August 23, 1996 -
With John Wetteland closing games and the emergence of some guy named Mariano Rivera as his setup man, reliever Bob Wickman became expendable.
Looking to pick up a left-handed specialist for their bullpen, the Yankees packaged Wickman and OF Gerald Williams together, sending the duo to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for 2B Pat Listach, lefty reliever Graeme Lloyd and a player to be named later (P Ricky Bones).
A week later on August 30th, the Yankees would make another trade, this time acquiring 3B Charlie Hayes from the Pittsburgh Pirates for a player to be named later—Chris Corn, a pitcher who was out of baseball less than three years later.
We know how this story ends—both Lloyd and Hayes became important additions for the Yankees down the stretch and in the playoffs.
The point of visiting 1996? Both trades were waiver trades, which brings us to today.
With the 2011 non-waiver trade deadline in the past, going through waivers is now the only way to acquire a player from another team.
Why are players placed on waivers?
Some have lucrative contracts with multiple years remaining, and their current teams are hoping someone will take that burden off of their hands. Often times, these players are not living up to their end of the deal.
Others are on the last year of their contract, and if their current team has no interest in re-signing them or doubts about their ability to do so, their thinking is simple—it's better to get something in return rather then let the player walk away at the end of the season with nothing to show for it.
As teams fall out of the playoff race, more and more players will become available.
After the jump, 10 players who will likely be placed on waivers and could be of interest to the Yankees, though I am not advocating that all of these players would be a good fit.
But before that, a quick rundown of how post-trade deadline waivers and waiver trades work.
While I might think I should be a GM of a baseball team sometimes, I'm not.
Chances are, neither are you (though if you are...call me!)
Like many other things in baseball, the rules surrounding player movement after the non-waiver trade deadline can get confusing to say the least.
Steve Phillips, formerly of ESPN and the New York Mets, wrote an article breaking down how the whole thing works back in 2005. (Note: the article is "insider only", so you may not be able to access the whole thing.)
Allow me to sum up what he said.
Any player on a team's major league roster can be put on revocable waivers—meaning that if a claim is put in on a player and the two sides cannot reach a trade agreement, the waiving team can pull the player back—keeping the player but making him ineligible to be waived again for 30 days.
Players placed on waivers remain there for 47 business hours, starting at 2 pm EST that business day and ending at 1 pm EST two business days later. Claims can be made on players by any team at any time during this 47-hour period.
If a claim is made on a player, the claiming team has 48.5 hours (from 1pm EST the day the player was to clear waivers until 1:30pm EST two business days later) to try and acquire him.
Players with no-trade clauses are eligible to be waived, though they cannot be assigned to or traded to a team on their no-trade list without their written approval. They can be claimed and assigned to teams not on their no-trade list.
Claims are processed in reverse order of the standings, so the last place team gets first crack at potentially improving their teams. National League teams get first shot at National League players put on waivers, and the same holds true for the American League.
Players-to-be-named-later cannot be on a team's active major league roster.
There are three ways for a player put on waivers to change teams.
A player is claimed and a trade is made between the two teams
A player is claimed and the owning team decides to let the player go to the claiming team for no compensation. Sometimes, teams put claims in on players simply to block them from going to their competition.
Or, a player goes through waivers unclaimed, meaning that the team they are on can trade them without having to go through the process a second time.
Quick side note on "blocking" a rival from acquiring a player: This can backfire on a GM.
Philips talks about a claim the San Diego Padres put in on reliever Randy Myers of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1998. The Atlanta Braves were rumored to want Myers, so the Padres put in a claim to block the Braves from getting him.
Unfortunately for the Padres, they didn't really want Myers (who had a hefty contract), and shortly after he became a Padre—the Blue Jays were more than happy to see his lucrative contract head to California for free—he suffered a career-ending injury.
Caveat emptor indeed!
Wandy might be wandering out of Houston, but the road he travels should not lead to the Bronx.
In Houston, the Astros will undoubtedly place Wandy Rodriguez on waivers—and he will pass through without a claim being made.
Even though there is always a demand for left-handed pitching, his contract—which has multiple years and nearly $40 million remaining on it—will likely scare off most teams from claiming a mediocre pitcher on the wrong side of 30.
This is not to say Rodriguez is a terrible pitcher, because he isn't.
But he's not exactly good either.
Wandy lands somewhere in the middle, sort of like brunch—not quite breakfast, not quite lunch, but it comes with a side of cantaloupe.
We discussed why the Yankees avoiding Rodriguez was a good idea here—and nothing has changed since.
It is important to note that GM Brian Cashman was apparently not interested in Rodriguez, but Hank and Hal Steinbrenner, sons of George and co-owners of the team, ignored Cashman and continued to try and acquire Rodriguez from Houston before the trade deadline.
