With the MLB trade deadline at the start of August, this is the time of year when fervent baseball fans eye certain mid-game substitutions with a wary eye.  Is “Player A” injured, or has he just been traded? 

Players departing mid-game

If a player goes through the dugout hugging teammates during the game (as Giants’ infielder Eduardo Nunez did after being abruptly lifted for a pinch hitter in the 5th inning of a game on July 25, 2017), that’s a sure sign that he’s soon bound for the airport to meet his new team in another city.  In this case, Nunez was moving from a last-place team on the West Coast to first place Boston. There he would soon be part of a World Series championship run!

Sometimes a trade happens between very close rivals.  On August 15, 2011 outfielder Delmon Young was traded from the Twins to the Tigers, Minnesota’s opponent that night in Detroit.  Delmon didn’t need to travel to reach his new team – just changed clubhouses within the same stadium. A few hours after the trade he hit a home run for his new team!

No injuries please

At one recent trade deadline, a deal had been finalized but the announcement was awaiting the end of that night’s game.  That didn’t look like such good strategy when a brawl erupted between teams and the player traded was in the middle of the action!  One can imagine the tension of the general manager who had just arranged the trade. We can usually learn a lot from the general managers, but in this case we saw a mistake.  I’m sure that teams from now on will pull traded players off the field – and safely into the clubhouse – precluding any incident that could potentially unravel a mid-summer deal.

Maximizing Trade Value?

One line of reasoning employed by baseball experts suggests that a non-contending team “has to” trade a desirable player sooner rather than later to get the best value in return.  That better return usually is counted in number and quality of prospects – minor league talent with an uncertain path to the major leagues.  The more time left before a player reaches free agent status, the more prospects he’ll bring in a trade.  I think this is very short-sighted logic as it overlooks the fact that most mid-season trade candidates have special talent. They are often very popular with fans.  This popularity can drive higher ticket and merchandise sales. This is especially true for a player like Shohei Ohtani with his international appeal. His presence reportedly has been bringing the Angels well over $10 million per season in merchandise and endorsement deals. 

Are you excited by the mid-season swirl of rumors and trades?  What in-season trade do you remember most vividly (for good or ill)?   Join the conversation in my Facebook group here!