Baseball’s trade season is about to get a major facelift.
Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association have agreed to eliminate the August waiver trade period in favor of a single non-waiver trade deadline day for all transactions on July 31, sources told Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The deadline-day change, one of several rule changes expected to be ratified by both the league and union after extensive negotiations this spring, will take effect this season.
It was the players’ association that proposed unifying the separate deadline days, in part to “protect the competitive integrity of the” season, according to Rosenthal.
Under MLB’s current trade rules, any players involved in a trade during the month of August must first clear revocable trade waivers, a lengthy process that is regulated by a convoluted set of rules. Many notable players have been dealt after passing through August waivers, including Justin Verlander in 2017.
Right now, trades can still be made after Aug. 31, though players dealt in September are ineligible to appear in the postseason and such trades are usually minor.
By consolidating the deadlines, teams would no longer be able to make additional tweaks ahead of the September pennant race. The single deadline would effectively force teams to decide whether to buy or sell earlier, ideally spurring even more action on what is already a frantic July 31 deadline day.
Reaction to the pending changes was mixed. One general manager hailed the move, telling Rosenthal the August waiver process is “old, outdated, and weird.” A different executive was not pleased, saying these changes would be a “huge mistake” and added that it might force contenders hit by injuries in August to rush prospects to the majors who might otherwise not be ready.
In addition to changing the trade deadline, MLB and the MLBPA also apparently agreed to several other monumental changes, including the expansion of roster sizes to 26 players starting in 2020 and the shortening of between-inning breaks, according to Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports. An official announcement is expected on Thursday, Brown added.
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