Major League Baseball announced that there would be a few rule tweaks for next season, including the elimination of the August trade deadline. That small change should help the Blue Jays in 2019.
It’s no secret that the 2019 season is a rebuilding year in Toronto, and with that we can expect to see continued roster turnover, just as we witnessed this winter. With several veterans on expiring deals, or on contracts that end after the 2020 season, the Blue Jays are expected to be a busy trade partner this summer.
That whole dynamic shifted a little bit on Wednesday as well, as MLB announced that there will no longer be an August trade deadline, and the focus will all turn to the July 31 date on the calendar. It may sound like a relatively minor tweak to the rules, but it has the potential to make quite a difference on the trade market, and hopefully for the better.
Moving up the last day to acquire a player (that can be on the active playoff roster) will do one of two things: A) It will create a greater sense of urgency to upgrade a potential playoff roster, especially with less certainty at the end of July than there is a month later. Or B) It could suppress the trade market in much the same way that we’ve watched free agents struggle to find suitable contract.
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Let’s assume it’s the former, and my guess is that it will be. In that case, the Blue Jays will be well set up as a potential shop for contenders, with rental options like Justin Smoak, Freddy Galvis, Clay Buchholz, Matt Shoemaker, Bud Norris, and more. They could also offer an additional year of contract for higher tier options like Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Ken Giles, Randal Grichuk, Kevin Pillar, and others.
I don’t know that I’d expect a “fire sale” per say, but there’s every reason to believe the Blue Jays will look to continue to add to one of the highest ranked minor league systems in baseball. That potential extra month makes a difference in terms of value of return as well, as it’s pretty easy to give up a veteran for September, as we saw the Jays do with veterans like John Axford and Curtis Granderson last year.
The main difference in my eyes is that teams won’t have as clear of a picture of whether or not they’ll be contenders, and should be more apt to improve their chances with a trade or two. In the era of the 2nd Wild Card there have been a lot more “contenders” in recent years, but this offseason has also shown a pretty clear divide between those that intend on trying to win, and the teams that are focused on rebuilding.
With the contender’s pool thinned out a bit, hopefully those that are in the race will be willing to spend more at the deadline than some were this winter. This small change to the rules should push them in that direction, and hopefully it’ll work in the Blue Jays’ favour, at least this summer anyway.