Moving back the trade deadline would make MLB's season even more unusual


Rob Manfred

Getty Images

Commissioner Rob Manfred is open to the idea of moving Major League Baseball's trade deadline to later in the season, according to Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press. The feeling is that with more teams making the playoffs now (10), more teams are still alive and fewer teams are will to trade away key players.

"I think that the July 31st deadline is something that we may want to revisit in the context of the revised playoff format," Manfred said. "Obviously when you have two additional opportunities to be in the playoffs, you have more teams in the hunt and they may want to wait a little longer before they make decisions."

If we compare the four major North American sports leagues, only the NHL (76.3%) plays a larger percentage of their season prior to the trade deadline with MLB (66.2%) and the NBA (64.9%) in the same neighborhood. However, if the trade deadline is moved to August 30, things start to look a lot different.

Trade Deadline Chart

Cork Gaines/Business Insider

But what is really weird about the idea of moving the deadline back, at least in the context of the other sports leagues, is that MLB already has the lowest percentage of teams make the playoffs. Yet, Manfred believes that even though only one-third of MLB teams make the postseason, two-thirds of the season is not enough time to decide team needs.

So let's see how the relationship between the trade deadline and number of playoff teams compares in the different leagues. The NBA, NHL, and NFL already form a somewhat straight line. That is, as the percentage of teams making the playoffs goes up, so does the number of games that are played before the deadline. That makes sense.

On the other hand, MLB is already an outlier. Based on how many teams that make the playoffs, the trade deadline should be moved earlier in the season. Instead, MLB is thinking about becoming an even greater outlier.

Trade Deadline Chart

Cork Gaines/Business Insider

Of course, this doesn't mean MLB is wrong. Maybe the other leagues are wrong or maybe this is just apple and oranges. But it is interesting to see just how different MLB is from the others and how it may become if more unique.

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