Conventional wisdom approaching this year’s July 31 trade deadline said there would be more buyers than sellers. While that has indeed turned out to be the case, a couple of factors have complicated many possible trade scenarios.
First, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement no longer affords draft-pick compensation for players acquired in an in-season trade who are also free agents at season’s end. Thus, a team acquiring Zack Greinke this year will receive no compensatory draft picks if they are unable to retain him after the season.
It was supposed to be a seller’s market, but buyers have been reluctant to forfeit their futures knowing they might have absolutely nothing to show for it. In other words, teams have to recalibrate their expectations of what they can get back for a rental player.
Secondly, one would have thought the establishment of a second wild-card berth in both leagues would motivate some teams on the lip of the postseason to drive the market. However,
these same teams have been leery of trading for a “rental” player because of the architecture of the wild-card series; it’s only one game. To mortgage the future for one nine-inning elimination game just doesn’t make sense for teams that are realistically only contending for a wild-card berth.
Therefore, the teams most likely to make a trade for a top-tier “rental” player are clubs that believe they can win the division. A one-game wild card playoff combined with no draft-pick compensation forces a club to realize that renting on Park Place for a couple of months might not be worth the long-term cost.
Buzz around the league
• The Philadelphia Phillies are prepared to offer Cole Hamels a Matt Cain-type deal, but if that doesn’t work, general manager Ruben Amaro is prepared to trade him. The most likely landing places are the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers.