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What are the logistics for a player when he gets traded?

Hugwatch is on — but once a player is traded, what happens?

Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

There have been some trades made this past week in advance of this year’s MLB trade deadline, which is Tuesday, August 2 at 5 p.m. CT. The Cubs made a deal Saturday, and are likely to make more.

Incidentally, the new MLB/MLBPA collective bargaining agreement allows the Commissioner’s office, going forward, to schedule the deadline for any particular year on any date between July 30 and August 3. This was done, most likely, so that the deadline could be placed on a day when there will be few, or possibly, no games. That will allow teams to focus on trades on deadline day without worrying about having to transport players to road games, only to then have them traded and leave, as happened to Kris Bryant last year:

But what does happen after a situation like that? Per the CBA, players have 72 hours to report after being traded. In most cases, though, it takes less time than that. Here’s a Fangraphs article from 2019 in which writer David Laurila spoke to nine players who had been traded and how they found out and what happened after that. For example, here’s what happened to Clayton Richard when the Cubs acquired him from the Pirates in July 2015:

“I think it’s way more difficult for the wives. We get plugged into another team and have pretty much the same daily routine; we’re just doing it with new people. Our wives have to change everything. They’re finding the places where they go in the morning, where they go in the afternoon, how they get to the field. They’re having to make new friends in a new place.

“When I got traded from the Pirates to the Cubs, it was kind of anticipated. I’d signed a minor-league deal at the beginning of the season and had an opt-out at the end of the spring, and then an upward-mobility clause at the beginning of July. If the Pirates didn’t call me up, they had to offer me to everyone else, with the team getting me having to put me on the big-league roster. I was anticipating going somewhere else as that came around.

“Chicago-to-San Diego was a surprise. Not only that, I needed to start the next day in San Diego, and had to get all of our stuff out of our apartment, in Chicago. Fortunately I’m from the Midwest, so my dad was able to help me accomplish that task. Normally it would fall on my wife’s workload, but she was out of town at the time. My dad and I ended up throwing everything into garbage bags, and into the back of a pickup truck. My wife went straight to San Diego.”

Teams, of course, have front office folks to assist them with travel logistics. The Cubs’ point person for that is Vijay Tekchandani, whose official title is Director, Major League Travel and Clubhouse Operations. Folks like that will help arrange plane tickets and a place for players like that to stay in their new home city.

Then there are uniforms. Every ballpark has a large selection of jerseys and pants for every single team, so they can find one to fit new players, and letters and numbers to sew on, which is done (usually) by a local tailor shop contracted by the team. This procedure began because Tigers star Lou Whitaker forgot his jersey when he headed to the 1985 All-Star Game in Minneapolis:

“I left my bag in the backseat of my Mercedes, isn’t that a shame?” Whitaker announced on the day of the game.

With only hours to go, Whitaker and the clubhouse boys for the Twins were forced to scramble. Lou had packed his socks and uniform pants in his suitcase with his clothes, but he didn’t have a cap, helmet, glove, spikes, or batting gloves.

His All-Star teammates stepped up to help: Cleveland pitcher Bert Blyleven let Whitaker wear his helmet; Baltimore’s Cal Ripken Jr. had an extra glove; Damaso Garcia of the Blue Jays came through with batting gloves. A clubhouse attendant bought an adjustable Tiger cap and a jersey from a souvenir stand at the Metrodome. The problem was that it was a generic Tigers jersey – there was no number or name on the back. A clubhouse attendant took a black marker and wrote in Sweet Lou’s #1 using a stencil.

True story — there are photos of Whitaker in that makeshift Tigers jersey at the link above.

So that’s a peek into the logistics for traded players. Sometimes we forget that these men aren’t just lines on a stat sheet, but people with lives outside baseball and families. Just as for any employee who relocates, a traded player has more than just baseball to think about when a trade is completed.

Feel free to use this thread for trade deadline discussion today.