This isn't exactly a novel idea. Teams who are out of contention can still be considered buyers if they're getting prospects - they're just buying for the future. But there's another way that sellers can be buyers at the MLB Trade Deadline: they can acquire MLB players who are under team control in the future.
Warning bells are going off in your head already. They certainly are in my head. We'll take the example of Bud Norris, who is under team control through 2015 and is the one guy you still recognize on the Houston Astros' roster. Earlier this week, ESPN 1500's Darren Wolfson had this in his scoops:
The Twins aren't necessarily just sellers. They could trade for a player signed beyond this year. "It's a possibility," vice president of player personnel Mike Radcliff said. "Nothing is imminent." Radcliff would neither confirm nor deny, but a league source said the Twins have some interest in Houston pitcher Bud Norris. He's under team control through 2015, so it's not a guarantee he goes anywhere. In addition to the Twins, a handful of other teams like him.
Norris has been the subject of Astros trade rumors for what feels like half a decade. But while he's certainly a good pitcher, and he'd absolutely constitute an upgrade for Minnesota, the problems add up pretty quickly.
- Rebuilding teams usually don't like to trade prospects. The Twins would have to trade somebody they'd rather keep in order to land Norris.
- Contending teams are generally a bit more willing to part with what their trade partner might want, because they want to win right now.
- In this circumstance, the Twins would be trading for a guy who isn't just helping them right now but is expected to help them two or three years from now. At worst those investments don't pay off and at best they're still a risk. Look at the trajectory of Norris' numbers. Would you be willing to trade what the Astros would want to extract?
- Is now the right time to make this kind of a deal? Or, like the Royals, would it be pulling the trigger too early?