Time is running out for contenders looking to add additional pieces for the stretch run, as the waiver trade deadline arrives roughly 48 hours from now on Friday.
While many teams have already made moves to put themselves in position to make a strong run for the playoffs, others are still working the waiver wire, trying to not only add pieces for themselves, but to block their competition from acquiring what they desire.
Let's check in on the latest to come out of the rumor mill, which in today's game seemingly never slows down.
2012 Stats: 11 G (8 GS), 4-2, 5.94 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 8.5 K/9, 4.7 K/BB
While the news only came out in the past 48 hours that the Rangers' Roy Oswalt had cleared waivers, the 34-year-old told MLB.com's TR Sullivan that he actually cleared waivers three weeks ago—right around the time he was expressing his displeasure with being relegated to the bullpen (h/t USA Today).
A midseason addition, Oswalt does not have a no-trade clause in his deal, and the team is optimistic that there is a market for his services. The Rangers would like to add a utility infielder before Friday's deadline, though as Sullivan notes, they may be looking for a bigger return in exchange for Oswalt.
Given Chad Billingsley's elbow issues, the Dodgers could be a potential match, as could the Nationals—though I'd imagine that they'll look internally to pick up the starts that Stephen Strasburg will miss once they shut him down for the season.
2012 Stats: 14 GS, 5-4, 3.19 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 8.5 K/9, 3.04 K/BB
After spending the better part of the summer on the disabled list with tightness in his elbow, Shaun Marcum finally returned to action this past Saturday, throwing five innings against the Pirates and allowing four unearned runs.
Per Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, a now-healthy Marcum has been placed on revocable waivers by the Brewers.
A free agent after the season, the 30-year-old is owed roughly $1.5 million for the rest of the season—not a daunting amount for most teams to take on.
While he doesn't make his next start until after his waiver period has expired on Thursday, I'd be surprised if he went without being claimed. With a relatively low salary, no long-term financial commitment and experience, Marcum could be an intriguing option for a number of contending teams.
Erik Bedard's release was somewhat surprising.
Erik Bedard had become increasingly ineffective for the Pirates, so it made sense for them to cut ties with the veteran southpaw.
What was puzzling, however, was manager Clint Hurdle's declaration that the team would not look to the waiver wire for his replacement:
When asked if #Pirates were looking to add a veteran pitcher via waivers, Clint Hurdle said primary focus is internal.
— Michael Sanserino (@msanserino) August 28, 2012
Some have speculated that the team plans on going with a four-man rotation (h/t Yahoo! Sports); a move that seems puzzling, since of their remaining four starters, only Jeff Karstens has posted an ERA below 4.50 in the month of August.
Yet it wasn't a pitcher (such as über-prospect Gerrit Cole) who the Pirates brought up to replace Bedard on the roster but rather shortstop Chase d'Arnaud, so perhaps that means the team will turn to Kevin Correia as their fifth starter once again.
It will be interesting to see if the Pirates stick by Hurdle's statement or if the team ultimately believes that a better option will become available via waivers.
2012 Stats: 94 G, .276/.358/.449, 15 HR, 44 RBI, 11 SB
Alex Rodriguez playing the rest of his career anywhere besides the Bronx is highly unlikely, but his name has recently been mentioned on the rumor mill and it's worth discussing briefly.
Ken Davidoff of the New York Post is the latest baseball scribe to point out that while Alex Rodriguez has yet to be placed on revocable waivers—to anyone's knowledge, at least—that the Yankees would love nothing more than to get out from under his albatross of a contract which runs through the 2017 season.
With the Dodgers stockpiling "names" and adding salary like it's going out of style, some, like Davidoff, have wondered whether they would put in a claim for A-Rod, ultimately moving Hanley Ramirez back to shortstop and putting the 36-year-old Rodriguez at third base.
Doing so would likely relegate current Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon—who has never played a position other than shortstop as a professional—either into a platoon at second base with Mark Ellis or to the bench.
While there's no question that Gordon has struggled to do anything other than steal bases in 2012, it remains a far-fetched idea.
Then again, so was a team actually trading for Carl Crawford and the more than $100 million remaining on the injured outfielder's contract, so anything is possible until the Dodgers prove otherwise.
2012 Stats: 105 G, .274/.331/.469, 17 HR, 61 RBI
With the Twins out of contention and an evident lack of quality major league pitching talent in their system, it made sense that people speculated for quite some time that the team might look to move first baseman Justin Morneau to fill some of the holes.
So much for that:
justin morneau was claimed on waivers several days ago, w/ no trade completed. so he's staying in minnesota. #twins
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) August 28, 2012
While the Twins could place him back on waivers again (though they would not be able to pull him back), chances are that the 32-year-old remains with the team through the end of the season.
