As of Aug. 19, 15 major league teams either hold a playoff spot or are within 7.5 games of one and could be looking to improve their playoff chances by making a waiver-wire deal in the near future.
Five August trades have happened thus far:
- The Rangers acquired outfielder Alex Rios from the White Sox for prospect Leury Garcia.
- The Royals picked up utility infielder Jamey Carroll from Minnesota and utility man Emilio Bonifacio from Toronto, both for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
- The Rays acquired lefty Wesley Wright from the Astros for cash considerations.
- The Nationals acquired outfielder David DeJesus from the Cubs for a player to be named later.
With plenty of trade possibilities still lingering, here's all the latest waiver-trade buzz from around the league.
Orioles Seeking Designated Hitter
Rookie Henry Urrutia was sent to the minors Sunday after a subpar debut in the majors (14-for-52, 0 HR, 0 BB, 9 K), leaving the designated hitter role up in the air for the immediate future. Wilson Betemit, who has missed the entire season with a knee injury suffered in late March, is likely to return soon and will at least give the O's a veteran hitter with some past success.
Betemit's return isn't stopping the Orioles from adding another hitter, though, if they can find the right match. Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun reports that O's general manager Dan Duquette wants to acquire a right-handed hitter who could platoon with Betemit, a switch-hitter who has done much better from the left side of the plate throughout his career.
Marlon Byrd of the Mets (.987 OPS vs LHP), Michael Morse of the Mariners (.809 OPS vs LHP), Justin Ruggiano of the Marlins (.778 OPS vs LHP) and Josh Willingham of the Twins (.745 OPS vs LHP) would appear to be better fits, although none of those names have surfaced on the waiver wire or in trade rumors as of yet.
Michael Morse's Value Decreasing
Speaking of Morse, he's struggled as of late (four hits in last 37 at-bats). Even his success against left-handed pitching isn't likely to net the Mariners a decent prospect for a two-month rental.
Ryan Divish of The News Tribune suggests that the M's appear to be showcasing the 31-year-old, with Baltimore and Texas potential destinations, but he's hurting his value more than helping right now. He still has some time to make an adjustment and turn things around prior to Aug. 31.
Any acquisition after then would not be eligible to be placed on a playoff roster.
Keep in mind that Morse went 14-for-41 with six homers and nine RBI during his first 10 games of the regular season, so he certainly has the ability to boost his value in a hurry. A team's willingness to get a deal done during his current slump, however, would also have that in mind while trying to buy low on Morse.
Rafael Betancourt Trade Possibilities
The Rockies' decision to insert Rafael Betancourt back into the closer's role after returning from the disabled list could signal the team's willingness to showcase him with the game on the line before putting him on waivers later this month.
According to Troy Renck of The Denver Post, manager Walt Weiss expects Betancourt to assume the role with temporary fill-in Rex Brothers moving back to the setup role. With the 25-year-old Brothers proving he's more than capable (1.61 ERA, 11-of-12 in save opportunities), however, the team could have already made its choice on the 2014 closer.
Betancourt has a $4.25 million mutual option for 2014, which is no certainty for either side. His solid numbers (3.04 ERA, 15-of-16 in save opportunities) are a reason for the Rockies to exercise it and Betancourt to decline and seek a better deal.
At 38, however, his age could be a hindrance.
While there aren't any contending teams in need of closer help at the moment, adding depth for the seventh and eighth innings is a possibility for several of them. The Red Sox, Indians and Cardinals could all use help bridging the gap to their respective closer.
Potential Fits for Justin Morneau
As Morneau continues to put up strong numbers in August (.824 OPS, 6 HR, 4 2B, 15 RBI), the Twins have yet to find a good enough deal for the 32-year-old. Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that the Red Sox are an unlikely match despite Mike Napoli's nagging foot injury, while Rosenthal had previously mentioned the Orioles as a team without much interest.
I mentioned the Pirates as a possible suitor last week shortly after power-hitting outfield prospect Andrew Lambo was called up. Morneau could be a target—Garrett Jones would move from first base to right field—if Lambo doesn't hit right away.
As it turns out, Lambo wasn't given much of a chance (1-for-9, 2B) before he was optioned back to Triple-A, so the possibility to acquire Morneau remains. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports had reported that the Bucs had interest at the trade deadline.
Like Morneau, Jose Tabata is also having a very good month (.976 OPS, 2 HR, 2 2B, 3B, 5 BB). Pittsburgh might prefer to keep the team together and opt for a stronger defensive alignment, which is currently the case with the 25-year-old Tabata in the outfield as opposed to Jones.