MLB Trade Rumors: Ranking Suitors for Top 10 Waiver-Trade Targets
The MLB non-waiver trade deadline has now passed, but that doesn’t mean the wheeling and dealing is over with.
The month of August can be a boon for many contending teams still in search of a player who can help down the stretch and into October. The players just have to clear waivers first, and that’s not always a guarantee.
Many players will easily clear waivers because of the money still owed to them. Teams will not take on Vernon Wells, for example, who is still owed roughly $50 million. Teams might take a shot with certain impact players who are paid handsomely, provided they clear waivers and can negotiate an exchange of money along with the player to make his salary a bit more palatable.
In other cases, players simply have no future with their current teams and are placed on waivers. The case of Cody Ross in 2010 is a great example of that.
Ross was waived by the Florida Marlins and quickly claimed by the San Francisco Giants. Ross was huge for the Giants down the stretch and in the playoffs, proving to be a key figure as the Giants captured their first World Series championship in 56 years.
The waiver wire can yield results, but it’s the players who clear waivers that we’ll focus on for this particular piece. We will focus on the top 10 players who could clear waivers and be offered up for trade, and will rank the suitors from top to bottom for each particular player.
Alfonso Soriano: Chicago Cubs
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The Chicago Cubs have made no secret their desire to move left fielder Alfonso Soriano, and have been willing to eat the vast majority of the remaining $44 million on his contract to facilitate a deal.
Soriano has been terrific since mid-May, hitting 19 HR since that time. The Cubs did try dealing Soriano before Tuesday's 4 p.m. deadline, but were unable to put together a deal that made sense.
1. Cleveland Indians
The Indians are still in play for a postseason berth, 6.5 games behind the Chicago White Sox in the AL Central and six games out of a possible wild-card spot.
Right-handed hitting is what the Tribe needs, and Soriano could certainly provide some pop, especially as a DH. Soriano has thrived in that role, hitting .357 with seven HR and 15 RBI in 22 interleague games as a DH.
The only way a deal works with the Indians is if the Cubs pony up at least $40 million of the $44 million owed to Soriano, which is not a stretch at this point.
2. Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles placed DH Jim Thome on the disabled list with back spasms on Tuesday, and are without the services of Brian Roberts for the rest of the season after he elected to have surgery to repair a labrum tear in his right hip.
The O's are clearly within striking distance of a wild card, just two games out entering play on Wednesday. The addition of Soriano would certainly help the offense at this point.
Like the Indians, however, the O's won't even consider a deal unless the Cubs agree to pay almost all of Soriano's remaining contract.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers
According to ESPNChicago.com, the Cubs and Dodgers were close to getting a deal done for Soriano before the deadline, but were unable to seal the deal.
With the addition of Hanley Ramirez and Shane Victorino, it's less likely that the Dodgers are now interested in Soriano—but considering the all-in mentality displayed by the Dodgers with their recent transactions, it's still a possibility.
Cliff Lee: Philadelphia Phillies
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The Philadelphia Phillies are currently 13 games out of a possible wild-card berth in the National League and 15.5 games in back of the Washington Nationals in the NL East. Their transactions on Tuesday certainly gave rise to the fact that they're looking beyond this season.
Starting pitcher Cliff Lee was mentioned in various rumors as possibly being dangled as a trade chip by GM Ruben Amaro Jr. as well. However, in an interview with MLB Network after the deadline had passed, Amaro told host Matt Vasgersian that he never intended to trade Lee, and that teams reached out to him to make inquiries, not the other way around.
Lee is still owed roughly $94.5 million through the 2015 season—the likelihood of anyone taking on that salary is slim to none.
1. Arizona Diamondbacks
There were reports all day on Tuesday that the Diamondbacks worked diligently to try and acquire an impact starting pitcher.
Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com also reported that a source told him that the D-Backs and Phillies were discussing a deal involving Lee and D-Backs right fielder Justin Upton.
