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The 2020 Major League Baseball season is barely a month old, and yet the Aug. 31 trade deadline (Monday at 4 p.m. ET) is a little less than a week away. All 30 MLB clubs will be given the opportunity to reevaluate their current rosters and seek upgrades. After that, teams will not be permitted to make additional swap.

Like the unique 60-game season, this year’s trade deadline is expected to carry with it the a similar sense of unusualness. 

While we usually take a closer look at some of the biggest stories from the latest batch of games in baseball, this week, we’re going to turn our attention and focus to this year’s trade deadline. We’ve selected a few different trade deadline scenarios and given each one a buy/sell decision. It’s difficult to know what to expect but here’s our best prediction.

There could be a flurry of action, or it could be a very slow few days with minimal moves. Some teams have hit the halfway mark of 30 games this season, while others have been forced to play less than 20 due to postponements caused by positive coronavirus cases. In this shortened season that’s just nine weeks in length, every swing and pitch matters much more than it normally would in a 162-game slate. And with the expanded postseason allowing more than half of the league to compete in October, teams are forced to make tough decisions.

Here at CBS Sports, we’ve already highlighted 25 players who could be on the move, as well as determined which teams are likeliest to buy and which are likeliest to sell. For a more detailed look at each team’s 2020 trade deadline outlook, we’ve got you covered there as well. Here are guides on the Yankees, Cubs and Phillies, with more to follow later this week.

Now, let’s get to it:

Buy: Starting pitching market will be hot 

Nearly the focus of every MLB trade deadline, starting pitching will once again be the most sought-after commodity this year. In 2020, due to the quick ramp up after nearly four months without games, we’ve seen more pitching injuries. Miles Mikolas, Corey Kluber, Justin Verlander and Shohei Ohtani were just some of the big names hit with injuries at the start of the season. And the rash of injuries this year hasn’t slowed down with contenders like the Yankees, Rays and Braves all in need of pitching help at the deadline after injuries hit their respective rotations. Some of the pitchers clubs could go after include: Lance Lynn, Kevin Gausman, Taijuan Walker, Alex Cobb, Johnny Cueto, Marco Gonzales and Dylan Bundy.

Sell: They’ll be a blockbuster trade

I’m selling on the chance that we will see a blockbuster trade at the deadline. Given the circumstances this season, high-profile trades are probably going to be harder than ever to come to fruition. Impending free agents could be traded to contending teams and it’s possible that the financial impact of the coronavirus shutdown could have small-market clubs looking to rid their payroll of larger salaries. But, I’d say that some of the bigger names in the game will likely stay put.

Buy: Red Sox will commit to rebuild

Now, the Boston Red Sox are, to be quite honest, are a complete and utter mess this season. Just two seasons removed from completing one of the most dominant regular seasons in baseball history en route to their 2018 World Series title, the club owns one of the worst records in the game in 2020. Entering Tuesday, Boston is 9-20 on the season and a whopping 9.5 games behind the first-place Yankees in the AL East. The Red Sox tear down began with their dismissal of former team president Dave Dombrowski at the end of the 2019 season and followed with their public commitment to staying under the Competitive Balance Tax (CBT), or the luxury tax, as it’s more commonly known.

Things only snowballed from there when the club was embroiled in a sign-stealing scandal from their championship season that resulted in the loss of manager Alex Cora. Later, the Red Sox decided to trade their top homegrown talent and former MVP Mookie Betts (along with lefty David Price) to the Los Angeles Dodgers. As the club nears the Aug. 31 trade deadline, I’m buying that this club will be sellers. The majority from the Red Sox core that won the 2018 World Series are already gone, and it’s possible that the club decides to make some major changes.

Mitch Moreland, Kevin Pillar, Jackie Bradley Jr. and J.D. Martinez are all some of the names Boston could move. First-year Boston general manager Chaim Bloom completed one of the first trades ahead of Aug. 31 when he sent relievers Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree to the Phillies. It seems like Bloom and company are gearing up for a rebuild, and with a weak farm system, they could use this trade deadline to accelerate the club’s return to contention.

Sell: 16-team playoffs will drastically lessen number of sellers

At first glance, the 16-team expanded postseason field could look like a way to entice teams to go all in and commit to fighting for one of those playoff spots. But, I’m going to sell on the fact that this year’s expanded postseason will mean drastically less teams selling and more teams buying. I think what we’re going to see is a lot of teams going for something in between, or simply, nothing at all.

With the coronavirus still posing a serious threat in the United States, there’s an added layer of uncertainty stemming from the October postseason. There are still so many factors that put the postseason up in the air, and that uncertainty is going to make a lot more teams hesitant to jump in on buying just because they’re technically in the running for a spot in the new postseason format.

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