MLB Trade Deadline: Best Betting Opportunities
Whether you’re playing fantasy sports or betting on teams to go to the World Series, the Major League Baseball trade deadline has implications for almost every team. Will Joey Gallo be a Ranger after July 31?
The history of Major League Baseball is replete with players who are acquired at the trade deadline and go on to have a huge impact on teams that eventually win it all.
In 2004, the Boston Red Sox acquired Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz from the Chicago Cubs for Nomar Garciaparra, and went on to break the curse, winning the World Series for the first time in nearly 100 years.
In 2015, the Kansas City Royals traded three no-name prospects to the Cincinnati Reds for Johnny Cueto, who made the important impact during the playoffs and World Series to deliver the trophy.
In 2016, the Cubs acquired Aroldis Chapman from the New York Yankees for Gleyber Torres and prospects, to capture their first title in a century. The fact that Chapman returned to New York the following season doesn’t diminish the importance of this trade.
And it goes the other way, too. Teams that are out of contention can grab players that will become stars for years. How about in 1988, when the Baltimore Orioles acquired Curt Schilling and Brady Anderson from the Red Sox for Mike Boddicker? The young Schilling and Anderson went on to become perennial all-stars, while Boddicker wasn’t enough to put Boston into the World Series.
And though the Cardinals trade for Mark McGwire in 1997 from the Oakland Athletics didn’t have an immediate impact for either team, McGwire hit 70 home runs in 1998 and 65 more the following year.
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The 2021 Season
So that brings us to 2021. Who will have the magic and the mojo to make the right deals?
The rules are a little different this year. The July 31 deadline is a hard stop to player transfers. In the past, a team could “waive” a player—basically release him. Another team would have made a deal with the original team to pick him up. It was usually a cash transaction with no other players involved. Sometimes a third or fourth team that weren’t part of that deal would “claim” the player, basically scuttling the deal: the original team would pull him back from waivers, since they’d get nothing in return. But that’s not permitted this year, so every deal has to be made before July 31.
Let’s examine who might be involved. Certain teams weren’t supposed to be contenders and now find themselves in the heat of a pennant race like the Boston Red Sox and the San Francisco Giants. Both teams were supposedly in rebuilding years, but at the All-Star break, found themselves at the top of their respective divisions.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, the defending world champions, suddenly find themselves bereft of starting pitching with the loss to injury of Dustin May early in the season, and now the legal trouble of Trevor Bauer. And with Clayton Kershaw shut down until August, they need starting pitching badly. The Yankees, once again a massive disappointment, are chasing the Red Sox, but looking up from almost the bottom of the division. Are they just a couple of players away from turning it around?
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Frankly, almost every team could have a role at the trade deadlines. Teams like the Baltimore Orioles, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Colorado Rockies or the Minnesota Twins are hopelessly out of the running. But they each have players who are either having surprisingly good years after careers of mediocrity or are at the tail ends of their contracts. All will be justifiable trade bait and could bring some low-priced but high-potential prospects.
Lots of teams will wait until those last few days, because they’re trying to convince themselves they’re still in the running. The Philadelphia Phillies and the Washington Nationals in the National League East aren’t that far behind the New York Mets, who also need a starting pitcher.
In the American League West, the Oakland A’s and Seattle Mariners are only a few games behind the pace set by the Houston Astros, and believe a player or two could make the difference.
The trades have already begun. The Atlanta Braves picked up two players, outfielders Stephen Vogt from the Arizona Diamondbacks and Joc Pederson from the Cubs, both for prospects. Earlier in July, in a pattern that will be repeated several times during this runup to the trade deadline, relief pitchers changed teams. In the era of increasing importance of the bullpen, relief pitchers will be at a premium.
What players could or should be traded? The Rockies are almost certain to move shortstop star Trevor Story, who’s in his contract year. The Rockies are in serious rebuilding mode after trading superstar third baseman Nolan Arenado in the offseason. Some believe that Joey Gallo, the slugging Texas Rangers’ outfielder is a target, although the team is saying it will take a huge offer to move him.
The Cubs have several star players in their contract years, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. Lots of teams have holes at third base, so it’s more likely Bryant would go if the Cubs get a great offer. If the Nationals decide to sell, future Hall of Fame pitcher Max Scherzer could be the target. Scherzer’s in the final year of his contract. He could pull a Chapman, play for a contender at the end of this year, then return to the Nationals to end his career with the team.
Get In the Money
How can bettors benefit from the trade deadline? While most sportsbooks don’t take action on trades, they will adjust the odds to win the division, league and World Series as a result of the trades.
Amid rumors of a trade of a major player to a contending team, the odds will shift if that trade is actually made. So making wagers on solid rumors could give you an edge. Even when the trade is made, sometimes books take several hours to adjust the lines, so jump on it quickly and you’ll achieve the same result.
Or go to the PointsBet sportsbook and use their “Name a Bet” option. Something as simple as “Will Joey Gallo be traded by July 31?” Give them reasonable odds, say, 5-1. If the bet is accepted and you guess right, you’ll be in the money.
So pay attention to these moves. They’ll be important to the pennant race, but they can also put a few extra bucks in your pocket if you’re a shrewd bettor.
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