So, while I would still avoid Rodriguez, with Hank and Hal once again overriding Brian Cashman on baseball decisions, anything is possible.
That small bush growing out of his chin would have to go should he come to the Bronx...
Brett Myers, like his Astros teammate Wandy Rodriguez, will be placed on waivers and clear without a claim on him due to his contract.
Owed $11 million in 2012 and having a team option for $10 million in 2013—one that vests if he makes 25 starts and is not on the DL at the end of the season—Myers is a high-priced gamble for a team to take.
Coming off of his best season since 2005, big things were expected from the 30-year-old righty.
Myers, however, has failed to impress, pitching to a 3-11 record, 4.65 ERA and 1.37 WHIP.
At one point a highly touted prospect with the Philadelphia Phillies, Myers has failed to live up the the hype, only showing flashes of brilliance scattered along the way.
Just like Rodriguez, Myers is nothing more then a mediocre pitcher.
Given his history of injury, inability to build upon a strong 2010 campaign and financial obligations, Myers would be a risky acquisition, one where the risk may outweigh the potential.
Could Gonzo kick Boone to the curb?
After nine seasons in the National League, 33-year-old left-handed reliever Mike Gonzalez has spent the past two with the Baltimore Orioles.
In the NL, Gonzalez pitched to a 2.57 ERA.
In the AL, Gonzalez has pitched to a 4.90 ERA, including a 5.50 ERA in 36.1 innings this season.
While his ERA is bloated, he is still highly effective against left-handed batters, holding them to a .222 average and .620 OPS.
Conversely, Boone Logan, the Yankees left-handed specialist, is watching lefty batters hit .246 with a .761 OPS.
A free agent after the season, Gonzalez is a player who potentially could be claimed by a team in front of the Yankees.
The Cleveland Indians, who seem to be making moves for the present and not the future, could be one team who claims him.
Baltimore is not going to re-sign him—the Yankees know that and probably would not have to sacrifice much in the way of players to acquire his services.
If only used against left-handed batters, Gonzalez could bolster an already effective Yankees bullpen—and potentially keep Manny Banuelos in the minor leagues until next season, where he belongs starting every fifth day.
Jake Peavy is much like Erik Bedard...a risky acquisition
Jake Peavy is going to make at least $21 million next year, and potentially could be looking at a $39 million payday through the end of 2013.
With a $17 million base salary in 2012 and a team option for 2013, Peavy will either make an additional $4 million as a buyout, or the full $22 million salary he would be owed in '13.
That's a whole lot of cheddar for the Chicago White Sox, who find themselves in a position where they still have not figured out if they are buyers or sellers. They currently sit nearly five games behind the first-place Detroit Tigers in the AL Central.
They have no shot at the wild card, sitting 13 games behind the Yankees. Whoever finishes second in the AL East will secure the wild card berth.
If the "ChiSox" fall further out of contention, chances are that Peavy will be placed on waivers, and with a bloated contract, the Yankees would probably not have much competition for him.
Peavy has battled a myriad of injuries over the past few seasons, and with that injury history has become somewhat of an overpaid risk.
That being said, the right-handed hurler is only 30 years old and still has undeniable raw talent.
If the Yankees were convinced that his injury days were behind him, that pitching coach Larry Rothschild could tweak his delivery to get him back to the pitcher he was for the San Diego Padres, then going after Jake Peavy becomes a no-brainer.
If he came into the Bronx and proceeded to pitch like AJ Burnett, it would not be the first time the Yankees had to suffer with a large contract, one that would cost them an additional $4 million at the end of 2012 to be rid of.
I say, if the Yankees doctors think he's healthy enough, they should grab him.
Like the Chicago White Sox, the Cincinnati Reds are a team that doesn't know what it is—are they contending for a playoff spot, or are they re-tooling for next season?
Either way, it would be surprising not to see 34-year-old righty Bronson Arroyo and his contract with two years and $22.5 million remaining hit the waiver wire.
The Yankees are one of a handful of teams who could afford to acquire Arroyo and his contract, which at this point in his career could be nothing more than throwing good money at bad pitching.
Arroyo is a workhorse—he has logged at least 200 innings pitched each of the past six seasons and is on track to extend it to seven this year.
However, he is also having the worst statistical season of his career since breaking into the league with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2000: 7-9, 5.45 ERA, 1.41 WHIP.
Arroyo does have experience in the AL East and the postseason—he spent 2003 through 2005 as a member of the Boston Red Sox, though his postseason numbers are not very good.
He could provide the Yankees with a pitcher who will go six, seven innings every fifth day, though how good those innings would be remains to be seen.
Francis could be a cheap lefty starter option for the Yankees
While fans of the Kansas City Royals are starting to see beams of light from the other end of the tunnel with the emergence of 1B Eric Hosmer this season, the perpetually re-building Royals are still a year-or-two away from really making any waves in the AL Central.
