OAKLAND -- Wednesday featured a record 30 trades across Major League Baseball, involving 77 different players, as teams raced to get deals done ahead of the MLB trade deadline.
The A's made one of those moves, acquiring starting pitcher Tanner Roark from the Reds in exchange for minor-league outfielder Jameson Hannah. Oakland also acquired pitchers Homer Bailey and Jake Diekman from the Royals in separate trades earlier in July, as Billy Beane and David Forst worked to solidify both the starting rotation and bullpen.
Of course, the A's weren't the only American League playoff contender to improve Wednesday. The Astros were probably the biggest winners of all, landing six-time All-Star and former Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke from the Diamondbacks. Houston's rotation now includes Greinke, former MVP Justin Verlander, and three-time All-Star Gerrit Cole, all legitimate aces.
The Astros now have to be considered World Series favorites. With that starting rotation, a strong bullpen, and a relentless lineup, Houston simply doesn't have a weakness.
As far as the A's wild card competitors, only the Rays and Indians made impactful trades. Tampa Bay acquired first baseman Jesús Aguilar from the Brewers, giving the Rays another power bat. Aguilar was an All-Star last season, belting 35 home runs with an .890 OPS, but this year he only has eight homers and a .694 OPS.
The Indians made arguably the biggest trade of all, sending All-Star pitcher Trevor Bauer to the Reds for a package featuring outfielder Yasiel Puig. It's a bit of a puzzling move from Cleveland's perspective, though Bauer can be a bit of a headache off the field. Still, the Indians' pitching staff unquestionably got worse.
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The Red Sox surprised a lot of baseball experts by not making a single move. Boston has a strong lineup and starting rotation, but their bullpen has struggled and continues to be a major weakness.
Overall, the American League pecking order remains about the same, with the Astros on top, followed by the Yankees and Twins. Outside of Houston, the A's probably improved their roster as much as anyone and have a legitimate chance to reach the postseason for the second straight year.