FAQ: Trade Deadline rules, rumors and more

August 30th, 2020

Very little about 2020 has been normal, so why would the Trade Deadline be any different?

With less than 24 hours remaining until Monday's Deadline, here’s everything you need to know about what we might see around the Majors.

When is the Trade Deadline?

Unlike most seasons, when teams have until July 31 to make deals, this year’s Deadline falls on Aug. 31 at 4 p.m. ET. Deals must be submitted to the Commissioner’s Office by that time, though last-minute trades -- like last year’s Zack Greinke deal -- are sometimes announced within the hour following the Deadline.

How does it work in this shortened season?

The league’s operating manual specifies that teams are only permitted to trade players who are in their 60-man Player Pool, though there’s a provision that opens up deals to include other players within an organization.

Teams can include a player to be named (PTBN) in a trade, which is what the Blue Jays sent to the Mariners on Thursday in exchange for right-handed pitcher Taijuan Walker.

One catch to putting a PTBN in a trade: Teams can agree to push the deadline for assigning the player to six months from the date of the trade, or the cash considerations (which is a maximum of $100,000) that would be sent in lieu of the player to complete the trade.

All Minor League contracts are currently frozen, so if a player is not in the 60-man Player Pool, he can potentially be dealt as a PTBN, but cannot play for his new team this season.

Who is on the block?

This is a tricky question, as 24 of the league’s 30 clubs woke up Saturday sitting no more than 2 1/2 games out of a playoff spot. The Red Sox, Royals, Rangers and Angels figure to be sellers in the AL, while the Pirates, D-backs and Giants are among the teams expected to sell in the NL.

Among the starting pitchers believed to be available (though by no means locks to be dealt) are starting pitchers Mike Clevinger (Indians), Lance Lynn (Rangers), Kevin Gausman (Giants), Dylan Bundy (Angels), Mike Minor (Rangers), Robbie Ray (D-backs) and Alex Cobb (Orioles).

Trevor Bauer’s name has been floated of late, but the Reds’ decision to buy, sell or stand pat could be contingent on the results of their weekend series against the Cubs.

Bullpen arms that could be moved include Greg Holland (Royals), Keone Kela (Pirates [on the injured list]), Tony Watson (Giants), Matt Barnes (Red Sox), Matt Magill ([on the injured list] Mariners) and Brandon Kintzler (Marlins).

Quality position players will be harder to come by via trade, as the top upcoming free agents -- J.T. Realmuto (C, Phillies), George Springer (OF, Astros), Marcus Semien (SS, A’s), DJ LeMahieu (2B, Yankees) and Justin Turner (3B, Dodgers) -- are on teams in the thick of the race.

The biggest bat that could be moved? Red Sox outfielder/designated hitter J.D. Martinez, though his contract situation – he’s owed $38.75 million in 2021-22, but he also has the ability to opt out after this season – could complicate matters. The same for Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager, whose $15 million club option for 2022 becomes a player option if he’s traded.

Kevin Pillar (OF, Red Sox), Andrelton Simmons (SS, Angels), Brian Goodwin (OF, Angels), Hanser Alberto (2B, Orioles) and Gregory Polanco (OF, Pirates) are among the position players who could be on the move.

Which teams figure to be active?

American League contenders such as the Yankees, Twins, White Sox, Athletics, Rays and Astros all figure to do some tinkering with their rosters as they prepare for the final month of the season. Oakland, Chicago and New York are all believed to be in pursuit of at least one starting pitcher each.

In the NL, the Braves are expected to pursue at least one starting pitcher in an effort to match up with the Dodgers. Executives expect the Padres (who already traded for reliever Trevor Rosenthal) and Mets to be aggressive buyers, though the crowded field in the NL makes it a little more difficult to figure out which teams will step up and make a big move, especially when you factor in the economic hits clubs have taken in 2020 and the uncertainty heading into 2021.