It feels like we’re so far removed from having to do regular pandemic-related updates, which I don’t mean to come off as blasé. Instead, in all honesty, I think I just got so burned out on covering sports pandemic stuff that I’ve been pretty eager to leave it behind around these parts.
But, it’s still impacting baseball, and the latest news could have significant fallout in the trade market.
The Kansas City Royals, a team out of the race and with a lot of possible trade pieces, are headed to Toronto this week to play the Blue Jays. But because of Canada’s vaccine requirement, that means any unvaxxed players cannot travel … and the Royals have a crapload of them:
The impact to the actual baseball on the field is relatively modest, as the Royals ain’t winning anything this year anyway. I’m sure the Blue Jays – fresh off firing their manager – appreciate that they’re getting some layups, though.
The real impact, as far as we’re concerned around here, is for the upcoming Trade Deadline. Immediately, you have to wonder about how much this hurts the trade value of those players – most notably outfielders Andrew Benintendi and Michael A. Taylor – who almost certainly couldn’t be traded to the Blue Jays, and maybe not any of the AL East teams (or playoff-bound teams that could wind up playing in Toronto).
That doesn’t mean they can’t/won’t be traded at all, but it absolutely could ding their market value. In turn, then, it could make other outfielders on the trade market all the more compelling. Might this impact the market for guys like Ian Happ or Rafael Ortega?
There are longer-term implications, too:
This is going to be worth following, because every little bit of impact in the trade market is going to matter to an obvious seller like the Cubs.