As of August 30, 16 major league teams either hold a playoff spot or are within 6.5 games of one and could be looking to improve their playoff chances by making a waiver-wire deal by tomorrow's deadline to add players who will be eligible for a playoff roster.
Eleven 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 reliever 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.
- The Pirates acquired catcher John Buck and outfielder Marlon Byrd from the Mets for minor league second baseman Dilson Herrera and reliever Vic Black.
- The Indians acquired outfielder Jason Kubel from the Diamondbacks for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
- The Cardinals acquired reliever John Axford from the Brewers for a player to be named later.
- The Orioles acquired first baseman/outfielder Michael Morse from the Mariners for outfielder Xavier Avery.
With a few trade possibilities still lingering, here's all of the latest waiver-trade buzz from around the league.
Nationals Resurgence Taking Dan Haren Off the Market?
As Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported earlier in the week, there hasn't been strong interest in Nationals right-hander Dan Haren, who has a 2.53 ERA in his past 53 innings pitched. But could it be that the Nats just aren't that interested in dealing him now that they've closed to within striking distance of a wild-card spot.
With 14 wins in their past 19 games, the Nats have improved their record to 68-65. While they've gained just 2.5 games in the wild-card standings over that span—they've moved from nine back to six-and-a-half back—it's close enough to where it's a realistic possibility. After failing to live up to very lofty expectations all season long, trading one of their best starting pitchers at a time when things are finally clicking on all cylinders just doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
Red Sox Could Add Bullpen Help
Tim Britton of the Providence Journal notes that the Red Sox could use another right-handed reliever. While manager John Farrell says he's not too concerned—Ryan Dempster, who was the Cubs' closer from 2005-2007, will likely move to the bullpen once Clay Buchholz returns from the disabled list—it sounds like he's at least open to a deal if one made sense.
Junichi Tazawa, who is currently the lone right-handed setup man in the Sox's bullpen—Matt Thornton and Craig Breslow are the primary left-handed options—has had a terrific season (2.75 ERA, 59 IP, 9 BB, 63 K, 20 holds) but has allowed runs in consecutive appearances.
The 27-year-old has bounced back from bad outings before, which is why he's starting to be considered one of the top setup men in the league, but it would benefit the Sox to have another right-hander late in games to face tough right-handed hitters.
One option could be Matt Lindstrom (pictured), who would be the third White Sox player to be acquired by Boston this season—Thornton and Jake Peavy are the others. The 33-year-old right-hander, who cleared waivers earlier in the month, is holding right-handed batters to a .588 OPS. Overall, he has a 3.04 ERA with 17 holds and only one homer allowed in 53.1 innings.
The Justin Morneau Watch
It appeared that Justin Morneau (pictured) was giving the Twins a very nice going-away present in the form of an increased trade value after he started the month with 27 hits in 89 at-bats (.303 BA), including seven homers, seven doubles and 19 runs batted in. That value might have deflated some, however, during his current 1-for-23 slump.
Small samples usually don't sway a player's value one way or another during the season, but when a team is making a trade specifically for a small sample of the season—in this case, it would be about 30 games and possibly the playoffs—it would make sense to acquire a player when he's on a hot streak.
On the other hand, Morneau's price tag could've dropped just enough for a team like the Pirates to swoop in and pick him up for the stretch run without giving up any prospect of significance or taking on much of his remaining salary. The Bucs have shown interest in the past, and Rosenthal recently tweeted that they may be one team that is currently interested.
Other Last-Minute Trade Possibilities
A few interesting names that haven't popped up in the rumor mill, mostly due to these players being on the disabled list until recently, are Angels starter Jason Vargas and Mariners outfielder Franklin Gutierrez.
Vargas, who has made four starts since returning from a disabled list stint due to a blood clot in his armpit, has allowed just one earned run over 13.1 innings over his past two starts. The 30-year-old lefty was placed on waivers on August 19, according to Rosenthal, but there was no word on whether he cleared or not.
The likelihood is that he did pass through unclaimed, given his salary (still due close to $1.5 million) and the fact that he didn't pitch well in his first two outings (9.2 IP, 7 ER) after returning. If this is the case, contending teams looking to upgrade their rotation will be interested in striking a deal by tomorrow, especially after what he did versus the Rays on Thursday (7 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 3 BB, 7 K).
In the case of Gutierrez, there is no question that he is a huge injury risk, so giving up any prospect or taking on any salary will be viewed as a questionable decision. But in between all the time he's spent on the disabled list this season, he's been a very productive hitter and has always been good against left-handed pitching (.833 career OPS vs LHP), in particular. His three-hit performance on Thursday, which included his second homer in two games, could open some eyes.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported in early July that teams were calling about the 30-year-old, although he was out at the time and ended up missing more than two months with a hamstring injury before returning on Monday.
If a contending team is willing to take a chance and the M's will pick up some of the remaining $1.5 million in salary (approximately $1 million in 2013, $500K buyout in 2014), Gutierrez could be a difference-maker for a contending team down the stretch.