MLB Trade Scenarios: Nightmare Waiver-Deadline Scenarios for Each Contender
With the MLB waiver-trade deadline looming at the end of the week, teams in contention are likely still combing the waiver wire and discussing potential deals that could help their teams down the stretch.
Waiver trades can be tricky, as teams weigh the option of adding someone who could help in the short term against giving away part of their future.
The Boston Red Sox were certainly faced with that decision in late August of 1990. They pulled the string on acquiring veteran reliever Larry Andersen to bolster their bullpen and gave away budding prospect Jeff Bagwell.
We all know how that turned out.
That's the type of decision teams will face in the upcoming days.
Here then is a worst-case scenario for each contending MLB team as it approaches the waiver-trade deadline.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Straying from Their Plan for the Future
The Arizona Diamondbacks still have a realistic shot at a wild-card berth, sitting just 6.5 games back in NL West race. However, getting swept over the weekend by the San Diego Padres, which left them with a .500 record entering play on Monday, doesn't help their cause.
The D-Backs have already traded trading shortstop Stephen Drew to the Oakland A's and starter Joe Saunders to the Baltimore Orioles. But both players didn't figure into the D-Backs' future, so it wasn't necessarily an indication that they've given up on their playoff chances this season.
However, GM Kevin Towers is a practical man. He knows his team has to leapfrog the Pittsburgh Pirates and Los Angeles Dodgers to have a shot at competing for a wild-card berth. Given that the Diamondbacks haven't yet been able to put together a long streak of consistent play, that's not likely to happen in the final few weeks.
Towers has put together a solid young corps of pitchers who will be featured in Arizona's starting rotation for the foreseeable future. Trevor Bauer, Patrick Corbin, Tyler Skaggs, Wade Miley and Trevor Cahill is a pretty darn good corps of youngsters to have for the next several years.
Towers would do well to concentrate on the future at this point rather than sacrifice anyone who could help shape the D-Backs' future.
Atlanta Braves: Unloading Any More Young Pitching Prospects
The Atlanta Braves opted to send their No. 2 prospect, Arodys Vizcaino, to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for veteran left-hander Paul Maholm on July 31.
Vizcaino, the No. 40 prospect in all of baseball, according to Baseball America's preseason rankings, is still rated highly despite undergoing Tommy John surgery and missing the entire 2012 season.
The Braves still have a great stable of young pitching, including Julio Teheran, Sean Gilmartin, Randall Delgado and Mike Minor, along with 25-year-olds Tommy Hanson and the rehabbing Brandon Beachy.
With a staff clearly well set up for the future, along with Craig Kimbrel, Jonny Venters and Kris Medlin—all of whom are 27 years old or younger—the Braves are well-positioned for many years to come.
While pitching is a position of strength for the Braves, sacrificing any more of it for possible short-term gain makes no sense.
Baltimore Orioles: Giving Up Any Top Prospects
You have to give Baltimore Orioles vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette a lot of credit. He has resisted giving up any of his top prospects to other teams in his search to bolster his roster for a postseason push.
Duquette absolutely needs to follow that line of thinking moving forward.
Manny Machado, a 20-year-old prospect, is already contributing at the major league level, hitting .259 with three homers and nine RBI since his call-up two weeks ago. Pitcher Dylan Bundy and shortstop Jonathan Schoop should still be considered untouchable, and all other Orioles' top-10 prospects have a solid chance of contributing in the near future.
The O's have picked up starter Joe Saunders and reliever J.C. Romero without having to give up any legitimate prospects in return. While the O's have a great chance to make the postseason for the first time in 15 years, Duquette needs to follow through with his plan and continue spurning requests for any legitimate prospects.
Chicago White Sox: Depleting an Already-Depleted Farm System
The Chicago White Sox have steadfastly remained ahead of the Detroit Tigers atop the AL Central, protecting a lead that has largely hovered between a half-game and three games for several weeks.
The White Sox would probably love to add another veteran starter to the mix, especially after moving the ineffective Philip Humber back to the bullpen. Youngsters Chris Sale and Jose Quintana continue to shine, but both pitchers are already way beyond the total number of innings they have ever thrown in one year as professionals.
Having another veteran starter to add to the mix would give Sale and Quintana extra time off down the stretch. However, the White Sox already have the worst farm system in the majors, according to ESPN, so they can ill afford to give up anyone from the minors at this point.
Cincinnati Reds: Trading Joey Votto? Otherwise, None
Obviously, the title to this slide is a complete joke.
The Reds are well-primed as they head into the final month of the regular season, even without Joey Votto. In fact, since Votto has been sidelined, the Reds are 27-14.
Votto will absolutely be a welcome addition to the lineup, giving manager Dusty Baker flexibility with NL Rookie of the Year candidate Todd Frazier.
In addition, outfielder Ryan Ludwick has been riding a hot bat since the All-Star break, hitting .333 with 13 HR and 37 RBI.
