Major League Baseball’s new rule changes for 2019 and 2020 are going to make the jobs of small market teams like the Milwaukee Brewers much harder.
While roster size and pitching rule changes are delayed until 2020, the elimination of the waiver trade deadline would, by itself, have made the Milwaukee Brewers’ magical run to the National League Central crown just about impossible.
Along with a host of other rule changes, baseball is going to be changed as we know it.
A hard July 31st trade Deadline eliminates the Brewers chance to add stretch-run talent on the cheap.
Gio Gonzalez, Xavier Cedeno, and Curtis Granderson accounted for 1.3 WAR in the final month of the 2018 season. Gonzalez’ impact was the biggest, as he flew into Milwaukee like a buzzsaw, putting up a 2.13 ERA and a 3-0 record in five starts. This included the win in game 162 against the Tigers to force the tiebreaker game.
These rental players came to the Crew far cheaper than any mid-season acquisition that the league would seek to force on teams. Smaller markets find themselves on a better playing field for adding talent late in the season. They don’t have to take on onerous contracts and they don’t have to bet the farm system on these rentals.
The chances of landing a Madison Bumgarner in a trade on the cheap just fell dramatically for 2019, as the Giants are sure to ask for much more for half a season of their World Series MVP then they would for one month. Even trades for lower level players will end up being much more expensive. David Stearns has yet to make the sort of future mortgaging moves that predecessor Doug Melvin made in playoff pushes. He’s unlikely to start making them now.
Large market teams are much more capable of absorbing the fallout of dealing away cheap young talent, or taking on massive financial commitments. The elimination of waiver trades is another shift in favor of clubs like the Dodgers and Yankees, and away from the Brewers and Athletics.
Going into 2020, the system targets smaller market clubs even more.