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Winners and Losers of the MLB Waiver-Trade Deadline

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistSeptember 1, 2013

Winners and Losers of the MLB Waiver-Trade Deadline

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    After one of the quietest MLB trade deadlines in recent memory, there were a number of players who could have still been on the move via waivers when August rolled around.

    Alex Rios, Marlon Byrd and Justin Morneau wound up being the impact names changing teams in August, but there were a handful of under-the-radar moves that could help contenders down the stretch as well.

    With the calendar turning over to September, here is a look at the winners and losers of the waiver-trade deadline.

Loser: Miami Marlins

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    After essentially gutting their roster in the offseason, the Marlins didn't have much in the way of tradeable pieces this year when the trade season rolled around. Ricky Nolasco was moved to the Dodgers, but that was the extent of their activity.

    In August, however, there was some hope that they could unload some of their low-cost veteran pieces to contenders looking to bolster their postseason rosters.

    Placido Polanco, Juan Pierre, Justin Ruggiano, Greg Dobbs and Chad Qualls have all been relegated to lesser roles in favor of giving the younger guys time. Getting any sort of return for those guys would have been a good move for the Marlins.

    Instead, August came and went, and their roster was still clogged with soon-to-depart veteran talent that is not seeing the field with any sort of regularity.

    The return for any of those guys would not have been anything more than a low-level prospect, but moving them would have helped the Marlins nonetheless.

Winner: Tampa Bay Rays

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    The Rays didn't exactly make a splash at the deadline, but they added a trio of players who could all help down the stretch. They could wind up finding their way onto the postseason roster as well.

    The team's biggest need was another outfield bat, and they found one in David DeJesus. Four days after being traded from the Cubs to the Nationals, Washington flipped DeJesus to the Rays for a player to be named or cash.

    The 33-year-old has gone 8-for-22 with five runs scored in seven games since joining the Rays, and he could be a part of next year's plans as well with a reasonable $6.5 million team option.

    Earlier in August, the Rays claimed left-handed reliever Wesley Wright from the Astros. The 28-year-old had a 3.92 ERA and 8.7 K/9 in 54 games with the Astros, and he is under team control through the 2015 season. The Rays already had a trio of southpaws in Jake McGee, Alex Torres and Cesar Ramos, but he's another quality arm to add to the mix nonetheless.

    Finally, the wild card of the group was Delmon Young, who rejoins the team who selected him No. 1 overall in the 2003 draft. Young was sent to the minors upon being acquired, and he is not having a good season by any means. Still, he does have some pop and a solid postseason track record.

Loser: Garrett Jones

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    The Pirates were the busiest team in baseball this August, but one player who does not benefit from their wheelings and dealings this past month is Garrett Jones.

    The 32-year-old slugger had a career year last season when he posted an .832 OPS with 27 home runs and 86 RBI as one of the few reliable performers in the Pittsburgh offense.

    This season, he's split time with Gaby Sanchez at first base as the left-handed bat in a platoon. He's also seen at-bats in right field with 27 games played there.

    His numbers are down across the board, though, as he has a .240/.297/.423 line with 13 home runs and 47 RBI in 366 at-bats this season. That appears to be what led to the Justin Morneau acquisition.

    One would assume that the newly acquired Morneau will take over the left-handed side of the first base platoon the rest of the way. Fellow August acquisition Marlon Byrd will see everyday at-bats in right field, leaving Jones as the odd man out as far as playing time is concerned for the Pirates' stretch run.

Winner: Elliot Johnson

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    A solid utility player for the Rays throughout his time in Tampa Bay, Elliot Johnson had the best season of his career last year. He hit .242/.304/.350 with six home runs and 18 steals over a career-high 297 at-bats.

    He was acquired by the Royals this past offseason as part of the James Shields/Wil Myers trade, but he hit just .179/.218/.241 over 162 at-bats and was seeing less and less playing time heading into August.

    When Dan Uggla underwent Lasik eye surgery in mid-August, the Braves claimed Johnson off waivers to provide some infield depth while he was gone.

    Uggla is back now, but Johnson has seen six starts since joining the Braves on Aug. 21. He has gone a solid 6-for-24 with three RBI and two runs scored.

    Back on the bench now, he may very well find his way onto Atlanta's postseason roster over Paul Janish as the team's utility infielder, a far cry from where he found himself just a few weeks ago.

Loser: Washington Nationals

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    The Nationals entered August four games under .500, but a 16-11 month has kept them in the playoff hunt. They are currently 7.5 games back for a wild-card spot.

    With a handful of holes on the roster, they were a prime candidate to make an August move, and they did on Aug. 19 when they acquired David DeJesus from the Cubs for a player to be named or cash.

    However, just four days later, the team turned around and traded DeJesus to the Rays for their own player to be named or cash package.

    DeJesus was not necessarily going to be the piece that pushed the Nationals over the top, which made the move a head-scratcher to begin with. However, the already questionable deal was made even stranger by the team's decision to deal the veteran outfielder again just a few days later.

    Things won't be entirely clear until we see what the Nationals sent to the Cubs and what they receive from the Rays, but it was an odd move to say the least.

Winner: Kansas City Royals

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    The Royals are still on the outside looking in as far as the postseason is concerned, and they did not exactly make a splash move at the deadline or through waivers. That said, the acquisition of Emilio Bonifacio was a great one looking ahead to 2014.