It's hard to find holes in the pitching staff as well. Johnny Cueto continues to make a case for NL Cy Young honors, Mat Latos has found his groove in the second half, and Bronson Arroyo, Mike Leake and Homer Bailey continue to provide solid support.
Ditto for the bullpen, as "Cuban Missile" Aroldis Chapman leads the charge at the back end, with outstanding support from Sean Marshall, Jose Arredondo, et al.
The Reds are good to go as is. GM Walt Jocketty doesn't need to sacrifice anything at this point.
Detroit Tigers: Trading for Alfonso Soriano
Near the end of the MLB non-waiver trade deadline, there were rumblings about the Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs discussing a deal for left fielder Alfonso Soriano.
There has been nothing recently indicating that the teams are still in discussions, but my question would be—why?
Could Soriano add help from the right side of the plate? Yes. But with Victor Martinez returning fully healthy in 2013, do you want a $36 million player sitting on the bench?
The Tigers are 15-8 in August and have averaged more than five runs a game. Acquiring Soriano with Martinez coming back in the spring makes absolutely no sense, even if the Cubs pony up all of the remaining money owed to Soriano.
Los Angeles Angels: Not Acquiring Reliable Bullpen Help
The Los Angeles Angels have found August to be a real struggle, winning only nine of 24 games heading into a home series with the Boston Red Sox.
Pitching has been the biggest problem, with the staff posting a 6.26 ERA for the month.
While the starters have certainly been hit-or-miss with a 5.82 ERA, the bullpen has been even worse, posting a 7.17 ERA.
Even Ernesto Frieri, who was lights-out for two-plus months since joining the team in early May, has seen his share of disappointment, posting a 5.79 ERA in August.
Relievers are available. The Baltimore Orioles just sent a very effective reliever in Matt Thornton to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday. And GM Jerry DiPoto should be scouring the waiver wire to improve a bullpen that's clearly in need of help.
Considering the investment already committed to the team this year, a third straight year out of the postseason just isn't acceptable.
Los Angeles Dodgers: What More Can They Possibly Do?
The Los Angeles Dodgers have gone through an extreme makeover, topped off by the trade that was finalized on Saturday morning with the Boston Red Sox.
Since late July, they have added Hanley Ramirez, Randy Choate, Brandon League, Shane Victorino, Joe Blanton, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto.
Wow, take a breath.
Dodgers' owners have clearly sent notice to their fanbase that they are intent on winning a championship, not only in the short term but for years to come.
It would be hard to imagine the Dodgers making any more moves.
But hold on.
Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com tweeted on Monday that the Dodgers are still looking for a starting pitcher. They don't appear to be close to a deal, but they're obviously still looking.
New York Yankees: Unloading Any Top Prospects for Short-Term Gain
The New York Yankees have actually done an excellent job in building a farm system that is now fairly deep.
Making no deals of significance this season, the Yankees have kept that system intact. According to ESPN, it's the 10th-ranked organization in the majors.
The biggest problem for the Yankees at this point is that none of that talent is anywhere near major league-ready. With Hal Steinbrenner's edict to get under the luxury tax threshold by 2014, the last thing the Yankees want to do at this point is add any significant salary in exchange for prospects who are under control for several seasons.
CC Sabathia is back from his quick DL stint and looked sharp on Friday. Reports are good about the progress of Andy Pettitte, and David Phelps will continue in the rotation in the absence of injured starter Ivan Nova.
Panic is not the emotion being felt in the Bronx right now. The Yankees are still well-positioned for a postseason run. Giving up anything from their farm system for a starter who won't be any better than what they already have just doesn't make sense.
Oakland Athletics: Making a Knee-Jerk Reaction to Loss of Bartolo Colon
When it was announced last week that Bartolo Colon would be suspended for the rest of the season for his positive PED test, there was plenty of speculation about what the Oakland Athletics could do to replace him in the rotation.
How about nothing?
The return of Brett Anderson following his rehab from Tommy John surgery could not have been more perfectly timed. Anderson has looked outstanding in his two starts since rejoining the A's rotation, following up his seven-inning, one-run performance last Tuesday with another gem on Monday.
Anderson gave up just two hits in seven scoreless innings against the Cleveland Indians, walking two and striking out five.
With Anderson and Brandon McCarthy back healthy, Colon's ill-timed stupidity isn't a crushing blow.
A.J. Griffin could make his return from shoulder stiffness shortly. Dan Straily has been a very pleasant surprise, and Travis Blackley will lend a helping hand as well.
A's GM Billy Beane appears to be staying the course, and he is not a man prone to knee-jerk reactions. Now isn't the time, either.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Trading for September Help Rather Than Using Help in Minors
On Sept. 1, each major league team has the option of expanding its roster from 25 to 40 players. Many teams use that time to audition prospects.
For the Pittsburgh Pirates, the September call-ups this season will be based more on need than evaluation.
Hoping to avoid the collapse that occurred last season, GM Neal Huntington plans on calling up players who can help the Pirates win in the final four weeks of the season.
