As the playoffs draw near, claiming a player off of waivers stands as the best way to bolster a team’s title hopes.
With that said, here are four players who have cleared waivers and could have crucial roles in determining who is crowned World Series champions.
Philadelphia Phillies SS Jimmy Rollins
Best Fit: St. Louis Cardinals
With CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman reporting that Rollins has cleared waivers, you’d have to consider the 34-year-old glovesmith as a prime target for the Cardinals.
St. Louis' production from the shortstop position has been non-existent this season. So much that even in a down year (.245 batting average), Rollins would be a significant offensive upgrade over Pete Kozma and his dismal .220 average.
While Rollins has indicated previously that he would not waive his no-trade clause, the firing of manager Charlie Manuel and obvious need for Philadelphia to rebuild could sway his decision.
Prediction: With Rollins, St. Louis will join the Los Angeles Dodgers as a favorite to make and win the World Series.
Houston Astros SP Erik Bedard
Best Fit: Texas Rangers
The acquisition of Alex Rios addressed the Rangers’ slumping offense, now it’s time to address their hobbled pitching staff.
With FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal reporting that Bedard has cleared waivers, he should be their first choice.
A sentiment The Dallas Morning News’ Rich Gosselin agrees with.
“A veteran fifth starter could pave the way for a division title. You don't want to have to hold your breath every fifth day down the stretch. If not, the Rangers go with Blakely and a bunch of starts by committee. Bedard would be a quality addition.”
While not the most consistent starter, Bedard’s mere flashes of brilliance, like his six innings of no-hit ball against the Seattle Mariners in July, make him an upgrade over journeyman Travis Blackley.
With Bedard being a pending free agent, simply taking his remaining salary off of Houston’s books should suffice as compensation.
Prediction: With Bedard, Texas holds off the Oakland Athletics and wins the AL West.
Minnesota Twins 1B Justin Morneau
Best Fit: Pittsburgh Pirates
While Morneau is no longer the MVP-caliber player he once was, his addition would certainly bolster the Pittsburgh offense, now that Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press has reported that he's cleared waivers.
Current first baseman Garrett Jones’s lack of pop(11 home runs) isn’t justifying Pittsburgh keeping him and his .239 batting average in the everyday lineup.
Morneau trumps Jones in both categories with 15 home runs and a .268 average.
With Morneau being a pending free agent, a lower-tier prospect or simply paying his remaining salary would qualify as adequate compensation for Minnesota.
Prediction: While Morneau’s addition may not be enough to make the Pirates title favorites, adding him does insure that Pittsburgh will end their 20-year playoff drought.
Chicago White Sox 1B Adam Dunn
Best Fit: Baltimore Orioles
Which Player Will Have The Biggest Impact?
The Orioles will only go as far as their offense takes them, and with current designated hitter Steve Pearce only having 3 home runs and 9 RBIs, that’s short of the postseason.
With CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman reporting that Dunn has cleared waivers, an upgrade is now available.
Dunn often strikes out and doesn’t hit for average, but his 28 home runs would more than upgrade Baltimore’s offense.
Furthermore, with Dunn being owed nearly $20 million through next year, it won’t cost Baltimore much in terms of prospects.
If Baltimore is willing to deal relief pitcher and former starter Brian Matusz, it should be adequate enough for Chicago to deal Dunn.
Prediction: With Dunn, Baltimore’s offense masks their pitching deficiencies, and they make a return visit the playoffs.
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