With the second wild card, everyone’s a contender

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Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times has a good piece up today talking about the second wild card has changed the competitive landscape (i.e. put far more teams in contention longer) and thus creates some real benefits to teams’ bottom lines. If you have a chance, people watch and buy tickets and beer and foam fingers and stuff.

Another consequence: a lot of inactivity at the trade deadline. Or at lease leading up to it. Since¬†everyone thinks they’ve got a chance — or, at the very least, want their fans to think they have a chance — there are way fewer sellers at the deadline and way more buyers. That, in turn, makes the few players who are available go way up in price and makes trades even harder to come together. We still may see a lot of deals in late July, but they’ll be minor ones, as fewer teams decide that they need to mount a fire sale.

Given the more-teams-are-in-it-longer dynamic of the two-wild-card era, it would behoove Major League Baseball to look into extending the non-waiver trade deadline a couple of weeks into August instead of having it stop in late July. We need more things to shake out if we want more players to shake loose.

Report: Diamondbacks acquire Steven Souza from Rays; Yankees land Brandon Drury

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Update (6:35 PM ET): This is a three-team deal also involving the Diamondbacks, per Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The Diamondbacks will receive outfielder Steven Souza from the Rays and second baseman Brandon Drury will head to the Yankees. Lefty reliever Anthony Banda will go to the Rays, Piecoro adds. The Diamondbacks will also receive prospect Taylor Widener from the Yankees, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post. MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert adds that the Rays will get two players to be named later from the D-Backs.

Souza, 28, is earning $3.55 million in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility, so the Rays are presumably saving money in moving him. Last season, Souza hit a productive .239/.351/.459 with 30 home runs, 78 RBI, 78 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 617 plate appearances. Souza’s arrival almost certainly pushes Yasmany Tomas out of a starting gig.

Drury, 25, has played a handful of positions in his brief major league career. Last year, he played second base in Arizona, batting .267/.317/.447 with 13 home runs and 63 RBI in 480 PA.

Banda, 24, made his major league debut last season, posting an ugly 5.96 ERA with a 25/10 K/BB ratio in 25 2/3 innings. The peripherals suggest he pitched better than his ERA indicated.

Widener, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the 12th round of the 2016 draft. This past season with High-A Tampa, he pitched 119 1/3 innings and posted a 3.39 ERA with a 129/50 K/BB ratio. MLB Pipeline rated Widener as the 14th-best prospect in the Yankees’ system.

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Robert Murray of FanRag Sports reports that the Rays will acquire second base prospect Nick Solak from the Yankees. The Yankees’ return is presently not known.

Solak, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the second round of the 2016 draft. He spent last season between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, hitting a combined .297/.384/.452 with 12 home runs, 53 RBI, 72 runs scored, and 14 stolen bases.

MLB Pipeline ranked Solak as the eighth-best prospect in the Yankees’ system and the fifth-best second base prospect in baseball, praising him for his ability to hit line drives as well as his speed.