The next time you're wondering if your team should go for it and make those deadline trades to try to get into the postseason, tell them this:
The early returns are in and the contending teams that got aggressive in late July and August and added players are now in great shape to make the postseason (we mean you, Blue Jays, and you, Mets, but there are other examples).
The ones who mostly stood pat? They might end up regretting it either because they have fallen out of the division lead and could miss the playoffs (sorry, Nationals) or have lost their division lead and could end up earning only a wild-card spot (hello, Brian Cashman and the Yankees).
The most aggressive team was the Blue Jays, who added six players in late July and August via trade, including star pitcher David Price and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.
On July 28, Toronto (50-51) trailed the Yankees by eight games in the AL East. They made their trades and proceeded to win 26 of their next 32 games while the Yankees (57-42) -- who added only Dustin Ackley, who promptly got injured -- went 17-16 in the same span and fell into second.
How much did the new players help the Blue Jays? Glad you asked. According to WAR (wins above replacement), Price, Tulowitzki and the other players Toronto acquired have been worth a total of 3.2 WAR (all stats through the postseason roster deadline of Aug. 31). That's the most of any team that went shopping around the deadline.
The surprising Texas Rangers are second with 2.7 WAR from the five players they acquired. Cole Hamels (0.7 WAR) was the big name, but the Rangers also got contributions from relievers Jake Diekman and Sam Dyson (0.6 apiece), first baseman Mike Napoli (0.5) and outfielder Will Venable (0.3). The Rangers went 18-10 in August to move into wild-card position.
Other teams whose acquisitions graded out well include the Astros (1.8 WAR), Pirates (1.6), Royals (1.6) and Mets (1.4).
The Mets went 20-8 in August to overtake the Nationals for first place in the NL East after acquiring Kelly Johnson, Juan Uribe, Yoenis Cespedes and Tyler Clippard before the July 31 non-waiver deadline and Eric O'Flaherty after it. The Nationals picked up only Jonathan Papelbon, who has been fine (0.2 WAR) but hasn't been able to stop Washington's free fall.
The Mets' combined acquired players WAR is lower than it probably should be for two reasons: O'Flaherty's minus-0.5 drags it down, and WAR is not as positive about Cespedes' performance as reality dictates; it assigned him a 0.7 WAR.
Hey, it's a metric, and it's not foolproof. WAR is about a player's total performance, including baserunning and defense. Cespedes is seen as a below-average defender in centerfield. What WAR can't measure, though, is how Cespedes' ability to play center has allowed the Mets to put a better hitter than Juan Lagares in left.
Anyway, that's splitting numerical hairs. Mets fans know how valuable Cespedes has been. That's why they already are fretting that the team isn't going to pony up the $150 million or so to keep him past this season.
The Yankees don't have money problems. But when Cashman decided to pass on Price, he may have handed Toronto the keys to the AL East. Turns out the traded player with the highest individual WAR is Price at 1.6. Tulowitzki is second at 1.1.
Ackley? He went 0-for-3 for the Yankees before getting injured. That was worth minus-0.2 WAR. Sometimes it may be better to do nothing at all.