Due $14 million in the final year of his contract next season, the team could look to move him this winter.
2012 Stats: 105 G, .270/.313/.509, 14 HR, 45 RBI, 7 SB
Scott Hairston is the kind of gritty veteran player teams love to have around, especially down the stretch.
So it was no surprise to learn that he had been placed on revocable waivers—or that a team had put in a claim for him.
But according to Newsday's Anthony Rieber, the claiming team had no real interest in acquiring him. putting in a claim with the express purpose of keeping Hairston from going to another team.
It's no secret that the Giants have been looking for a left fielder, and while nothing has been confirmed, it's fair to assume that either the Diamondbacks or Dodgers were the team that claimed Hairston.
He'll finish out the season with the Mets and hit free agency following the season.
2012 Stats: 100 G, .228/.331/.321, 2 HR, 32 RBI, 10 SB
ESPN New York's Adam Rubin notes that the Mets placed Andres Torres on revocable waivers at the same time as Scott Hairston, though it appears that Torres has yet to be claimed by anyone.
Torres, 32, has been a huge disappointment in Flushing in 2012, so it's hard to imagine that any other team would have even the slightest amount of interest in acquiring him.
Ellsbury's 2012 Stats: 50 G, .278/.323/.390, 2 HR, 16 RBI, 10 SB
Lester's 2012 Stats: 26 GS, 8-10, 4.98 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 7.8 K/9, 2.78 K/BB
Shortly after shipping Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Nick Punto west to California, the Red Sox placed two more high-profile players on waivers:
Jon Lester and Jacoby Ellsbury are the latest Red Sox to be placed on trade waivers.
— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) August 24, 2012
Nothing has been confirmed, but chances are that one or both players were claimed and that Boston pulled them back—but that doesn't necessarily mean that the duo isn't available.
I wrote just the other day that the Red Sox absolutely should look to move both players this winter while they still have significant value around the league.
It would be a shock if either one were involved in a major transaction between now and the end of the week.
2012 Stats: 6 GS, 1-3, 5.10 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 7.8 K/9, 2.60 K/BB
The Daisuke Matsuzaka era, or error, if you will, comes to an end in Boston following the 2012 season.
That might not be soon enough for GM Ben Cherington:
Daisuke Matsuzaka was just put on trade waivers the other day; looked great in pitching vs. KC Monday.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) August 28, 2012
Olney goes on to note that the 31-year-old right-hander could be acquired for next to nothing. While it's possible that a team thinks that they can catch lightning in a bottle for the last month of the regular season, it's hard to imagine that anyone has any legitimate interest in the Japanese import.
Millwood's 2012 Stats: 25 GS, 4-11, 4.28 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 6.2 K/9, 2.08 K/BB
Vargas' 2012 Stats: 27 GS, 13-8, 3.75 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 5.6 K/9, 2.47 K/BB
Anyone who thinks that the king, Felix Hernandez, is the only pitcher anyone has interest in on the Seattle Mariners, would be sorely mistaken:
#Mariners’ Millwood and Vargas went on waivers today. Both likely to be claimed. Vargas owed just over $1M, Millwood just over $200K.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) August 27, 2012
Millwood, 37, has a 45 percent ground-ball rate on the season. Even if he doesn't fit into a team's postseason rotation, he could serve as a solid innings eater down the stretch for a contender.
Vargas, 29, is under team control through next season, though he is surely due a raise from his $4.85 million salary through arbitration this winter. His home-and-away splits, however, could give interested teams reason to pause.
Throwing in the spacious confines of Safeco Field, Vargas has pitched to a 2.63 ERA and 0.99 WHIP, compared to a 4.62 ERA and 1.28 WHIP on the road.
The Dodgers, among others, could have interest in one or both of the Mariners' available arms.
2012 Stats: 120 G, .309/.403/.425, 8 HR, 66 RBI, 8 SB
As first reported by Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the Twins placed hometown hero Joe Mauer on revocable waivers late Tuesday.
Mauer, 28, has battled injury over the past few seasons but remains among the elite catchers in the game. Due more than $135 million through the 2018 season, his hefty salary significantly decreases the number of potential suitors for the five-time All-Star and former American League MVP.
The Twins don't view Justin Morneau as a salary dump, and there's simply no chance that they'd even consider moving Mauer for anything less than a package of young players with incredibly high ceilings who are under team control for the foreseeable future—and even then, that might not be enough.
While the Red Sox have plenty of available cash to spend and have been linked to Mauer in the past, don't expect to see him smashing line drives off of the Green Monster anytime soon:
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) August 29, 2012
The Dodgers have no real use for Mauer with the emergence of A.J. Ellis behind the plate, but can we really count the Dodgers out of anything at this point?
If you fancy yourself a gambling man (or woman), put your money on Mauer staying with the Twins.