ARLINGTON, Texas — Major League Baseball's trade deadline is less than a week away. There are a number of factors that have caused considerable speculation of what this year's deadline will look like. When Texas Rangers President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Jon Daniels met with reporters on Monday afternoon, he gave his feeling on what the next several days could look like based on his conversations with his counterparts.
"If you would have asked me that question two or three weeks ago, I would have thought it was going to be quieter than I think it's going to be now," Daniels said. "I think the biggest piece of that speaks to the confidence level across the industry that we're successfully playing out this season and the confidence level that we're going to be able to crown a champion at the end of the postseason."
The fear of losing the World Series in 2020 has been long speculated among fans, media, club executives, and MLB officials alike since well before the 2020 season was even implemented after the COVID-19 shutdown. MLB's ability to sustain the season has not come without its hurdles regarding COVID-19. There are several teams that are behind in their schedules due to positive tests among players and staff throughout the league.
However, the season continues to roll along. MLB has been discussing having the postseason in a bubble like the NBA and NHL are doing with their respective postseasons—both of which have had great success in keeping COVID-19 at bay (somebody take some notes).
If there was a great level of pessimism among club executives or MLB officials whether or not the World Series would be played, the trade deadline would likely be deathly quiet.
"I really want to tip my cap to the players and everybody like the medical staffs and the logistics teams," Daniels said. "It's not easy. There's a lot of work that goes into it. These guys have done a good job making that sacrifice going on two months counting the Spring Training deal. Because of that, I think it's going to be a little more active."
No minor league season and the loss of revenue throughout the sport are two other key factors that could cause owners and general managers across baseball to be hesitant to pull the trigger. The vast majority of prospects aren't playing baseball right now. Teams can only trade players in their 60-man pools (even though they could dance around that with the player-to-be-named-later). The lack of knowledge on prospects could impact teams like the Rangers who have veteran players to dangle.
"It's a challenge. One of several," Daniels said. "There is video and data sharing system that some teams are sharing. Secondly, we can use our contacts and information, but it's much different than usual. You don't have nearly as much confidence as you would have at any point in the past."
The Rangers have also felt the effects of the loss of revenue, which has resulted in salary reductions and furloughs. Daniels believes that may be a bigger factor in any hesitation than the lack of a minor league season.
"I think every club and ownership group is going to view that differently; whether clubs are willing to take on money or how much they're willing to take on," Daniels said. "Most clubs have had to make some tough decisions with staff; whether it's salary decreases or furloughs. How do you weigh that against adding money at the deadline? I think that will be a big one."
One final factor Daniels mentioned is how clubs value winning the World Series in such a unique season. Fans have scoffed on social media that whoever is crowned champion this year is deserving of an asterisk. Evidently, some clubs may have also been skeptical at some point. Even with the Rangers looking like they'll be out of contention at the moment, Daniels doesn't personally believe there should be anything of the sort.
"When these games started, all of the weirdness kind of goes away," Daniels explained. "Yeah, you still have guys wearing masks in the dugout, but the competition level, in my opinion, is the same it always has been. I think all of those things kind of contribute. I think there will be motivation for teams to improve."
The Rangers are discussing more of a long-term approach to this year's deadline. They have a hot commodity in Lance Lynn that has the potential for a large haul. They also have other pieces that are worth talking to other clubs about as well. As the Rangers sort through their options this week, it seems like there will be clubs willing to talk and possibly pull the trigger.
"I think there's a confidence we're going to play," Daniels said. "I think there's a desire for clubs to compete and to win. Because of those factors, I think there's going to be a decent amount of activity."