Odds of Each Available MLB Star Being Dealt Before the Waiver Trade Deadline
Major League Baseball's trading season isn't over yet.
Although the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline has come and gone, the August waiver trade period has been humming with activity. Stars such as Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson, Neil Walker and Yonder Alonso have already been moved. And teams still have eight days to add players for their postseason pushes.
In honor of those days, ahead are trade odds for eight stars who can still be had.
These players come from teams that have fallen out of contention and are realistically available for other reasons as well. Their trade odds are based on whether they've cleared waivers, what the market for their services is like and roadblocks (i.e. a massive contract and/or a no-trade clause) in the way of a deal.
Going in order from worst odds to best odds, let's get to it.
Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds
Let's begin with the obligatory Joey Votto question.
He's available in at least one respect. As Jon Heyman of FanRag reported, Votto cleared waivers and is now eligible to be traded to any team.
As per usual, the big obstruction in the way of a deal is Votto's contract. There are roughly 160 million guaranteed dollars remaining on the $225 million pact he signed in 2012, which runs through at least 2023.
For what it's worth, those figures are more palatable now than they were in 2014.
He seemed to be on the way out of his prime that year, playing in only 62 games and managing a modest .799 OPS when healthy. He's recovered to hit .318 with a 1.007 OPS in three years since, and his 32 homers this year put him on track for a new career high.
However, it'll take three sides to tango. And even if one is a rare team that can afford Votto's contract, the other two parties would need convincing. Heyman said the Cincinnati Reds have "no notable interest" in moving Votto, and the man himself has a no-trade clause he doesn't want to waive.
"It's one of the really cool things about having a no-trade clause," the 33-year-old said last December, per MLB.com's Mark Sheldon. "I'm one of the rare players who has that. I get to stay a Cincinnati Red."
Giancarlo Stanton, RF, Miami Marlins
Elsewhere in the world of superstars with gigantic contracts, there's Giancarlo Stanton.
His situation carries more intrigue than Votto's. Not only has Stanton cleared waivers, but Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported there's real interest in the Miami Marlins slugger despite the 10 years and $295 million remaining on his contract after 2017:
"At least four teams have inquired about the possibility of trading for him, sources said, and talks on a potential Stanton deal with one team before the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline had progressed to the point where the sides were exchanging names of players who could come back to Miami in return."
Stanton is owed a lion's share of the credit for spurring interest. With 46 home runs, he's already smashed his career high and is running away with the MLB lead. And with 25 homers coming in just his last 41 games, he's hot in a way that few players have ever been.
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All the same, the 27-year-old's contract remains a massive hurdle.
Whether he's worth it remains a good question despite his recent outburst. An even better question is how many teams can afford him. Then there's the matter of the Marlins sale and whether Derek Jeter and the rest of the new owners want to make jettisoning the team's best player their welcoming act.
A Stanton trade is a shorter shot than a Votto trade, but it's a heck of a long shot in any other context.
Jeff Samardzija, SP, San Francisco Giants
It's unknown if the San Francisco Giants have even put Jeff Samardzija on waivers, much less whether he's cleared them and thus become eligible for the team to trade anywhere.
But as Heyman reported: "Rivals say they doubt Jeff Samardzija will get claimed on waivers when he's put out there, but one notes that 'he’s throwing really well' and teams would consider trading for him."
Any team that claims the right-hander would risk being saddled with the nearly $65 million remaining on his $90 million contract. But he does have more trade appeal than his 4.67 ERA would indicate.
The 32-year-old always eats innings, and this year he's striking out 9.1 batters per nine innings while walking only 1.4 per nine innings. Improving his ERA could be as simple as getting him away from a Giants defense that ranks second from the bottom in efficiency.
However, the size Samardzija's contract makes that a sizable "if." He also has no-trade protection that covers all but eight teams. And even in the midst of their worst season in years, the Giants may not be inclined to cut him loose as part of a rebuilding/retooling effort.
"This is not going to be a thing where we go underground for three years to five years," team president and CEO Larry Baer told Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area in June. "It's just not who we are."
Justin Upton, LF, Detroit Tigers
Rather than Stanton, teams in need of a slugging outfielder should kick the tires on Justin Upton.
According to Heyman, the Detroit Tigers left fielder has cleared waivers and is eligible to be dealt wherever. And while he's not having a Stanton-sized year, he's quietly having his best season in a long time.
Upton's .908 OPS is on track to be a career high, and his 26 homers put him just five shy of the career high he's reached twice. He's been more consistent than usual, particularly in the latter half of the year.
Upton, 29, can play either corner outfield spot, which only broadens his range of fits. With $88.5 million left on his deal after 2017, his contract is closer to Samardzija's than to Votto's or Stanton's on the immovability scale. And unlike the situation in San Francisco, the time is right for a rebuild in Detroit.
