Waiver trades still option for teams seeking help

Waiver trades still option for teams seeking help

Waiver trades still option for teams seeking help
Trades in baseball aren't dead for the year. They just got a lot more difficult.

The non-waiver Trade Deadline passed at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, but clubs can still trade players. The complication is that any Major League player who is traded now must pass through waivers in order to be dealt. If the player clears waivers, he can be dealt to any team. If he is claimed, his team can either pull him back off waivers or work out a deal with the team that claimed him. Players acquired in August are eligible for the postseason with their new teams.

It's certainly an extra degree of difficulty, but it's not prohibitive. Big deals can happen in August, such as when Larry Walker went to the Cardinals in 2004. Given the nature of this year's pre-Deadline dealing, in which not many top prospects changed hands, the leagues seemed primed for a flurry of waiver trades.

A large number of the significant trades over the past few weeks involved a team being willing to take on a contract, such as when the Dodgers acquired Hanley Ramirez. Those are often the sorts of deals that happen in August, so it wouldn't be at all surprising to see a few deals of some magnitude go through.

Here's a look at some of what's out there, and why.

Big deals: There are a few players who you can be quite certain will clear waivers, regardless of their current ability, due to their contracts. Alfonso Soriano is owed more than $40 million over the next two-plus seasons. Josh Beckett has about $37 million more coming his way. Vernon Wells' contract calls for him to receive a bit less than $50 million before it's over.

In short, these players aren't going to get claimed, because of the risk that if you claim him, the original team would simply say, "Hey, take him, he's yours!"

But that doesn't mean they're without value. Soriano has hit 19 homers and is slugging .499, so despite another low on-base percentage, he could be intriguing to a team needing some sock -- if the Cubs picked up some of that deal. Beckett isn't currently healthy, but the Red Sox believe he won't be out long. Once again, if they were willing to pay some of the deal, they might find a taker.

As for Wells, it doesn't seem likely he'll go anywhere. But if someone called the Angels, they'd likely listen.

Need a reliever? A couple of guys who have been effective closers very recently might be available. It's been a rough year for both Francisco Rodriguez and Heath Bell, but there's not much in life more unpredictable than the performance of a relief pitcher. So some team might get the idea that it can fix either right-hander, and take a chance.

Bell has quite the onerous deal, and in fact might fit in the above category. He's set to make $9 million in each of the next two seasons. Rodriguez, though, is a free agent at the end of this year and only has about $3 million more coming to him. By the end of August, that will be less than $2 million. It's not nothing, but it's not a huge, long-term commitment.

Players with closing experience always seem to intrigue teams, and Rodriguez and Bell have more than 400 career saves between them. Don't be shocked to see them with new addresses by the end of August.

Solid starters: Top-flight starting pitchers are unlikely to change hands at this point in the season. But for teams that need innings, some second-tier guys might be available.

The Phillies and Orioles worked hard to get a Joe Blanton deal done before Tuesday's Deadline, but couldn't reach an agreement. There's nothing saying they couldn't revisit those talks, and in fact it's easy to envision. The Brewers could well put free-agent-to-be Shaun Marcum on the block if he shows he's healthy. Marcum is recuperating from an elbow injury.

The Pirates might put Kevin Correia on the block after the right-hander expressed dismay at being moved to the bullpen. You never know when that depth might come in handy, though, so it would be entirely reasonable for Pittsburgh to hang on to Correia just in case.

Big-name bats: There's also potential aid for teams looking for adjustments to their lineups or benches.

Carlos Lee already changed teams once this year, but the Marlins could look to send him away, perhaps to an American League team where he could be a part-time designated hitter. The Indians would probably listen to offers on Travis Hafner and Johnny Damon, and the Cubs might consider dealing David DeJesus.

A particularly interesting situation exists in Kansas City, where Jeff Francoeur is signed through next year but is helping to block one of the game's best prospects. If the Royals found a taker for "Frenchy," they could then play Wil Myers regularly. Of course, it's possible that they're in no rush to promote Myers, instead letting him get a little more seasoning in the Minors, but it's a scenario to watch.

Matthew Leach is a national reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.