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Everything you need to know about the new and improved MLB Trade Deadline

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Everything you need to know about the new and improved MLB Trade Deadline

For a long time, Major League Baseball had the best, most exciting trade deadline among the four major sports. In recent seasons, that excitement has been eclipsed by the popularity of the NBA, but baseball still stands ahead of football and hockey in terms of in-season movement.

In an effort to shake things up a bit, baseball’s trade deadline underwent some changes in the offseason.

Notably, while July 31 has always been deadline day, in past years it was a bit of a misnomer. July 31 was technically just the Non-Waiver Trade Deadline in years past. The month of August has always allowed trades to be made as long as players pass through waivers. If a player is claimed off waivers, his team can either pull him back, let him go for nothing, or negotiate a deal with his claiming team only.

This obviously made for much more limited movement in August, but it was always an option. 

Not anymore. Now? July 31 the *only* deadline.

The August revocable waivers trade deadline was always a bit convoluted, and it never made much sense to have more than one deadline. So it’s logical to think the powers that be would want to simplify things for the league.

Reportedly, Major League Baseball is hoping the change will not only help simplify in-season moves, but also help jumpstart offseason activity. The thinking is if teams have even just one fewer option to improve their roster midseason, then contenders will be forced to get aggressive in the offseason.

It remains to be seen if that will come to fruition, but one forthcoming change does seem pretty obvious. The singular trade deadline should make for a much more active July.

Both buyers and sellers have to commit to a direction earlier in the season now. Last year, for example, the Nationals executed their mini-firesale in mid-August, once it had become clear they were not going to compete for the postseason. At the end of the July they were still undecided, which is why they held onto Bryce Harper.

Considering how long it can take major deals to come together, teams have to essentially decide by the All-Star break if they are in or out on competing for October. It will be especially difficult for teams to read the writing on the wall when they are hovering around .500.

As of this writing, there are 10 teams within six games of .500 in either direction, and that doesn’t include organizations like the Red Sox, Nationals and Athletics who have quality records but are way behind runaway division leaders. Will they want to trade away controllable assets for a shot at a one-game Wild Card berth?

General Managers who can forecast their team’s likelihood of competing, and respond accordingly, will be rewarded under the new system. Orioles GM Mike Elias already began his team’s sell-off, trading Andrew Cashner away weeks before the end of July. By contrast, in 2018 both Jonathan Schoop and Kevin Gausman were moved by the Orioles with under an hour to go on deadline day.

It’s hard to perfectly predict all the ways rule changes can affect a sport, but in the case of the singular trade deadline, it’s obvious that teams are now required to commit earlier, with fewer games of information from which to work.

That’s exciting for a sport that could use some more player movement-related excitement.

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Davey Martinez hospitalized for precautionary reasons during Nationals’ Sunday win

Davey Martinez hospitalized for precautionary reasons during Nationals’ Sunday win

WASHINGTON -- Nationals manager Davey Martinez left the dugout in the sixth inning on Sunday after not feeling well. 

Team physicians assessed him and decided the best course of action was for Martinez to go to a local hospital for further examination. Bench coach Chip Hale replaced Martinez for the remainder of the Nationals' 7-0 win against Atlanta on Sunday afternoon.

"So, just for precautionary reasons, they took him to the hospital to see what's going on, but we're expecting everything to be good," Hale said.

The team, set to fly to St. Louis on Sunday night, was informed postgame. 

"I don't know what's going on, so I can't really speak on that," Howie Kendrick said. "I knew, I think it was the fifth inning, maybe? And then Chip took over as manager. Then after that, all you can worry about is hopefully, he's doing great. I wish him the best. I love Davey. We talk pretty much every day. He's got a lot of insight and I've known him for years -- playing against him in the American League, too. He's done a great job this year. I wish him the best right now. Like I said, I don't know what's really going on, but hopefully it's nothing major."

Hale said Martinez, 54, in his second year as the team's manager, is expected to join the team in St. Louis.

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Saturday night’s scare for Charlie Culberson brought Sunday questions for many

Saturday night’s scare for Charlie Culberson brought Sunday questions for many

WASHINGTON -- Questions to be answered Sunday morning: How was Charlie Culberson? What did Fernando Rodney think? Why did he remain in the game? What exactly transpired between Davey Martinez and the umpires Saturday night?

First, Culberson. The Braves announced he has multiple facial fractures. He left the hospital Saturday night and slept at the hotel. Sunday, he flew back to Atlanta to be further evaluated.

