For many people, July 31st is just the last day of July. But for the baseball community, it’s the day where dozens of trades occur and several players are on the move.
As per usual, the MLB Trade Deadline this year falls on July 31. But what is not “per usual” is the fact that this is the first year there can be no August trades.
Up until this year, July 31 was the non-waiver trade deadline and August 31 marked the final day for waiver trades. This year, the singular deadline falls on July 31 — no waiver trades in August. Players must stay put.
So what does this mean for the league? More trades?
In past years, there were several of these “waiver trades” in August. In 2018, there were 34. 2017 featured 26. In 2019, there will be zero. So it only makes sense that those some of those would-be August trades will happen in July. While a decent number of the August trades that occurred in past years probably would not have happened if August trades had been taken away, some definitely would have — after all, buyers want rentals, and sellers want assets.
In July 2017, 61 trades went down across Major League Baseball, 21 of which were completed before July 20.
In July 2018, there were 51 trades, including 10 before July 20.
Let’s say that only a quarter of the August trades in 2017 and 2018 would have been completed in July if there was a hard deadline on the 31st. That would bring the 2017 number of “August” trades to seven, and the 2018 number to nine. Adding those numbers to the actual July trades, we can unscientifically say that 2017 would have featured 68 trades, and 2018 would have had 60 trades.
Next, we’ll take the average of those two numbers. 64.
So — and again, this is very unscientific — we can somewhat determine that, if there was a hard deadline on July 31, there would be roughly 64 July trades.
So far, in July 2019, there have been 14 trades. I’m no math genius, but that would lead me to believe we will see roughly 50 more trades by the time the trade deadline arrives.
Obviously, some years feature more players on the trade market than usual, so you could always claim this year will be a down year — you’re probably right.
And will we see 50 more trades? Highly unlikely.
But will the next dozen or so days be extremely busy? You bet.
Additionally, this year’s deadline should be busier because of the larger number of teams struggling. Of the 15 teams in the National League, three lead their divisions (of course), two are less than five games out of first place in their divisions, and 10 are at least five games out of first. Six teams are at least 13 games out of first place. In the American League, 11 teams are at least five games out of first place in their division, and nine are at least 10 games back. That means more than half the league is a double-digit value away from first place in their divisions. That is some major separation; such separation can be expected near the end of the year, but for teams to be in such a hole at the trade deadline is not as common.
This means more sellers. Of course, for a large number of trades to happen with more sellers, you need more buyers, so an out-of-this-world number of trades isn’t bound to take place. But with more teams selling, rentals will become cheaper, and teams in contention will be sure to make more trades if they are discounted.
A lot of things could happen in the coming week and it’s hard to forecast exactly what we can expect.
But it’s bound to be a busy week.
Buckle up, folks.
Do you have your own theory proving/disproving the claim that the next week-plus will be busier than ever? Share it in the comments!