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Your guide to the trade deadline

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  July 21, 2011 01:14 PM

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The non-waiver trade deadline is July 31, only 10 days away. Here's a brief guide to all the action:

The deadline is not really the deadline: Teams can still make trades after July 31 and often do. It's just that the players have to clear waivers. That complicates matters, but significant deals can still be made.

The real deadline is Aug. 31, the date that players must be on the roster to be eligible for the postseason.

GMs talk, that is what they do: It's not really news that Theo Epstein called a team to ask about its players. It would be news if he did not. Part of a GM's job is having a pretty good idea what the other 29 teams want to do. So don't get too excited by somebody's breathless report that GM X called Team Y.

Love the one you're with: The Red Sox need a right fielder, that's no secret. But even with right field giving them little production, the Sox still have the best offense in baseball. Would Carlos Beltran really make them that much better? Or would Josh Reddick and Darnell McDonald suffice?

Teams send scouts to games. That's what scouts do: That a team has a scout at a major league game and those two teams could match up for a trade is often coincidental. Teams employ dozens of scouts who attend games all season, not just in July. GMs have many ways to evaluate a player, a scout's take is just one piece of the puzzle.

Your team's prospects are not as valuable as you think: The prospects of large-market teams often get over-hyped simply because there is more media coverage of their players. That you've heard a lot about a certain player doesn't mean other teams think he's worth obtaining.

Think long term: A good GM doesn't look only at his team's need right now. He looks at how a trade would change the organization going forward. The Red Sox used three prime prospects to obtain Adrian Gonzalez in December knowing that would impact their ability to make a trade six months later. Nothing changed because J.D. Drew stopped hitting.

Every great player was once a prospect: It's easy to say "Trade anybody to get this star player! We need him." But Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Jacoby Ellsbury, Daniel Bard, Jon Lester, Jonathan Papelbon and Clay Buchholz were once prospects, too. Pillaging a good farm system can be a quick trip to mediocrity.

Pitching, pitching, pitching: The Red Sox have plenty of offense.Their catchers have the fourth-best OPS in the AL and nobody saw that coming. A reliable No. 5 starter and a lefthanded reliever would benefit this team so much more.

Consider the other side: Picture yourself as the GM of the other team at a press conference in his city announcing the trade. "Thanks for coming everybody. We sent Hunter Pence to the Red Sox today. We got back their third-best pitching prospect, a right fielder they don't need now that they have Hunter and a few other guys who could be decent. Any questions?" In other words, you have to give up something to get something.

Old news: Many of the "rumors" that are reported were based on talks that happened days ago. A smart GM works on the down low anyway.

As to the Red Sox: I think they'll trade for a reliever and and see if a right fielder falls into their laps at a decent price. Josh Reddick looks terrific now. But how will be look in two weeks once the scouting reports catch up to him?

As for Extra Bases, we'll keep you advised on the news. Whatever Nick and I hear that seems legit, we'll pass on.

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