July 31st is a date that I'm sure many baseball fans look forward to every year. It represents the first trade deadline of the year, where teams that are out of the playoff hunt start trading away their veterans and buyers are looking for those final pieces to solidify their playoff run.
In spite of the deadline, trades still do occur in the preceding weeks. The All-Star break is a common time for trades to go down, as I suppose there's not much more to do as a general manager when you have four days off. Yet, this year's break came and went and not a single trade was made.
We do have nine more days until the deadline arrives, so there's still plenty of time for deals to be made. But, that could be tough when fewer teams than ever can be considered as sellers. Thanks to the addition of the second wild card spot, even more teams believe they are in the playoff hunt, such as the Atlanta Braves. In spite of their 45-49 record, they are 6 games behind in the Wild Card and theoretically have a chance of making it come October. The same can be said of the Tigers, Indians, and Rangers, three teams with below-.500 records but are also within 6 games of a Wild Card spot.
In fact, there are probably just a third of all teams that are out of the playoff hunt: the White Sox, Mariners, Athletics, Red Sox, Padres, Diamondbacks, Reds, Brewers, Rockies, Marlins, and Phillies. That seems like quite a few teams, but keep in mind that it still leaves 19 teams vying for a total of 10 spots. Half of the teams that I subjectively decided are fighting for a playoff spot won't see their plans come to fruition in spite of considering themselves as buyers or thinking that they should stay put. It's very much a seller's market, and those teams at the bottom of their division can be picky with whom they swing a trade with over the next few weeks.
Secondly, and I honestly don't know if this is really a factor, we saw a ton of trades during the offseason. We were at a point where it felt that we couldn't go more than a couple days without seeing another blockbuster. I wonder if it's possible that so much wheeling and dealing occurred over the winter that most teams already made the trades that normally would have happened in the middle of this season.
Again, that is purely speculation and admittedly there is still a week and a half to go before the first trade deadline. For all I know, multiple trades will go down shortly and this entire piece that I've just pitched will become moot.