This year’s trade deadline drama should be fascinating to watch, and not just because the Twins are expected to add a pitcher or two to help achieve their AL Central championship dreams.
There is only one deadline, on July 31. There used to be a second deadline, on Aug. 31, for players who have cleared waivers, but that has been erased. August had been a baffling period on the baseball calendar, with reports leaking about which players were put on waivers and teams putting in claims on player just to block competitors from getting those players.
Twins Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey believes the removal of the later deadline did not have much of an impact.
“I don’t think in August, historically, there were a lot of the bigger marquee trades,” he said. “There have been some, certainly, but I would say the ability to get players through trade waivers over the last couple of seasons was incredibly hard.”
There were a few, as Falvey mentioned. We will miss some great August transaction moments, like Josh Donaldson being dealt to Atlanta last year, Justin Verlander getting dealt to Houston in 2017 and, in one of the biggest blunders ever, San Diego trying to block Atlanta from getting Randy Myers in 1998 by putting in a waiver claim, only for the Padres to get stuck with Myers — and the remaining $12-plus million left on his contract. Players the Twins acquired in August over the years included Don Baylor in 1987, David Ortiz in 1996 and Carl Pavano in 2009.
There were 28 August trades last season, including the Twins sending Fernando Rodney to Oakland. Under the new system, that Verlander trade, which put Houston over the top, would have to be executed a month earlier. And clubs that could swing an August deal in the past to fill holes created by injuries will have to rely on their farm systems now.
Teams have no choice but to adapt. And, in theory, that could lead to more players hitting the trade market by the end of the month.
The Twins, of course, have gone from buyer to seller in a span of a week. It was on July 24, 2017, when the Twins traded for lefthander Jaime Garcia, only to deal him to the Braves on July 30. The next day, they sent All-Star closer Brandon Kintzler to Washington.
That team, with Matt Belisle as the closer, went on to earn a wild-card playoff spot.
This year, the Twins lead the AL Central and eye winning a playoff series. They have been linked to closers such as Will Smith, Ken Giles and Kirby Yates and starting pitchers such as Madison Bumgarner and Marcus Stroman.
The Twins have just over a week to make something happen. After that, they will have to go with what they have.