MLB Insider: Trade season never stops in sport that never sleeps

Posted Saturday, Aug. 10, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
More information Top five Braves: Hottest team in baseball running away with NL East. Tigers: Threatening to turn AL Central into cakewalk. Finally. Pirates: Taking advantage of St. Louis’ woes for four-game lead. Dodgers: Didn’t want to go home after remarkable recent road run. Red Sox: Not pulling away in AL East, but keeping Rays at bay. Bottom five Astros: Every step forward countered by about a dozen backward. White Sox: How bad is farm system? Leury Garcia a huge upgrade. Marlins: Owner Loria trumpets lousy week by seeking ways to cut payroll. Brewers: Will kick off Rangers’ homestand vs. three teams at 140-205. Angels: But, hey, Arte Moreno lowered some beer prices 10 years ago.

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Anytime a team acquires the best available player ahead of the July 31 deadline, its executives are praised for their boldness and writers automatically label the upgraded club as a winner of the non-waiver trading period.

That didn’t happen this year after the Texas Rangers added Matt Garza, the undisputed No. 1 player on the market. Instead, general manager Jon Daniels was roundly criticized for not getting a hitter to replace the then soon-to-be-suspended Nelson Cruz.

Daniels didn’t do himself any favors when he talked about the difficulties of dealing in August and that he didn’t expect the Rangers to find an August trade partner.

But he knows, as do the rest of the game’s executives and major-league scouts, and even the same media who were critical of him, that the business of acquiring players never stops.

So, on Wednesday the Rangers made a claim on Alex Rios. The rest of that day and Thursday passed with the teams nowhere close to a trade. By Friday morning, Rangers ownership had been told that a deal wasn’t going to happen.

Then, lunchtime arrived, and the Chicago White Sox needed to satisfy their hunger to deal a veteran outfielder and his high-dollar contract for 2014.

Rios started in right field for the Rangers on Saturday night.

Suddenly, the Rangers are “all-in” to win the World Series, and Daniels has “shown once again that he’s one of the best GMs” in the game. In July, apparently, he was trying to fold on the season and lose his job when he traded for Garza.

But he knows that baseball is the game that never sleeps. Even in December, when the amazingly inaccurate Twitterverse had the Rangers dominating the winter meetings and then suddenly charging toward a doomed season as Justin Upton, James Shields, Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke all went elsewhere in the span of no time flat, Daniels was looking toward July and August.

To be fair, Twitter isn’t all bad, as wildly uninformed as it often is. Yet, shrouded behind all that tweet smoke is a trade about to be fired off to the Commissioner’s Office for approval.

And the proposed deals that actually turn into Twitter chatter represent only a minuscule percentage of the deals that teams talk about each year and never are leaked for public consumption.

Hundreds of trade ideas are floated by each club, and some of those turn into phone calls to other clubs. A small portion of those get legs, and a sliver of those cross the finish line.

GMs aren’t making calls each and every day. Things are generally quiet in April after rosters are set, and the focus in May turns to the draft. Minds are working overtime in June, July and August, and the brakes are pumped only somewhat during spring training.

The off-season races nonstop and seemingly is out of control, and it starts when players eligible for free agency hit the market as soon as the last out of the World Series is recorded.

Club officials, though, know what they’ve got themselves into and actually embrace this part of the job year round. If they don’t, they need to find another line of work.

Conduct business on Christmas? Absolutely.

Cut out on a family vacation? It happens.

Find a trade partner in August? Sure enough, despite all the bad-mouthing Daniels did of the Rangers’ chances.

The Rios deal makes four August trades in the past five seasons for Daniels, beginning with a 2009 deal with Houston for Ivan Rodriguez as the Rangers flirted with the postseason.

The White Sox were always going to deal Rios, but badly overplayed their hand in July. They actually asked for Jurickson Profar from the Rangers, and then backed off by asking for Martin Perez and Luke Jackson.

As badly as the Rangers were going to need a bat, a premium prospect was way too much for Rios. When the Rangers threatened to walk away last week, Chicago had no choice but to give in.

Just like that leverage swings in favor of a team seeking help in August, if a coveted player gets through waivers or walks the wire long enough. The team holding the player can negotiate only with the claiming team, and concessions have to be made if it wants to move the player.

That’s how Jurickson Profar turned into Leury Garcia, and that’s how Joey Butler and Engel Beltre turned into Rios.

But the ultimate reason Rios is with the Rangers is because the business of acquiring talent never stops in baseball, a 24/7/365 sport. Just check Twitter.

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @JeffWilson

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