Is there still a chance that the D-Backs and Phillies could talk again in August? Yes, but unlikely. Arizona managing partner Ken Kendrick all but quashed the notion that his team would trade for Lee. Considering Amaro's statements to MLB Network, Lee is likely staying right where he is.
Jeff Francoeur: Kansas City Royals
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It was thought that the Kansas City Royals might be more active at the trade deadline with several players who were apparently available, including right fielder Jeff Francoeur.
However, only closer Jonathan Broxton was dealt on Tuesday, while Francoeur still mans right field. That may not last long if prospect Wil Myers continues playing his way toward the majors.
1. Oakland Athletics
The Oakland A's made no moves at all in the days leading up to the trade deadline, possibly not wanting to screw up the chemistry of a team that's clearly playing above their heads right now.
However, in order to keep up with the high-powered Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels in the NL West, they will need to do something in August. Francoeur could provide them with a veteran bat and terrific clubhouse presence, something that could certainly help a young roster. The Royals would likely have to add money to the deal for the cash-strapped A's.
2. Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays released Hideki Matsui on Wednesday and have not gotten great production from the DH role. Francoeur could provide a spark as well as a needed right-handed bat.
Much less of a possibility with the Rays, however. GM Andrew Friedman won't be inclined to take on much of Francoeur's remaining contract (roughly $9.5 million) without some significant help.
Mark Buehrle: Miami Marlins
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Miami Marlins pitcher Mark Buehrle signed a four-year, $56 million contract with the Miami Marlins this offseason and has had to watch as the Marlins have once again started a selling-off process after getting off to a disappointing start.
Buehrle's name was supposedly off-limits in terms of trade discussions before the deadline, but how about now?
1. St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals made only one move at the deadline, picking up reliever Edward Mujica from the Marlins. The starting rotation remains a concern, given the season-ending surgery for Chris Carpenter and the shoulder concerns for Jaime Garcia, currently targeting a mid-August return.
Buehrle could easily make sense for the Cardinals, but it's doubtful the Marlins would be willing to include cash in the deal.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers made a lot of moves in the hours and days preceding the trade deadline, but none of them involved adding a starting pitcher.
The Dodgers certainly now have the finances to add an impact starter, and they might find Buehrle more palatable financially than other names who may be made available.
Joe Blanton: Philadelphia Phillies
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The Philadelphia Phillies and Baltimore Orioles were involved in discussions concerning pitcher Joe Blanton in the hours leading up to the trade deadline, but that deal never came to pass.
Blanton is owed approximately $3.5 million on the remainder of his 2012 salary, so whether or not he makes it through waivers is unknown.
1. Baltimore Orioles
Just because a deal didn't get done on Tuesday doesn't mean the O's are out of the running for Blanton's services. The interest is obviously there, maybe now they can work out the parameters.
2. Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays would still love to bolster their starting rotation, so Blanton could be of help there as well. GM Alex Anthopoulos isn't always keen on adding rental players, however.
3. Washington Nationals
Could the Nats be looking to add insurance for whenever Stephen Strasburg is shut down for the year, if in fact he is?
Highly doubtful the Phillies would trade within the division, however.
Francisco Rodriguez: Milwaukee Brewers
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Milwaukee Brewers reliever Francisco Rodriguez is no longer the set-up man in the bullpen, but now a member of the "closer by committee" approach taken on by manager Ron Roenicke.
K-Rod hasn't exactly responded well to the new role, giving up 10 earned runs in 2.2 innings over four appearances, including two blown saves for losses.
How Rodriguez is viewed by other teams as potential help in the back end of their bullpen remains to be seen.
1. San Francisco Giants
The Giants did not add a reliever in recent days, a need that was considered a priority by some. Rodriguez could still interest them, provided Milwaukee ponies up a bit of cash in the deal as well.
2. New York Mets
Reports had floated through the web that K-Rod's former team, the New York Mets, might have interest in bringing him back to help out their beleaguered bullpen. That possibility seems remote now that the Mets are in a free-fall and 9.5 games out of a possible wild-card berth.
