Players who range from assuredly lucrative to downright comical to generally intriguing make up the MLB waiver wire in 2013. Hot commodity Alex Rios finally went to the Texas Ranger, but some other big names have cleared waivers as well and still sit on their respective teams. Here's a look at some guys who could move in the immediate future and the teams that should be in the hunt for them.
While it might seem silly for Texas to trade one of the (usually) more productive shortstops in the game to another contender, the Rangers have a surplus of middle infielders and can afford to let the 24-year-old go.
Andrus hasn't been the offensive threat in 2013 as he had been in years past. His slash line is .254/.317/.305, which is below his career .271/.338/.345, but he's already racked up 30 steals and still has the potential to be a weapon at the plate.
He also hasn't displayed the same defensive acumen this year as he did in 2012. According to FanGraphs.com, his ultimate zone rating (UZR)—the most complicated but comprehensive defensive stat in the game—has dropped from 2012's 8.3 (sixth best in the majors) to 3.2 (11th best in the majors). But the glove wizardry is still there:
Still, the fact that he's fallen so short of expectations this year—especially after signing an eight-year, $120 million contract extension—could increase Texas' willingness to part with him. If the Rangers encounter the right deal, they'll entertain trade talks:
The team with the biggest need for Rios is St. Louis because Pete Kozma has been abysmal. There are better-hitting pitchers than him. His .225/.273/.284 line is by far the worst on the team. Yes, he can flash the leather with the best of them, but fans are fed up:
And the Cards are keeping their eyes open for an upgrade:
I'll also mention that Cincinnati could benefit from benching Zack Cozart, but the Cincinnati Enquirer's John Fay thinks adding Andrus is unlikely:
Not too long ago, Haren seemed to be one of 2013's biggest disappointments. He was pitching to the tune of a 7-11 record with a 4.82 ERA—not exactly what the Washington Nationals had in mind when they signed him to a one-year, $13 million deal last December.
But wait, there's been salvation:
According to Michael Barr of FanGraphs.com, Haren's better pitches have become even more wicked:
In the second half, suddenly his sinker is terrific. Opponents are hitting just .200 with a .323 slugging percentage. His splitter is even better. Opponents are hitting just .103, slugging .138.
And per James Wagner of The Washington Post, Haren recently became just the 13th pitcher in baseball history to defeat all 30 teams. So clearly he can be consistently dominant.
One team that should vie for him is Atlanta. While I think it's unlikely that Washington—which probably doesn't consider itself out of the playoff hunt despite being 9.5 games back in the wild-card race—would trade Haren to a division rival, the Braves could use an ace-type in their rotation.
If Atlanta wants to contend against the Los Angeles Dodgers and their big three in Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu, the Braves should at least try for Haren.
While the Rangers might look to get rid of Andrus, they could be thinking about bringing Haren back to the AL West, according to Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News.
Haren will be a free agent after the 2013 season, so unlike Andrus, he'd just be a rental and a fairly economical signing.
Zito does not have a lot working in his favor right now.
Why is he dangerous? Why isn't he dangerous is the better question.
Let's start with the most obvious factors. He's 35. He has a 5.34 ERA and by far the worst WHIP of his career (1.693). His numbers on the road are nauseating: a 9.45 ERA and a 2.30 WHIP. Which means he can only pitch (kind of) in San Francisco.
Then there's the money issue. Danny Knobler of CBS Sports mentioned on August 14 that the southpaw "makes $20 million this season, with a $7 million buyout coming, so it's no surprise at all that he cleared waivers."
Justin Gallagher, the sports editor for the San Juan Star, sums up the interest in Zito nicely in two tweets:
ESPN The Magazine's Tim Keown argued that Zito "turned his career around" in 2012, so maybe there's something left in his tank. If so, it must be a cavernous tank with some very good hiding spots.
If the Braves don't try for Haren—or the still less risky Erik Bedard, who also just cleared waivers—they could go for Zito with a lot of blind faith. Devin Pangaro of Swingin' A's wrote that while "there's been no credible link to any true Athletics interest in Zito," a reunion could be in order with the right deal.
At this point, Zito hasn't proved that he can pitch anywhere other than at AT&T Park. And the mediocre Giants don't even want him in the rotation. I don't think he's going anywhere.
Polanco is a career .297 hitter and has the potential to help out a team like Atlanta. The Braves fail at hitting for average and just announced that infielder Tyler Pastornicky needs season-ending ACL surgery. Polanco would be great off the bench and is flexible positionally and in the batting order.
He also happens to be injury prone, which is why I've labeled him a risk.
It seemed like he was never on the field for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2012, and back issues have continued this year. Tony Verduci of SB Nation wrote in November 2012 that Polanco "has very little value as a starter at this stage of his career, with his his age, injury concerns and slower bat."
Like Zito's case, the prospect of a trade has only prompted humor: