Now that the first-year amateur draft is out of the way, expect that trade talk will begin in earnest around baseball.
That's traditionally been the case in recent years -- once the draft is done, executives start to focus more on the needs of their major league clubs. They're no longer distracted by the demands of the draft, or sifting through scouting reports or medical records and it's time to focus.
By then, the season is beginning to approach the halfway point in games played and the sample size is big enough to begin proper evaluations. Soon, the questions start to get asked: What do we need? What are our weaknesses? How can we improve?
This year, however, there's a new urgency that comes with that calculus.
For the first time, waiver deals will not be permitted after July 31. No longer will teams be able to make a late addition or put off doing something at the end of July in the hopes of getting more clarity about whether your team is an actual contender or merely hovering near .500.
Now, that luxury is gone. Without the option of August deals, teams need to make their determinations sooner. And that, in turn, could lead to an uptick in talks and even deals, with some envisioning more trades than normal before the All-Star break.
"It's hard to say,'' ventured one MLB executive. "I think everyone is going to be watching closely to see what happens with this (change). It could go either way -- you could have teams being more aggressive, knowing that this (July 31 deadline) is their only opportunity. Or, you could see teams wait until the last minute before determining if they're going to add.
"This is a test case I guess '' added another front office person, "and nobody's sure how it's going to play out.''
In other words, it could break either way. There could be a rash of deals, with some clubs willing to "jump the line'' and pull off trades earlier. In those scenarios, if teams start to drift out of contention as July 31 draws closer, they could shift to seller mode quickly and deal off the players they acquired earlier. (We nearly saw a version of that last summer when Washington obtained reliever Kelvin Herrera from Kansas City, then debated moving him a month later before ultimately deciding to retain him).
Either way, the chatter has begun — even about the Red Sox.