I understand. It’s strange to be thinking about possible trades with the baseball season just 20-something games old (or, y’know, 11 games old for the Cardinals). But here we are, with the only trade deadline of the season less than two weeks away.
Here is a complete guide to the 2020 MLB trade deadline, including the new date, time and rules to know.
What time is the MLB trade deadline in 2020?
The 2020 MLB trade deadline is at 4 p.m. ET on Monday, Aug. 31. It was pushed back from its usual July date to account for the 60-game MLB season.
Can MLB teams acquire players after the trade deadline?
The August 31 deadline is the last time players can be traded this season. In previous years, players could be traded after the July 31 deadline, subject to a somewhat complicated waiver process. That second trading session was eliminated for the 2019 season, and there again is no waiver trade period in 2020.
The only way a player outside the organization can be added is if that player was previously released by one club and was currently a free agent.
How is the MLB trade deadline different in 2020?
The trade deadline has been July 31 for many, many years, but obviously, the timeline for the 2020 season has been adjusted due to the national (global) coronavirus pandemic.
The season didn’t start until July 24, so it didn’t make sense to have a trade deadline a week later. The deadline was moved to August 31, but otherwise essentially stays the same as 2019.
When is the 2020 postseason eligibility deadline?
All players have to appear on a team’s MLB active roster before 11:59 p.m. ET on September 15 to be eligible for the postseason.
How might the COVID-adjusted 2020 timeline impact the trade deadline?
That’s an excellent question, and there are several factors at play here. We’ll take a quick look at a couple of them.
In previous years, players acquired at the July 31 trade deadline had two full months with their new teams. With an August 31 deadline this year, though, that leaves just one month of regular season games — likely five starts for a starting pitcher, a dozen appearances for a relief pitcher and about 100 or so plate appearances for a position player. It’s hard to imagine teams overpaying, prospect-wise, for free-agents-to-be for just a month of production (also, with no minor-league games this year, will prospects outside the 60-player pool even be considered?). And will teams trade those players for less than they would have gotten in the past? That’s, again, an excellent question.
And then, there’s this: With the expanded playoffs, 16 teams qualify for the postseason, up from 10. With more teams in the October conversation, more teams will be toying with the consideration of buying and fewer will be thinking about selling. How that impacts the market will be fascinating to see.
And, the human factor is a real thing, too. In such an uncertain time, with strict MLB and team protocols, do players want to be traded away from their current teams, into an unknown situation? Do teams want to bring in players they don’t know very well?
And, finally, money. Always, money. It makes sense that teams would be most hesitant to take on a lot of extra salary, even a prorated portion of 2020 for free-agents-to-be, and especially with players who have hefty contracts for 2021 and beyond. Revenue, obviously, is significantly down this year and that’s not going to be an appealing thought for anyone.
MLB trade deadline rumors: Which players could be traded?
Look, it’s a weird market. Could be a very quiet market. This isn’t a complete list, of course, but these four names figure to be moved.
Robbie Ray, SP, Diamondbacks. Once upon a time, trading Ray would have brought back a haul to Arizona. Now? His trade value, as a free-agent-to-be, is at stunningly low levels. He’s still striking out batters at a high level — 27 in 22 innings — but he’s also walking nearly a batter per inning (20 in 22) and he has an 8.59 ERA/7.69 FIP. There will be teams willing to buy low, but nobody willing to part with much.
Mitch Moreland, 1B, Red Sox. Boston’s in a free-fall, but Moreland’s hitting well and is very affordable. Won’t bring a huge return, but could fit nicely on the larger roster of a contender.
Kevin Gausman, SP, Giants. He signed a one-year deal with the Giants to help rebuild his value, and he’s done just that. Gausman’s fastball is back up, and he’s struck out 34 batters — against just five walks — in 25 2/3 innings, to go with a 3.11 FIP.
Trevor Rosenthal, RP, Royals. After three seasons lost to injury and ineffectiveness, Rosenthal has been outstanding on a one-year deal with the Royals — 0.90 ERA, 13 Ks in 10.0 IP, and his average four-seam fastball checks in at 97.8 mph.
Which MLB teams could be most active at the trade deadline?
As mentioned earlier, pretty much every team could find a motivation this year to make a move, but let’s just look at three potential sellers and three potential buyers.
Yankees: Potential buyers. It’s been a more than a decade since they’ve been to the World Series, and this team definitely has that potential. But recent injuries and ineffectiveness mean they could look outside the organization for upgrades.
Mariners: Potential sellers: Nobody loves to deal as much as Jerry Dipoto. Can they find a taker for Kyle Seager? He’s off to a great start, but has a good deal of money left on his contract.
Indians: Potential buyers: The club has a World Series-caliber rotation with a Triple-A caliber outfield (offensively speaking). Help is needed.
Pirates: Potential sellers: There’s rebuilding work to be done, and while there doesn’t seem to be heavy lifting on the horizon, they should listen on just about everyone.
Braves: Potential buyers. Losing Mike Soroka from the rotation was brutal. Can they advance deep into October with the current set of starters? Almost certainly not, so how they solve that dilemma is the big question.
Red Sox. Potential sellers. They’re 6-17 and have lost eight in a row. Can they trade everybody?
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