MLB Stars Who Could Still Be Traded in 2016 Waiver Trade Window

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistAugust 2, 2016

Los Angeles Dodgers' Yasiel Puig reacts after striking out against Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jon Gray in the first inning of a baseball game Friday, April 22, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Unless you're discovering baseball for the first time or have been stuck in a dark cave somewhere, you know Monday marked the passing of MLB's non-waiver trade deadline. But that doesn't mean baseball's trade season is over.

Teams can still swap talent with each other in August, but that talent has to be placed on waivers first. For a refresher—or to better understand how the whole process works—I direct your attention to this informative guide penned by Bleacher Report's Joel Reuter.

We've seen big names change hands while the waiver trade window was open in the past, and chances are we'll see a few more join that list before Aug. 31 arrives. As you'd imagine, teams place players on waivers for a variety of reasons.

A team could be looking to rid itself of a burdensome contract and hope that an untimely injury forces another team to submit a claim. Others may want to continue shopping a trade chip that remains unplayed or gauge the market for interest in a potential offseason deal.

Then you have the teams that looked like contenders on Monday but find themselves in a completely different situation next week, forcing them to rethink their strategy.

Here's a look at six players who could be wearing a new uniform when rosters expand in September.

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

   

Ryan Braun, OF, Milwaukee Brewers

Derik Hamilton/Associated Press

Braun can still hit (.321 BA, .898 OPS) and probably still has a couple of productive years left in him. But that production is unlikely to extend all the way through the five-year, $105 million extension that kicked in this season, as injuries are a legitimate concern for the 32-year-old outfielder.

If you can get past all that, there's the whole pesky performance-enhancing-drug scandal, tainted MVP award and Braun's 23-team no-trade clause that stand in the way of a potential deal. Further complicating things—Milwaukee isn't looking to just dump salary, according to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal (h/t MLB Trade Rumors); the Brewers want real prospects in return.

That said, Braun remains the biggest game-changing bat available, one that could be the difference between making a deep run into the playoffs and missing out on the postseason altogether.

   

Jeremy Hellickson, SP, Philadelphia Phillies

That Hellickson remains a member of Philadelphia's rotation might be the most surprising thing we saw on deadline day. It was widely expected that the 29-year-old would be making his next start for a contending club.

Per CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak told reporters that he didn't find a deal that "made sense for this organization at this time" with regard to why he didn't trade Hellickson (or anyone else).

Still, it's hard to envision the Phillies are thrilled about the prospect of paying Hellickson $17 million next season, and it's even harder to envision Hellickson will turn down that qualifying offer.

While the club isn't going to give him away—and Hellickson assuredly would be claimed on waivers—there's a deal to be struck that would put the former AL Rookie of the Year in the middle of a contender's rotation for the stretch run.

   

Brian McCann, C, New York Yankees

As Joel Sherman of the New York Post pointed out Saturday, there are obstacles to overcome for the Yankees to unload McCann: his no-trade clause; his salary ($34 million from 2017-18), which the team doesn't want to eat any of; and the Yankees' desire to receive real prospects in a deal.

But prospect Gary Sanchez has nothing left to prove in the minors, and as the club looks toward the future, eating some of that salary to facilitate a deal makes sense.

McCann might be willing to waive his no-trade clause to return to Atlanta, where he lives during the offseason and where his career began. Not only would his leadership be a welcome addition in the Braves clubhouse, but the fan favorite might help draw a crowd to the team's new ballpark next season.

   

Kendrys Morales, DH, Kansas City Royals

Jul 19, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals designated hitter Kendrys Morales (25) at bat against the Cleveland Indians during the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals are unlikely to pick up the $11 million team option they hold on Morales for 2017, so it was a bit of a surprise that we didn't see the veteran slugger traded before the non-waiver trade deadline.

That said, for a contender that needs a veteran bat but isn't interested (or able) to take on a long-term deal (like those belonging to Braun and McCann), Morales might be its least expensive option. An acquiring team would only be on the hook for what's left of his 2016 salary (roughly $3 million) and a $1.5 million buyout of his option.

   

Yasiel Puig, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

According to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, Puig did not show up at Dodger Stadium on Monday after being told he was either being traded or sent to the minors. Given that Josh Reddick's arrival has pushed Puig further down the organizational depth chart, the time has come for him and the Dodgers to part ways.

Questions about his maturity will surely scare off some teams, but the 25-year-old remains a dynamic talent and is due roughly $20 million combined through the 2018 season. Considering his upside, that's enough of a potential bargain for another team to take a chance on.

   

James Shields, SP, Chicago White Sox

Even though San Diego is picking up half of the $44 million left on Shields' contract, which runs through 2018, the veteran starter would clear waivers without issue, freeing the White Sox to strike a deal with any team.

While the 34-year-old's numbers with Chicago are unsightly (5.17 ERA, 1.55 WHIP), they're also skewed by a trio of horrendous starts upon his arrival at U.S. Cellular Field. Since then, Shields has been one of the better pitchers in baseball.

For a contender in need of rotation help, Shields could be an option, especially if said contender believes he can continue to pitch at his current level.

   

Unless otherwise noted, all statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and are current through games of Aug. 1. All contract information courtesy of Cot's Contracts (via Baseball Prospectus).

Hit me up on Twitter to talk the waiver trade window and all things baseball: @RickWeinerBR.