Major League Baseball’s August 2 trade deadline is still a long way off. But the past two months of action have set the table enough for us to throw down some bold predictions regarding what type of chaos awaits in two months.
Just so we’re clear from the outset: We’re aiming for bold but realistic predictions.
I’m not here to make up some outrageous idea like the Angels and Phillies trading Mike Trout for Bryce Harper. However, I will make the argument for the Phillies trading one of their other big contracts, as well as the argument for the Angels frustratingly doing nothing at the deadline.
The following seven predictions are presented in no particular order, outside opening the discussion with a guess at when the first major domino will fall.
1st Big Splash Won’t Come Until July 26…
June is almost always the calm before the trading storm. Most of the moves that do happen in the month tend to be of the “Team A sends player you’ve never heard of to Team B for cash and/or a player to be named later” variety. There’s nothing bold about expecting things to stay quiet for the next four-plus weeks.
But few semi-significant moves usually happen within the first three weeks of July. Last year, the Brewers traded for Rowdy Tellez on July 6, and the Braves traded for Joc Pederson on July 15. And in 2018, the big Manny Machado trade between the Orioles and Dodgers went down July 18.
This year, however, we’ll get all the way to one week before the August 2 deadline before the first of many eyebrow-raising moves transpires.
The reason for that delay is postseason expansion, which will keep more teams clinging to unrealistic World Series dreams for longer than usual.
No one is more than 10 games out of the wild-card picture. And most of the teams that are in the seven- to 10-games-back range don’t have a lot to offer as far as impending free agents are concerned.
The Washington Nationals are the exception, with Josh Bell and Nelson Cruz (2023 mutual option) among their long list of players in the final year of their contracts. But between Stephen Strasburg rehabbing for a return and this franchise rallying from a 19-31 start to win the World Series three years ago, I can’t imagine they will be in any rush to start selling the team for parts.