The decision who to call up has been: Who do we want to look at? Who do we want to reward? Is a guy ready to come up? Is he going to play? Now, it’s who’s going to help us win? Who gives us an extra weapon for (manager Clint Hurdle) to try to win a game late?
As long as Huntington takes that tact, the Pirates should be fine.
Outfield prospect Starling Marte has begun rehabbing from a strained oblique that landed him on the disabled list, and while his return is likely at least 10 days away, he'll provide a boost upon his return. Others can provide help as well.
San Francisco Giants: Doing Something Stupid to Counteract the Dodgers' Trade
The Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox completed a nine-player trade last week that was easily the biggest August deal in Major League Baseball history.
Picking up Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto cost the Dodgers a bundle, but clearly makes them a better team headed into September.
The Giants still sit atop the standings in the NL West, despite the loss of Melky Cabrera for the season and despite a massively disappointing season from two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum.
Lincecum lost his 14th game of the season on Sunday night against the Atlanta Braves, dropping the Giants' lead over the Dodgers to just two games.
However, it's still a lead, and the last thing the Giants need to do is keep up with the Joneses, or, in this case, the Dodgers.
Lincecum aside, the Giants have a commodity that the Dodgers still can't match—pitching. Would another bat in the absence of Cabrera help? Yes, but at what cost?
GM Brian Sabean already gave up the second-ranked prospect in his system in Tommy Joseph to acquire Hunter Pence.
The Giants' farm system isn't loaded as it is, having been ranked 26th overall by ESPN at the start of the season. Giving up any significant prospects in order to keep up with the Dodgers would be a fool's play.
St. Louis Cardinals: Messing with Team Chemistry
The St. Louis Cardinals appeared to be floundering after posting losing months in May and June that left them just two games over ,500 entering July.
However, they've turned things around with two straight winning months, and now own one of the two NL wild-card slots. With 34 games to play, the Cardinals are going in the right direction.
Is any external move necessary?
Manager Mike Matheny has grown into his job nicely, making decisions like a veteran and getting his team to buy into his philosophy. He moved the struggling Lance Lynn back to the bullpen, going with the impressive Joe Kelly in the rotation as Lynn's replacement.
Offensively, the Cards are strong, and the bullpen has jelled in recent weeks as well.
Chemistry is a funny thing. There are times when making even the most minor of tweaks with an external move can disrupt it. By making no changes, GM John Mozeliak may be making the right call.
Tampa Bay Rays: Standing Pat with Current Lineup
The Tampa Bay Rays have certainly demonstrated that their pitching staff is the strength of the team, but how much longer can the team as a whole rely on just that?
The bottom of the batting order isn't going to scare anyone. Catcher Jose Molina is hitting .206, third baseman Elliot Johnson is hitting .200 in August with no homers and three RBI, and Sam Fuld is hitting .216 in August with just two RBI.
Carlos Pena, the first baseman who cost them $7.5 million, is hitting .165 in the second half, and the team as a whole has hit just .243 on the season with runners in scoring position.
This is a team with one of the best farm systems in baseball—second, according to ESPN—not making a move to acquire an impact hitter who can provide a boost to a sagging offense. That won't sit well with fans who are clamoring for a move to be made.
Texas Rangers: Pulling the Strings on Any Deal Involving Elvis Andrus
For the past few weeks, the Internet has been rife with speculation about the future of Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus.
None of those reports have Andrus going anywhere by the time the waiver trade deadline expires later this week, so there shouldn't be a fear of that happening.
However, no less than FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal has proposed deals involving Andrus.
My question is—why?
Yes, I know the Rangers have one of the top prospects in the majors in shortstop Jurickson Profar. But Profar is far from being major league-ready, and Andrus continues to deliver in the No. 2 hole with a .297 average and .364 OBP.
Andrus is signed through the 2014 season, and Profar likely won't be ready until at least the start of 2014. What would be the point in trading Andrus before then?
Besides, with Profar's power potential, he might be a better fit at third. The Rangers can't go too wrong with Andrus and Profar on the left side of the infield.
Washington Nationals: Not Having a Solid Backup Plan When Strasburg Is Shut Down
Washington Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg is making a strong case for consideration as the Cy Young Award winner in the National League.
Well, if baseball writers cringe at giving the award to a knuckleballer (R.A. Dickey), that is.
At 15-5 with a 2.85 ERA, Strasburg has been everything the Nats have asked for and more following his return from Tommy John surgery. But, because of that surgery, Strasburgh may only have two or three more starts before he is shut down for the season.
The plan at this point is to use John Lannan as his replacement in the rotation. Lannan has won both of his starts when called up from the minors.
Strasburg's loss will definitely be felt throughout the Beltway, and GM Mike Rizzo will be vilified if the Nats suddenly fall apart without Strasburg.
Rizzo had better be dead sure his shutdown plan is the right one, and that Lannan is the go-to guy.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.