5 MLB Teams That Desperately Need to Make a Waiver Deal
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Teams that desperately need to make a waiver deal—I explained the the process here last week—are probably the same teams that needed to make a trade deadline deal but couldn't make it happen for some reason.
What's changed just over a week later, other than it's more difficult to make a trade now than in July?
First off, a team's level of hope or desperation could change with their own wins or losses or those of a playoff contender.
Injuries can also occur. Rays center fielder Desmond Jennings and left-hander Matt Moore, D'backs catcher Miguel Montero, Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez and Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber have all been placed on the disabled list since the trade deadline passed.
Depending on the severity of the injuries, their respective teams might want to explore the waiver wire for at least a temporary replacement. Or maybe a key injury is what they needed to decide to become August "sellers."
With the first big name reported having been claimed on waivers—Alex Rios has been claimed, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, and Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News tweeted that the Rangers are the claiming team—the excitement that can occur in August is starting to pick up.
By process of elimination, as beat writers and reporters begin to confirm which teams didn't make a claim, the team that was awarded the claim can be identified. Then we'll wait it out as the two teams try to come to an agreement in the allotted 48.5 hours. If not, the player can be pulled back from waivers.
Here are the five teams that should be the most active in August, if only because their playoff hopes could vanish without some quick reinforcements.
The O's are still six games out in the AL East, chasing the Red Sox and Rays, and 1.5 games back of a wild-card spot. They've made enough upgrades to their pitching staff. And while they appear to have a good enough offense behind Manny Machado, Adam Jones and Chris Davis, there is so much room to get better.
The designated hitter spot has been a black hole all season long. And no, Wilson Betemit's likely return later this month won't be the answer.
Several big bats could hit the waiver wire soon, and one potential target could be White Sox slugger Adam Dunn (pictured), who is on pace for 38 homers and 100 runs batted in.
They'll have to take on his $15 million salary in 2014 and give up a pretty good prospect, but the middle of their lineup would be scary with the addition of another big bat. There might not be a bigger bat than the 33-year-old Dunn, who has a .933 OPS since June 1.
Kansas City Royals
Now that Chase Utley has agreed to a contract extension to stay in Philadelphia and Howie Kendricks and Rickie Weeks suffered injuries this week, I'll finally start backing off the "Royals need a second base upgrade" talk.
That doesn't mean they shouldn't still go after a bat.
They've hung around this long, trailing the Tigers by 8.5 games in the division and only five games back of a playoff spot. Now it's time for general manager Dayton Moore to make another big move. Opportunities to do that will be limited in August, but putting in a claim on Giants outfielder Hunter Pence (pictured) and then working out a deal to keep him could be the boost they need to make a legitimate run at a playoff spot.
While the 30-year-old Pence's numbers aren't spectacular (.771 OPS, 14 HR, 17 SB), he could be the fiery veteran leader this young Royals lineup is lacking right now.
The A's, who have been one of the best teams in baseball since last June, are beginning to stumble of late. They've dropped three straight and 10 of 18 since the All-Star break and have fallen into a tie with the Rangers at the top of the AL West.
A rotation that has been strong all season might be wearing down just a bit. Top prospect Sonny Gray is expected to make his first major league start this weekend, according to John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group, which could be the shot in the arm they need.
And if it's not, they could be in big trouble, especially if the red-hot Rangers can add another bat to their lineup.
If it's a spark they're looking for, a certain Bay Area hero named Tim Lincecum could be hitting waivers soon and is very likely to go unclaimed because of his salary.
The 29-year-old has a 3.78 ERA over his last 11 starts, with 21 walks and 74 strikeouts in 69 innings pitched. Not quite the pre-2012 version, but much better than he had been last season and in the first part of 2013. It could be costly, but it would certainly give the team a better chance to hold up in September.
The Bucs were keeping tabs on Nate Schierholtz (pictured) for the entire month of July, according to Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago, but the 29-year-old stayed put at the trade deadline. While the Cubs might not lower their asking price, it doesn't hurt to put him on waivers and see if anyone will bite this time around.
Jose Tabata, who has been the Pirates' regular right fielder since returning from the disabled list in early July, is playing well enough (.727 OPS, HR, 4 2B, 2 3B, 9 BB in last 29 games) that the team doesn't feel it's necessary to give in for what they might feel is no more than a slight upgrade.
Still, adding one more bat for the stretch run in what will very likely be the team's first winning season since 1992, as well as its first playoff appearance, wouldn't be a bad thing at all.
It's not a bad idea to have as much firepower as possible on the 25-man roster over the last few weeks of the season and into the playoffs.
For his affordable salary, which is minimal for the remainder of this season and likely to be in the $4-5 million range next season, it might be worth it to trade away a mid-level prospect or two if that's what the asking price is.
With word that the Rangers have claimed Alex Rios (pictured), it's already apparent they will be trying to upgrade their offense here in August. While Danny Knobler of CBS Sports tweeted that the two sides were nowhere close to a deal at the trade deadline and T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com is reporting that a deal still isn't expected to get done, we'll see if anything has changed this time around.
If they really did believe Nelson Cruz would appeal his 50-game suspension and that appeal would hold up through the end of the season, their motivation might've risen now that he has accepted the suspension and will miss the remainder of the regular season.
If a deal cannot be worked out to acquire Rios, it's safe to say the team will be putting claims in on several other outfielders who could hit the waiver wire, including Marlon Byrd, Hunter Pence and Nate Schierholtz.
Another White Sox hitter, Adam Dunn, is also an option if he's put on waivers, although he's probably not an outfield option at this point in his career. If Lance Berkman can return healthy from his hip and knee problems, it would be even less likely unless Mitch Moreland moves to the outfield to open up first base for Dunn.