy León to the very team they were ostensibly chasing in the AL Central. (Oh, and they let Franmil Reyes go.) Many observers, including this one, questioned the team for its inactivity, arguing they were letting a postseason opportunity fly by them. Well, since Aug. 2, Cleveland has gone 17-14 (despite a recent five-game losing streak), which, thanks to the Twins' and White Sox struggles, put them 1 1/2 games up in the division. We'll see if they can hang onto first, but the idea that the Guardians were somehow giving up on the division by not making any moves has proven very wrong.
3. One player, no matter how great they are, can only do so much.
Soto has been excellent since joining the Padres. He has put up a 128 OPS+ with San Diego, and while he hasn't slugged as much as you might like, he's got a .405 OBP: He's exactly what the Padres wanted. But his addition has turned the Padres into … a sub .500 team! They're 15-16 since the trade. Now, obviously, Hader's struggles are a part of that, as is the fact that Fernando Tatis Jr. is suspended until next season. But even with Soto putting up All-Star numbers, the Padres have a losing record since he arrived. Remember when the case for trading everything for Soto was that you'd have him for three different pennant chases? Well, this is one of them … and the Padres are barely hanging onto the third Wild Card spot right now.
4. The Yankees miss Jordan Montgomery more than the Cardinals miss Harrison Bader.
To be fair: The Cardinals knew they were going to be without Bader for the rest of August and much of September whether they made a trade or not, as Bader rehabbed his right foot plantar fasciitis injury. But their decision to trade him for Montgomery, whom the Yankees didn't anticipate being in their postseason rotation (particularly once they traded for Frankie Montas), has been an absolute lifesaver for the Cards. Montgomery (who is under contact for next year as well) has a 5-0 record with a 1.47 ERA with St. Louis, and the Cardinals have won all six of his starts. Meanwhile, the Yankees are a stunning 11-29 since the trade, with a flagging offense and a rotation that, suddenly, looks a pitcher short. Bader is expected to make it to the Bronx over the next fortnight, so the jury is still out, but so far, the Cardinals got a guy pitching like an ace for a player who wasn't even playing.
5. The Mariners made sure they're about to make franchise history.
When the Mariners traded for Castillo, it was widely thought to be the sort of surgical move a team needed to secure its opportunity at ending a 21-season playoff drought. But they didn't go too huge at the Deadline, especially considering how much this team likes to make trades. But what they did do was see baseball's easiest schedule out in front of them. They have taken full advantage: They were barely hanging on to the second Wild Card spot, just one game ahead of Cleveland, at the time, but now they've gone 21-10 since then (with plenty of help from Castillo, who has been great) and have a 5-game lead on Baltimore, the team last scrambling to get into the Wild Card. The Mariners now have a 99.3 percent chance of making the playoffs, according to Fangraphs Playoff Odds. They're gonna do it. They're really gonna do it.