3. Los Angeles Angels
The Angels placed Scott Downs on the disabled list on Tuesday with a shoulder injury, and had been rumored to be seeking additional relief help before his injury. However, they're looking for a left-hander at this point, so the chances of Rodriguez returning home are slim at best.
Kevin Millwood: Seattle Mariners
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The Seattle Mariners have gotten a pretty admirable performance from 37-year-old starter Kevin Millwood this season. While his 4-8 record might suggest otherwise, his 3.90 ERA shows he hasn't received adequate run support at times, either.
Millwood is only signed for $1 million, so he could be snatched up through waivers as well.
1. Baltimore Orioles
Millwood pitched for the O's in 2010 with disastrous results, posting a 4-16 ERA and 5.10 ERA. However, as a cheap option and a rental player, Millwood could be a possible target for GM Dan Duquette.
2. Boston Red Sox
Millwood was signed to a minor league contract last year by the Boston Red Sox, but was released before ever appearing in the majors.
Might they take a chance this season with a rotation seemingly in tatters?
3. Cleveland Indians
Millwood had a very successful one season in Cleveland, leading the AL with a 2.86 ERA in 2005. Could the Indians look to bring Millwood back with his savvy and veteran presence?
Carlos Marmol: Chicago Cubs
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The Chicago Cubs have two players left on their roster who are likely difficult to move because of salary obligations—Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Marmol.
While Marmol isn't owed a tremendous amount of money, he is due to make $9.8 million next season, and considering his on-again/off-again performance this year, that's enough to scare any rival GM.
Marmol has pitched much better of late, giving up runs in only three of his last 18 appearances since June 12. That being said, his $9.8 million salary for 2013 will continue keeping most teams away.
1. San Francisco Giants
As mentioned before, the Giants did not find relief help during the non-waiver trading period, and GM Brian Sabean could still be looking to add a veteran reliever. The Cubs would likely have to add considerable cash to make a deal palatable enough for Sabean to entertain.
2. Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles were said to have been seeking relief help before the trade deadline, but no moves were made at all.
Nonetheless, the O's could seek to add some in August—but in the case of Marmol, it would likely mean the Cubs would have to pay almost all of his remaining salary to facilitate the deal.
Ramon Hernandez: Colorado Rockies
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With the emergence of Wilin Rosario in Colorado, Rockies catcher Ramon Hernandez hasn't been afforded many opportunities to play, hitting .195 with four HR and 18 RBI in 34 games.
Hernandez is owed about $4.2 million through next season, so money wouldn't necessarily be an issue for many teams needing some offensive pop off the bench.
1. Los Angeles Angels
The Angels have utilized both Bobby Wilson and John Hester as catching options while Chris Iannetta was on the disabled list. Hernandez's lifetime .264 average blows both of them out of the water. Hernandez could be a great addition for a team looking for an edge over the Texas Rangers.
2. New York Mets
While much less of an option now that the Mets are free-falling, they are still looking for a right-handed hitting option along with Josh Thole behind the plate.
3. Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays have needed offense behind the plate all season long—that still hasn't changed.
Justin Upton: Arizona Diamondbacks
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Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton is still in Phoenix, but for how much longer?
However, when was the last time you completely believed anyone in baseball?
1. Detroit Tigers
Somehow, it wouldn't surprise me to see the Tigers make a play here. They have major league assets available (Brennan Boesch, Andy Dirks), there's a likelihood that Delmon Young won't be asked back after the season ends and Upton's contract isn't necessarily prohibitive for the Tigers.
2. Texas Rangers
With a definite downtick in the offensive production of Michael Young, could Upton be on the radar for the Rangers?
3. Pittsburgh Pirates
I'm not ready to count the Pirates out on the Upton front. Yes, they picked up Travis Snider from the Toronto Blue Jays, but that was a risk/reward type deal. Upton could very well still be in play.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.