What Is a Player To Be Named Later?

Before Major League Baseball’s trading deadline on Monday, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays traded pitchers Steve Trachsel and Mark Guthrie to the Toronto Blue Jays for minor leaguer Brent Abernathy and “a player to be named later.” What is a player to be named later?

Teams often postpone the final terms of a trade 1) to better assess what positions their team needs to fill and 2) to better judge the other team’s talent before closing the deal. When setting up a “player to be named later” transaction, the teams generally agree on a list of five to 10 players from which the final selection will be made. Players to be named are rarely of star caliber.

Two rules govern player-to-be-named-later transactions. The deal must close within six months and the player must change leagues (which is why most players to be named later are minor leaguers).

In 1962, the New York Mets traded backup catcher Harry Chiti to the Cleveland Indians for a player to be named later. Who was that player? Harry Chiti, traded for himself.

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