10 Predictions for the 2013 MLB Waiver-Trade Window
So you thought the trade rumors were going to end on July 31, did you?
We've only just begun to speculate!
Will Raul Ibanez finish the season in Seattle? What about Michael Young in Philadelphia? How does this whole waiver process even work anyway?
There's literally no harm in placing players on revocable waivers, so general managers like Alex Anthopoulos take full advantage of the opportunity to determine a player's market value by placing virtually their entire team on waivers every season.
As players clear waivers and some teams fall further out of contention, while others become desperate to find that final piece to make a playoff push, it'll be as if the non-waiver trade deadline never happened.
*Unless otherwise noted, all statistics are courtesy of Fangraphs and are accurate through the start of play on Monday, August 5.
At Least 2 Moves That Make Headlines
Most August moves make about as much noise as a mime.
Last year, for example, the Baltimore Orioles traded Carlos Rojas to the Cleveland Indians for J.C. Romero. Romero went on to pitch in five games for the Orioles, while Rojas has never played a game in the majors.
However, as others have more articulately expressed, the second wild card spot caused a lot of hesitation at the non-waiver trade deadline.
Whether it was teams like Philadelphia and Seattle refusing to admit their season was over and asking too much for marketable free agents or clubs like Arizona and Cleveland deciding they already have what it takes to make that second wild card, it was an incredibly boring July 31.
As it becomes even more obvious which fringe teams should be buyers or sellers, I suspect we'll see a handful of big trades throughout the month.
Cliff Lee and Ervin Santana probably won't be on the move, but Chase Headley and Howie Kendrick would qualify as a pretty big deal—and I'll be making the case on Wednesday for each of them as potential movers.
Texas Gets Victimized
No team was more decimated by Monday's announcement of suspensions stemming from Biogenesis than the Texas Rangers. On the cusp of claiming either the AL West title or the second AL wild card, they are suddenly without their best power hitter.
They will likely spend the next 25 days eyeing the waiver wire like hawks, searching for any outfielder who might be able to help them stop the bleeding. That player's current owner will milk Texas for all it's worth in the deal.
How good the outfielder has been will undoubtedly be a direct correlation to how much the Rangers are willing to give up, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Texas give up multiple top 10 prospects and/or starting pitchers returning from injury for an outfielder like Alex Rios.
The Rangers might also be the one team willing to put a claim on the ridiculous contracts of Nick Markakis, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier or Josh Hamilton should any of those players be placed on waivers.
Dodgers Move a Middle Infielder
Nick Punto and Skip Schumaker are practically the same person.
They're both light-hitting utility fielders in their mid-30s making $1.5 million in 2013. They're also both currently employed by the Dodgers and would probably be sitting side-by-side on the bench on a nightly basis if Matt Kemp was healthy.
Though Schumaker is currently getting some regular playing time, neither figures to be part of the long-term plan in Los Angeles. At any rate, there's no need for both of them, and the Dodgers should at least put them on waivers to see what they can get.
They're obviously in need of a right-handed reliever if they went out and signed Brian Wilson last week and currently have Carlos Marmol on the active roster. Perhaps they could flip Punto to someone in exchange for a righty that's ready to go right now.
Oakland Moves an Outfielder
The three highest-paid players in Oakland are all outfielders, and that doesn't even include Seth Smith or Josh Reddick.
Sure, one of them typically functions as a DH while the fifth serves as a backup outfielder, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see any of them, aside from Yoenis Cespedes, moved via waivers later this month.
Even if they insist on keeping five viable outfielders on the everyday roster, they could move Smith at the end of August and bring up Michael Choice on September 1 without even feeling the gap.
You never want to tinker with a playoff roster, but it's hard to imagine a situation where a shake-up would actually make this outfield any worse at getting on base.
There are 99 outfielders with at least 250 plate appearances this season. Coco Crisp ranks 66th in batting average at .251, and he's the best outfielder on the A's roster. Both Reddick and Chris Young are in the bottom five.
Pirates Continue to Do Nothing
The Pirates entered play on Monday boasting the best winning percentage in all of baseball, yet all we want to do is tinker with their roster.
We've all complained about their shortstop and right field situations, begging them to use the trade deadline to upgrade from Travis Snider and Clint Barmes to anything else. They made the requested upgrades, but they promoted from within.
