Expectations of MLB executives for 2021 business deadline

Each year, as the schedule approaches the final days of July, the teams around the Majors are starting to feel the heat when it comes to the trade deadline.

We’re a little over a week away, so we’ve spoken with half a dozen front office executives to see where their heads have been going as we run around July 30.

The common theme? Don’t expect a lot to happen this week. So buckle up.

“It’s July 20, and it feels like we only have free time right now; we are preparing for a frenzy on July 30, ”said an American League general manager. “It’s a bit unfortunate that it seems our industry is gravitating so much towards these deadlines. I would expect this year to be no different.

A third of the league is made up of suspected buyers, while another third appear to be on a selling path. The key to the deadline – as always – lies in the ten or so teams on the bubble, which makes any major move among these clubs unlikely until the last possible minute – if they choose to make big moves.

“In 10 days, things can get really weird; just look at the Cubs, ”said another AL executive. “I think you’ll see some teams doing nothing and just trying to figure it out. They are not going to buy players and trade prospects if they are not convinced their team can compete. “

The rental market seems to be stagnating; it was the players with additional years of control beyond 2021 that generated the most interest.

“There are a lot of teams that are definitely in it and think they don’t need a rental to win, so they don’t pay a ton for these because they think it is. not the difference between winning and losing, “said the general manager mentioned. “To be a seller in this market, if you think you could come back to it next year, they’re reluctant to trade players with control and go back to a full reset and rebuild. It creates a lack of movement.

“Plus, a team really has to believe that he’s the only player who puts them above. Most teams are reluctant to approach a profession from this angle.

Oddly enough, a lease deal that was done five years ago can have as big an impact on the market this year as anything that happened in 2021. The Cubs’ acquisition of Aroldis Chapman from the Yankees in July 2016 – a deal that sent Gleyber Torres and three other players to New York for the closest and his contract expiring – became the gold standard of July moves, leaving some owners wondering where their Torres – who was the prospect did Chicago’s ° 1 and an overall Top 25 perspective – can be had.

“It leaves the rest of us on the hunt for those types of returns,” said AL’s chief executive. “We’re apparently reluctant to acknowledge that this is probably too good a comeback to be true.”

With rental stars like Kris Bryant, Trevor Story, Javier Báez and more to take, buyers are reluctant to trade much of their futures for two months of a player’s service. The Cubs thought Chapman was the missing piece, but Theo Epstein also had a 108-year curse over the head of his franchise, making the Cubs storyline a unique storyline to say the least.

“If you’ve got an impact player, your owner says, ‘Where’s the Gleyber Torres’ return? »», Declared the general manager. “I’m not sure there’s another deal like this that’s going to happen in the short term. It skews expectations; the owners may not be aware of all the transactions, but they seem to be aware of the ones that worked for the sellers.

Rather than looking for a monster deal for a prospect like Torres, a National League executive said, teams with looming free agents should have a simple goal in mind.

“You know you get a composition choice if you keep it, so that’s the bar,” the executive said. “You don’t need to get a king’s ransom; you just have to beat that choice.

Controllable players including José Berríos, Craig Kimbrel, Joey Gallo and Kyle Gibson are also apparently available, although, as the AL GM has said, it can be difficult to eliminate these players because he is’ ​​hard to trade and feel good about the feedback you get. . “

“Teams with a guy like Berríos, where they think they can compete next year, can see it like they can get better Major League talent for the guy in the offseason,” a League general manager said. national. “If the Twins don’t change their asking price, no one will pay what they want for Berríos. I will be shocked if it is moved.

Unlike Bryant, Story or Báez, however, a pitcher like Berríos is in high demand by a number of contenders. There isn’t a team out there that wouldn’t benefit from the addition of a pitcher or two (or three), resulting in high asking prices with more than a week before the trade deadline.

“Even the prices for No. 5 starters to fill are ridiculous right now,” said an NL executive. “There just aren’t that many pitchers out there.”

“Pitching is king in July,” added an AL executive.

Bryant, Story, and Báez may have the appeal that the others don’t, but as usual, spare throws seem to be baseball’s greatest need. With that in mind, the prices of a strong late-inning reliever could very well exceed what teams get for their rental stars.

“The crazy thing is that there can be mid or late inning relievers who come back as much as these stars because every competitor is looking for help in the reliever pen,” said one. AL framework. “Not all teams are looking for a shortstop, a first or third baseman. Every team needs to throw.

Another AL executive believes contenders – or even bubble teams – could “over-trade” before the end of the month, trying to justify the eruption of injuries that has plagued MLB this season.

“I don’t think the injuries are going to slow down,” the executive said. “We barely played any spring training games last year and then we had a 60-game schedule. This year we have played 30 spring training games, so we are already at about 120 games with 70 more to play; we play three times as many games as last year. Teams that may have traded for a pitcher can now trade for two or three and then continue to spin the spots at the back of the pen.

A possible trend this month? Package offers. For teams like the Cubs, which have Bryant, Báez, Kimbrel, Zach Davies and Anthony Rizzo among others, sending multiple players to a competitor in a trade could be the way to go. The same goes with the Pirates (Adam Frazier, Richard Rodríguez, Tyler Anderson), the Rangers (Gallo, Gibson, Ian Kennedy), the Rockies (Story, Jon Gray) and others, giving buyers the opportunity to fill several holes on their list with a move.

“It’s a one-stop-shop,” said an officer from Newfoundland. “It makes sense.”

Another trend that could develop over the next 10 days is single player trading despite the lack of an obvious adjustment. According to sources, at least one team reached out to the Rockies about Story with the idea of ​​playing him in the middle of the field, while a few teams in the NL toyed with the idea of ​​dealing with Nelson Cruz, a DH. who has not played. a round in the field since 2018.

“Everyone is trying to be as creative as possible to try to win,” said an AL executive.

Creativity is good, but several executives pointed out a more important reason why teams find it so difficult to line up in a deal.

“Outlook,” said an NL executive. “Nobody wants to trade them.”

An AL executive believes that teams in large markets in particular are reluctant to deal with their prospects, even though about 50% of each team’s roster is made up of players acquired from outside the organization through exchanges. , exemptions, releases or free agencies.

“The prospects get you fired,” the AL executive said. “If all you can think of are leads you will eventually disappear because you have to perform at the big league level. Why not trade in for the guy who’s already proven they can do it? I don’t think a lot of teams think that way, to go if they see a window. They’re happier to sit down and let it go, which is dangerous territory. People just don’t want to exchange perspectives anymore.

But they will. It’s just a matter of time.

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