The Dodgers got left-handed relievers Tony Wilson and Tony Cingrani along with Darvish. Houston was reported to be vying for Darvish and Baltimore Orioles closer Zach Britton, but ultimately stood pat at the deadline. Washington has a new trio of options at closer – Brandon Kintzler, Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson – to complete a rapidly rebuilt bullpen.Most of the hard work was done without the new acquisitions, however. The players who put each team in such a dominant position will be the same ones doing the heavy lifting in October. The coming months figure to be less a referendum on who “won” or “lost” the trade deadline than on the importance of the deadline itself.To some Dodger players, a big trade equaled a front-office endorsement that this was, in fact, their year.“We got our Ferrari,” closer Kenley Jansen said Tuesday in Atlanta.Certainly some Astros and Nationals personnel — not to mention each team’s fan base — were hoping for an exotic sports car, too. Now, because three teams were entrenched as favorites, and because each team took a different tack at the deadline, a loosely testable hypothesis has emerged. Does “winning the July 31 deadline” mean anything?This isn’t the only question at stake. For the Nationals, the one dominant team with a gaping roster hole, did the front office correctly assess its need and target the right relievers?For the Dodgers, did Darvish’s upside (top-of-the-rotation depth, lefty/righty balance) really outweigh the risks (an up-and-down season, the cost in prospects for a rental player) while adding him to a historically great roster?For the Astros, a franchise that’s never won a World Series, was standing pat the correct move?Yet unless Darvish or the Washington bullpen emerges as an October hero, the path to this year’s deadline mattering much at all seems narrow. That’s what happens when the best teams have declared themselves so clearly, so soon.Some other deadline deals were born of necessity. The Arizona Diamondbacks, in command of the National League’s top wild-card berth, recently placed shortstop Chris Owings on the disabled list. Another shortstop, Ketel Marte, went on the bereavement list Monday. That they were able to pry veteran shortstop Adam Rosales from the Oakland A’s before the deadline was convenient, not shrewd.Garcia went from Minnesota to New York soon after the Yankees lost pitcher Michael Pineda to a torn ulnar collateral ligament. The Rockies, whose catchers have framed poorly this season and hit even less, acquired veteran backstop Jonathan Lucroy from Texas. If a champion emerges from among the second-tier contenders, maybe these moves will be magnified come October.But these trades were in the minority. The general manager (or president of baseball operations) of the team that wins the World Series will probably be quick to credit his front office’s drafting, development, and year-round strategy of acquiring players opportunistically – buzzwords that don’t fit conveniently into headlines. And he won’t be wrong. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Thirty-five trades were completed over eight days leading into Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline. Eighty-seven players were involved, not including those who will be named later. Pitcher Jaime Garcia was traded twice. It was easy to get lost in the shuffle. If regular-season wins and losses mean anything, the shuffle might not matter. Three teams — the Dodgers, Houston Astros and Washington Nationals — lead their respective divisions by 14 games or more. Every other first-place team leads its division by less than three games. The landscape baseball fans awoke to Tuesday was just as lopsided as it was on Monday. For a league that hasn’t produced back-to-back champions since 1999-2000, it’s an unusually large gap between the haves and have-nots. The website fivethirtyeight.com uses an algorithm to generate odds for every regular-season game. The Dodgers and Astros are favored to win all their remaining games. Half of the division races are over, the favorites established, and not because of any trades that were made Monday.The Dodgers’ deal for four-time All-Star pitcher Yu Darvish was dramatic, maybe the closest thing in baseball to a summer blockbuster. It became official at 12:53 p.m. Pacific Time – seven minutes before the deadline and three minutes after Darvish tweeted a selfie from his locker in the Rangers’ clubhouse. Texas once paid a record $51.7 million merely to negotiate with Darvish; the Dodgers got him for three prospects and a few phone calls.The unifying point of praise among rival scouts and executives, regardless of their opinion of Darvish, was this: the Dodgers didn’t give up much. Gone are Willie Calhoun, A.J. Alexy and Brendon Davis. But most of the Dodgers’ high-ceiling talents remain: pitchers Walker Buehler, Yadier Alvarez, Mitch White, Dennis Santana, and outfielder Alex Verdugo. Some of these prospects have a chance to make an impact this year, others next year, others in 2019.This year, the Dodgers did not need Darvish to enter the postseason as massive favorites. The team with baseball’s highest payroll went 20-3 in July and hasn’t lost since Clayton Kershaw went on the disabled list more than a week ago. Getting Darvish without sacrificing the top prospects in the system was a case of baseball’s 1 percent getting improbably richer.Besides a massive advantage in the standings, the Dodgers, Astros and Nationals have something else in common. With a couple exceptions, their most important roles were filled long before the deadline.