The traditional July 31 trade deadline may be no more under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, as outlined in the official release of the CBA today. As per the new rules, “The Office of the Commissioner shall have the flexibility to set the Major League Trade Deadline on a date between July 28th and August 3rd.”
This may not be as a major a change as it initially appears, given that it hasn’t been uncommon for the trade deadline date to be altered. Just this past July, in fact, the deadline was moved to July 30, whereas in 2016 the deadline was moved to August 1.
In both those situations, July 31 fell on a weekend day, when afternoon games were scheduled. While playing games on any deadline day throughout the week can lead to some awkward situations (i.e. a team suddenly having a shorthanded roster after dealing multiple players a few hours earlier), having the deadline on a weekend creates the possibility of even more chaos, with trades being consummated while actual games are taking place.
The new wrinkle to the CBA may simply formalize a process for deciding the deadline’s date. Notably, this coming July 31 is on a Sunday, so it seems likely that the deadline will be pushed ahead at least one day. Given the later start to the season, it seems plausible that August 3 might be this year’s deadline, just to give teams as much time as possible to plan. Looking ahead, this season is the only time during the 2022-26 campaigns (the length of the new CBA) that July 31 will fall on a Saturday or Sunday, so 2022 might well be the only time Commissioner Rob Manfred chooses to wield this particular bit of authority.