Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka pitching in his first game back from the DL on Monday Aug. 27. Dice-K threw seven innings with no earned runs.
Over the past few seasons, the Major League Baseball Waiver Wire has received more press than it ever has before. Every MLB beat writer from San Diego to Boston now awaits August in heavy anticipation to compose articles on which teams need certain players to carry their squad to the World Series.
I can attest this recent excitement to one instance in 2009. Alex Rios was put on waivers and claimed by the Chicago White Sox in an attempt to keep him out of the hands of the first-place Detroit Tigers. After the claim, the Toronto Blue Jays opted to let the Sox take him and his $59.7 million guaranteed contract through 2014 with no compensation from the Sox. This decision came as a surprise to White Sox GM Kenny Williams, who didn’t expect to actually take on Rios. The risk the White Sox took had immensely failed, as Rios hit under .200 for the remainder of the season.
It’s because of the Alex Rios decision as well as other recent waiver trades that now every baseball journalist in America pays close attention to the waiver wire.
In just the past few weeks, the Los Angeles Dodgers claimed Cliff Lee, couldn’t come to a trade agreement with the Phillies, then turned around and acquired Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto from the Red Sox in easily the biggest waiver trade of all-time.
As teams begin preparing for the postseason, and looking for that extra guy that will add the spark they need to finish the season strong, other teams are searching their rosters for players to shed to free up some extra salary.
These are a few of the guys that may be on the move before the 9 p.m. PT deadline Friday:
Which player is most likely to get moved?
Joe Mauer, Min, C
As MLB on Fox Reporter Ken Rosenthal recently stated on Twitter,
Now before anyone starts going crazy that Mauer is “available”, it is very unlikely that he is going to get dealt this year or for the next few. Almost every team in the league throws their best players out on the waiver wire at some point to get a feel of what kind of interest they generate.
Not only does Mauer have a very expensive contract through the 2018 season of $23 million per year, he also contains a complete no-trade protection clause. Mauer is a hometown hero for the Twins and their franchise catcher.
This is probably just a ploy from the Twins to gage what they could get for him, however the Dodgers seem to be the new Yankees and may be thinking about replacing AJ Ellis behind the dish. The Red Sox now have also freed up enough money to add a strong catcher and great clubhouse guy and could be interested in stealing Mauer from the Twin Cities.
Mike Aviles, BOS, SS
Mike Aviles has proved to be a solid middle infielder for the Red Sox. While his numbers won’t completely wow you, he can add depth and some power to the infield.
A lot of teams may potentially have interest in adding Aviles because he is currently signed for less than half a million dollars for the rest of this season.
The Red Sox are especially interested in shopping Aviles because defensive wizard Jose Iglesias was called up today from AAA.
Chase Headley, SD, 3B
Chase Headley was a name constantly thrown around in trade rumors as the July 31st non-waiver deadline was approaching. However, it could be difficult to pry Headley away from the Padres because he ranks 11th among all Major League position players and 3rd among third basemen in total WAR.
Headley is also under team control through the 2014 season with two years of arbitration, making him all the more coveted.
Despite all of this, the Padres have a third base prospect grooming in AAA that is almost ready to be called up to the show. Jedd Gyorko has been a monster through 87 AAA games this season, hitting .338 with 24 long balls.
Even the Dodgers back in July were unable to acquire Headley, so you know this deal must be massive in order to persuade the Padres into dealing him. One of the most interesting teams that may have the pieces to deal for him are the A’s. With Inge injured and many prospects left over from the Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill trades, Oakland could be in position to snag Headley and his two years of team control.
Carlos Lee, MIA, 1B/OF
Let’s face it, Carlos Lee is getting old. His power is nowhere near what it used to be, and he’s a garbage first baseman. Because of all this, the Marlins are continuously looking to move him and unload the approximately $3.7 million he has left on his contract.
Since being traded for, Lee has not provided enough offense to keep the Marlins in contention, resulting in the ensuing fire sale that followed. If some team is willing to take a chance on him and use his bat, they would most likely require the Marlins to eat much of that remaining contract.
If Mark Texiera’s calf injury keeps him out for significant time, the Yankees may be the favorite to take a risk on Carlos Lee. Other than that, there isn’t much demand right now in the Major Leagues for an old, run down first baseman.
Alfonso Soriano, CHC, OF
This is the right time for the Cubs to sell on Alfonso Soriano. Soriano is still playing well enough that playoff contending teams could definitely use his bat down the stretch. Since the All Star Break, Soriano has hit a humbling .254 along with eight home runs. Over the years, Soriano has also developed into a strong left fielder and could help a struggling pitching staff with his defensive play.
The biggest obstacle for moving him this year is his extensive contract. Soriano is due approximately $3.5 million dollars for the rest of this season and an additional $36 million over the next two years.
After the 50 game suspension of Melky Cabrera that will carry into the playoffs, the Giants may be the most viable option to add Soriano. Other teams that could use a power hitting left fielder include the Pirates and Orioles.
Daisuke Matsuzaka, BOS, SP
In the aftermath of the Red Sox-Dodgers trade, Dice-K has been put on waivers. In his first start coming off the DL, Dice-K had an extremely promising outing, throwing seven innings with six strikeouts and no earned runs. In spite of health concerns, he has his highest strikeout rate since 2008. Also, if you take out his one inning five earned run start that landed him on the DL, his ERA would be 3.72 (Fangraphs.com).
Dice-K is owed just about $2 million by the Red Sox and is likely to be non-tendered at the end of the season. Therefore, the Red Sox will be looking to get anything they can in return before the deadline hits.
The Nationals could use Dice-K once Strasburg is shut down, the Yanks could easily replace Freddy Garcia or David Phelps at the bottom of the rotation, and the Cardinals have recently found a decent amount of luck in veteran pitching (Jeff Weaver, Brad Penny, Kyle Lohse).
Roy Oswalt, TEX, SP
Oswalt has been an utter disappointment this year for the Texas Rangers. After posting a 6.49 ERA in six starts since his June 22nd season debut, Oswalt was relegated to the bullpen for almost three weeks. Since then, he has yet to make a quality start in either of his first two games back in the rotation.
Now that there is not much more room for Oswalt in Texas, teams may be interested in grabbing a veteran pitcher with only $1 million left on his contract. His postseason experience would be valuable to a young pitching staff such as the Nationals or A’s. The Yankees and Orioles might also be interested in adding a starter.
Carlos Marmol, CHC, RP
Carlos Marmol is one of those guys that could really benefit from a change of scenery. Over the past two seasons Marmol has posted an ERA above four. This season, Marmol has his lowest strikeout rate since his rookie season and highest walk rate since 2009.
Like Alfonso Soriano, Marmol is well overpaid and a costly chip on the Cubs’ shoulders that they would like to shed. However, relief pitching is always in demand.
The question remains, how much Marmol would actually help a contending club?
A team like the Angels, who have the highest bullpen ERA since the All-Star Break, may actually be willing to find out the answer to that question.