Barmes has sputtered to a .222 batting average on the season, but replacement Jordy Mercer has the seventh-best batting average in the National League since the All-Star Break.
Though Jose Tabata was one for his first 30 after the break, he's been coming around over the past couple of days, and you can at least appreciate why the Pirates wanted to hold tight with him rather than selling the farm for Alex Rios or Hunter Pence.
Unless someone simply falls into their lap at an incredible value, they'll continue to ride things out with what has gotten them to this point.
America Finally Understands the Waiver Process
Be honest. When the Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez trade happened last August, you probably didn't fully understand how it was even legal. I know it didn't make much sense to me at the time.
But we're going to have to get used to these trades that happen after the non-waiver trade deadline unless MLB decides to push it into mid-August instead of July 31.
After the last day of July, all but one division leader held a lead of less than five games, while five teams were within five games of the second wild card spot in their league. With so much still up in the air, there are so few teams willing to throw in the towel with more than 50 games remaining in the season.
You're going to hear a lot of reports in the coming weeks about players being placed on waivers, which is much different from being optioned to the minors or designated for assignment. In reality, it just means they're testing the waters to find out if other teams are interested in their players and how much they're willing to offer for them.
It's more technical than that and is based on many factors. If you want or need to know more about how the process works, make sure to read Jason Martinez's piece from last week.
For now, just understand that even though July 31 has come and gone, there could be plenty of action over the next few weeks.
Minimum of 2 Current Mariners Changing Teams
No, I'm not counting last Thursday's trade of Robert Andino to the Pirates as one of the two moves.
Oliver Perez is perhaps the most obvious move. There's always someone looking for a left-handed reliever, and there are few who are better or less expensive than Perez (his $1.5 million salary in 2013 currently pro-rates to about $463,000 remaining).
There are at least three other options for potential moves.
Michael Morse ($7 million in 2013) could be a corner outfielder, first baseman or DH for a team like Texas, Cleveland or Baltimore that might be in need of one.
Raul Ibanez ($2.75 million in 2013) is defying everything we know about biology and still destroying baseballs at the age of 41.
Kendrys Morales ($5.25 million in 2013) is batting .385 since the All-Star Break and has 17 home runs on the year.
What all four of those guys have in common is that they're at least 30 years old and will be free agents after the season. Seattle might look to re-sign one or two of them, but some of those players are bound to be expendable. It's just a matter of when the Mariners decide to let them walk away from the team.
Michael Young to the American League
If we can believe anything we heard at the non-waiver trade deadline, the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees were interested in Michael Young, and Young was interested in returning to the Rangers.
He would have to pass through about 23 other teams in waivers before reaching any of them, but why would anyone else want a $6 million third baseman who will turn 37 years old before the World Series begins?
Royals Do Something Big in Final Days of August
Whether it's a big buy or a big sell will depend on how they do in their nine games against Boston and Detroit between the 8th and 18th of August.
After taking care of the Twins on Monday night, the Royals improved to five games above .500 and stayed within five games of the playoff picture. They have now won 12 of their last 13 games and would easily be the hottest team in the American League if the Indians weren't winners in 11 of their last 12.
If they stay in contention, an upgrade in the starting rotation might be in order. James Shields and Ervin Santana have been great, and Bruce Chen has given them four consecutive quality starts since taking over for Luis Mendoza. However, Wade Davis has been a disaster all season, and Jeremy Guthrie isn't much better.
Should they instead get pummeled by the Red Sox and Tigers in the middle of the month, they might have to see what they can get for Santana before he becomes a free agent.
Nationals Trade Danny Espinosa
After hitting the cover off the ball throughout the month of June, Anthony Rendon batted just .187 in the July and entered play on Monday with a .132 batting average since the All-Star Break.
Yet there isn't the slightest rumor of Danny Espinosa returning to the big leagues.
Maybe it's a shrewd play to avoid paying him more in arbitration this offseason. Maybe it's because he's somehow striking out even more in Triple-A than he was in the majors. Whatever the case, it doesn't seem like he'll be part of the team any time soon.
As such, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him on the move this month.
Considering the moves that Washington and Oakland have made in recent years (Gio Gonzalez and Kurt Suzuki trades), perhaps we could see Espinosa in an A's uniform in the near future.
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