The Trade Deadline Looks Different

The Trade Deadline Looks Different
With the non-waiver trade deadline looming, activity is picking up in the front offices around Major League Baseball. This season, however, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement has changed the economics of trades in significant fashion. Taking on a soon-to-be high-profile free agent doesn’t have the attractions it used to in that there are no longer any draft choices accruing to the teams that receive them; if the free agent leaves, they get nothing.

This also affects what teams are going to be willing to pay to get a potential season-changing “rental” player. Last year the San Francisco Giants dealt their top prospect, pitcher Zack Wheeler, to the New York Mets for switch-hitting outfielder Carlos Beltran; it didn’t work out when the Giants missed the post-season and were unable to defend their World Championship, but they got the solace of draft picks from the eventual World Champion St. Louis Cardinals.

This year, if the Milwaukee Brewers make former Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke available, or the Philadelphia Phillies put NLCS and World Series MVP Cole Hamels on the block, the potential suitors know they are taking a big chance: if they can’t sign either of these aces, for example, they will be left with nothing.

As a result, trade values of rental players have crashed. That is one reason why Grienke and Hamels are still with their respective teams (not to say the Brewers and Phillies still aren’t trying to sign them). Still, it makes potential trading partners hesitant to put up high-value packages of “can’t miss” prospects. Now there is speculation that as the deadline approaches the top candidates are still going to command top-flight talent in return, but so far, it hasn’t materialized.

Also of note this week is that the first Competitive Balance Lottery happened. This is new and a result of the new CBA. These will be extra picks after the first round of the 2013 Draft. Remember, teams that sign Type A Free Agents this off-season will lose their first-round draft pick (more if they sign more than one).
The first lottery took place last week. The 10 smallest-market teams and the 10 lowest-revenue teams were placed in the lottery to have a chance to win one of six extra picks in 2013. This didn't mean there will be 20 teams in the lottery, this is MLB after all and some rules are just inexplicable.
Rather than just giving picks out to the teams that needed them, MLB created a complex lottery. The ten smallest market teams and the ten lowest revenue teams (some teams ended up on both lists), competed for 12 picks. There were 13 teams eventually. The first section had six picks, taking place after the first round, and after all of the normal first round compensation picks. The seven teams who didn’t get a pick in section A went on to section B. Those compensation picks were awarded after the second round. Any team which received revenue sharing but wasn’t on the list would also be entered. This year that was Detroit. Six of the eight teams would receive picks in this lottery section, with two teams going without picks.

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