MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Unusual amount of trading bases: 18 deals!

Rangers, Dodgers headline 2016 Trade Deadline winners

Unusual amount of trading bases: 18 deals!

Well, that was a wild ride, wasn't it? Are you caught up? OK, it may take a day or two to digest it all. This flurry of trades had impact players changing teams, one after another, switching teams and pennant races.

Carlos Beltran and Matt Moore. Jay Bruce and Jonathan Lucroy. Rich Hill and Josh Reddick.

Guess what? This is how it ought to be. This is why we love it. Days like this remind us why the non-waiver Trade Deadline is so much fun. This frenetic Monday was a larger reflection of a sport in which 18 teams are within 5 1/2 games of a postseason berth.

There were 18 trades -- involving 49 players -- consummated on Monday, which is up from 15 on Deadline day a year ago, and 11 more than the seven deals that were made on the day of the 2011 non-waiver Trade Deadline. That's notable because 2012 was the year the second Wild Card was introduced, and the increase in Deadline swaps suggests what we've all suspected: more teams are willing to "go for it."

We're just two years removed from two Wild Card teams -- the Giants and the Royals -- in the World Series. That's a reminder that getting to October is the key.

Here are takeaways from the comings and goings:

1. The Rangers had an amazing Deadline day
They needed starting pitching and had focused on Chris Sale, Chris Archer and others. President of baseball operations Jon Daniels couldn't find a trade for pitching in which he would not have to include his star kids, Jurickson Profar or Joey Gallo.

So Daniels did what the best general managers often do. He improved his team in other areas, and dramatically in acquiring outfielder/designated hitter Beltran from the Yankees, in addition to catcher Lucroy and reliever Jeremy Jeffress from the Brewers.

Daniels paid a steep price, sending outfielder Lewis Brinson and right-hander Luis Ortiz, Texas' No. 2 and 3 prospects, to Milwaukee, and pitching prospect Dillon Tate and others to New York.

Big deal. Daniels positioned his team as one of the two or three best in the American League. While he did not acquire the top-of-the-rotation starter he wanted, the Rangers can get to the postseason and line up Cole Hamels, Yu Darvish and possibly Derek Holland (who is on the disabled list but is expected back later this month or early September).

Besides, the Rangers have weathered injuries and a hellacious 7-17 slump to remain solidly atop the division. Daniels has built a great organization from top to bottom, with Texas likely headed to the postseason for the fifth time in seven years. Part of his genius is not losing sight of the big picture. Daniels was interested in both Archer and Sale, but only to a point.

MLB Tonight on Hill and Reddick

2. The Dodgers and Giants may fight to the wire for the NL West, and isn't that the way it's supposed to be?
The Dodgers struck first on Monday, getting outfielder Reddick and left-hander Hill from the Athletics. With that move, they made themselves the clear favorites to win the NL West.

And then the Giants answered emphatically minutes before the Deadline in getting left-hander Moore from the Rays. Along with the earlier acquisition of reliever Will Smith from the Brewers, the Giants, having spent 101 days in first place, got better in two areas.

San Francisco leads Los Angeles by two games, but the two teams play nine more times -- including six times in the final two weeks of the regular season. It doesn't get better than that.

MLB Central on Miller deal

3. The Indians are going for it
The Indians have been atop the AL Central for two months. They've got the AL's best pitching staff and one of its best bullpens. Their offense has been more productive than a lot of people thought it would be.

The Tribe hoped to fine-tune it by getting Lucroy. Before Lucroy had even invoked his no-trade protection to veto the deal, Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti went out and dramatically upgraded his team at the back of the bullpen by getting Andrew Miller from the Yankees. Antonetti surrendered a bundle of prospects, which could one day hurt, but this is about following in the Cavaliers' footsteps and delivering a World Series to Cleveland.

Just before the Deadline, Antonetti got versatile outfielder Brandon Guyer from the Rays. In making the two deals, Antonetti sent a message to his players and fans that he thinks this team has a chance to win. The Tribe is 19 years removed from its last World Series appearance and 68 years removed from its last title. The Indians have a great chance to end that streak.

Cashman on acquiring prospects

4. The Yankees had themselves a great week
The Yankees are suddenly as interesting as any team in baseball. After years of hoping to keep the old guys on the field for one more run, they faced reality and decided to go young by trading Aroldis Chapman, Miller, Beltran and Ivan Nova.

MLB.com's Jim Callis believes that Yankees GM Brian Cashman may now have the best farm system in baseball. When Yanks fans watch their team next season, they're going to see loads of young talent that will stumble at times, but also has a chance to be part of the franchise's next great run.

Just over the horizon is a Yankees team with Clint Frazier in the outfield, Gleyber Torres at short, Greg Bird at first and Aaron Judge in the outfield. There are pitching prospects as well -- including Dillon Tate, who arrived as part of the Beltran trade -- and money to spend to fortify the holes in the roster.

Chapman's grand first Cubs save

5. The Cubs aren't messing around
Weren't the Cubs already baseball's best team? Why add Chapman (and another reliever, Will Smith)? Because he makes the Cubs better. Because he makes the Cubs more interesting. One of those things may have been almost as important as the other.

Maybe this was Theo Epstein's way to jump-start his team out of a mini tailspin, a 1-9 slide that allowed the Cardinals to get within 6 1/2 games at one point. The lead is back to 7 1/2 games, the largest in baseball.

No one expected them to win every game. When a team starts a season 25-6 and opens up an 8 1/2-game division lead in early May, things might get a little, well, routine.

Enter Chapman and his 105-mph fastball. Fans at Wrigley Field will react the moment he takes off his warmup jacket. Guess what? Players will get excited, too. The Cubs may not have needed a jolt, but this is a significant one. Also -- and this is the bottom line -- the final outs of a game can be extraordinarily difficult in October. For the Cubs, October is what matters now.

Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.