Every contending MLB team pondering adjustments to bolster their lineup for a World Championship run sets their sights each season on the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. In the past, however, several of the best all-time acquisitions were made in August.
Many people forget that a lot of substantial moves can be made in August, and a lot of impact trades throughout the years have happened just before the MLB waiver deadline.
The Detroit Tigers made one of the most influential waiver acquisitions ever when they traded for starting pitcher Doyle Alexander on Aug. 12, 1987. Alexander went 9-0 with a 1.53 ERA in 11 starts for Detroit, and the Tigers (then in the American League East), went 33-18 down the stretch, overtaking the Toronto Blue Jays for the division title.
The Tigers made one significant move before the July 31 non-waiver deadline by dealing Jacob Turner and two minor league players in order to acquire Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante. The Tigers remain in second place in the AL Central, and are a game back of the Chicago White Sox.
For one reason or another, Detroit hasn't been able to mount any substantial momentum this season. The Tigers went into the season as heavy favorites to win the division and vie for a World Series appearance, but the lack of consistency has kept them out of the AL Central driver's seat.
The Tigers still have their eyes on a few holes to fill in the lineup. One more key acquisition could lift Detroit over the hump and allow them to take control in the division.
Last season, Detroit acquired Delmon Young on Aug. 15.
Here are the five players who have cleared waivers that the Tigers should pursue before this year's August 31 waiver deadline.
Huston Street has been on the disabled list a couple different times this season with minor injuries. When he's been healthy, his stuff has been untouchable as the San Diego Padres' closer this season.
Street, who has a 0.75 ERA and 21 saves in 37 appearances this year, could settle into a couple of different roles in the Tigers' struggling bullpen.
He hasn't blown a save in 36 innings this season and could vie to be the Tigers' closer. He could also become the Tigers' seventh-inning reliever, setting things up for Joaquin Benoit and current closer Jose Valverde.
The 29-year-old right-hander is owed $9 million, which would be a small price to pay for a dependable reliever who's pitching out of his mind this season. He could really stabilize the Tigers' inconsistent bullpen down the stretch.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Detroit should pursue former Tigers second baseman Placido Polanco.
Polanco, who plays third base for the Philadelphia Phillies, was placed on the disabled list on July 26 forcing him to be ineligible for a trade at the non-waiver deadline.
The Tigers are obviously set at third base with defending AL batting champion Miguel Cabrera. They bolstered their dreadful second-base position by acquiring Infante, but Polanco is one of those "glue guys" who can quietly help a team win a World Series.
Polanco was a huge fan-favorite in his first go-around with the Tigers from 2005 to 2009, and despite spending much of this season on the DL (only hitting .255 with two home runs and 19 RBIs), a change of scenery—back to a familiar place—would reinvigorate the end of the 36-year-old's career.
According to ESPN.com, Phillies' manager Charlie Manuel said Polanco won't be Philadelphia's everyday third baseman upon his return from the DL, and he probably wouldn't play everyday in Detroit, but would be a welcome addition to the Tigers' lineup.
Polanco, who has a sneaky tendency to come up with clutch RBIs in key spots, could platoon at second base with Infante. Because he's played shortstop sporadically in his career, he could also step in occasionally for Jhonny Peralta.
Mike Gonzalez has been a dominant left-handed reliever this season and could greatly improve the Tigers' mostly right-handed bullpen.
The 34-year-old has a 2.31 ERA this season for the first-place Washington Nationals, and has a WHIP of 1.37.
After the Tigers optioned left-handed reliever Duane Below to Triple-A Toledo after Monday's loss to the Minnesota Twins, Detroit is left with only two leftys in the bullpen.
Case in point? Any left-handed relief pitching acquisition would be a welcome addition at this point in the season.
Gonzalez has been dominant against leftys this season, yielding just a .190 opponent average, one home run and four RBIs in 42 chances against left-handers.
He's been a little erratic, throwing 27 strikeouts compared to 12 walks, but if used correctly and in the proper situations, Gonzalez could pay dividends for the Tigers as they try to gain some stability in the bullpen.
Despite his struggles since joining the Boston Red Sox before last season, a healthy Carl Crawford is a five-tool player who would bring a lot to the Tigers' lineup.
The Tigers sputtered through most of the first half of this year with no energy, and very little team speed. Detroit began addressing the problem when it brought up Quintin Berry from Triple-A Toledo, and the addition of Crawford would pay dividends intangibly for the Tigers.
Crawford has only played 25 games this season, and is hitting .280 with three home runs and 16 RBIs. He's struggled to stay in the lineup during his time with the Red Sox. During most of his career when he's on the field, he makes his presence felt.
In his last two seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays, he only missed 14 total games, and averaged hitting .306 with 34 combined home runs and 158 RBIs.
Crawford stole at least 46 bases in seven of his nine years in Tampa Bay, and had 50-plus steals five times.
If you have the chance to acquire David Wright, then doing so is kind of a no-brainer.
David Wright has played almost his entire career at third base, but could seamlessly transition to play shortstop and make a huge, immediate impact for the Tigers.
Wright is on pace to hit for the best average of his career, batting .325 with a .416 on-base percentage. He has16 home runs and 75 RBIs.
The 29-year-old has hit double-digit home runs in each of his nine years with the New York Mets, and earned 100-plus RBIs in five of his first eight seasons with the Mets.
Wright has been above average defensively in his career, boasting a lifetime .952 fielding percentage, and committing 158 errors in 3,292 chances. His body of work at short is small with only two games under his belt, but he didn't commit an error in either of those two games.