As another AL exec observed, though, the Tigers also have last year's ERA champ ( Anibal Sanchez) to keep their Cy Youngs company, "so the manager's got some options," he laughed. "Let's put it that way."
The Tigers also left themselves a big hole by shipping off their center fielder, Austin Jackson, in this trade. And not many teams in go-for-it mode do that, either.
"But you know Oakland wasn't too thrilled giving up Cespedes in their deal," said one of the execs quoted earlier. "You've gotta do what you've gotta do."
Precisely. And that's what made these two trades so mesmerizing. How refreshing was it to run across two GMs who weren't looking for reasons not to do something? They got the right deal in their sights, then they found a way to work their magic. It was a clinic on trade-deadline shopping for the whole baseball world to see.
But now that we've got that out of the way, we've got a season to finish off. So let's get to the only questions about these two blockbusters that really matter:
Which of these two teams now has the better rotation? And which has the better team?
"I'm not sold on the third guy in Detroit, and by that I mean Verlander," said one of the NL execs quoted earlier. "But that said, I'll still take the Tigers. He's got history in October, and Samardzija really doesn't yet. So I'm going to take the experience."
"If Verlander gets going, they'll have a lights-out, lockdown rotation in Detroit," said another exec. "If everything sets up right, they'll be up 3-0 before the other team can take a deep breath -- even over Oakland. That pitching is going to shut down Oakland's offense."
On the other hand, you could easily argue the A's have the better lineup and bullpen now. But is that what wins in October?
Obviously, these two teams were telling us exactly what they think wins in October -- with the kind of trades they made on deadline day.
It was highly unusual, after all, to see both of them actually subtracting offense in these deals. Who does that, unless you're trading for the ultimate October difference-makers -- true, dominating, No. 1 starters?
"They don't have the same lineups today that they had yesterday," said one exec. "But it doesn't matter. In October, it's going to come down to pitching anyway."