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The 2022 MLB trade deadline was an emotional mess

I remember waking up at 6 a.m on Aug. 2 thinking that it was going to be a long day. The days leading up to Aug. 2 consisted of studying and being on Twitter for most of the day. I probably spent three hours a day on Twitter because the Major League Baseball (MLB) trade deadline was on Aug. 2. Players were getting traded every day for the few days leading up to the deadline and it was exciting. Outfielder Andrew Benintendi was traded from the Kansas City Royals to the New York Yankees. Starting pitcher Luis Castillo was traded to the Seattle Mariners from the Cincinnati Reds. As a baseball fan, these trades were really exciting because teams got better and therefore made the playoff race more interesting to watch. Everything was going great until a report came out about a certain player. There were rumors that former Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto was going to be traded due to issues with a contract extension. Then reporter Bob Nightengale described how there were seven teams that were immediately the most interested. I am a Nationals fan, so the thought of trading our best player and possibly one of the best players in baseball seemed crazy at first. I even said that I would never watch the team again if they traded him. However, as time went on and the rumors were building I almost wanted him to get traded because logically, it was the best way for the team to get better. The Nationals are currently one of the worst, if not the worst, team in baseball. I was just waiting for the Twitter notification to tell me he had been traded and the nightmare was over. Every time my phone buzzed, I instantly dived to grab it and see what happened. It wasn’t until the morning of the deadline where it actually became a reality. Reporter Barry Svrluga described how the San Diego Padres were the front runners and that the trade was nearly complete. By the afternoon, Soto was traded to the Padres, alongside teammate Josh Bell. When I saw the trade fully, I was once again really upset because I thought the Nationals could have gotten more, but apparently I was wrong. At the end of the day, I again grew to understand the trade and think that the Nationals did well in the end. A week later I realized that there were a lot of emotions flying around during this deadline. It may not have been the most eventful trade deadline ever, it was definitely one of the most emotional ones.

The Soto trade was crazy for a lot of reasons. To start, the Nationals farm system got significantly better, to set them up for the future. The Padres, on the other hand, got one of the best players in baseball to make one of the greatest offensive lineups of all time, so it was a big moment for Padres fans. They finally beat the Los Angeles Dodgers for something. Last year, the Padres were close to trading for starting pitcher Max Scherzer, but were narrowly outbid at the last second by the Dodgers. This year, the Padres showed up the Dodgers and let the baseball world know that they aren’t messing around. During the opening press conference with the Padres, Soto said, “I wish good luck to the other pitchers.” After years of being second to the Dodgers, the Padres are ready to take over. On the other side, the Nationals fans were in complete disarray. This was the fifth star the Nationals were unable to retain. First there was outfielder Bryce Harper, who the Nationals refused to give a large contract to even though he had been an All-Star multiple times and even won the Most Valuable Player award. A year later, the team did not give All-Star infielder Anthony Rendon the contract he desired. Then they traded away both Scherzer and infielder Trea Turner during a terrible 2021 season, the latter someone they also refused to give a large contract to. The team promised that they would not let the same happen to Soto because he was a generational talent. However, after he declined a large contract extension, the Nationals front office saw no other way. The fans were obviously upset but Soto was just as upset. “I cried the whole morning,” said Soto when describing what happened when he heard about the trade. He knew that it was a business, but the trade still hit him hard. Soto was with the Nationals for six years and it was the only organization he’s ever known. Players and money get exchanged so easily, but sometimes it’s easy to forget that the players are going through this rollercoaster that so quickly changes their lives. 

The next trade wasn’t league shaking, but it was impactful nonetheless. First baseman Trey Mancini was traded from the Baltimore Orioles to the Houston Astros. This in general was a great trade for the Astros because they were missing a consistent hitting first baseman as their current one, Yuli Gurriel, is having a down year. The trade was partly a head scratcher for the Orioles as they are in the hunt to make the playoffs, and they ended up trading one of their best players. Additionally, the Orioles traded away reliever Jorge Lopez to the Minnesota Twins as he is having an All-Star caliber year. These two trades dampened the mood of Orioles fans considering this was the first year they have been truly competitive since 2016. However, the big story was with Mancini. In April of 2020, Mancini was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer. This set him for a six-month chemotherapy treatment that obviously put him out of baseball for the 2020 season. So instead of playing the game he loved, he had to focus on fighting for his life. After tough chemotherapy Mancini had done it. He beat cancer and was ready to work on his return. Through his short offseason, he worked hard and made his return to baseball just a year after he was diagnosed with cancer. It was an incredible recovery. “The fans in Baltimore have always been so amazing at rallying behind their players. It didn’t surprise me in the slightest bit, the support I got. It meant so much and really helped me get through and get really excited to get back to playing baseball,” said Mancini when describing his comeback. He played well throughout the 2021 season and even earned an opportunity to compete in the Home Run Derby. Mancini had played for the Orioles for his entire five-year career so when the 2022 trade deadline approached, he was bracing for the trade. The day Mancini was traded was emotional but he made sure to thank everyone that helped him along the way. “I think they saved my life,” said Mancini when describing the Orioles medical staff. 

