What is the MLB Trade Deadline?

Green Ball on Sand

The MLB Trade Deadline refers to the cutoff point after which players cannot be traded from one club to another for the remainder of the season. It has traditionally been set for July 31st, but the new CBA allowed for Rob Manfred to select a date between July 28th and August 2nd in 2022.

The history of the MLB trade deadline dates back to 1917 when the National League set August 20th as its first official trading deadline. The American League established July 1st as their trading deadline a few years later. The National League and American League then agreed to make August 1st their mutual trading deadline in 1921. The deadline was moved to June 15th in 1923 and remained fixed for around 60 years until the players’ strike in 1985. The strike lasted only two days but moved the MLB trade deadline to July 31st.

Before 2019, the MLB deadline was only a loose deadline due to trading through waivers. However, a significant change occurred in 2019 when the possibility of trading through waivers after the MLB deadline was eliminated. This change forced buyers and sellers to make their decisions earlier and resulted in a more balanced regular season.

MLB trades usually begin two days after the last game of the latest World Series and continue into the off-season. A team’s decision to buy or sell players depends on their current standings and players. During the off-season, baseball enthusiasts often predict trades and try to figure out which teams will be buyers or sellers for the next season via the trade deadline.

Teams trade away players due to the current direction of the club and their chance of winning in the short term. If a team is consistently towards the bottom of their division that season, they might decide to trade one of their star players before the trade deadline, especially if they are in the final year of their contract. The thought process is that trading away a top player can infuse an organization with top prospect talent, which can help them in future years.

On the other hand, teams that feel they have a chance to make the playoffs might become aggressive via trades towards the deadline. One famous trade that worked out for both sides was the Yankees trading Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs in 2016.

An MLB player can refuse a trade only if they have a no-trade clause. According to the 10 rule, a player who has been active on a major league roster for ten full seasons and on one team for five years must consent to a trade. After six years in MLB, players achieve free agency and can negotiate contracts according to their terms.

The primary purpose of the trade deadline is to prevent clubs from making trades late in the regular season after the playoff picture has become clear. The Trade Deadline can force teams to make personnel decisions while postseason spots are up for grabs. For example, the Yankees traded Joey Gallo to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a prospect in 2022.

In conclusion, the MLB trade deadline is an important date for all clubs in the league as it marks the last point at which they can trade players during the season. The deadline has undergone various revisions over the years, and it now plays a crucial role in keeping the regular season balanced by preventing trades after the deadline.