The MLB trade deadline is quickly approaching in what has already been an unusual 2020 season. Between a 60-game schedule and the expansion of the postseason, this year’s trade deadline will be very different for teams, players and fans.
In a year where MLB revenue is down and there is no minor-league season, we might not see as many blockbuster trades when the deadline hits. Fortunately, the beauty of a 16-team playoff format means more teams will be buying this year and the pressure is on for clubs to strike deals with the season at the halfway point.
In preparation for the MLB trade deadline, let’s examine when the deadline is, what teams will be buyers and sellers and which players could be moved.
When is the MLB trade deadline?
When Major League Baseball suspended the start of its 2020 season, no one expected the league’s hiatus would last for months. Fortunately, after failed negotiations, both sides agreed to start spring training 2.0 in late June and to hold opening Day in late July.
As a result of the delayed start, MLB was forced to move back the trade deadline. Instead of holding the deadline on July 31, the MLB trade deadline will be on Monday, Aug. 21, at 4 p.m. EST. It will be the only trade deadline this year, meaning teams only have a few days left to make deals.
What MLB teams will be buyers?
By expanding to a 16-team playoff format, MLB created more opportunities for teams to make the postseason. With eight spots to play in October up for grabs, the race to make it in is more competitive and teams are fighting for a shot at a World Series and a slice of the postseason revenue.
Entering Wednesday, the Oakland Athletics, Tampa Bay Rays, Minnesota Twins, Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians have at least a 97% chance to make the postseason, according to ESPN. While that accounts for six teams, it still leaves two remaining wild-card spots. for the Houston Astros, Toronto Blue Jays and even the Baltimore Orioles.
The race is similarly tight in the NL. Everyone expects the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves and San Diego Padres to play in October.
After that, four playoff spots are up for grabs with the Miami Marlins, St. Louis Cardinals, Colorado Rockies, San Francisco Giants, Milwaukee Brewers, Philadelphia Phillies, Washington Nationals and New York Mets all within striking distance.
While the Dodgers are expected to be relatively quiet, given they are the deepest team in MLB, their rivals will be looking to make up ground by targeting rotation help, upgrades for the bullpen and any big bat they can find.
What MLB teams will be sellers?
Understandably, the list of teams expected to sell at the MLB trade deadline is smaller than ever. Even in a year where prospect returns are expected to drop, due to rival clubs not being able to scout players, sellers could have the advantage of supply vs. demand this year.
In the National League, the Pittsburgh Pirates are the only club guaranteed to be selling at the deadline. They’ve got some young, impact talent who can help a contender immediately and Pittsburgh’s farm system could use all the help it can get.
Another NL team to keep an eye on is the Cincinnati Reds. Expected to contend for the division this year, Cincinnati has lost four straight games and holds an 11-17 record. Of course, one of the potential fringe contenders (Mets, Phillies, Brewers) could decide to sell if things don’t go well this weekend.
As for the AL, the Red Sox have already started their retool by trading closer Brandon Workman to the Phillies. It might be the first of several moves for a club that is likely to finish with one of the worst records in baseball.
The Kansas City Royals, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels will also likely be open to trading away immediate contributors before Aug. 31.
Which MLB players are trade deadline candidates?
As always, pitching is the most coveted asset at the MLB trade deadline. Whether a club is targeting a starter to add to its rotation that it can trust in October or wants to strengthen its bullpen to preserve leads, pitching is king.
It’s great news for teams like the Padres, Yankees, Rays and Braves. While all four clubs look like World Series contenders, a lack of pitching depth remains an alarming Achilles’ heel for their title hopes. Fortunately, there are quite a few options who could be available.
- Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Taijuan Walker – Traded to the Toronto Blue Jays
- Milwaukee Brewers closer Josh Hader
- Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Mike Clevinger
- Pittsburgh Pirates closer Keone Kela
- Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Dylan Bundy
- Texas Rangers starting pitcher Lance Lynn
- San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Kevin Gausman
- San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Johnny Cueto
- Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Matt Barnes
There will be plenty of pitchers for teams to choose from with a selection based off what they are most comfortable giving up. While there’s not quite as much impact hitting available, a few names jump out.
- Boston Red Sox designated hitter J.D. Martinez
- Boston Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr.
- Boston Red Sox outfielder Kevin Pillar
- Los Angeles Angels infielder Tommy La Stella
- Oakland Athletics second baseman Franklin Barreto
- New York Yankees first baseman Miguel Andujar
For more MLB trade deadline content, including an extended list of players who could be moved and potential deals, check out the links below.