The 2019 Trade Deadline started off slowly -- too slowly, really -- before getting interesting with Marcus Stroman heading to the Mets over the weekend and Yasiel Puig, Franmil Reyes and Trevor Bauer trading places in an elaborate three-way deal on Tuesday night. Then Wednesday happened, and after a few minor moves, the last hour -- and beyond -- was wild. It was, after all, 13 minutes after the 4 p.m. ET deadline that MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reported the most shocking move of all: Zack Greinke would be joining the Astros.
Now that everything is in the books, which deals were the most impactful? We’ll rank them all, from most important to least, and of course that means this list is subjective. That means it can't be wrong ... and please don't complete that thought.
• Here is every notable Trade Deadline deal
(For the record: We're just looking at trades made on July 31, so not Stroman or Bauer or Chris Martin, and we're not including a few backup catchers who went as depth, like J.R. Murphy or Max Stassi or Rocky Gale, or trades without any current Major Leaguers like the Yankees and Rockies swapping Minor League relievers.)
1. Astros acquire SP Zack Greinke from D-backs for four prospects
Obviously. This one was completed just before the Deadline, and it didn't come cheap, but the Astros had made it very clear that they were going to come away with a starter. Most figured that would be Madison Bumgarner or Zack Wheeler. Instead, they snuck in to make the most impactful move of anyone, extracting Greinke from Arizona to set up a rotation top 3 of Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and Greinke, plus Wade Miley if necessary. Sure, Greinke is 35, but he's still at the top of his game -- his 2.87 ERA is his best since 2015 -- and it helps for next year too, since Cole is an impending free agent.
• Astros deal for Greinke in Deadline stunner
2. Marlins trade SP Trevor Richards and RP Nick Anderson to Rays for opener Ryne Stanek and OF prospect Jesús Sánchez
Stunner! You wouldn't expect a Miami-Tampa Bay trade to rate this highly, but this is our list, and these are fascinating names. You don't know the rookie Anderson, but you should, because his 37.1% strikeout rate is eighth-best in baseball (min. 40 innings), better than Aroldis Chapman or Kenley Jansen. Richards is a 26-year-old starter with 238 1/3 roughly slightly below league-average innings under his belt; Stanek is the face of "the opener," with a 2.09 ERA in 27 times starting off a game.
And Sánchez? He was the No. 4 prospect in a stacked Tampa Bay system, having made it to Triple-A at 21 years old. These aren't the biggest names or the biggest teams, but this is one of the more quietly fascinating deals.
• Rays add Richards, Anderson in 4-player deal
3. Tigers trade OF Nicholas Castellanos to Cubs for prospects
Let's just quote ourselves talking about this exact move happening four days ago:
That's right, we're sticking to the chalk on this one. Since the start of 2018, the only outfielders to hit lefties better than Castellanos are Aaron Judge, J.D. Martinez, and Mike Trout, and the cost would almost certainly be minimal. (Castellanos is a good-not-great-hitter who is hardly alone in the RF/DH market with Yasiel Puig and Hunter Pence, and good-but-not-great players who are rentals don't usually fetch much; the Tigers got little for Martinez, a far superior hitter, at the Deadline two years ago.) You can use Albert Almora Jr. off the bench to get past the defensive deficiencies.
Well, yeah. The Cubs needed a lefty-mashing outfielder, and that's why the Castellanos rumors were so prevalent. This one made sense because it made sense.
• Cubs bolster offense with Castellanos, Kemp
4. Rays trade SP Jacob Faria to Brewers for 1B Jesús Aguilar
Aguilar had a breakout season last year -- 35 homers and a .274/.352/.539 line -- but struggled terribly this year, hitting only .206/.314/.320 through the end of June, losing a regular spot in Milwaukee's lineup. But he's looked much better this month (.298/.346/.574), and the Statcast metrics are showing some signs of life, making him a good fit for the righty power bat Tampa Bay has been seeking for months.
The appeal here for Milwaukee is obvious, because the team's pitching needs are dire, and Faria is definitely a pitcher. That probably undersells him -- he was good in 2017 before struggling with injuries last year -- but he's added velocity out of the bullpen this year, going from 91.5 mph to 94.0 mph on his fastball, and he may yet have another run in the rotation in him. He's still just 26 years old. It's a good long-term move, though may not have the impact Brewers fans would have hoped.
