by Howard Bender
We go through this every year. The MLB trade deadline approaches and brings with it a certain amount of excitement. New players on new teams, who's buying and who's selling, and where will the big names end up? It's actually pretty fun to watch and follow...unless you're a fantasy owner competing for the top prize. When you're up there in the fantasy standings and looking for that brass ring, the MLB trade deadline is usually met with pause and trepidation.
First off, let's get the whole July 31st trade deadline myth out of the way. Sure, that's the "deadline" MLB announces, but in reality, that's just the non-waiver trade deadline. Players can be dealth without worry that they need to clear waivers first, allowing another team to put in a claim, thereby putting the kibosh on a prospective deal. Just straight up deals here.
However, as we've all witnessed before, there are plenty of deals that occur after that date that involve waivers. Basically, in order to consummate a deal, the teams involved must put their players on waivers and allow them to clear before the trade can be made. Sometimes, although pretty rarely, another team will make a waiver claim just to block a deal. We've seen the Yankees and Red Sox do it to each other before. If a team puts in a waiver claim, then the original teams have the opportunity to pull their players back, but ending their hopes of getting a deal done. The unofficial deadline for this is August 31st at midnight since any player dealt after that date is ineligible for post-season play.
So while the "deadline" is just a week away, in reality, there's another month to get things done. And this is where the anxiety picks up for the fantasy owners. It's basically from now until the end of August that you're trying to catch all of the rumors and make a gameplan so that you don't get bitten in the butt after one of your players gets dealt. And it's tough to not get affected. Usually, if you're in contention, you're not worried that your ace pitcher is going to the Pirates. You have little fear that your top outfielder will be dealt to the Mariners. But you still have plenty to worry about.
How about your role players on good teams? I hear that the Cardinals have rekindled interest in Matt Holliday, so what happens to Colby Rasmus and Rick Ankiel? Sure Ankiel's banged up right now and Holliday would go to left while Rasmus stays in center, but what happens when he gets back? The team isn't going to bench Holliday in favor of either one of those guys, so basically, a deal like that suddenly turns Rasmus and Ankiel into platooners.
Then there's the Adam LaRoche to Boston deal. Sure, Mike Lowell isn't fully healthy, but when he does come back and plays third, are the Sox going to keep LaRoche on the bench or Kevin Youkilis? Big brother Adam just went from starting every day to platoon status if he's lucky.
Or how about the Felipe Lopez to the Brewers deal we saw last week? The Brew Crew was going with Craig Counsell and Casey McGehee at second and third, respectively, but with Lopez in there, the two incumbents now get to compete for time at the hot corner. Owners of these guys in deeper leagues are certainly scrambling around looking to make themselves a deal.
And let's not forget about the league crossover deals that screw over GMs in AL or NL-only leagues. When the Indians dealt Mark DeRosa to the Cards, not only were NL-only leaguers running to their waiver wire to grab him, but AL-only leaguers were scrambling as well, probably in dire need of another infielder. Suddenly that waiver priority you used on a random flavor of the week becomes a lot more valuable to you. Waste it, and you're sitting with a subpar player and a bunch of regrets.
So what other rumors, besides the Holliday to the Cards talk, should you be sweating? Well, how about the whole Roy Halladay saga? If you're a Halladay owner in an AL-only league, you're probably freaking out about all of this talk about the Cards, the Dodgers, the Phillies and the Cubs. It's not like any of those teams are sending someone back in the deal with whom you'll be able to replace Doc. That's a pretty big gaping hole unless of course some NL marquee player comes to the AL in another deal.
And a move to the NL is only just one way you can get screwed if Halladay is dealt. You know that J.P. Ricciardi isn't dealing him to the Yankees or the Red Sox. Toronto has a hard enough time competing against them with Doc on their side. But a move to the Rangers isn't out of the question, and I'm sure fantasy owners are shuddering at the thought of Halladay moving to the bandbox in the summer heat. Ugh! These are the things fantasy nightmares are built on.
There are quite a number of rumors floating around that should be keeping you on your toes. I'm still hearing things about Jermaine Dye going to the Giants, Cliff Lee to Texas or Milwaukee, George Sherrill and Francisco Cordero being moved to be a set-up men, the Nats shopping Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham, an, of course, the annual Pirates fire sale. Teams are really establishing themselves as buyers and seeler in the trade market these days, so you have to watch for every scenario that could affect your fantasy roster.
There's going to be planty of action, so do yourself a favor and get prepared. Watch your waiver priority and don't go blowing it on some clown to help you for a week when you may need it to fill a hole that you could have for 2 months. You don't want to finish the season with a handful of regrets instead of a trophy.
For more MLB trade rumors, fantasy impact and analysis, and waiver pickups you should be looking at, check out what's going on over at RotoBuzz.com.
Howard Bender is a freelance fantasy sports writer and champion in both rotisserie and head to head leagues. For questions, thoughts, or comments, you can email him at Howard.Rotobuzz@yahoo.com.