“I talked to Charlie just a little bit ago,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “He sounded good. One of the trainers will accompany him back to Atlanta and let the eye doctor and the specialist see him. I didn’t see him. I talked to him. The guys that did see him said he looked better than they thought he would this morning. He sounded good, for what he’d been through. It’s all very encouraging.”

All things considered, this is one of the better scenarios after a 91-mph fastball hit Culberson on the upper right side of his face in the seventh inning Saturday. The game froze, Rodney’s face went blank and a hush dropped over the crowd. Rodney was not in the clubhouse when reporters entered Saturday night following an extended delay. Sunday morning, a still-concerned Rodney explained how he felt in the moment and afterward.

“I really don't know what's going on,” Rodney said. “I only saw that I hit him in the face, it was a scary moment for me, the player, for them. The reaction ... that's part of the game sometimes. I don't want to hit nobody, no matter where, but I don't want to hit no player."

What were you thinking when it appeared you wanted to come to the plate?

“I wanted to say sorry,” Rodney said. “I want to say sorry because I don't want that to happen to nobody. Sometimes ... a lot of things happen in this game."

Did you want to still pitch afterward?

"Really after that I say [in my head] I don't want to,” Rodney said. “I feel sorry that that happen. I feel like I tried to do something, I'm supposed to do, but that's baseball. You have to continue to keep working... You try to recover your mind and keep going and doing your thing."

Which leads to the next question. Why was Rodney still in the game after the incident? Multiple opportunities existed to remove him. After he struck out Adam Duvall, who replaced Culberson, was a chance. Two batters later -- following back-to-back doubles, one of them a bloop by Ozzie Albies -- was another. Instead, Rodney remained in the game while it unwound.

Martinez said Sunday neither he nor pitching coach Paul Menhart spoke with Rodney after the incident. Instead, they motioned to him to see if he was all right.

“Kind of made little gestures to him back and forth,” Martinez said. “And he was saying he wanted to stay in. I talked to him [Sunday] again, he said he never wants to hit anybody. He said, I know as much as that moment you feel bad, but he said I had to pitch. I know that. Trying to win a game, I had to pitch, he said [Sunday] is another day and if I need him, he’s ready to pitch.”

Part of the fallout from the night includes criticism of Martinez for asking the umpires to check if the pitch should be called a strike. Home plate umpire and crew chief Tim Timmons told a pool reporter Saturday night:

“The very first concern was clearly for (Culberson). In the process of asking him to stay on the ground and not move and the trainer getting out there and them starting to look at him. After we got into that a little bit, Dave Martinez was saying something to me. I couldn’t hear him. So, I walked over and I said, ‘What’s going on?’ He said, ‘We’d like you to check on whether or not he offered at the pitch.’ I said, ‘Okay, I understand. I’ll do that.’ At which point, I went to first base umpire Bill Welke and asked him if he had him offer at the pitch. He said, ‘Yes, he did.’ So, that’s the situation.”

Martinez disputed that characterization of the situation Sunday.

“I really don't want to talk about that,” Martinez said. “I had a conversation with [Timmons]. The way it sounded was not the way...let's just say that. So, um. But, as a manager, it's kind of my job -- we're in a 1-1 game. That's all I'm going to say. It stinks. It wasn't the way it was portrayed to be.”

Martinez was asked what’s the line between trying to win the game and handling the situation with sensitivity.

“I'm going to be honest with you, the last thing I wanted to do was be a jackass,” Martinez said. “I'll tell you right now. All right? But, they get it. They understood. It's part of the game. We're in a 1-1 game. I would think that everybody would understand that. It's unfortunate. It stunk. As we all recall, we had a player [Trea Turner] break his finger in two places because he got hit and he had to go back and we had to get somebody else to hit for him.”

Snitker said he understood, from a competitive perspective, why Martinez would talk to the umpires.

“I’m sure they don’t like doing it,” Snitker said. “I guess over the course of a game, that’s one of the things you do ask about. Hard as it might be, you’re still within your right to do that.”

Though, Snitker continued to disagree with the umpire’s conclusion that Culberson swung at the pitch.

Martinez called Snitker on Sunday morning to express his, and Rodney’s, sympathies. Baseball resumed at 1:35 p.m. Rodney went down to the bullpen. Martinez took his spot on the dugout steps. Culberson went home to heal.

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