Now, the focus is clearly on a World Series championship, which became apparent in the days leading up to Friday's non-waiver Trade Deadline at 4 p.m. ET.
Here's a look at what transpired in the nine days leading up to the Trade Deadline.
IT IS TIME
The Royals are intent on winning a division title and a World Series for the first time in 30 years, which was why they gave up five quality but unproven arms to land right-hander Johnny Cueto from the Reds, and versatile Ben Zobrist from the A's. Cueto gives Kansas City a legit No. 1, a necessity to be a World Series champion. Zobrist initially fills in for injured Alex Gordon in left field, and then gives manager Ned Yost one of the most versatile reserves in baseball.
The Blue Jays are now the team with the longest postseason drought, dating back to 1993. Management is ready to put an end to that struggle. Very much alive in the AL Wild Card race, the organization made impact additions with shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and left-hander David Price, brought in outfielder Ben Revere to give them speed at the top of the lineup, and added bullpen depth with right-handed relievers LaTroy Hawkins and Mark Lowe.
The Astros lost 416 games from 2011-14, but are now in first place in the AL West -- and management wants the team to stay there. That is as apparent as their willingness to give up six prospects, including four of their top 25, to fill rotation voids with lefty Scott Kazmir and right-hander Mike Fiers, and a need in center field with Carlos Gomez.
The Cardinals have survived a series of key injuries and are in position for a fifth consecutive postseason appearance, but they do have areas of concern. They added bullpen depth by picking up right-handers Steve Cishek from Miami and Jonathan Broxton from Milwaukee. And for the price of top-flight left-handed prospect Rob Kaminsky, they acquired outfielder Brandon Moss to try and limit the impact of Matt Holliday's second trip to the disabled list this season.
The Nationals have what they believed a year ago was a team capable of winning a World Series championship, and it's even better this year with the offseason addition of free-agent starting pitcher Max Scherzer. And now they have added closer Jonathan Papelbon from the Phillies, which means Drew Storen, who does have 29 saves, moves into an eighth-inning role, creating a Royals-like back end of the bullpen.
The Orioles entered Friday six games back of the Yankees in the AL East, but only two games behind Minnesota for the second AL Wild Card spot. They filled their need for an outfielder at the top of the lineup by acquiring Gerardo Parra from the Brewers, and revamped their rotation from within, designating Bud Norris for assignment so former first-round pick Kevin Gausman could have a full-time opportunity.
The Dodgers have a dominant 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, and Brett Anderson has stayed healthy. However, they needed help in the final two spots, where 11 pitchers have been used, eight of whom have made two or fewer starts. The Dodgers addressed that with the acquisitions of Alex Wood and Mat Latos as part of a three-team, 13-player trade that also brought them prime second-base prospect Jose Peraza.
The Angels weren't shopping for any impact players, but they had concerns about outfield depth and addressed them with David DeJesus from the Rays, David Murphy from the Indians and Shane Victorino from the Red Sox without giving up a prospect who projected into the future in Anaheim.
The Giants aren't flashy, but they have won three of the past five World Series, haven't been scared off by the big-spending Dodgers, and were just a half game back in the National League West standings. And now they have a quality arm in Mike Leake, who easily fits into the middle of the rotation with the team he grew up rooting for.
The Pirates were able to bring Aramis Ramirez back to where he began his career, filling a need at third base created by injury that forced Josh Harrison to the disabled list. They also added depth to the bullpen (Joakim Soria), the rotation (J.A. Happ) and the bench (left-handed hitting Michael Morse).
The Cubs entered Friday two games back in the NL Wild Card race -- and aren't about to surrender. They reinforced their rotation by acquiring Dan Haren from the Marlins, then added bullpen depth with the acquisition of Tommy Hunter from the Orioles in the final minutes before the Deadline.
The Mets have been on the heels of the Nationals since the season started, and now the rest of baseball is going to have to take them seriously. They found the right-handed run-producing bat they needed with the addition of Yoenis Cespedes, added bullpen depth with Tyler Clippard, and brought in the versatile duo of Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson.
