Will Jake Westbrook's latest disabled-list stint force the St. Louis Cardinals to pursue a waiver-wire trade?
As of Aug. 23, 15 major league teams either hold a playoff spot or are within seven games of one and could be looking to improve their playoff chances by making a waiver-wire deal in the near future.
Seven August trades have happened thus far:
- The Texas Rangers acquired outfielder Alex Rios from the Chicago White Sox for prospect Leury Garcia.
- The Kansas City Royals picked up utility infielder Jamey Carroll from the Minnesota Twins and utility man Emilio Bonifacio from the Toronto Blue Jays, both for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
- The Tampa Bay Rays acquired lefty Wesley Wright from the Houston Astros for cash considerations.
- The Washington Nationals acquired outfielder David DeJesus from the Chicago Cubs for a player to be named later.
- The Oakland A's acquired catcher Kurt Suzuki and cash from the Nationals for minor league pitcher Dakota Bacus.
- The Rays acquired outfielder David DeJesus from the Nationals for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
With plenty of trade possibilities still lingering, here's all of the latest waiver-trade buzz from around the league.
Will the St. Louis Cardinals Seek a Starting Pitcher?
With Jake Westbrook landing on the disabled list with a strained lower back, the Cardinals are set to go with rookie left-hander Tyler Lyons in his place on Monday. Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez, two of the better pitching prospects in baseball, are in the bullpen and could also be options down the stretch.
Ideally, they wouldn't have to rely on young and inexperienced pitchers, especially during a time of the season when they're normally done throwing a baseball for awhile—the minor league season ends in early September.
General manager John Mozeliak has said that a waiver-wire acquisition would be difficult, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, but that doesn't mean he's not looking. Former Cardinal and current Nationals starter Dan Haren has cleared waivers, along with Houston Astros lefty Erik Bedard.
I recently wrote about which of those two would be a better fit for the Texas Rangers with Alexi Ogando landing on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. Westbrook's disabled-list stint could put St. Louis in the same dilemma. The Cardinals have enough at the top of the rotation but could find it hard to hold onto a playoff spot or at least the more coveted position of going straight to the division series as opposed to a one-game Wild Card.
Two other veterans who could hit the waiver wire later this month are Los Angeles Angels lefty Jason Vargas and Seatle Mariners lefty Joe Saunders. Both have a high enough salary that it's likely each would clear waivers or at least drop to a contending team on the waiver wire in need of a starting pitcher.
Late-Inning Relief Options Dwindle with Betancourt Injury
Colorado Rockies closer Rafael Betancourt (pictured) was activated from the disabled list last Saturday, recorded his first save in over a month on Tuesday, blew a save on Wednesday, was placed on revocable waivers on Thursday, blew another save later that day and then landed back on the disabled list Friday with an elbow injury that could require Tommy John surgery.
Just like that, a top late-inning option for contending teams is off the board. White Sox right-hander Matt Lindstrom remains the lone reliever who has been reported to have cleared waivers, while there's a chance several others could join him later this month.
Of the soon-to-be free-agent relievers on non-contending teams, Milwaukee Brewers lefty Mike Gonzalez, Cubs closer Kevin Gregg, New York Mets closer LaTroy Hawkins and Mariners lefty Oliver Perez are the most likely to draw interest if made available.
Cleveland Indians Exploring Deals on the Waiver Wire
The surprising Indians, who are still hanging around in the playoff race, are considering all options to upgrade their roster down the stretch. According to Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer, Indians general manager Chris Antonetti is open to pursuing an upgrade on the waiver wire if the right opportunity presented itself.
The Tribe could look to upgrade an offense that has a .649 OPS in August with just about every hitter struggling aside from Ryan Raburn (7-for-26, 4 HR), Yan Gomes (.844 OPS in 13 games) and Nick Swisher (.720 OPS in 20 games).
Adam Dunn of the White Sox and Justin Morneau of the Twins are the biggest-name hitters among those who have cleared waivers, although Dunn's $15 million salary for 2014 could present an obstacle. If the Mets were to place Marlon Byrd on waivers, he'd be a potential upgrade over light-hitting Drew Stubbs in right field.
The rotation could also use a reinforcement with Scott Kazmir struggling over his past two starts and rookie Danny Salazar already at a career high in innings pitched after several injury-plagued seasons.
Morneau's Value Rising, but Are Trade Chances Decreasing?
Twins first baseman Justin Morneau (pictured) has already cleared waivers, and he has not cooled off one bit during an August hot streak in which he's posted a .928 OPS with seven homers and eight multi-hit games. Still, general manager Terry Ryan told Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune that he didn't see anything happening at this point.
He didn't rule out the possibility, of course, but Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports is hearing that money is the biggest obstacle. If that's the case, the Twins might not be willing to eat enough of Morneau's remaining salary, which is approximately $3 million.
The Baltimore Orioles, who have gone with Ryan Flaherty, Steve Pearce, Brian Roberts and Danny Valencia at the designated hitter spot over the past week, still appear to be a fit, as do the Indians.