There are some significant strings attached to Upton's situation, however.
One is that he has a 20-team no-trade clause. The other is that he has an opt-out he can exercise after this season. He could clear that up if he made his intentions known, but he's unsure of his plans.
"I can't make a decision on that right now, so that doesn't affect me right now," he said, according to Jason Beck of MLB.com.
Zack Cozart, SS, Cincinnati Reds
Like with the Giants and Samardzija, it's unclear if the Reds have placed Zack Cozart on waivers.
He's nonetheless considered a top waiver trade candidate, notably placing at No. 4 on Steve Adams' list of the top 25 August trade chips for MLB Trade Rumors. Because in theory, who wouldn't want a two-way shortstop as good as Cozart?
He's been a capable defender for years, and this season, he's added excellent offense with a .978 OPS and a career-high 17 home runs. He's also earning just $5.33 million in his final season before free agency.
But as much as Cozart, 32, sounds like a logical trade candidate, C. Trent Rosecrans and Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer recently wrote that "there hasn't been a trade market for him for more than a year."
The fact that he's strictly a shortstop limits his appeal to clubs that only need help there. That list features few contenders, as they tend to already have solutions for such an important position. Cozart's injury trouble over the last three years presumably hasn't helped his market either.
But on that note, nothing could move his market like an injury. If a contender sees its shortstop go down, he could soon be on the move.
Justin Verlander, SP, Detroit Tigers
If the Tigers are going to move a star, it's more likely to be Justin Verlander.
Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reported that Verlander had cleared waivers in early August. In the meantime, he's continued to salvage what had previously looked like a lost season. In nine starts since July 8, the right-hander has a 2.36 ERA with 67 strikeouts and 17 walks in 61 innings.
All told, the 34-year-old has a 3.41 ERA across 520 innings since 2015. He was the runner-up for the American League Cy Young just last year. It hasn't all been sunshine and rainbows, but he's aging well.
The $56 million he's owed in 2018 and 2019 is movable because of that. And while Verlander does have a full no-trade clause, he's at a point in his career where he may be open to going to a contender.
The trouble is there seems to be just one real suitor for Verlander: the Houston Astros. And Heyman's last report claimed that talks between the Astros and the Tigers have been "put to bed."
Unless the Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees or Chicago Cubs feel like getting involved, Verlander's being dealt before August 31 will likely be dependent upon whether the Astros blink.
They're not obligated to. But with their starting rotation's struggles and their lead in the race for the AL's top seed a lot slimmer than it used to be, it's definitely possible.
Brandon Phillips, 2B/3B, Atlanta Braves
Which stars absolutely, positively will be moved? It's a short list that begins with Brandon Phillips.
He does indeed stretch the limits of the term "star" nowadays. He was an All-Star, Gold Glover and Silver Slugger in his heyday, but he has spent the last few years merely hanging on as an everyday player.
Still, Phillips isn't irrelevant yet. He's having a solid offensive season with a .289 average and .757 OPS. And after beginning the year at his customary second base, the 36-year-old has since moved to third base and handled the position well.
That can only help the Atlanta Braves find a trading partner, and any partner they do find wouldn't have to worry too much about cost. Although Phillips is making $14 million this year, the Reds agreed to pay $13 million of that when they shipped him to Atlanta in February.
Last but not least, Heyman reported that Phillips has already cleared waivers. He's free to be dealt wherever.
The Los Angeles Angels could use Phillips at second base or third base. Other fits include the Toronto Blue Jays, Tampa Bay Rays and potentially the Red Sox if Dustin Pedroia can't heal from his knee injury.
Asdrubal Cabrera, INF, New York Mets
Elsewhere in the NL East, even more likely than Phillips to be moved is Asdrubal Cabrera.
He's another former All-Star with a loose grip on his star status. The 31-year-old owns just a .712 OPS overall this season and has been slumping in August.
But with the ability to play shortstop, second base and third base, Cabrera still has positional versatility. He's also a classic change-of-scenery candidate. He had been getting going offensively before the New York Mets angered him by shifting him off shortstop. A move to a contender could be the reset he needs.
According to Heyman, Cabrera has already cleared waivers. Since he has the same kind of wide-ranging appeal as Phillips, seemingly the only hurdle is whether the Mets want to move him.
They could hold on to him. It would only mean paying Cabrera about $2 million more this year, after which they could either pay him his $2 million buyout or exercise his $8.5 million option for 2018.
But after the trades of Bruce, Granderson, Walker, Lucas Duda and Addison Reed, it's clear the Mets are in money-saving mode. Dealing Cabrera should be the next step in the quest to conserve dollars.