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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Big Names Should Move at the MLB Trade Deadline, but Big Returns Might Not Follow

Offseason trades are their own category, but they too would seem to indicate that highly paid star players have been undervalued as of late. In fact, pennies-on-the-dollar salary dumps are so common now that you can tell which Ringer writer wrote about which transaction by the epithets that ended up in the headline. Zach Kram described the Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt deals as “shameful” and “a shame for baseball.” I pulled “disgrace” out of the bag for Mookie Betts and Giancarlo Stanton. And the Carrasco–Francisco Lindor deal might be the worst of all.


It’s hard not to connect all of this to the increasing stratification of the modern baseball landscape, in which only a handful of teams are willing to tickle the luxury tax threshold or play in the deep end of the free agent pool. These days, the majority want to reduce payroll first and foremost, with winning as a secondary goal at best. (Perhaps it’s a coincidence that we stopped seeing lopsided win-now trades around the time MLB went on its two-year free agent capital strike.)

With fewer buyers in the market for expensive star players, it’s hard to drum up enough interest to create a bidding war. Part of the reason the Astros got Greinke and Verlander for so little is they were willing to pay a substantial part of both players’ long-term contracts—and even then, they got Arizona and Detroit, respectively, to kick in tens of millions in cash to soften the blow.

Somewhere along the line, cost certainty and team control stopped being a means to an end in roster construction and became an end in and of itself. Team control has always been valuable—and in the case of deadline trades for star players, it’s been wildly overvalued for decades now—but only because having underpaid star players in one position allows the team to reinvest its financial resources in other places.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 28, 2021 at 11:42 PM | 0 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: trades

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