6 Teams with the Available Payroll to Block Deals, Shake Up the Waiver Process
One of the interesting aspects of the waiver trade period during the month of August is that oftentimes, MLB teams will use the process to actually attempt to block other teams from trying to place a waiver claim.
It's all about gamesmanship, and with teams battling for playoff spots, it's just one bit of strategy that can often come into play.
I wrote an article earlier today about how the waiver trade period actually works, and cited an example of how teams go about successfully blocking a team from picking up a player that could help them down the stretch.
Such was the case of Jose Canseco in early August, 2000. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays placed Canseco on waivers. New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman feared that the Toronto Blue Jays, who were just a game behind the Yankees in the AL East at the time, might be inclined to place a claim on Canseco.
Cashman ended up placing a waiver claim himself, and the Yankees were awarded the claim on Aug. 7. Canseco was of no use to the Yankees, who already had several players in place ahead of Canseco, but Cashman nonetheless followed through with the express purpose of blocking the Blue Jays.
Not all teams can pull off a block like this, they generally need the payroll flexibility in order to pull it off, just in case they're actually stuck with the waiver claim and have to carry the player on their roster for the reminder of the season.
Here are six teams that have the financial bandwidth to successfully block a waiver transaction during the month of August.
1. New York Yankees
There is no question the New York Yankees have the financial wherewithal to block a waiver transaction for the rest of this month. The question is, would they?
Under new managing partner Hal Steinbrenner, the Yankees are much more fiscally conscious than ever before. When GM Brian Cashman blocked the Toronto Blue Jays from picking up Jose Canseco back in August 2000, father George was still running the show in New York.
Son Hank, however, has directed the team to get underneath the luxury tax threshold of $189 million and is obviously looking to cut payroll.
Taking on the salary of a potentially expensive player for the remainder of the season just for the purpose of blocking the Baltimore Orioles or Tampa Bay Rays from picking up that player may not be as easy as it was for Cashman 12 years ago.
2. Philadelphia Phillies
According to USA Today, the Philadelphia Phillies have the second largest payroll in baseball, at $174.5 million.
The Phillies have also expressed a desire to stay underneath the luxury tax threshold, and have already shed payroll with the trades of outfielders Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence along with pitcher Joe Blanton.
In addition, with the Phillies fighting the Miami Marlins for last place in the NL East Division, there's really no incentive for them to block a waiver transaction this month, and certainly no incentive to take on additional payroll that's completely unnecessary.
Reference: USA Today
3. Los Angeles Angels
This past offseason, Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno went all-in on the 2012 season by spending $317.5 million on free agents Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson.
In addition, GM Jerry DiPoto skillfully traded for Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Zack Greinke last week, with the hopes of signing him to a long-term contract as well.
Moreno is in it to win it, so to speak, so it would not surprise me at all if the Angels made an attempt to block the Texas Rangers from placing a waiver claim on a particular player over the next few weeks.
4. Texas Rangers
Speaking of those pesky Texas Rangers, don't think for one second that Nolan Ryan and company won't consider blocking a waiver transaction over the next month, either.
The Rangers have the sixth-highest player payroll in baseball, according to USA Today, and easily had the flexibility to add on Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Ryan Dempster at the trade deadline, along with signing free agent pitcher Roy Oswalt earlier this year.
No team ever wants to carry a player on their roster for the rest of the season if they don't actually need them, but GM Jon Daniels could well be authorized to do just that if the Los Angeles Angels or Oakland Athletics are interested in placing a waiver claim on a player that could help them over the coming weeks.
Reference: USA Today
5. Los Angeles Dodgers
Things got interesting in the NL West Division in the days leading up to the MLB non-waiver trade deadline.
The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants played tug-of-war in going after chips needed for a stretch run that will likely be a dogfight.
The Dodgers got Hanley Ramirez? Fine, the Giants got Marco Scutaro.
The Dodgers got Shane Victorino? Fine, the Giants got Hunter Pence.
The Dodgers got Brandon League? Fine, the Giants got...okay, well they didn't get anyone, but you certainly get the picture.
The Dodgers are now a team backed by money, and plenty of it. Guggenheim Baseball Management has already given GM Ned Colletti carte blanche to make their team better, and obviously with the transactions they've already pulled off, they're trying to win now.
Colletti likely wouldn't even hesitate to block the Giants, or even the Arizona Diamondbacks, from placing a waiver claim.
6. San Francisco Giants
Much like the Dodgers, the Giants weren't afraid to wheel and deal in the past several weeks, and will likely be looking to lock up their corner outfield with extensions for both Hunter Pence and Melky Cabrera in the near future.
GM Brian Sabean has already demonstrated he's in it to win it, and this season the Dodgers-Giants rivalry has been re-kindled.
Don't think for one second that the Giants wouldn't consider blocking a particular player. They didn't attempt a block when the Dodgers successfully placed a claim on Cliff Lee, but Lee's remaining salary obviously precluded the Giants from even trying to block that claim.
However, another less expensive spare part the Giants could very well attempt to block.
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.
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