With the 2020 MLB season less than half its usual length, the trade deadline is set to occur much earlier than usual. Teams have a mere 39-day period, between Opening Day and August 31, to officially conduct trades.
Whether this shortened schedule will dampen or heighten teams' willingness to deal still remains to be seen, but big names have been subject to trade rumors all offseason, and that's likely to continue right up until August 31.
Though the rumor mill has been fairly quiet recently—most recent MLB news has focused on the logistical efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic throughout the league—it's bound to start up again soon. So here's a short trade deadline primer featuring three headline-worthy names to watch out for over the next month-plus of rumor-mongering.
With so much depth up and down the Los Angeles Dodgers roster, it makes theoretical sense that they would try to move a notable player for some extra pitchers. It seems that president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has been trying to put that theory into practice.
Per Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, the Dodgers nearly had a deal in place to send outfielder Joc Pederson to the Los Angeles Angels this past winter, but the trade collapsed.
The one-time All Star is a logical trade candidate for Los Angeles. He stands to make just $2.87 million this year, has an expiring contract and is eminently expendable compared to outfield mates Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger, arguably two of the five best players in baseball.
Though not the only trade option, the Angels would still be a good fit for Pederson. He would make the middle of their lineup one of the league's very best, serving as tertiary protection for Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, and/or Shohei Ohtani, while sliding neatly into one of the corner outfield spots.
Along with the more southern Los Angeles club, the St. Louis Cardinals, Toronto Blue Jays and Cleveland's baseball team could also use a two-way threat like Pederson.
Jackie Bradley Jr.
After trading franchise player Mookie Betts, the Boston Red Sox may not be done moving starting outfielders. Per Feinsand, Jackie Bradley Jr. has been mentioned as a potential trade target for teams all offseason.
A free agent next winter, Bradley is an appealing outfielder for teams in need of depth, particularly on defense. While the former South Carolina Gamecock isn't the most consistent hitter, recording a career .236/317/.409 slash line, he's made his name for himself in the pros as a tremendous fielder, winning a Golden Glove in 2018 and repeatedly making outstanding athletic feats look routine in center field.
In addition, Alex Verdugo—Boston's main return in the Betts trade—is versatile enough to play any of the three outfield positions and is most experienced in center field. For that reason, if no other, Bradley is as good as gone come the offseason, but if things go south quicker than expected for the Red Sox in this shortened season, he could be moved even sooner.
No article concerning trade predictions can be complete with mentioning Lindor nowadays.
He's been dropping hints about wanting to leave Cleveland for a long time now and recently told Jayson Stark of The Athletic that he won't accept a hometown discount. Extension talks were suspended when the coronavirus pandemic struck, per The Athletic's Jason Lloyd.
You get the sense that the four-time All Star isn't long for the Factory of Sadness, even if Cleveland steps up and gives Lindor an offer that meets his financial standards.
It might be tricky to trade the 26-year old at this moment in time. With his contract set to expire after the 2021 campaign and Major League Baseball and the 30 teams set to lose millions in revenue with a shortened season, Lindor may not have as many potential suitors as he and his camp hope.
But these things have a way of working out.
Desperate teams make desperate choices every year, and even if no team presents Cleveland with an astronomical return, Lindor himself might be eager enough to leave that he could lessen his contract demands ever so slightly.
Keep an eye out for the Cincinnati Reds, New York Mets and baseball's Goliaths—the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees—among other teams in the Mr. Smile sweepstakes.