    Second base has been a revolving door in Kansas City since Alberto Callaspo posted an .813 OPS over 576 at-bats as the everyday starter back in 2009.

    This season has seen Chris Getz (.227 BA, .574 OPS), Elliot Johnson (.179 BA, .458 OPS) and Miguel Tejada (.288 BA, .695 OPS) all spend time there, with no one stepping up to claim everyday at-bats.

    Bonifacio was acquired from the Blue Jays for a player to be named or cash on Aug. 14, and he's hit .286/.375/.357 in 56 at-bats since joining the Royals.

    The real value here, however, comes in the fact that Bonifacio is under team control through the end of next season. He made $2.6 million in his second year of arbitration eligibility, and even with a raise should be a fairly good bargain. He brings speed and on-base skills to the top of the Royals lineup, and he should help as they eye a postseason spot once again in 2014.

Loser: Josh Willingham

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    The Twins balked at the idea of trading the reasonably priced Josh Willingham at the deadline last season. He joined the Twins on a three-year, $21 million deal prior to the season and proceeded to post an .890 OPS with 35 home runs and 110 RBI.

    That earned him a Silver Slugger Award, and it looked like the Twins made the right move holding onto the slugger heading into 2013. Instead, Minnesota has been one of the worst teams in the American League this season, and Willingham has struggled to a .209/.343/.378 line with just 12 home runs and 45 RBI.

    Despite those struggles, the Orioles claimed Willingham on waivers, according to a tweet from Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. The two sides were unable to come to terms, though, and the Twins eventually wound up pulling Willingham back.

    The Orioles then turned their attention to Michael Morse, and they eventually acquired the slugger from the Mariners for their stretch run. As a result, Willingham is stuck in Minnesota for what will likely be another long season in 2014, while Morse finds himself in the middle of a postseason push.

Winner: Marlon Byrd

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    There may be no player in baseball who has boosted his free-agent stock more this season than Marlon Byrd. He settled for a minor league contract in the offseason and parlayed that into a $700,000 major league deal.

    He quickly worked his way into an everyday role. Through 117 games with the Mets, he managed to hit .285/.330/.518 with 21 home runs and 71 RBI. 

    The team listened to offers on him at the deadline, but when they weren't blown away, they opted to hold onto him. As such, he was poised to spend the rest of the season playing meaningless games for the Mets.

    That was until New York placed him on waivers and the Pirates put in a claim on him. The two sides were able to come to an agreement, and now Byrd finds himself in the middle of a postseason push in an everyday job.

    A strong performance down the stretch and on into the postseason will only further boost his stock, and a multi-year deal is looking more and more likely for the 36-year-old this winter.

Loser: Chicago White Sox

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    This year's market for impact bats was as thin as any in recent memory, and the White Sox had one of the few attractive options in Alex Rios.

    A number of teams were linked to Rios in July, but the White Sox wound up holding onto him. Jake Peavy, Jesse Crain and Matt Thornton headed out the door instead.

    They finally pulled the trigger on a deal on Aug. 9, shipping him to the Rangers for a player to be named later. Two days later, that player was announced as infielder/outfielder Leury Garcia, with the White Sox also sending $1 million to the Rangers in the deal.

    With that, the White Sox unloaded Rios' $12.5 million salary for next season, and they essentially paid his $1 million buyout on a $13.5 million option for 2015.

    Ridding themselves of that money was great, but one has to think they'd have been better off eating more of the remaining money and shooting for a better return than Garcia.

    The 22-year-old Garcia is a career .261/.310/.346 hitter over six minor league seasons, and while he has advanced quickly, his upside is likely nothing more than a utility player.

Winner: Pittsburgh Pirates

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    The Pirates were quiet at the deadline, despite a glaring need to upgrade offensively in right field. That issue was addressed in the final week of the waiver trade season, though, as they pulled off a trade with the Mets for slugger Marlon Byrd.

    Byrd had to settle for a minor league deal with New York in the offseason after a dismal 2012 campaign, and he quickly played his way into everyday at-bats in a thin Mets outfield.

    The Mets were by no means desperate to move him at the deadline, and when they weren't happy with the offers they received, they opted to hold onto him.

    In the end, the Pirates' offer was too good to turn down for a free-agent-to-be. The Mets received 19-year-old shortstop Dilson Herrera (.268/.333/.424, 11 HR, 12 SB at Single-A) and 25-year-old reliever Vic Black (38 G, 2.51 ERA, 12.2 K/9 at Triple-A).

    In return, the Pirates shored up their one glaring hole with a hitter in Byrd who had an .848 OPS with 21 home runs and 71 RBI in 117 games with the Mets. On top of that, they also got a solid bat off the bench in the form of backup catcher John Buck.

    Then, on the final day of August, the team landed Twins slugger Justin Morneau in a waiver deal for outfielder Alex Presley and a player to be named/cash, according to CBS Sports. In the final year of his contract, the longtime Twins first baseman has a .741 OPS with 17 home runs and 74 RBI on the season.

    He'll likely take over the left-handed side of the first base platoon alongside Gaby Sanchez, forcing the underperforming Garrett Jones to the bench and giving the offense a boost.

    These moves may very well be enough to put the Pirates over the top in an ultra-competitive NL Central race as they look to avoid playing in the Wild Card Round.

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