Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association have adopted a new rule change this season in which there will only be one trade deadline, sources told Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
The deadline will be July 31, which has been the traditional day for teams to complete non-waiver trades each season. In making this change, the league has decided to remove the waiver trades that take place in August.
Proposed by the MLBPA, the single deadline has been installed to “protect the competitive integrity of the 162-game regular season, create more certainty for players and force teams to decide earlier whether they are buyers or sellers,” according to Rosenthal.
Like any changes, this rule change will present pros and cons.
As Rosenthal says, this rule will make teams have to actually build their teams in the offseason, where there has been a lack of urgency to do so over the last two winters. Once they do that, the clubs will then have to play the games and “adjust” the team by the deadline. After that, the teams just have to watch their seasons unfold.
The hard deadline will certainly have more activity and drama when it comes to trades before July 31. Last year, as Rosenthal says, clubs made 48 trades in July and 24 in August, with deals involving Josh Donaldson, Andrew McCutchen, Curtis Grandson, Gio Gonzalez, Daniel Murphy, Jose Bautista, David Freese and many more players taking place in August.
It will also avoid having to explain how August waiver trades work, which is a long, confusing process and one that most teams tried to use in order to dump players who have huge salaries.
In addition, the rule could eventually benefit top prospects in the minor league system, as their chances of getting promoted to a team that may be deemed a seller by the deadline will increase because those sellers will look to trade away veteran players in order to build their clubs for the future.
Rosenthal says this also will force the MLB and MLBPA to keep discussing the issue of service-time manipulation, a topic he said the MLB and the union “recently exchanged proposals” on it “but tabled the matter and other economic concerns until a separate discussion that is expected to take place after Opening Day.” This could give prospects such as Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Fernando Tatis Jr. and Eloy Jimenez, who was optioned to Triple A by the White Sox on Wednesday, the chance to hit the big leagues sooner and eventually get bigger paydays earlier instead of being under team control for an extra year.
However, this deadline could make it hard on teams that will be on the fence as to whether they are contenders or a rebuilding team. Sometimes, teams start off hot and are in contention through July, but then they are hit with a ton of injuries in August or other unforeseen circumstances that causes them to lose baseball games. As a result, they are out of the postseason hunt and they are forced to keep their veteran talent instead of trying to trade them for prospects or save money.
The deadline could also hurt players who have 0-3 years of service time and are on contending teams, as they could be on the roster for days, weeks or months, but then be sent back down to the minors until September — when rosters expand — after their team acquires a veteran in a trade.