**This was originally written before the trade deadline passed. It’s been slightly tweaked since, but much of it remains intact. After all, how else am I supposed to transition into a gaffe like Jeopardy made. Enjoy.**
It’s over. The craziest time of year that’s not related to religion, food or a certain other sporting event has come and gone. The annual MLB non-waiver trade deadline arrives precisely at 4 p.m. every July 31 like a deranged Santa Claus, leaving gifts for some at the expense of others all half a year in advance.
By this point, every reporter, analyst, GM, fan and your grandmother has analyzed these trades. They’ve told you exactly who won and who lost, why this was the best shot to reach the playoffs and how this will set the franchise back to the Stone Age.
But nobody actually has a crystal ball. Trades aren’t won or lost on Aug. 1, 2 or 3. Sometimes they’re won in October, although it usually takes some time to see the true cost of a move. Was an increased chance at winning the World Series worth taking on overpriced veterans and giving up much-ballyhooed prospects – see Phillies, Philadelphia – or giving up on the season and trading away everything for the future – see Reds, Cincinnati.
Everybody knew the Phillies would trade Cole Hamels. It was just a matter of to where and for what. The bigger surprise is that a day before the deadline he joined a Texas Rangers club unlikely to earn a ticket to the dance with a sub-.500 record. The 32-year-old star moved south with a bullpen arm for veteran Matt Harrison, a trio of top prospects and a pair of quadruple-A pitchers.
Nobody expected the Rockies and Blue Jays Troy deal earlier in the week. Troy Tulowitzki’s name has been bandied about seemingly as long as a Bush and Clinton have been connected to national politics. Mets GM Sandy Alderson kicked the tires on Tulowitzki, but was told the Rockies probably wouldn’t trade him. News to the contrary broke in the wee hours of the Tuesday prior, when Toronto agreed to swap Jose Reyes, with ageless reliever LaTroy Hawkins leaving Colorado and a package of pitching prospects leaving the Toronto farm system.
That was the weirdest part of the 2015 deadline, at least until the Mets and Brewers danced the Lambada that is Carlos Gomez. Pushing hard for an outfielder, word spread less than 48 hours before zero hour that the clubs would trade Gomez for Wilmer Flores and Zack Wheeler. News hit Citi Field as New York hosted the Padres on the wrong side of a blowout. Without warning, the crowd offered Flores a standing ovation in the seventh inning as he grounded out. He returned to the clubhouse to learn he’d been traded, tears forming in his eyes. Manager Terry Collins sent him back out for the eighth, fuming he hadn’t been told. Flores finally left the game in the ninth inning, long enough for pundits to criticize the Mets. But the story took another left turn immediately after the game when Alderson reported the deal was not happening after all. Some reports cite medical concerns about Gomez’ hip, while others contend the Mets wanted money from Milwaukee. The centerfielder was traded with starter Mike Fiers to the Houston Astros the very next day for two outfield prospects, two pitching prospects and the 76th international signing slot. Of course the Mets saved face by trading for the power bat of Yoenis Cespedes ,sending prospect Michael Fulmer and another minor league pitcher to Detroit.
Will the Mets regret not bringing on Gomez, especially as news of serious injury concerns about Juan Lagares and Michael Cuddyer broke on deadline day? Was renting Cespedes for a few months worth the price in prospects? Did Houston give up major pieces for a star who will crash to the DL next year? Does swapping star shortstops Tulowitzki and Reyes actually do anything? How will Hamels help the Rangers succeed in the next few years?
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