PHOENIX (AP) – This is always a stressful time of year for Major League Baseball’s 30 general managers, as they evaluate talent, weigh financial implications and find ways to make their teams better as Tuesday’s trade deadline approaches.
Now there’s another factor in the driving and handling equation – the state of the Covid-19 vaccine.
“It’s definitely one of those new things that you don’t think about,” Pirates GM Ben Cherington said. I think every team wants to feel like the full complement of their roster is ready to play, but we’re in a new world and there are personal preferences.
Those personal preferences matter because MLB’s Covid-19 rules affect all 30 teams in different ways.
Arizona Diamondbacks GM Mike Hazen said players’ vaccination status is influencing trade talks “to some extent,” but he didn’t believe it was a critical factor in many deals, especially for teams that don’t have a trip to Canada in the near future. in the future.
Hazen added that vaccination status is part of a player’s medical file, so it should not be a secret, teams are free to discuss those details.
The only MBB group in Canada, the Toronto Blue Jays So far they have the most severe limitations. They are foreign nationals who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19. It is not allowed to enter Canadasave for special cases requiring a 14-day hold.
Unvaccinated players are placed on the restricted list, where they are unpaid and do not accrue major league service time.
That means any improvement for the Blue Jays — who are in the midst of an American League playoff run — will certainly need to be inoculated. It also means that teams traveling to Toronto for the rest of the regular season will have to consider if they are willing to add a player who will miss a crucial series.
The Yankees, Cubs, Rays, Orioles, Red Sox, Angels and Cubs all play games after Toronto. August 2 MLB trade deadline. Toronto GM Ross Atkins declined an interview request through a team spokesperson.
This season several teams went to Canada without their best players. The Kansas City Royals were the most extreme example, losing 10 players before traveling north of the American border.
Several of those players — pitchers Andrew Benintendi and Whit Merrifield — are reportedly the subject of trade talks. It was Benintendi. He was traded to the Yankees last week. Merrifield, a two-time All-Star, said he would be willing to take the vaccine if it meant playing in the postseason in Toronto.
Unless those unvaccinated players change their minds, it looks like home field advantage for the Blue Jays. 34-21 in Toronto and just 23-24 on the road this season.
Losing regular season games is problematic, but playoffs are more important.
The Blue Jays are on track to make the postseason, so theoretically, the road to a World Series title could go through Canada. It makes them a big loss for a team like the Yankees.
Benintendi said he would consider getting vaccinated.
“I’m open-minded about it,” Benintendi said after the trade. “I’m not against it, but time will tell as we get closer, but right now I’m just focused on getting here, getting comfortable, getting to know the guys and winning baseball games.”
There is also the possibility that Canada’s COVID-19 restrictions could continue in the coming years, which could affect long-term deals. The hypotheses are endless.
Of course, there’s also the possibility that the Blue Jays are out of the playoffs and none of the immediate deadline scenarios come into play. Many have taken the position of Yankees manager Aaron Boone, who did not discuss vaccines with Benintendi immediately after the July 27 trade.
“We’ll cross that bridge if we have to,” Boone said.
AP sports writer Will Graves in Pittsburgh and freelance Scott Orgera in New York contributed to this story.