Last-Minute Waiver Trade Ideas for MLB Contenders' Biggest Weaknesses

Jacob ShaferFeatured ColumnistAugust 30, 2014

Last-Minute Waiver Trade Ideas for MLB Contenders' Biggest Weaknesses

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    To many, July 31 is known simply as the trade deadline. Of course, that's not entirely accurate.

    Plenty of deals go down in August; the process just gets more complicated.

    To be traded post-July, players must clear revocable waivers. Meaning, in essence, other teams have an opportunity to snatch a guy off the trading block, and the team that offered him up has a chance to yank him back.

    To be eligible to play in the postseason, however, a player must be traded by Aug. 31 (11:59 p.m.).

    That date's almost upon us. Which means, for baseball's playoff hopefuls, the real trade deadline is looming.

    Injuries and exposed weaknesses have shifted the balance of power in both leagues. Multiple contenders, including elite squads, are searching for an upgrade somewhere.

    With that in mind, here are a few 11th-hour swaps that could benefit some clubs with their sights set on October.

    They're based on the needs of each specific team and players who have either cleared waivers or have been the subject of waiver-trade rumors. They're also conjecture, naturally. And, as with all trade talk, most of them probably won't happen.

    Still, it's always fun to speculate.

Los Angeles Angels: Scott Feldman

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    The Los Angeles Angels, who enter play Saturday with the best record in baseball and a three-game lead over the Oakland A's in the American League West, have taken some serious lumps on the mound.

    The loss of ace Garrett Richards to a season-ending knee injury was the major blow. But the Halos also lost starter Tyler Skaggs to Tommy John surgery.

    Richards is irreplaceable, particularly this late in the year. The Angels, though, could still bolster the back end of their rotation.

    Scott Feldman cleared waivers and was among a list of names being considered by Los Angeles, according to CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman.

    Grabbing the 31-year-old Feldman and his 4.34 ERA wouldn't be a game-changer. He's also in the first year of a three-year, $30 million contract.

    That likely means he wouldn't cost any top prospects—a good thing, Heyman notes, because the Angels cashed in most of their chips in the deal that brought closer Huston Street over from the San Diego Padres. 

Oakland A's: Adam Dunn

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    The Oakland A's made two of 2014's biggest trade splashes, grabbing aces Jeff Samardzija and Jon Lester from the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox, respectively.

    The latter trade cost the A's one of their most fearsome sluggers, outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. Since the long-ball-launching Cuban's departure, Oakland's offense—which still leads all of baseball in runs scoredhas sputtered.

    There's no panacea twiddling his thumbs, waiting to be acquired. There is, however, Adam Dunn.

    Dunn's .219 batting average entering play Saturday may not turn heads. He's got considerable pop, though, with 19 home runs to prove it. 

    All but two of those jacks have come against right-handers, meaning Dunn could pair well with Oakland outfielder-DH Jonny Gomes, who hits better against lefties.

    And we know how much Oakland and general manager Billy Beane love some good platoon splits.

    Dunn is a defensive liability and has coyly hinted at retirement, meaning the price likely wouldn't be terribly steep. That's a good thing, because in addition to Cespedes, Oakland also dealt away top prospect and 2012 first-round pick Addison Russell in the Samardzija trade.

Baltimore Orioles: Adrian Beltre

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    When the Orioles lost third baseman Manny Machado to a knee injury, it felt like a turning point.

    And not just any turning point. This is a team that hasn't won a World Series in three decades and one which has toiled for years in the shadow of the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox in the American League East.

    Now, with a 77-56 record and a comfortable seven-game division lead entering play Saturday, it's the Orioles' moment. 

    A moment they'd do well to not let slip away.

    Enter Adrian Beltre, the best third baseman to clear waivers this season. 

    The Rangers aren't desperate to trade Beltre, who's hitting .325 with 17 home runs. In fact, they deflected a July inquiry from the Washington Nationals, per Bill Ladson of MLB.com.

    Still, it's worth pursuing. As SportingNews.com' Justin McGuire pointed out, Beltre "likely would cost the Orioles an elite prospect like Dylan Bundy or Hunter Harvey."

    For a squad that's waited so long to soar, it may be a price worth paying.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Bartolo Colon

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    The Dodgers didn't add a big-name hurler in July, opting instead to get bargain-bin starter Kevin Correia from the Minnesota Twins.

    With starters Josh Beckett and Hyun-Jin Ryu on the disabled list, though, Los Angeles needs an arm.

    Bartolo Colon, the ageless 41-year-old, has cleared waivers. And he's been on the radar of virtually every team that needs pitching.

    Why not? His 3.82 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 167.1 innings pitched would look good in the middle of any rotation.

    One sticking point could be the $11 million the veteran right-hander is owed next season. That should be no issue for the Dodgers, baseball's biggest spenders.

Milwaukee Brewers: Jonathan Papelbon

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    The Milwaukee Brewers have been the surprise team in the National League Central on the strength of their offense, which ranks second in the NL in runs scored, and their underrated starting pitching rotation.

    One area where they could use an upgrade, per Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe, is in the 'pen.

    "The Brewers need an impact right-hander in a setup role," Cafardo opines.

    Well, look at that. A right-handed reliever with a 1.60 ERA in 56.1 innings pitched. A guy with a closer's mentality (and resume) and extensive postseason experience.

    Oh, and he already cleared waivers.

    So why hasn't anyone made a move for Jonathan Papelbon?

    For one, the Philadelphia Phillies' right-hander is owed $13 million next season and potentially $13 million more in 2016, if a vesting option kicks in.

    That's a lot of dough for a reliever who has run afoul of his teammates by publicly expressing his desire to leave the City of Brotherly Love.

    All that aside, any club in need of late-inning help should take a long, hard look at Papelbon. And the Brewers fit the bill.

San Francisco Giants: Mike Napoli

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    After a red-hot start followed by an extended slump, the Giants find themselves 3.5 games out in the National League West and clinging to a wild-card slot. 

    Former ace Tim Lincecum has landed in the bullpen, and another former ace, Matt Cain, is out for the season after undergoing elbow surgery.

    So it might seem like the Giants should be looking for arms.

    Instead, they should look to upgrade an offense that, despite a 13-run explosion against Milwaukee on Friday night, has looked listless more often than not.

    With first baseman Brandon Belt out indefinitely with lingering concussion symptoms and catcher Buster Posey in need of rest to keep his hot bat in the lineup, Mike Napoli of the Boston Red Sox would seem a logical target.

    Napoli doesn't see action behind the dish anymore, but he can play first. And his 16 home runs and .375 OBP would slot nicely either in the Giants lineup or as a weapon off the bench.

    And Napoli was placed on waivers by the Red Sox, according to The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo.

    San Francisco may have to part with a top prospect like pitcher Kyle Crick to get Boston's attention, and even then there's no indication the Sox would move the 32-year-old fan favorite.

    Like many of these moves, though, it'd be a shocker worth considering. Especially if San Francisco is serious about contending for its third World Series in five years.