At the trade deadline two weird things happen:
1. People think it’s notable that so-and-so team is scouting such-and-such a player; and
2. Such-and-such a player, who has, like, a decade of a track record, is suddenly thought to be less marketable or tradable or whatever based on one or two bad games.
It’s silly and irrational and goes against everything we know about how baseball works the other 50 weeks a year, but for whatever reason, the final two weeks in July turns everyone into hand-wringers and concern trolls and what have you.
So, when you see reports that a team is scouting, say, Johnny Cueto, please realize that teams have a handful of full-time major league scouts who are scouting guys at all times and that, when you figure all 30 teams in this mix, at any game there are guys being scouted by multiple teams.
Also, when you see Johnny Cueto walk six dudes and last only four innings against the Cleveland Indians and Cole Hamels allow five runs on eight hits in three innings, realize that it’s not going to fundamentally alter any smart front office’s assessment of the player unless the performance can be chalked up to an injury.
The bigger question: why in the hell does everyone wait until the deadline to make moves in the first place? I suppose it has to do with people’s natural inclination to press deadlines, but if you’re the Reds and you’re dealing half your roster, you’d think that you’d make the equivalent of an eBay “Buy it Now!” option and get on with it.