In the days leading up to this year’s trade deadline, which expired Friday at 4 p.m., MLB finally got what it so desperately craves.
For a sport perpetually trying to speed things up, this time the action was fast and furious, akin to the same frenzy we’re used to seeing from the NFL and NBA during those blink-of-an-eye free-agent periods.
Once the general managers emerged Friday from their war rooms, they looked physically worn out. When Mets president Sandy Alderson and acting GM Zack Scott addressed the media Friday in the Citi Field auditorium, it was as if they had just finished playing one-on-one basketball downstairs.
Why the insanity this year? A few reasons.
As of Saturday, 20 teams were within 5 1⁄2 games of a playoff spot. And if you tighten the focus, nine clubs had a 71.8% chance (Mets) or better of qualifying for the postseason, with another two above 47.6% (Yankees), according to FanGraphs.
Also, the rebuilding franchises, primarily the Cubs and Nationals, were hungry for prospect capital, to the extent that they were eager to pay down existing contracts for the remainder of this season. That was a factor, as even big-market clubs — with the exception of the Dodgers — strived to stay below the luxury-tax threshold of $210 million.
“I would say it was different in several respects,” Alderson said of the deadline. “One was the number of teams actively seeking to improve. And…