This year’s trade deadline will be slightly earlier than usual, with Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reporting that it’ll fall on July 30 rather than the customary July 31. Major League Baseball preferred to have the 4pm ET deadline fall on a day where afternoon games aren’t scheduled to take place, so as to avoid scenarios where players head out to the field as the hours until the deadline dwindle. Doing so eliminates some injury risk and uncomfortable scenarios where a player could be injured during play as a trade surrounding him is completed.
It’s not the first time we’ve seen the deadline moved up or pushed back a day in order to avoid that situation, and it’s unlikely to be the last. For instance, the league pushed the deadline back to Aug. 1 in 2016, the last time it was slated to fall on a Sunday, when nearly every team in the league was scheduled for games in the early to mid-afternoon. With the 2022 deadline also set for a Sunday, that type of shift could happen next year. It’s also possible that the upcoming wave of collective bargaining negotiations could bring about a more substantial change.
Obviously it’s a minor shift for the 2021 campaign, but it’s nevertheless notable for the league’s 30 teams. Today, more than ever, we tend to see Major League teams wait until the last possible minute to determine whether it’s appropriate to acquire help, sell off some veteran pieces or take some form of hybrid approach. It’s also feasible that even a marginally earlier deadline could afford a team an extra start from a pitcher it plans to acquire, which could have a minor impact on the manner in which a trade candidate is valued.