We're now just a few days until the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. It seems like we won't see a blockbuster move involving a player the caliber of Yoenis Cespedes, like we had in a 2014 surprise, but it's still possible.

Cespedes has had an unbelievable impact in many transactions in recent years, perhaps more so than any other player. He's altered so much, both directly and indirectly. Let's take a closer look at those moves involving the Mets star, including what could have changed if any of these individual moves went down differently.

If you're here looking for "serious reporting," this exercise isn't for you. For everyone else, let's go.

February 13, 2012: Cespedes surprisingly signs with A's

Leading up to the signing, the A's weren't even on the radar, to hear it from the rumor mill. Most thought he'd sign with the Marlins while the Cubs, White Sox, Tigers, Indians and Orioles were thought to be involved as well. Nearly no one even thought about the A's, but that's where he signed. 

The direct impact is pretty obvious. It wasn't all Cespedes, of course, but the 2012 A's improved by 20 games and won the AL West. 

Indirectly? 

  • What if Cespedes signed with the Orioles, who won 93 games and the AL Wild Card Game only to lose, 3-2, to the Yankees in the ALDS?
  • What if Cespedes signed with the Tigers, who won the AL pennant only to lay an egg in the World Series?
  • What if a Cespedes-less A's team faltered and the Rangers won the AL West? What if 2012 was then their third-straight pennant, and this time they finally won it all?

There are ripples all over the place here and this is only scratching the surface. It gets more fun, though. 

July 31, 2014: A's break up stellar team, deal Cespedes for Lester

The official deal sent Cespedes with a competitive balance pick to the Red Sox for Jon Lester, Jonny Gomes and cash.

The A's had been the best team in baseball for much of the season and did have the best record at the time of the trade at 66-41. They would go 22-33 the rest of the way, which was the second-worst record in the AL. They averaged 3.53 runs per game after the trade and exactly five runs per game before it. They at one point had a six-game lead, but would lose the AL West by 10 games. 

What if Billy Beane just decided to hold, and the A's didn't fall apart down the stretch? Even if they didn't hold off the 98-win Angels for the division title, they could have hosted the Royals in the AL Wild Card Game and won that, which would have meant the Royals' magical run to the World Series wouldn't have happened. 

Who then goes to the World Series for the AL? Would it have been another Bay Area series with the Giants and A's? Perhaps the Orioles would have broken through, or even the Angels with a huge Mike Trout run.

Would any of those teams knocked off Madison Bumgarner and the Giants? 

Further ...

  • If the Red Sox didn't trade Lester, would it have been easier for them to retain him in free agency in the offseason? If so, the Cubs don't sign him and don't make their run in the 2015 playoffs or win the World Series in 2016. 
  • If that's the case, do the 2015 Cardinals or Dodgers win it all? How about in 2016? Another Giants' even-year run? Dodgers? 

December 11, 2014: Red Sox deal Cespedes to Tigers for Rick Porcello

There were others involved, but this was the basic deal. Both of these teams would finish last, but there were still ripples. Cespedes could have been dealt to a team that would contend in 2015, obviously, but pay attention to Porcello, too. 

Porcello would win the 2016 Cy Young over Tigers hurler Justin Verlander. If they were on the same team, it feels pretty likely Verlander would have won his second Cy Young. Will it matter when it comes time to vote on his Hall of Fame case? It's possible! 

Porcello is now a key member of the rotation of the best team in baseball in 2018. If the Red Sox win the AL pennant and/or World Series, this is yet another Cespedes ripple. 

Let's also delve into the possibility that if the Red Sox shipped Cespedes elsewhere for pitching, they could have gotten someone who wasn't terrible in the 2016 playoffs and subpar in the 2017 playoffs. If the Red Sox beat either the 2016 Indians or 2017 Astros, that changes the tenor of those playoffs completely.

Also, the Tigers couldn't salvage the remnants of their great teams from the recent years, which meant they had a nice trading chip in Cespedes. Which cleared the way for ... 

July 31, 2015: Mets get their savior

Cespedes gets dealt to the Mets for Luis Cessa and Michael Fulmer at the 2015 trade deadline. The Mets were 52-50 at the time of the deal. They would win on July 31 without Cespedes but would then go 37-22 after he joined the team. He transformed the entire offense from a relatively bland one to an exciting one. The Mets then rode the wave all the way to the World Series.

Without Cespedes, no, the Mets don't make the World Series. Who does? The Cubs? Perhaps. Maybe the Dodgers beat the Cubs. What if the Nationals won the NL East and made a run for the first time in the franchise and in ensuing seasons didn't have these demons hanging over them? 

What, then, if the NL rep in the World Series beat the Royals? 

We could keep tugging on this thread. More: 

  • If Cespedes was either not traded or traded to a different team, what if he didn't sign with the Mets after the 2016 season?
  • If the Mets held onto Fulmer, what if they now were preparing to trade him? 

It's pretty amazing how much four transactions in roughly 3 1/2 years involving one outstanding player altered the entire landscape of Major League Baseball. 

Call Yoenis Cespedes the Alterer of Leagues.