Major League Baseball’s trade deadline will pass next Monday, Aug. 31, at 4 p.m. After that, teams will not be permitted to make additional swaps, the way they were able to prior to last season using the waiver system. As such, teams have a small window left to decide whether they will add players, subtract players, or stand pat ahead of the season’s final month.

Because this deadline promises to be unlike any in recent memory, we here at CBS Sports decided to put together a primer that attempts to answer five of the most frequently asked questions concerning the deadline and what’s to come over the ensuing week.

Let’s shimmy, let’s shake, and let’s get to the content. 

1. Will this be an active trade deadline?

The expectation around the league is that there will be trades, albeit at a reduced volume. 

There are numerous reasons for that, including the financial uncertainty teams are experiencing because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most clubs are and will remain reluctant to take on significant salary until they can gain a better feel for how their 2021 budgets will be impacted by this odd year. Without a traditional minor-league season, teams aren’t in as good of a position to scout the opposition’s farm system and their prospects, either.

The combination of the expanded postseason, with more than half the majors qualifying for October, and the abbreviated regular season also means there is less separation between the contenders and the pretenders, and that there are more contenders than pretenders. 

2. So, no blockbusters then?

Probably not. 

Last week, we highlighted 25 players who we thought could be on the move. For the most part, the individuals we included were either veterans on expiring contracts, or role players and relievers whose marketability has been aided by the circumstances.

Perhaps some team tries to take advantage of the situation, but bigger swaps, like say one involving Cleveland shortstop Francisco Lindor, are more likely to come at a later date.

3. Will Cleveland move on from Clevinger, Plesac?

Speaking of Cleveland, one storyline worth tracking is whether or not the club will move on from starting pitchers Mike Clevinger and Zach Plesac. Both were optioned to the alternate site after violating the team’s coronavirus safety protocol and their teammate’s trust by going out for dinner during a road trip.

There’s a school of thought within the industry that Cleveland is unlikely to move either. The reason being that they’d be dealing them at a time when their value has bottomed out. 

If one or the other is moved, either now or come the offseason, Clevinger seems more likely to go. Though the length of his optional assignment could impact his free-agent date, he’s already arbitration-eligible. He was also known to be of interest to teams last winter. 

4. Which teams are likeliest to buy?

Our Mike Axisa covered this aspect last week, defining whether each team was a buyer, a seller, or both. He identified the Braves, Cubs, White Sox, Reds, Rockies, Astros, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers, Twins, Mets, Yankees, Athletics, Phillies, Cardinals, Padres, Rangers, and Nationals as pure buyers.

5. What about the likeliest to sell?

Meanwhile, Axisa classified the Orioles, Red Sox, Royals, Pirates, Giants, Mariners, and Blue Jays as pure sellers. 

Given the disparity in the number of buyers and sellers alone, it’s easy to understand why this deadline might lack the pomp and circumstance of a standard season. 

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