Are Trades Worth It?
We’ve seen an August 31st trade deadline before, but never like this one. We used to have a revocable waiver trade deadline prior to 2019 which some teams did take advantage of. Before underestimating the amount of craziness we could see at the deadline this year because of there only being a month left, consider this: In regards to the MLB as a whole, September 2020 will be the most interesting month of baseball we’ve ever seen. Trades only impact twenty some odd games, but the percentage of the full schedule this represents is huge. Many teams will likely be hanging around looking for a jolt on the trade market.
The Astros pulled off a trade for Justin Verlander on July 31 of 2017. He made 5 regular season starts for them going 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA to finish the season. Acquiring a superstar at the deadline in a normal year is huge. Doing so in a shortened season could take a fringe team and allow them to coast into the playoffs. Get excited for what could be one of the most influential trade deadlines in MLB history.
So I’ve created a bit of a fallacy in my logic. If a bunch of teams are surprisingly hanging around at the deadline, who will even be available to trade for? The beauty of this season is that we have absolutely no idea! Not a clue! Every team is a bad month away from selling. Every team is a decent month away from buying. If the Yankees are 6 games under .500 at the deadline with the Rays and Red Sox looking unbreakable, why hang onto James Paxton? If the Marlins go off in August leading up to the deadline, why not look for some bats to complement their impressive young rotation?
The bottom line is that this could all come down to how aggressive each team wants to be. An emerging team like the Reds may want to make a push while hovering around .500. Another team with a similar record could feel like they’re nearing the end of their winning cycle and look to retool such as the Indians with Francisco Lindor. Negotiations are probably going to be outrageous, and I wouldn’t rule out some big names being available.
How do you evaluate team needs in such a short amount of time? Some teams enter the season with obvious holes. Others like the Twins feel fairly solid in every aspect of their roster. We feel good now, but how many starts does Berrios need to struggle in before we’re clamoring for an ace? (If you’re on Twitter you already know the answer is one) This will again come down to aggressiveness by each organization. The Twins for example shouldn’t save bullets in my opinion. We’ve lost enough of our 2020, don’t forfeit the entire year by being conservative. The window for improvement is small and if teams are serious about winning, they should address weakness externally as soon as it shows up.
Another consideration is injury. Hamstrings, obliques, etc that normally sideline a player for a few weeks now puts their season in jeopardy. Good teams with an injury to one or more of their starters will be looking for high level replacements if their player’s return is at all in question. If Polanco sprains his ankle, it may make sense to go get more of a consistent producer at shortstop than Ehire Adrianza for example.
My not so hot take is that we’ve never seen anything like the 2020 trade deadline and we probably never will again. Even if the volume of trades drops, the impact of each trade will be infinitely higher than baseball has ever seen. We’re bound to see some surprise moves that could push teams you’d never have expected into the driver's seat as they hit a stride. We were clearly looking forward to baseball being played in general in 2020, but the trade deadline in particular should be something for fans of every team to dream about.
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