The Player to be Named Later
Just to clear up any misconceptions about the PTNL rule, I thought I'd post it directly so we'll know how it works should that be what Rich Hill gets traded for.
According to a handful of sources: The "player to be named later" (PTBNL) is generally used to postpone a trade's final conditions or terms. This is often done for two reasons. First, the team receiving the PTBNL might not be certain which position they want to fill, so this type of deal gives them more time to figure it out. Second, this type of arrangement gives the team receiving the PTBNL more time to evaluate the available talent on the other team. When one of these PTBNL transactions occurs, the negotiating teams usually agree on a list of 5-10 players (typically minor leaguers) that the PTBNL will ultimately be chosen from. If the teams can't agree on who the player will be, then they will agree on a price to be paid instead of a player. There are two rules to a PTBNL transaction. The deal must close within a six-month time frame following the conclusion of the rest of the trade, and the player must change leagues.
Just for clarifaction to what HC was saying in the shout box ... the list does not change based on Rich Hill's production. If Rich Hill doesn't make it out of Spring Training in Baltimore, the Cubs list of players do not change. if Hill becomes the Cy Young of the American League, the list of players the Cubs can pursue does not change, either.
The list of players is decided before the trade is completed and the Cubs can choose from those guys at any point. Should they not choose anybody, they get cash.
Them's the rules, HC. The PTNL is not performance-based.
Rob Neyer of ESPN "Sometimes, at the time of the deal the team receiving the player will provide the other club a list of minor leaguers, and later the club will have their pick of the players on that list. This list is negotiated at the time of the trade." (emphasis mine)
Biz of Baseball which says "At the time of a trade, clubs sometimes agree on a list of players from which the player to be named will be selected. They also may agree on an amount of money to be exchanged in lieu of a player."