Final Predictions for the 2016 MLB Waiver Trade Deadline

Andrew Gould@AndrewGould4Featured ColumnistAugust 30, 2016

Final Predictions for the 2016 MLB Waiver Trade Deadline

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    MLB teams are attempting to pry Yasiel Puig from the Los Angeles Dodgers through a waiver deal.
    MLB teams are attempting to pry Yasiel Puig from the Los Angeles Dodgers through a waiver deal.Rob Leiter/Getty Images

    There's no official deadline for MLB teams to strike a trade through revocable waivers, but playoff contenders have until Wednesday to make a deal that can factor into the postseason.

    Any player acquired after Aug. 31 is not eligible for his new club's playoff roster, so a postseason hopeful must hurry if it foresees an acquisition producing in October. It's not a far-fetched scenario, as Chase Utley and Addison Reed played postseason baseball for teams that traded for them last August.

    If a player clears waivers, his team can bargain a deal with any other organization. If a franchise places a claim, that team holds exclusive negotiating rights. The player's team can also pull the waived player back or let him go outright.

    So far, little of note has happened past the non-waiver deadline. The Miami Marlins acquired Jeff Francoeur, the Washington Nationals landed Marc Rzepczynski and the Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers swapped veteran catchers Carlos Ruiz and A.J. Ellis.

    None of these deals reshaped the playoff picture. It's unlikely any blockbuster moves go down, but some notable names are floating around as possible trade candidates.

    Here are some predictions for what will transpire before Wednesday's cutoff for postseason eligibility.

New York Yankees Don't Deal Brian McCann...Yet

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    Gary Sanchez's seismic breakout makes Brian McCann expendable.
    Gary Sanchez's seismic breakout makes Brian McCann expendable.Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    The New York Yankees didn't unload Brian McCann during their pre-non-waiver-trade-deadline fire sale, but that was 11 Gary Sanchez home runs ago.

    There's little doubt who New York's future catcher is, as Sanchez is hitting an unearthly .398/.465/.864. According to ESPN Stats & Info, he was the first player in MLB history to belt 11 long balls in his first 23 games.

    McCann, meanwhile, has been mostly relegated to designated hitter. If the Yankees are smart—and they have certainly looked it lately—they won't want to pay $34 million over the next two years for a first baseman/DH with a .737 OPS. They will also welcome back Greg Bird to take one of those jobs next season.

    There's no rush to move McCann before the offseason, but general manager Brian Cashman shouldn't reject a good offer if one lands on his table. Given his hefty salary, the 32-year-old McCann would likely clear waivers, allowing Cashman to negotiate across the league.

    ESPN's Jim Bowden believes the Atlanta Braves may want to bring back their old backstop before moving to a new stadium next year.

    "McCann's leadership is something the Braves are well aware of from past experience, and because of the number of young pitchers they're developing it would make sense to have him for at least the next two seasons," Bowden wrote Aug. 21.

    While it would seem odd for a team with baseball's worst record to acquire a high-priced veteran, the Braves landed Matt Kemp in July.

    The Yankees are still in the playoff hunt and can use the veteran McCann to mentor Sanchez and their other newcomers, so they'll wait until the winter to strike a deal.

Cleveland Indians Acquire Kurt Suzuki

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    Minnesota Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki cleared waivers.
    Minnesota Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki cleared waivers.Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

    In July, onlookers linked the Cleveland Indians to Jonathan Lucroy before the team agreed to a deal with the Milwaukee Brewers. The catcher, however, vetoed the trade and was instead sent to the Texas Rangers.

    The position remains a glaring sore spot for Cleveland, whose American League Central lead has dwindled to 4.5 games. Yan Gomes, Chris Gimenez and Roberto Perez have combined to produce an MLB-worst .235 weighted on-base average.

    In fact, no team in baseball has fared worse offensively at any position.

    Kurt Suzuki is no Sanchez, but he's an upgrade for the Indians. Even if his career-high .740 OPS falls, his .685 career clip still makes him look like Johnny Bench compared to Gimenez and Perez.

    The 32-year-old cleared waivers earlier this month, per Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press, so the Minnesota Twins can freely negotiate with all teams. They may prefer the veteran to guide a young pitching staff, but a decent prospect should convince them otherwise, as Suzuki's contract will expire at the end of 2016.

    Lucroy would have been perfect for Cleveland, but Suzuki makes for a solid consolation prize.

