Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Art Of The Trade Deadline

The baseball trade deadline is fast approaching, but does it really mean anything? This is more of a suggested deadline but isn’t a drop dead date. Deals done before Friday can go through as any normal trade would. This is just the non-waiver trade deadline. Deals can still be made later on, provided the players clear waivers. The true deadline comes later in August when deals have to be completed in order for the players who are moved are eligible to play in the post season.

It is interesting how much different the emphasis is between the major sports as it relates to trades and trade deadline day.

MLB - In baseball there is a bit of movement usually. Deals are done primarily with 1 prominent player in the last year of a contract being moved to help a team either win a division or solidify a team that is assured a post season appearance. The asking is almost always top prospects (or package of prospects) not too often are Major League ready players exchanged for each other.

NBA- In basketball is either feast or famine at trade deadline day. With the salary cap the way it is only minor deals are made but there is the occasional huge deal that will go down. Of those big deals they are so complicated that you need a calculus degree to figure it out -" I’ll trade you my guy with no Bird rights, for your player without Bird rights a second round pick and my small forward who is retired, but I will also give you $8 million so you can buy him out and that will give us enough cap space for a mid level exception player this year and max out my star next year and you get Keith Van Horn". Not a lot of draft picks are involved in deadline deals in the NBA.

NFL - In football there is nearly no deals that are made, there is almost no reason to have a trade deadline. The only one I recall in the recent past was the deal that sent WR Roy Williams to Dallas from Detroit. The way the cap is set up and the non guaranteed contracts make it far less important and far more difficult to pull off a deal for any player as most funds are allocated by July and there just isn’t room to deal.

NHL- In hockey it is one of the must see events- it should almost be a national holiday in Canada anyway. It is all hands on deck, tv stations dedicate a day to programming and breaking anything that might even be possible or probable. These are almost all for rental players to help a team make a run not just for the Cup but in some cases just to make the playoffs because they need to try and keep their team afloat in the "non traditional" hockey markets. Nothing is off limits- players for players, prospects, draft picks and sometimes for that much needed bag of pucks.

Each league has different ideals and how valuable is a player? How valuable is a top prospect? How valuable is a draft pick? Do I try to win now by mortgaging the future or do I hold onto the unproven guy who may become a superstar or may never crack my lineup.
By this Friday we will know what some baseball GM’s have decided what is more important.

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