The last few weeks marked a pretty crazy time in the baseball world: The trade deadline. Now, I realize this is a bit more “advanced” in terms of baseball knowledge, but it’s pretty interesting. Besides, y’all can handle it.
The official trade deadline every season is July 31. This is the last day a team can straight up trade for a player(s) for another player(s) without a lot of other factors being involved. Not to say there isn’t a lot involved in making a trade in general, just less paperwork and procedures to follow.
Prior to the trade deadline, teams have to decide if they are “buyers” or “sellers”. A “buyer” would be a team that is seemingly in the hunt for the playoffs and are missing a component that could get them to the World Series (the ultimate goal for teams). A “seller” is a team that does not see themselves as making it to the playoffs, but may have a player or two that a buyer may be interested in.
The philosophies of a buyer and seller are usually quite different. As stated before, a buyer is (typically) trying to improve their team now. They want to win this season. A seller, on the other hand, is usually looking to improve their team for the future, that could mean for the next year or a few years down the road.
Typically, the most traded players are those players who will be free agents (a player whose contract has ended and will be looking to sign a new one) that coming off season. Basically, the team they are currently playing on (a seller) really doesn’t hold a lot of value in them since they can’t help the team in the future. The selling team is often looking for prospects (players in the minors that are still developing their talent).
It’s pretty common now for athletes to have a “no trade clause” written up in their contracts. All this means is that the team has to get the player’s permission before trading them to another team. Many athletes may have a list of teams they’d be willing to play for as part of the no trade clause.
So what happens after July 31? Are teams just stuck with what they have if they can’t make a trade happen? Short answer: No. It’s just a bit more complicated.
After July 31, players can be placed on “waivers”, indicating that that player is available to be traded. Once the player is placed on waivers, any team can claim him. If more than one team claims the player, then the team with the worst record gets dibs. At that point, the two teams have 2 days to work out a trade.
The team who placed the player on waivers could opt to reclaim the player (indicating they have no interest in trading him to that team) or could simply do nothing, allowing the other team to take on the contract and the “waiving” team pays the waiver fee (but in this instance the waiving team gets nothing in return except getting rid of the player and his contract). At this point, the claiming team must place the player on its active major league roster.
If a team opts to rescind the waiver claim, the player cannot be placed on waivers for the remainder of the season. If no claim is made on the player placed on waivers after 3 days, the player has “cleared waivers”. The player can then be traded to anyone, released or sent down to the minors. Now there is a deadline of August 31 for all waiver activity. Any player traded/acquired after the Aug. 31 deadline can play on the team for the remainder of the regular season, but can’t participate in any postseason games.
Clear as mud, right?
If you have a baseball-related question or topic you’d like to see discussed or explained here, please shoot me an email at LorInBigD@gmail.com or tweet at me @LorInBigD.