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Buyers and Sellers: Examining the Trade Market

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Before we all go assigning values to the Twins’ trade chips based off of how good we think they are, it is important to remember that, like most things, the value of players at the trade deadline is determined by the market. In short, a market is composed of supply, which is made up of sellers, and demand, which is made up of buyers.

If the trade deadline were tomorrow, I believe there would be 16 teams considered buyers. Of course there are the 6 division leaders (Boston, Detroit, Oakland, Atlanta, St. Louis, and Arizona).
There are also 10 teams chasing:

  1. Tampa Bay (4.5 GB in div., WC lead)
  2. Baltimore (5.5 GB in div, 1 in WC)
  3. New York Yankees (6 GB in div., 1.5 in WC)
  4. Cleveland (2.5 GB in div., 3.5 in WC)
  5. Texas (1 GB in div., WC lead)
  6. Washington (6 GB in div., 5 GB in WC)
  7. Pittsburgh (1 GB in NL div., WC lead)
  8. Cincinnati (5 GB in div., 4 GB in WC)
  9. LA Dodgers (2.5 GB in div., 5.5 GB in WC)
  10. Colorado (4.5 GB in div., 7.5 GB in WC)

If the trade deadline were tomorrow, I believe there would be 8 teams considered definite sellers.

  1. Minnesota (13 GB in div., 14 GB in WC)
  2. Chicago White Sox (13.5 GB in div., 14.5 GB in WC)
  3. Seattle (13 GB in div., 11.5 GB in WC)
  4. Houston (20.5 GB in div., 19 GB in WC)
  5. NY Mets (11 GB in div., 10 GB in WC)
  6. Miami (18 GB in div., 17 GB in WC)
  7. Chicago Cubs (15 GB in div., 10 GB in WC)
  8. Milwaukee (19.5 GB in div., 14.5 GB in WC)

Wait and See
These are the teams that could go either way, or not make any moves at all. Their decisions could have a major impact on the market.

  1. KC- Haven’t competed for a playoff spot in a long time. Traded Myers for Shields in off-season. AL Central’s best record in June. Just 7 games behind in AL Central but are 4 games under .500. Lean buy
  2. Philadelphia- Expected to sell, but just 7 games back in NL East, 6 in WC. Howard’s injury out complicates matters. They’ve won 7 of their last 10 lean buy
  3. San Francisco (6.5 GB in div., 9.5 GB in WC)- Still in the division race, but have lost 7 of their last 10 and their rotation isn’t the same with Cain struggling. Hard to see a team that has won 2 of the last 3 WS selling but if they don’t turn things around soon they might have too. Lean buy
  4. San Diego- 8.5 games back in NL West, 9.5 back in NL WC. 1-9 in last 10 pretty much all you need to know. Lean sell
  5. Toronto- Out of contention, but their big off season might convince them to sit pat rather than sell. Lean sell
  6. LA Angels- Pretty much out of contention, but all those big contracts the last few off-seasons might convince them to not sell. Lean sell

Comparison to Previous Years
All of the previous information doesn’t mean much without context. By my estimation, over the past 3 years there have been an average of 13 buyers (15 in 2012, 11 in 2011, 13 in 2010) and 10 sellers (9 in 2012, 13 in 2011, and 8 in 2010) per year, which is a ratio of 1.3 buyers to sellers. This year appears to be more buyer heavy. If the 6 teams in the “Wait and See” category aren’t active, than the buyer to seller ratio could be as high as 2 (16 buyers, 8 sellers).
One significant difference this season to the previous 3 is how close the divisional races are. Before today’s games, there were 19 teams 7 games or fewer behind the division leaders. As of 7/12 in the previous 3 seasons, there was an average of just 15.67 (16 in 2012, 16 in 2011, 15 in 2010). In my opinion, close divisional race will bring about more deadline deals than close wildcard races because a teams will feel more pressure to make a trade to match their competitors.

Meaning for the Minnesota Twins
This season is shaping up to have more buyers compared to sellers than the past 3 seasons—more demand compared to supply. Generally speaking, this should increase the price of players being traded at the deadline. This does not necessarily mean that the Twins will get more in return for their players than they would have in previous seasons—that is dependent on the market for the particular positions—but it is generally good news.
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  1. jorgenswest's Avatar
    Great context.

    Let's hope it means better return. Did you seek any other years that appeared to be buyer heavy?

    It might be interesting to do a count of top 100 prospects changing hands compared to the numbers of buyers (needs definition) for each year.

    Probably too much labor. An alpha list of prospects rankings going back to at least 1990 is on baseball cube's site.
  2. The Wise One's Avatar
    The interesting delema for the sellers is what to sell. You really can't sell of what you hope to build around unless you are wanting to start all over again.
    How many years have the Cubs wanted to get rid of the Soriano contract?
    Is Miami going to try to build around Stanton?
    How many of the older players do the White Sox get rid of? What can they bring in return. Isn't it about the same team that stayed near Detroit last year? Change of scenery do some of them good?
    The spare parts from most of the team will not help win a championship. Fading players are available. The buyer will hope the chase for a champion will elevate the older player's game.
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