Baseball’s annual Hot Stove season has gone cold, frozen by a lockout that has ended all communication between teams and players until the two sides come to terms and sign the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
There has basically been no movement on the CBA negotiating front since the lockout went into effect in early December, so it’s hard to guess when that resolution might come. However, when it does, there are plenty of players that still need new teams and plenty of teams that need new players.
There are big names — hello, Carlos Correa! – and a lot of guys on the other end of the spectrum. We could see some immediate signings; Remember, there were many talks and negotiations leading up to the lockout that did not result in a signature before the deadline.
However, what about exchanges?
After all, front office decision makers can’t talk to players, but they can talk to other front office decision makers about possible trades, right? So we should expect a flurry of moves, like the A’s shedding most of their rotation and middle-of-the-lineup hitters Matt Olson and Matt Chapman, by the time the lockout ends and MLB.com activates the lockout. switch to bring back the player list. profile pictures, right?
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From a source in the commissioner’s office: “Clubs cannot discuss potential trades during the work stoppage.”
So much for hopes of a flurry of trades announced in the first hour after the lockout ends.
All clubs know about the restriction; they were provided with the rules that are effective during a lockout, and that includes not only the prohibition of player transactions, but also the prohibition of discussions related to player transactions.
According to the source, this is a new rule: “It is a product of the current work stoppage. We haven’t had a work stoppage since 1995. Major League Baseball is essentially frozen because of it. We are enforcing these rules just like we enforce all of our rules/policies.”
It doesn’t mean we won’t see any trades announced soon after the lockdown ends. Just as teams talked to free-agent players and their agents before the Dec. 2 lockout began, front-office guys talked to other front-office guys about potential trades. It’s possible that some of those discussions got to the point where all that was left was to finish the paperwork and schedule physicals, and that could be completed quickly. And the groundwork that was established at that point could quickly turn into a deal with a few phone conversations, after both sides had many, many weeks to mull over the discussions.
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It is also possible that there are unofficial conversations going on. Maybe. Who knows? It’s fun to imagine, for example, Oakland front office guys talking in code, something like this… “Did you hear a story about three prospects who went west looking for gold but all they found was a bloodhound?” Bassitt’s trustworthy? ”
That would be fun.
So what happens if the rule is broken? From the source: “We do not anticipate the need to issue reminders.”
Anyway, I guess the bottom line is this: There will be trades after the lockout ends, just maybe not many of them will be announced immediately after the new CBA deal is struck.