Every Major League Baseball team has decided by July 31st if they are buyers or sellers this season. For some teams it’s an obvious decision to go all in and make the postseason push. For other clubs, the end of July indicates rebuilding for the future. In other occasions, a middling team could keep fans on the edge of their seats to see how the rest of the season will turn out.
This year is no exception. This is the MLB trade deadline.
Yankee fans probably recall big name acquisitions like David Justice and Bobby Abreu coming over in past years, helping propel the club to the postseason. Teams short on success in recent years, like the Astros and Mets, now find themselves in a race to acquire talent for the fall.
Already this season, we’ve seen end of July deals send Troy Tulowitzki from the Colorado Rockies to the Toronto Blue Jays for Jose Reyes. Other notable players like Shane Victorino, Aramis Ramirez and Scott Kazmir also changed teams in recent days. Many more could join them soon. This year, names like Cole Hamels and Craig Kimbrel are mainstays on the hot stove.
Unlike other sports, MLB has a slightly different trade structure. While July 31st is the official trade deadline, teams actually have until August 31st to solidify their postseason rosters. If a team wants to trade a player outright, it must come before the July deadline. However, if a team wants to move a player after that, they must first pass through waivers. That explains why you may see some jaw dropping all-stars put on waivers in the coming weeks. Additionally, while you see draft picks involved in other leagues’ deals, MLB does not allow that. Rather, teams have the Rule 5 draft. One player chosen in the Rule 5 draft was then-Astro Johan Santana. After being selected by the Marlins, Santana was traded to the Minnesota Twins where he stayed on the roster the full season, solidifying his Twins status. From there, he became the bonafide stud pitcher we witnessed for several seasons.
When it comes to waiver trades, teams run a risk of having that player claimed on waivers. If that arises, the player’s original team has three options:
- Orchestrate a trade with the team that made the successful claim
- Rescind the player’s waiver and bring them back to the team
- Allow the new team to assume the player’s contract.
Most likely, you will see the first two options exercised more often.
This year may prove to be particularly interesting at the deadline with numerous borderline contenders around the .500 mark. Depending on which way they go, the league could turn on its head. A fringe contender could push to the top of the pack while a star acquisition can prove to be a colossal letdown. While I’d love to give you more details on the rumblings of my team, that’d be a bit too much “inside baseball.”