IN RECENT YEARS major league baseball had increasingly resembled a fantasy keeper league, with teams often reluctant to part with potential stars to acquire actual ones. Among this year's top trade-deadline lessons: That is no longer as true.
1. Half the first-place teams sent away well-regarded young players in exchange for veterans, none of whom qualifies as a superstar. The Rangers, who top the AL West but are searching for their first World Series title, dealt Lewis Brinson, a 22-year-old outfielder regarded as a top 20 prospect, to the Brewers in a package to get catcher Jonathan Lucroy. The AL Central--leading Indians (SEE PAGE 36), hoping to deepen their bullpen, traded a player who was a top five pick three years ago—Triple A outfielder Clint Frazier—for Yankees lefthander Andrew Miller. And the Giants, not content with having won three titles this decade or sitting first in the NL West, sent Phil Bickford, a righty who was the 18th pick in last year's draft, to the Brewers for reliever Will Smith.
2. After a slew of superstars like David Price and Troy Tulowitzki were dealt last year, the most-talked-about player to be moved this summer was a 30-year-old catcher with just two All-Star selections on his résumé. What Lucroy lacks in Q rating, he made up for in drama, invoking his no-trade clause to reject a deal to the Indians on Sunday when Cleveland wouldn't drop his team-friendly club option for '17. He was then moved to the Rangers—not one of the eight teams he had blocked—minutes before Monday's 4 p.m. ET deadline.
3. The Yankees had not traded a star in his prime during the season since dealing Rickey Henderson to Oakland in June 1989. But it wasn't so much who New York parted ways with—Miller, closer Aroldis Chapman (to the Cubs), rightfielder Carlos Beltran (Rangers) and starter Ivan Nova (Pirates)—as who it got in return: a group of prospects, including righty Dillon Tate from Texas, who ensure the Yanks will contend as soon as 2018.
4. With no certified aces aces such as Price in 2015 or Jon Lester in '14 headed toward free agency at season's end, this year's market for starting pitchers was one of the weakest in memory. Buyers were left to choose from among underwhelming options like Andrew Cashner (who went from the Padres to the Marlins), Rich Hill (A's to Dodgers) and Matt Moore (Rays to Giants), and must now hope that those arms will give them the boost they need.