Chicago Cubs: The non-waiver trade deadline is dead

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

I won’t say the Chicago Cubs haven’t benefitted from it before. They have. But the non-waiver deadline is a thing of the past as the MLB and players union have agreed to the rule change this year. And most will be happy about it.

Last season, the Chicago Cubs acquiring Daniel Murphy wouldn’t have happened. It didn’t pan out as the Cubs had hoped. But it’s a thing of the past as Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic reported. (Subscription required) Those non-waiver deals that nobody fully understood have been removed, and all trades must take place by July 31.

The non-waiver deal was, uh, confusing at the least. The simplest way it can be explained is that any player could be placed on waivers. Then it went from worst to first in the league you were in. Wait, no. Yes. Then as long as you claimed the glass slipper by midnight at the next ball, you could be traded. Yep. That’s how it went. (Sarcasm HEAVY here, but it isn’t much easier than that.)

Many times, teams would run their entire roster through waivers during this time. This way they could gauge interest in players. If they didn’t want to move them, they simply pulled them off waivers. Other times, teams might claim a player to keep him out of the hands of another team, possibly a division rival. It really was a messy bit of bookkeeping.

But as Rosenthal points out, there will be fallout from this rule change. One point that a GM he spoke with made is a sensible one. He labeled the pending change a “huge mistake,” warning of unintended consequences and saying if baseball is going to switch from two trade deadlines to one, it should move the date from July 31 to mid-August.

This change will be a ‘shock’ to many teams. What this does is force teams to make moves during the winter–possibly more than usual–and be ready to have one chance at bolstering the team for a run at the playoffs.

Look at it like this. Last season, the Chicago Cubs bullpen suffered some injuries, but well before the deadline. It was clear that many of the young Cubs pitchers weren’t ready in their short stints. So what if these injuries would have happened after July 31? No Jesse Chavez. No Brandon Kintzler. No Jorge De La Rosa. All guys that played a significant role in keeping the team afloat. Now you’re going with what you have in the system. Jen-Ho Tseng? No thank you.

In 2020, the roster size will see a change. The first five months you get a 26-man roster. In September, it will go from the 40-man to 28. So you get one more body for the first five months, 12 fewer for the last one. Yeah, makes complete sense. Many seem okay with this, but I do not see the logic. Granted, 40 was too many. And on Cubs teams of the past (that weren’t good), it was great because you’d get to see the young guys get a chance. A plus, because the everyday guys were terrible and seeing new blood was fun, even if the Cubs kept losing. Wow. Crazy times, those were.

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Personally, I’m happy to see just one deadline in the game. I hope the fallout isn’t all dread like some are saying, but I can see some of it becoming an issue. It’s just nice to talk about something that isn’t pace of play..because the game is fine the way it is, Mr. Manfred.