Less than three weeks remain before Major League Baseball's July 31 trade deadline, and this year, the stakes are higher. The collectively bargained decision to eliminate August trade waivers removes a second deadline for dealing, albeit one that required teams to jump through multiple hoops. Now, everything is accelerated, including each team's decision to be a buyer or a seller, or to simply remain in wait-and-see mode.
Buyers now have less time to decide how to address their needs, and no fallback period during which they can focus on secondary, depth-oriented concerns. Potential sellers have less time to make up their minds as to whether they have a realistic shot of clawing their way back into the races, leading them to trade present assets for future ones; they also have less chance of unloading the type of big-contract players that usually go unclaimed during the August waiver period.
As Cleveland Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said recently regarding the single deadline, "I don't think it will have too much of an impact on those big deals, but I do think it will force teams to assess their depth and make a lot of smaller trades early to be able to make sure that if anything happens in August or September, they're well prepared for it. I would expect the overall volume of trades will increase prior to July 31, even if they may not be the headline-grabbing ones."
What follows is a look at 10 teams whose top executives (general managers or presidents of baseball operations) will have the greatest impact on the deadline. Within each group, I've ranked the teams in order of their records -- worst to best among the sellers, who have the potential to deal players whose services will be highly sought, and best to worst among the buyers, who will compete for those highly sought players.