The New Trade Market

MLB players and owners agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement this offseason and they’re set to announce expanded playoffs starting in 2012. These changes will affect the mid-summer trade market in the following ways:

  • More buyers, fewer sellers – Those who followed this week’s NHL trade deadline know that fewer teams consider themselves truly out of the playoff mix when more spots are up for grabs. It’s already common for MLB teams to wait until they’re clearly out of contention to make players available, and the additional Wild Card spots figure to delay the moment at which teams are comfortable selling while reducing the number of teams willing to part with MLB assets. I won't be surprised if the market develops later than usual this summer. 
  • Prospective free agents traded midseason will no longer be eligible for draft pick compensation – For example, if the Padres trade Carlos Quentin for prospects midseason, his new team wouldn’t be able to obtain a compensatory pick in 2013, even if they make him a qualifying offer when he hits free agency following the season.
  • Increased asking prices for star players – Don’t be surprised if the asking price on available talent rises midseason. Let’s say the Cubs make Matt Garza available in early July, before many teams are truly out of the mix. There would be many buyers at that point and few alternatives in terms of quality starting pitching.
  • New market for non-elite players – Teams could previously hold onto non-elite players such as middle relievers and obtain draft picks by offering arbitration to those who qualified as Type B free agents. The new CBA eliminated the Type A and B classifications, so teams stand to lose players for nothing unless they’re prepared to offer them one-year salaries in the $12.5MM range. Most players aren’t worth that kind of cash, so teams might flip them to buyers for prospects to obtain long-term assets. That said, there’s definite value in fielding a respectable team, so it’s not as though GMs will be handing second-tier players over for nothing.

18 Responses to The New Trade Market Leave a Reply

  1. jhfdssdaf 3 years ago


    All the more reason to religiously watch mlbtraderumors in July.

  2. what’s an NHL?

  3. CutTheString 3 years ago

    Whoa, whoa, whoa, that Garza comment implies that the Cubbies won’t be in at midseason……

  4. RahZid 3 years ago

    While it’s true that there will be less of a supply of players on the trade market, so prices should increase, the value of prospects also increases tremendously under the new CBA thanks to the restrictions on draft and international spending.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this results in asking prices staying relatively equivalent to where they already were.  The biggest factor impacting trade value is the change in the arb system and not being able to get compensation picks for players who are traded for during the season.

  5. johnsilver 3 years ago

    Quentin will be an interesting case to watch when the season is over and tied ever so closely to Hamilton with multiple variables in play…

    A) Will both stay healthy and hit the jackpot?
    B) Will both miss significant time and make owners leary?
    C) Will one have a normal, monster season, the other miss 40 or so games and then?? The one who missed the games strike 1st.. Sign a deal quickly??

    So many things between those 2 similar players. It’s going to be a fun summer, baseball almost takes a back seat huh? 😉

    • Jeff Weissbuch 3 years ago

      Quentin does not have the off the field issues that Josh does.

      • NickinIthaca 3 years ago

         He also doesn’t have the on the field talent that Hamilton does…

  6. stl_cards16 3 years ago

    The biggest reason the NHL didn’t have a lot of trading has more to do with teams not being able to eat salary in a trade. With most teams up against the budget by this point in the season, it makes it very hard to move really good players that have large salaries. MLB will be fine and I really doubt the extra wild card will affect trading much.

    • BlueCatuli 3 years ago

      That and only Edmonton, Montreal and Columbus are really out of it at this point.

    • I don’t think that’s right. Rick Nash’s was the biggest contract that was shopped, and the reason he wasn’t traded was because Columbus rejected the Rangers’ outrageously large offer. With how high the salary cap jumped over the summer, a lot of teams had room to add salary, but didn’t want to overpay with prospects/picks because of the sellers market.

  7. $7562574 3 years ago

    bud is making it harder for small market teams every time he can conjure up anything.

  8. CzarOfTruth 3 years ago

    Totally right on about the prices of players and trade scenarios as the deadline approaches due to the new playoff format. I just don’t know if it makes it better with the new than the old. We’ll see soon enough. Good article!

  9. Agree with James Marion. I like articles like this that go beyond the facts and explore the implications. Well done Ben!

  10. drewdavis 3 years ago

    The rule about prospective free agents being traded midseason no longer providing compensatory picks is horrible. It gives even more power to the big market teams. Small market teams are hesitant to make playoff-push trades already. When they DO make a trade like that, they take solace in the fact that even though they won’t be able to sign the “rental” player beyond the current year, at least they’ll get a compensatory pick. Now, without that, the small market teams will be more reluctant to trade for a big chip to help in the short term. This will just serve to drive even more of the established high-talent players to the big markets and relegate small market teams to making their runs with the players they have in their system. This equates to even less parity in baseball.

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