The Rangers won the bidding war for lefty Cole Hamels, giving up five prospects -- including four of their top 30 -- for a package that included left-hander Jake Diekman and $9.5 million to offset Hamels' contract. Hamels' contract, though, is the key. He is signed for three more seasons, and the Rangers see him at the top of the rotation next year with Yu Darvish, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery.
The Mariners thought they were ready to contend this year, but expectations haven't been met. Management, however, didn't panic and start unloading veterans with contracts. Instead, they finally moved Dustin Ackley, who has been a disappointment in his inability to make offensive adjustments, and Mark Lowe, who could very well return as a free agent in the offseason, and brought back prospects.
The Marlins were active, moving displaced closer Steve Cishek and his $6.65 million salary, and potential free agents Morse, Latos and Haren for prospects, but resisted the temptation to undergo another massive overhaul, instead keeping key personnel in place.
The Phillies dealt Hamels, even though he is under contract for three more years, but they know they have a major rebuilding project ahead and were able to bring back five prospects, including three ranked among the top 100 in baseball: right-hander Jake Thompson (No. 60), outfielder Nick Williams (No. 64) and catcher Jorge Alfaro (No. 69). Right-hander Nick Pivetta, who came from the Nationals for Papelbon, also fits into the Phils' Top 30 Prospect list.
The Rockies sent All-Star shortstop Tulowitzki, who is signed for five more years, to the Blue Jays along with reliever Hawkins, who already has announced plans to retire at seasons' end. Key, though, is that they received three legitimate pitching prospects in return, including Jeff Hoffman, who ranks No. 4 on the team's top prospect list; Miguel Castro, who is No. 10; and Jesus Tinoco, No. 189.
The Reds' general manager, Walt Jocketty, didn't panic. He came up with five prospects -- three who rank in the Reds' top 20 -- in dealing potential free-agent right-handers Cueto to the Royals and Leake to the Giants. However, they didn't get what they wanted for closer Aroldis Chapman and outfielder Jay Bruce and decided to keep both players, who are under control for next season.
The Brewers looked to replenish their farm system, and they hit the jackpot in sending center fielder Gomez and right-hander Fiers to the Astros for four prospects who rank in the Brewers' top 30, including outfielders Brett Phillips (No. 2) and Domingo Santana (No. 4). They also acquired right-hander Zach Davies, who ranked No. 3 in the Orioles' system, for outfielder Gerardo Parra.
The Tigers are coming off four consecutive division titles, but the season has been a struggle. In hopes of limiting the time it takes to regroup, general manager Dave Dombrowski was a seller, moving Price (Toronto), Soria (Pirates) and Cespedes (Mets). In return, however, came six prospects, including left-hander Daniel Norris, who will come directly to the big leagues and start this weekend in Baltimore.
The A's underwent a major offseason facelift that didn't turn out. General manager Billy Beane had decided if the three-year postseason run was over, he would restock and trade potential free agents Clippard, Zobrist and Kazmir for three prospects who rank among the top 11 in the A's system: lefty Sean Manaea (No. 3), catcher Jacob Nottingham (No. 8) and right-hander Casey Meisner (No. 11).
The Braves kept saying they wanted to rebuild and win, but as the season heads down the stretch, they have focused on the future. In addition to picking up pitcher Touki Toussaint in a late-June deal with Arizona, they added right-handers John Gant, Robert Whalen and Zachary Bird in the past eight days.
The Twins, Rays, Indians and Red Sox made minor deals, with the Indians' acquisition of lefty Kaminsky -- ranked the 88th-best prospect in baseball -- being the most significant move of the four teams.
The Padres and White Sox decided their postseason hopes were better than any significant deal they could have made, although San Diego did pick up reliever Marc Rzepczynski from Cleveland for outfielder Abraham Almonte. Nor could the Diamondbacks and Yankees put together the package to pry Chapman from the Reds or Craig Kimbrel from the Padres.