The ins and outs of player trades



The MSR is happy to introduce a new voice on our sports page, that of Julia Toles. Julia describes herself as “a writer, future producer, and driven young lady who is trying to be the voice of the unheard. I am a firm believer that so much can be learned through stories and listening. My passion for telling stories through the written word is what drives me daily. I hope that you enjoy the ride as I report the truth, delve into the ugly, and stay persistent in honesty!”


Introducing a new MSR sports columnist:



JuliasaysWelcome to the world of “Julia Says.”


Have you ever wondered why in the world of sports there is such a thing called trades? Quite frankly, it reminds me of the slave trade: You are bought through a contract and then sold when your [team] owner feels you are no longer needed, or oftentimes you are traded for someone who can perform better.

Some would argue, and I would definitely agree, that pro sports players’ contracts are quite promising, rewarding some players with millions of dollars and stardom; therefore the concept of slavery does not quite apply. However, regardless of the money and fame made throughout the years, the whole thought of trading just seems a bit harsh.

I personally decided that it would be part of my journey as a writer to delve into a better understanding of how trades work, and why.

What is a trade? A trade is a sports league transaction involving an exchange of players’ contracts or draft picks between teams, says Wikipedia. Cash is another commodity that sometimes is used together with contracts or draft picks to finalize a trade. Now, typically a trade is completed between two teams, but there are instances where trades are made between three or more teams.

However, did you know that there is such a thing as a no-trade clause? To my amazement, I discovered the no-trade clause through my research. I thought to myself, really…a player couldn’t be traded even if he wanted to be? I mean, honestly, how does this work?

If it is only to the owners’ benefit, then my theory of the slave trade is right. Little did I know, and quickly found out, that sometimes the no-trade clause can be a form of protection for the players.

The no-trade clause is an amendment to a contract where a player may not be traded to another team. Usually each league has its own rules regarding how trades are implemented. For example: The no-trade clause in the NBA can only be negotiated into contracts when a player has at least four years of service for the team he is currently signed with, or at least eight years in the NBA.

This rule continues to vary, as Major League Baseball has the “Ten and Five” rule — when a player has played in the league for 10 seasons and is with his current team for at least five years. Oftentimes this gives players very limited control of their tradability.

Unfortunately, in some cases the no-trade clause is limited, as the owner or team may be restricted to trading the athlete only to a certain team or within a geographical area.  The no-trade clause can be found in most sports in the USA, including Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Football League (NFL), the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Hockey League (NHL), and Major League Soccer (MLS).

Interestingly, the no-trade clause can be waived by the player themselves, especially if they have the opportunity to play for a contending team. One example is when Kobe Bryant in 2007 was willing to waive his own rights with the Los Angeles Lakers in order to be traded to either the Phoenix Suns or the Chicago Bulls. However, Bryant’s specifics limited the Lakers’ ability to move him, and eventually no trade was made.

One last thing to remember is that all of these trades could not be made without deadlines. In order to keep the formality and structure in the sports world, trades must meet deadlines.

A trade deadline is a rule regulating the trading of professional players’ contracts between clubs, according to Wikipedia. Usually, all players picked up through trade after the trade deadlines are ineligible to play in postseason unless the respective league allows them to replace an injured player.

Typically, each league has an annual deadline to make trades: The NBA deadline is usually on the 16th Thursday of the season each February. The NFL trade deadline is usually the Tuesday following the eighth week of the regular season, which is usually mid-October, and the NHL trade deadline is typically the last Monday of February.

In some leagues, however, post-deadline trades may not be banned entirety. The Major League Baseball (MLB) non-waiver deadline is July 31, but the waiver deadline is August 31 — in order to trade a player, he must “pass” on the waiver list by each team.

If every MLB team passes on the player, he will have “cleared” waivers and the trade can be consummated. However, if a team puts in a claim, the team either must pull the player off the waiver list or lose him to the team that put in the claim.

Finally, after delving into this world, I realize that trading is not a slave trade (while still following the format of one), but it is a business. What most have to realize is that in this business, trading can be favorable to the players, to the owners, or to both. As a result, an athlete, when signing up to play sports, must be very aware that being traded is all a part of the game.


Julia Toles welcomes reader responses to