30-year-old lefty Jeff Francis, while someone who could be a part of the Royals rotation for the foreseeable future, becomes a free agent at the end of this season. The Royals could put him on waivers simply to try and get something of substance in return should they not re-sign him in the offseason.
Only owed what remains on a $2 million contract, Francis has been mediocre in his first season in the AL: 4-11, 4.38 ERA, 1.33 WHIP.
Something interesting to note about Francis, and something I think makes him an attractive option for any team, including the Yankees.
When we looked at Ubaldo Jimenez about a week ago, I pointed out that Jimenez was significantly worse against teams with a record over .500 than those under .500, and found it concerning.
Francis, on the other hand, in 2011 at least, is significantly better against winning teams then he is against losing teams.
Against teams over.500: 4-5, 3.52 ERA, 1.26 WHIP.
Against teams under .500: 0-6, 5.27 ERA, 1.40 WHIP
What does it mean?
Maybe nothing, but if the Yankees have a chance to pick up a guy like Francis, they should.
Chen would get lit up in Yankee Stadium
Like Jeff Francis, 34-year-old Bruce Chen is a left-handed pitcher making $2 million who plays for the Kansas City Royals.
Unlike Francis, Chen is good against losing teams (3-3, 2.73 ERA, 1.39 WHIP) and awful against winning teams (2-2, 7.86 ERA, 1.70 WHIP).
Unless the Royals decided to dump him on the Yankees for free, I wouldn't give up anything of value to acquire his services.
What would John Sterling come up with for a Jim Thome HR Call?
Would Yankees radio announcer John Sterling, known for his colorful and oft-repeated signature Home Run calls, including "Robbie Cano...Don't ya know!", "You're on the Mark...Teixiera!", and my personal favorite: "Oh Curtis! You're something sort of Grandish! The Grandy man can...the Grandy man can!", take from European soccer for a home run call should Jim Thome find himself wearing pinstripes?
You're familiar, no doubt, with the "Ole, ole ole ole...ole, ole" chant, one that has transitioned to sporting events on this side of the pond.
Tell me you couldn't hear Sterling singing "Thome, Thome Thome Thome...Thome, Thome" while Suzyn Waldman screams "Oh my goodness gracious!" in the background.
I almost fell out of my chair I laughed so hard.
But for that to happen, the Minnesota Twins need to fall out of contention in the AL Central.
Signed for this year only at a reasonable $3 million, the 40-year-old DH still has plenty of pop left in his bat, and could be a powerful asset coming off the bench for the Bombers.
Should he hit the waiver wire, I would expect the Cleveland Indians, with whom Thome spent the first 12 years of his career, to be interested in his services as well.
Vlad is glad...but why?
As the Baltimore Orioles struggle through another disappointing season, 36-year-old DH Vladimir Guerrero really serves no purpose on the Orioles roster.
He, and what remains of his $8 million contract, should hit the waiver wire shortly.
While his numbers are down this year—.286 average, nine HR, 35 RBI—Guerrero remains a solid right-handed hitter, one who can still drive the ball into the stands at a moment's notice.
The Yankees could put a claim in on Vlad simply to keep him away from the Boston Red Sox—and if that is their main reason for doing so, there are worse things in the world then getting stuck with a future first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Could Damon get his swan song as a Yankee?
After spending four fairly successful seasons with the Yankees from 2005 until 2009, 37-year-old LF Johnny Damon finds himself on a Tampa Bay Rays team that is out of contention.
Chances are that Damon doesn't fit into Tampa's plans next season and he will find himself on waivers.
Hitting .270 with nine HR and 48 RBI, Damon's familiarity with the Yankees and Yankee Stadium would not require much in the way of introducing a new face to the clubhouse.
Like Vladimir Guerrero, Damon is past his prime, yet still a capable offensive player.
As with Guerrero, Damon could be a waiver claim by the Yankees simply to keep him away from the Boston Red Sox.
Jayson Werth's not worth it
These are only a few of what will be a handful of players who are placed on waivers, and without question the Yankees will put claims in on a few.
Those expecting the Yankees to go after guys like Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Zambrano, Jayson Werth, Carlos Lee, Joe Nathan, Carlos Pena, Jeff Francoeur, Melky Cabrera, Alex Rios, Jason Giambi and Chone Figgins—I don't see that happening.
Now, if I were in Brian Cashman's shoes, of the 10 players I mentioned, I would prioritize them in the following order: Peavy, Gonzalez, Francis, Damon, Guerrero, Thome, Myers, Arroyo, Chen and Rodriguez.
How about you?
Who on this list would you make a claim on?
Who is not on this list that you expect to be put on waivers and that you would make a claim on?
Let's hear from you B/R nation.