How do baseball players get traded?

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Other topics: Baseball
Short answer:
  • There used to be two types of trades in Major League Baseball (MLB), the non-waiver and waiver trade.
  • Non-waiver trades occurred between the end of the World Series and approximately July 31 of the following year, while waiver trades happened in August.
  • As of 2019, there no longer are waiver trades.

Trades between MLB teams occur when one team approaches the other and expresses interest in a player. It could happen when a team decides that it needs a trade for any number of reasons: they need an extra starting pitcher for a pennant run when one of their starters goes down with an injury; they need another right-handed hitter in the line-up; or they need another closing relief pitcher. Those are just three of countless reasons why it could occur.

The trading process[edit]

The general manager of the club decides which of the players on their current roster is expendable, and they reach out to other teams seeing what they would offer for that player. Once he reaches an agreement with another club, he gets ownership approval, then approval of the team president. After that, the players go through medical physicals for approval, and then approval by the team's accountants, to make sure they comply with budget caps. Having cleared those hurdles, the deal is sent to the baseball commissioner's office for approval. Finally, if the player has no-trade or contingent trade rights, the player must sign off on the deal. If the player does not have these rights, this step is skipped.[1]

Trade deadline[edit]

Waiver trades were done away with in 2019. [2] The deadline is July 31, but it can vary slightly for certain reasons. Starting in the 2022 season, it was up to the Baseball Commissioner to set the trading deadline, which could occur at any point between July 28 and August 3.[3] In 2021 it was on July 30, while in 2022 it was on August 2.[4][5][6]


Teams can trade any player on their major or minor leagues rosters during the trading period, with a few exceptions: one, A minor league player, who is not an outrighted player, cannot be traded during the last week of a team's season; two, any player selected in the First-Year Player Draft cannot be traded until after the end of that year's World Series; three, a player drafted during the Winter Draft (Rule 5 Draft), cannot be traded from November 20th until the end of the draft; four, a player cannot be traded while on waivers; five, players with a no-trade clause can refuse a trade.[6]


  1. "Bowden: How trades get done". 2011-07-25. Retrieved 2022-10-22.
  2. "MLB will reportedly switch to single trade deadline, do away with August waiver deals in 2019 season". Retrieved 2022-10-22.
  3. "Restrictions on Trading Players". The Cub Reporter.
  4. "MLB's new Trade Deadline rules explained". Retrieved 2022-10-22.
  5. Baccellieri, Emma. "The waiver trade deadline is gone. So what does it mean?". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2022-10-22.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Trade Deadline | Glossary". Retrieved 2022-10-22.