Trade Deadline Hullabaloo


On Friday afternoon, July 31st at 4:00pm EDT, the Major League Baseball non-waiver trade deadline will arrive. Until that time, teams are free to trade with one another without much restriction, other than that imposed on them by individual player contracts.

As of this moment, on Wednesday afternoon, July 22nd, there have been no major trades announced, involving the Phillies or any other team. There are now approximately nine full days until we reach the deadline.

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With tons of speculation, rumor, innuendo, opinion, and outright fabrication being tossed around freely on the internet these days, where do teams actually stand at this point? What is the actual current status of any negotiations regarding Cole Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon, and other Phillies widely rumored to be on the trading blocks?

The simple fact of the matter is that no one outside of the very inner sanctum of each organization has any real idea. That includes the beat writers and MLB “insiders” involved with each club. Many of those sources are writing articles and expressing themselves on social media, but none…none…actually knows what is happening.

That is frustrating for them, and it becomes frustrating for fans, especially the longer things go with nothing being completed and publicly announced. Believe me, those insiders, journalists, reporters are working hard to dig up any valid information possible, and they will put out whatever they can professionally and responsibly.

The likelihood is that when any deal is completed involving any particular team, that an insider from that team, such as Jim Salisbury or Todd Zolecki with the Phillies, will be one of the first to learn of the details and break them. If not them, then an MLB insider such as Ken Rosenthal or Jon Heyman will break the information.

Right now, no day goes by without some local or national source reporting that a deal is off the table, or that a deal is nearly complete. Usually these items are peppered with qualifiers such as “I heard” or “according to reports” or “those close to the situation say” or even less credible, “sources believe” something to be true.

Of course, unless you actually have the phone of a GM such as Ruben Amaro Jr tapped, and are recording the conversations between himself, other GM’s, team president Pat Gillick, and incoming president Andy MacPhail, all that you are left with is wild speculation.

I’ve been guilty of it myself. At the beginning of this past weekend, I had been told by a source whom I believed to be reliable that the Phillies were close on a deal to trade away Papelbon, and that this deal could be completed as soon as the weekend. No deal came down. Does that mean that there was no deal? That there will be no deal soon? No, of course not.

Today, MLB insider Jayson Stark put out information on both social media and in a fuller article that stated “there are indications that the Phillies might have missed their best window to trade Papelbon” among other items.

Let’s break that down: there are “indications” that the Phillies “might have” missed some window? Please. If you actually read the article, these “indications” are simply speculations that have been out in public regarding other possible targets for teams such as the Cubs, other directions internally for a team like the Blue Jays, and other priorities for teams like the Dodgers.

None of this really means a thing. Trust me, every single one of these folks is under pressure from their employers to put out something that will draw fans to their sites, and from themselves to beat one other to any real, verifiable, completed deal information that comes available.

What tends to happen next is that other national and local sources read items like this, and begin to put the same information out with their own little spin. Before you know it, one tossed match becomes a forest fire.

The entire point of this piece is to slow everyone down, and call for patience. The deadline is coming, nothing can stop it. It is imminent now. We will all know, one way or another, no later than 9 days from now.

I’m personally not going to make a bet, because I’ve been around long enough to know that anything can happen. Or nothing. But if Jonathan Papelbon is still a Phillie when the deadline arrives, I will legitimately be shocked. And I doubt that a deal involving the closer actually goes that long before being completed.

Cole Hamels? Been saying all along, if the Phils don’t get a big price, just keep him. Despite the free agent market this off-season, he will continue to have value, including to a rebuilding Phillies team. Other players such as Ben Revere or Jeff Francoeur, pretty much inconsequential. None is going to bring much back that will help the team as it builds for the future.

Hullabaloo is defined as “a commotion; a fuss.” Expect that, until an actual deal gets done and some player gets traded and that is announced officially, there will continue to be great hullabaloo around the industry: speculation and rumor and opinion. That is only going to get more frequent, and more passionate, the closer we get to the deadline without such a deal.