Wild-Card Delusions: July 31 Trade Deadline No Longer Works for MLB

Thanks to the advent of the second wild card, even Mike Trout and the sub-.500 Los Angeles Angels have a shot at the playoffs.Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

So far, the 2017 MLB trade season has been a lot of smoke and very little fire.

Rumors have swirled. Speculation has simmered. And, yes, a few significant deals have gone down, thanks mostly to the Chicago White Sox, who dealt left-hander Jose Quintana to the Chicago Cubs and a package including relief ace David Robertson and slugger Todd Frazier to the New York Yankees.

By and large, however, the weeks leading up to the July 31 non-waiver deadline have been duller than a drizzly day at the beach with the sniffles and no swim trunks. 

The culprit is obvious: The advent of the second wild card means more teams harbor postseason dreams.

The solution is equally obvious: Push the trade deadline deeper into summer.

As of Friday, 18 teams were within six games or fewer of a playoff spot. That’s nearly two-thirds of MLB’s franchises. 

According to FanGraphs’ calculation, 13 clubs have at least a 15 percent chance of ascending the October stage.

Some of those teams are deluding themselves. Yet, the possibility of reaching the wild-card play-in, getting hot and running the table is tantalizing.

Consider the 2014 San Francisco Giants, who won 88 games and barely grabbed the second National League wild-card slot, but rode clutch hitting and a historic performance by ace Madison Bumgarner to a third Commissioner’s Trophy in five seasons.

Any squad hanging around .500 in late July can be forgiven for hoarding its trade chips and hoping for a scalding streak.

A few short weeks ago, the Kansas City Royals looked like obvious sellers. They were buried in the American League Central and featured a roster laden with impending free agents.

Impending free agent Mike Moustakas and the Kansas City Royals are suddenly back in the AL postseason picture.Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

Now, K.C. holds the Junior Circuit’s second wild-card…

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