A few years ago, and for a long time, MLB teams had their reservations about trading with teams of their own division.
After all, each club will play almost 20 times per season with teams of their own division, and trading with them would mean that those hitters, or pitchers, would have a greater (and more frequent) impact against them.
Of course, others thought that the possibility of helping your division rivals improve their teams wasn’t worth it.
MLB teams had other types of issues regarding trades, for example, doing it with cross-town rivals.
Those things are slowly getting in the rearview mirror, and rightfully so.
Teams Should Just Take The Best Deal For Them
These days, teams are looking to better line up their respective contention windows, and there are often deals on the table from divisional rivals that make too much sense to pass up.
If, for example, a last-place team has a star nearing free agency, and the division leader is willing to offer the best package of prospects in return,
Does it make sense to trade the player to another team in a different league that is offering a considerably worse package just because the original organization plays in the same division?
There is the idea that said star will help the rival in its own playoff push or World Series run, but that team was going to look for upgrades anyway.
And, in the long run, the prospects or players received in that hypothetical deal could help them achieve their objectives.
You could say there is still a preference by teams to not deal with division rivals, but it’s starting to change.
There Are Lots Of Recent Examples
The deal was controversial in so many ways, but Seattle was looking for infield depth with several years of team control, and the Astros, who have several of those, needed a reliever.
Both teams were able to strike a deal.
Most Mariners fans were not happy about seeing Graveman, a huge contributor in 2021 as the team tries to make a playoff push, go to Houston, but in the end, the deal made some sense for all parties.
There are lots of recent examples about teams of the same division making trades.
The Yankees needed playoff flexibility in the offseason, and the Red Sox had it, so the Bombers sent them Adam Ottavino and his $9 million salary.
The Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays made a trade, involving Mike Ford, a few weeks ago.
The Cleveland Guardians sent Cesar Hernandez to the Chicago White Sox on Thursday, understanding that both teams are in different stages of the competitive cycle.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 29, 2021
For MLB executives, it doesn’t matter if the trade is with a fellow division team: if it makes sense from a financial or competitive point of view, they pull the trigger.
Fans tend not to think this way, and it’s understandable, but the best deal should always be prioritized above all things.
Kendall Graveman has 4 wins and 0 losses with a .82 era and for some reason a team with a great chance to succeed in the post season yet you trade him to a division rival. Fire that Gm please, what an idiot
— Nick Papa (@nickcapalot11) July 29, 2021