Catcher Wilson Contreras has been a Chicago Cub his entire six-year MLB career. The team ended their World Series drought back in 2016 and was filled with a solid core of first baseman Anthony Rizzo, third baseman Kris Bryant, shortstop Javier Baez and Contreras. However, the team slowly started to decline after winning the World Series and eventually the Cubs traded Bryant, Baez and Rizzo away at the 2021 trade deadline. The World Series core was being broken after the team was underperforming and all three of them were set to be free agents. It was a tough time to be a Cubs fan and once again it was hard on the players as well. A camera caught Bryant taking a phone call in the dugout when he got traded before he turned and cried after receiving the news. A year later the Cubs were once again ready to trade some players. This year it included Contreras and long time Cub outfielder Ian Happ. “I just want this to be over. If they’re going to trade me, they’re going to trade me. If they don’t want to trade me, they don’t. But I just want this day to pass and keep focusing on playing baseball,” said Contreras when talking about the trade deadline. There were a lot of rumors going around with many teams needing a catcher, so Contreras was definitely a player in demand. Happ was also getting large amounts of interest from all around the league considering a team could always use a switch hitting outfielder. As the days built up to the deadline, tension was building up in the Chicago stadium as the fans knew this could be their last opportunity to see some of their favorite players in Cubs uniforms. In what was possibly their last home game together, Happ and Contreras were seen hugging in the dugout after a 4-2 victory against the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, after all the build-up, neither one of them ended up getting traded. This was an incredibly confusing move, as Contreras is a free agent after the end of the season and is already 30 years old, so it is difficult to believe that he is the centerpiece for their future. If the Cubs do not bring him back after the end of the year then this move is going to be even more confusing. I guess Cubs fans can be happy that they can watch them play for a few more months. 

Outfielder Joey Gallo has had a fascinating career so far. At age 21 he made his major league debut with the Texas Rangers. He was not good, considering he struck out in half of his at bats. That problem never went away. Two years later he was good and terrible at the same time. He struck out 196 times but he also hit 41 home runs. Over the next few years he continued to hit a ton of home runs while striking out at one of the highest rates in baseball. Additionally, he proved to be an excellent defender in the outfield displayed through his three Gold Glove awards in his career. In 2021, the Rangers put him on the trade block and the Yankees quickly swooped in and picked him up. During that half season with the Yankees, he was once again not good. He was still good on defense, but his offensive production was below average. At this point he was getting some hate from the fans. New York fans are notorious for being very critical of their players and Gallo was no exception. Going into the 2022 season it appeared as if the Yankees fans were just waiting to attack him. After the Yankees started off the season very strong, there was only one glaring issue: Gallo was terrible. Even though the team was still winning, the fans were still upset with Gallo. Rumors about a trade started to emerge close to the trade deadline and Yankees fans were ready. Gallo was content with the possible trade as his time in New York was clearly difficult. “I don’t go out in the streets,” said Gallo in an interview before the deadline, “I really don’t want to show my face too much around here.” He went on to talk about how much his confidence suffered and how it felt like he hit rock bottom in the majors. His entire experience in New York was clearly devastating on him mentally. On top of that, some Royals players reached out to give him words of encouragement and it actually made him feel even worse, considering it made him feel like he was the problem. It was time for Gallo to get a new start. The Yankees traded him to the Dodgers and he has been better. “They’ve done a good job of explaining things so far. It helps that I was in a good head space as well,” said Gallo to the New York Post after having some success with the Dodgers. The mental game is big in baseball and a fresh start has helped clear some of that up for him. 

Although the Cubs had a strange deadline, the Boston Red Sox may have had an even stranger one. The Red Sox traded catcher Christian Vazqeuz to the Astros. Vazquez was a key player in their playoff run last year and caught the final out of their World Series win in 2018. Fans were clearly upset losing a favorite but it made sense. “It’s a business,” said Vazquez when asked about how it felt to be traded. Before he could say any more, the public relations for the Red Sox pulled him away from the reporters. The trade made sense though. He is a free agent at the end of this year so it was better to get something in a trade for him compared to losing him for nothing in free agency. However, the Red Sox said that they were “buyers and sellers.” So instead of just trading all of the team’s expiring contracts, they traded for outfielder Tommy Pham and kept J.D. Martinez, meaning they retained and gained expiring contracts. The team at the deadline still had a slim chance to make the playoffs, so the Red Sox decided to play with the emotions of the Red Sox fans. Nice.

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