Aug 1, 2022 - Sports

MLB's slow-moving trade deadline

Juan Soto
Photo: Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The trade market is moving slower than usual as Tuesday's 6pm ET deadline approaches, for two main reasons: Juan Soto and the expanded postseason.

State of play: When reports emerged that the Nationals would entertain offers for Soto after the 23-year-old superstar rejected a 14-year, $440 million extension, he became perhaps the biggest prize in deadline history.

  • Any team that acquires Soto — if he is indeed dealt — would get him for three potential playoff runs, and be a favorite to sign him to a record-breaking deal.
  • Teams like the Dodgers, Padres and Cardinals who can afford the haul Soto’s expected to fetch likely won’t part with their best prospects until they know he’s off the table. That’s creating a logjam.

Between the lines: Another reason it’s been quiet so far is that teams are learning on the fly how to navigate the first deadline under the new 12-team postseason.

  • The extra wild card spot in each league means more teams are in the hunt, but the new format also de-values reaching the postseason for all but each league’s top two teams, who earn byes.
  • The remaining eight teams play a best-of-three wild card round, and the odds they reach the Division Series are lower than they were under the single-game format, notes FiveThirtyEight.
  • So, while the very best teams are more incentivized to improve their rosters and earn byes, fringe playoff contenders may prefer to stand pat and hold on to their prospects for another year.

What to watch: Things could heat up quickly over the next 36 hours. Beyond Soto, some of the biggest names likely to be dealt are A’s starter Frankie Montas, Cubs catcher Willson Contreras and Red Sox DH J.D. Martinez.

Go deeper: Trade deadline tracker (ESPN)

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