Philadelphia Phillies Can't Find Buyer for Ryan Howard

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    Ryan Howard has delighted nostalgic Philadelphia Phillies fans with a thunderous second half.
    Ryan Howard has delighted nostalgic Philadelphia Phillies fans with a thunderous second half.Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

    After the Phillies traded Ruiz to the Dodgers, Ryan Howard is the only player remaining from 2008's championship team. If Philadelphia had its way, it would erase the last remnant of its glory days.

    The first baseman is no longer the monster who belted 48 home runs and notched 146 RBI the year the Phillies won it all. He's now an albatross with a negative WAR (minus-0.7) for the third consecutive season. He has sunk even lower in 2016, batting .194 with a .249 on-base percentage.

    Howard cleared waivers earlier this month, per ESPN's Jayson Stark (via ESPN.com's Alex Tekip). Step right up for a 36-year-old who can't make contact, get on base or play defense. Form a single-file line, please.

    Six weeks ago, it was improbable to entertain the thought of Philadelphia finding a suitor. Howard, however, has since heated up, hitting .306 with seven homers in 25 second-half games. Whether they're riding the hot hand or advertising him to contenders, the Phillies have allotted him more playing time at first base.

    Anyone who bites should only want him as a pinch hitter or designated hitter. Such a move would make sense as a late-season rental, but the cost is prohibitive in 2017.

    In order to negate a $23 million club option, a team would have to buy out Howard for $10 million. That's a lot of money for one month of a diminished all-or-nothing platoon slugger who provides far more nothing. Philadelphia will have to foot the buyout bill this winter.

Los Angeles Dodgers Retain Yasiel Puig

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    Yasiel Puig is torching Triple-A pitching.
    Yasiel Puig is torching Triple-A pitching.Rob Leiter/Getty Images

    The contentious relationship between Yasiel Puig and the Dodgers will end eventually, but not this summer.

    Per Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, Los Angeles placed him on waivers, and Rosenthal believes it's likely someone will claim him. According to Jon Heyman of Today's Knuckleball, the Dodgers have turned down lowball offers for the 25-year-old outfielder.

    "Teams appear to be bottom-feeding for Puig in the hopes that the Dodgers want to give him away," Heyman wrote, "and while the Dodgers don't seem anxious or even interested in calling him up to the major league team, the impression rival executives have is that the Dodgers are clearly not of a mind to give him away."

    Heyman also reported Puig is doubtful to return to the big leagues with Los Angeles this season, and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Saturday the team has not decided how to proceed, per Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register.

    Puig is toying with Triple-A pitchers, batting .369/.414/.631 with four home runs in 18 games. For the Dodgers, he posted a less appetizing .260/.320/.386 line over 81 games. Los Angeles' offense is on a tear, and Andre Ethier is poised to beat Puig back to the club.

    Nevertheless, selling him for pennies in late August would be a boneheaded move. The Dodgers will give Puig an opportunity to salvage some value in September before shopping the polarizing talent in the offseason, when suitors should offer more substantial returns.

Colorado Rockies Move Boone Logan

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    Boone Logan could help any contender as a valuable left-handed reliever.
    Boone Logan could help any contender as a valuable left-handed reliever.Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

    Any playoff hopes the Colorado Rockies held washed away when they lost 10 of 12 games from Aug. 4-15. They've fallen far behind the five teams vying for the two-wild card spots, trailing the St. Louis Cardinals by 6.5 games for the final postseason berth.

    So they might as well trade Boone Logan. The 32-year-old southpaw enters free agency this winter, and he'd certainly draw interest from a contender.

    Quietly one of Colorado's top relievers, he sports a 3.23 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 46 strikeouts over 39 innings. He has stymied lefties like he usually does, limiting them to a .151/.210/.280 slash line. Righties, however, have not fared considerably better (.182/.333/.295).

    As a left-handed specialist who can handle all challengers, Logan would be an ideal addition to any contender's bullpen. Before the non-waiver deadline, MLB Network's Jon Morosi reported multiple teams, including the Toronto Blue Jays, expressed interest.

    Toronto is one of several clubs embroiled in a tight playoff race. Its American League East competitors, the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles, could also use bullpen depth for the middle innings. Then again, who can't?

    Note: Advanced stats courtesy of FanGraphs unless otherwise noted. Contract information from Cot's Baseball Contracts.

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