• Rays acquire Aguilar in trade with Brewers
5. Tigers trade RP Shane Greene to Braves for prospects
Here's the thing: The Braves desperately were in search of relief, even before Luke Jackson and Sean Newcomb nearly gave away Wednesday's win. Greene is either one of the best ones available -- an All-Star with a 1.18 ERA -- or regression waiting to happen, because he had a 5.12 ERA last year and his underlying metrics (a 3.70 FIP, for example) in no way support that shiny ERA. He is posting a career-high strikeout rate, however, and the Braves can use all the help they can get. He'll help.
• Braves bolster bullpen with Greene, Melancon
6. Marlins trade SP Zac Gallen to D-backs for SS prospect Jazz Chisholm
There are too few prospect-for-prospect challenge trades -- we know that Gallen has made seven Major League starts, but we'll go with it, because they're fun -- and so far as they go, this is a really interesting one. Gallen was a big part of the return from St. Louis in the Marcell Ozuna trade, and his first taste of the bigs has gone well, with a 2.72 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 36 1/3 innings. He'll be a big part of attempting to replace Greinke in Arizona over the next few years.
For the Marlins, it's a risk probably worth taking, because their young pitching has been surprisingly effective, but they've struggled badly to find any offense. In Chisholm, they get Arizona's No. 1 prospect, yet one who has had an underwhelming Double-A debut, hitting just .204/.305/.427 so far. It's a bet on upside over floor.
• D-backs get Fish's Gallen for prospect Chisholm
7. Blue Jays trade P Aaron Sanchez and P Joe Biagini to Astros for OF Derek Fisher and a prospect
Sanchez has a 6.07 ERA. It's now been nearly three full years since his magical 2016 season, and if you're wondering what in the world the Astros are thinking about here, well, first of all, their reputation for taking underperforming pitchers and helping them improve really ought to precede them. Second of all, this is a fit we basically called months ago:
But: the curveball. [Only five regular starters have higher curve spin -- names you know, like Rich Hill, Cole and Charlie Morton -- and he gets four inches more break and four inches more drop than other curves at his velocity. In terms of results, the .218 average and .241 slugging against put it in the top 15. While he's been throwing it more than ever, that's still just 23%, well behind the four-seamer (30%) and sinker (29%). High-spin, under-utilized curve, with an under-performing fastball? This has Houston (or Minnesota, or the Dodgers, or the Yankees) written all over it.
If Sanchez suddenly throws that curve a lot more -- and that hittable sinker a lot less -- and cuts down that inflated ERA, don't say you didn't hear it here. Biagini, for what it's worth, has 88th percentile curveball spin. The Astros have their types.
• Astros add Sanchez, Biagini from Blue Jays
8. Pirates trade OF Corey Dickerson to Phillies for a PTBNL and international bonus pool money
You didn't notice that Dickerson is hitting .315/.373/.551 this year -- in only 142 plate appearances, granted -- and you probably also didn't notice that he's been an average-or-better hitter every year of his career, or that he won a Gold Glove last year.
• Phils beef up OF by adding Bucs' Dickerson
Let's go lightning-round a few San Francisco moves here ...
9. Giants trade RP Mark Melancon to Braves for RP Daniel Winkler and a prospect
10. Giants trade RP Drew Pomeranz and RP Ray Black to Brewers for IF Mauricio Dubon
11. Giants trade RP Sam Dyson to Twins for three prospects
San Francisco didn't trade Bumgarner, as expected, but they hung onto Will Smith and Tony Watson as well, which was a little more surprising. That said, they still ended up trading a trio of very different pitchers. Former closer Melancon goes to Atlanta to team with Greene, but perhaps more interesting is what Pomeranz might be, because a 6.08 ERA in 2018 and a 5.68 follow-up in 2019 sure don't look very appealing.
Of course, that's as a starter. Pomeranz was pushed to the bullpen earlier this month, and he's been intriguingly good in 5 1/3 innings, striking out eight against a single and a walk, thanks in part to a bump in velocity. (He's also held lefties to a mere .306 OBP this year.) The Giants turned him and the high-velocity Black into Milwaukee's No. 3 prospect, so this feels like a win-win.
Dyson, meanwhile, has a case to make as "the best reliever traded at the Deadline." It's a good pick-up for a Twins team that might not have done enough to counter Cleveland's big moves.
• Giants trade Pomeranz, Melancon, Dyson
12. Rays trade RP Adam Kolarek to Dodgers for a prospect
This, obviously, is not The Big Reliever Move that Dodgers fans wanted, and if they don't get that ring this year, you'll be hearing about Felipe Vázquez for the rest of time. That said, Kolarek has the fourth-highest ground-ball rate in baseball, and he's held lefties to a mere .187/.238/.293 line this year. If not quite the impactful arm they were hoping for, it's not nothing, either.
