Matthew Boyd Is Symbolic of How Tricky the MLB Trade Deadline Can Be

Matthew Boyd is emblematic of how tricky the trade deadline can be - for both buyers and sellers.

If Boyd is moved before the July 31 trade deadline, it won't be his first time. On July 30, 2015, Boyd and fellow lefty Daniel Norris were traded from Toronto to Detroit for David Price.

Boyd was not the headliner in that deal; Norris was. Norris has since disappointed, posting a 4.68 ERA in 382 career big-league innings.

Meanwhile, Boyd found a new, lower arm angle that felt more comfortable, improved his slider and changeup and has turned into a strikeout beast. He's one of the treasures in this trade market, both because of his great stuff and his three years of club control after 2019.

In 2015, Boyd's upside was viewed as considerably lower.

But that's not where the trade lessons involving Boyd end. The Tigers acquired him for just a half-season of Price, who did go on to pitch incredibly well for the Blue Jays (9-1, 2.30 ERA) and lead them to the playoffs for the first time in 23 years. 

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Oddly, the Tigers got more for a half-season of Price than the Tampa Bay Rays got for 1½ seasons of Price the previous trade deadline.

At that previous trade deadline, know who was the centerpiece of the Rays' return for Price? Drew Smyly. Back then, Smyly was a highly-touted 25-year-old lefty with top-of-the-rotation potential.

The 2015 Boyd trade illustrates how sometimes, the seller doesn't know exactly what it's selling.

The 2014 Price trade illustrates how sometimes, the extra years of team control don't result in a better package. In some years, it's all about supply and demand. This year, the trade demand for starting pitchers is very high and the supply of available difference-makers is relatively low.

With Boyd, you have to look past the 4.13 ERA he carried into Tuesday's game. You have to look past his performance from 2015-17 when he was a totally different pitcher. The team that acquires him will be banking on continued improvement from an ascending, inexpensive 28-year-old southpaw who misses as many bats as anyone.

Should the Phillies trade Alec Bohm in order to acquire Boyd? That would be a hard pass from me, but I'm not the GM. It could come down to who blinks first. Detroit should be in no rush to deal Boyd until the final hours of the trade deadline to see if the many teams interested in him feel pressure and increase their offers.

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