• Rays acquire outfield prospect for lefty Kolarek
13. Reds trade SP Tanner Roark to A's for a prospect
Oakland is still very much in the race -- it held the second Wild Card spot entering Wednesday -- and with a clear need in the rotation, it moved for Homer Bailey earlier in the month. Bailey, however, has allowed 14 runs in his first 14 2/3 innings, so they're hoping for more from Roark, who has been a perfectly league-average starter for the last few years. Nothing wrong with that.
• A's add veteran Roark to rotation
14. Mariners trade SP Mike Leake to D-backs for a prospect
Remember the rumor from early June that the Mariners and D-backs had come that close to coming together on a Leake deal? It took nearly two more months, but the Arizona State product is finally headed to the desert for the remainder of this year as well as 2020. Leake has mixed a few disaster starts (six times allowing five or more runs) with several gems, including a one-hitter on July 19.
• D-backs add pitcher Leake in deal with Seattle
15. Reds trade 2B Scooter Gennett to Giants for a player to be named
This would have been a big deal in 2017, when Gennett began to mash for the Reds, or in 2018, when he continued to mash for the Reds, but he's missed almost the entire season due to injury and has hit all of .212/.232/.258 in 20 games since returning. We're now into the second full year -- and third in the last four -- of Joe Panik failing to hit, so San Francisco is clearly hoping that Gennett can recoup some of his recent magic for a long-shot Wild Card run.
• Giants pick up 2B Gennett in deal with Reds
16. Blue Jays trade RP Dan Hudson to Nationals for a prospect
The well-traveled Hudson has actually been released in each of the last two Spring Trainings (in 2018 by the Rays, and this year by the Angels), and missed the Dodgers' postseason run last year due to a forearm issue. He's probably not as good as his 3.00 ERA this year -- he's got a 4.21 FIP and he's league-average in Statcast metrics -- but he's a solid enough veteran for a bullpen where "solid enough veteran" is a decided upgrade.
• Hudson to Nats for RHP prospect Johnston
17. Cardinals trade IF Jedd Gyorko to Dodgers for RP Tony Cingrani and a prospect
A multi-positional platoon bat who can mash lefties? That certainly sounds like the Dodgers, especially since their other multi-positional platoon bats like Enrique Hernandez, Chris Taylor and David Freese are all inured. (Gyorko is currently on the injured list himself with a wrist issue, though he's expected to return in early August.) It would help if Gyorko had hit at all this season before being injured -- he hasn't -- but he did hit 30 homers as recently as 2016, so you see where the Dodgers are going here.
• Dodgers land Gyorko, send Cingrani to Cards
18. Mariners trade RP Hunter Strickland and RP Roenis Elias to Nationals for prospects
We'll combine these two trades into one. Strickland missed nearly all of the season with a right lat strain, only returning to the Mariners on Sunday. He's got a big fastball and a noted rivalry with Bryce Harper, which ought to make the remaining Phillies-Nationals games entertaining. Elias is a lefty reliever who's done it all -- he's started 54 games in his career, but he also has 14 saves for Seattle this year -- without any appreciable platoon splits. (He does this year, but not over his career.)
Like Hudson, none of these names are difference-makers. But the Nationals were having trouble simply staffing out a competent bullpen behind Sean Doolittle. If they're merely acceptable, it's an upgrade.
• Nats restock 'pen with Hudson, Elias, Strickland
19. Cubs trade C Martin Maldonado to Astros for OF/2B Tony Kemp
You'd think this one would be higher, because these are both names, and former teammates. Then again, Kemp was already DFA'd by the Astros, and Maldonado and his .217/.285/.349 line this year prove that he's in the Majors entirely for his defense. That's valuable, obviously, but it's also just a direct swap for Max Stassi, meaning it's relatively low impact. Kemp, meanwhile, might be the off-brand Whit Merrifield for Joe Maddon, since they couldn't shake loose the real thing.
• Astros bring back Maldonado, deal Stassi
20. White Sox trade RP Nate Jones and international slot money to Rangers for two prospects.
Jones is injured. His option will be declined. This is entirely about making room for international free agent Bayron Lora. As far as trades go, this is definitely one of them.
• Rangers get money for Lora in Nate Jones deal
Mike Petriello is an analyst for MLB.com and the host of the Ballpark Dimensions podcast.