Waiver Deal Candidates

With all the ballyhoo encompassing the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, it’s sometimes easy to forget that deals can still go down for another month.

Plenty of viable players clear waivers every year, and a fair number of them are dealt to bolster a team’s playoff chances or perhaps to clear some payroll off the books. One of the more notable deals was the Padres’ 1998 blunder in which the club claimed reliever Randy Myers to prevent him from getting to the Atlanta Braves. The Blue Jays gladly allowed the waiver claim to go through, and Myers’ bloated salary was absorbed by the Friars.

Let’s take a peek at a few players who could find themselves on different rosters in the next month.

Ramon Hernandez – Catcher – Cincinnati Reds

Dusty Baker loves veterans. But after all, you’re reading FanGraphs, so you already know that. However, the exact rationale behind not dealing Hernandez and promoting Devin Mesoraco was that ol’ Fistbands didn’t want to have a rookie catcher in the heat of a pennant race. Well, with the club in fourth place and seven-and-a-half games back, it’s hard to really jive with that sentiment. Hernandez doesn’t profile as a player who can play every day in the twilight of his career, but that doesn’t mean it will stop Brian Sabean from trying to pry him away down the stretch in a desperate attempt to bolster his club’s futile offense. Hernandez, whose .364 wOBA is the finest of his career, was and still is a fine sell-high candidate, and perhaps with the race slipping away, GM Walt Jocketty will still get value with the “Free Mesoraco” campaign gaining some steam.

Carl Pavano – Starting Pitcher – Minnesota Twins

The Twins have yet to indicate the Pavano is on the block, but there’s little reason he shouldn’t be. With the club seven games out and treading water in the league’s worst division, it is a bit surprising the Twins opted to stand pat rather than move toward one of the poles. Should the division lead lengthen any further, however, it’s not unreasonable to expect GM Bill Smith to start fielding calls for the suddenly-durable right hander. Pavano’s been roughed up a bit of late, but is still on pace to throw in the neighborhood of 200 innings for the third straight season. His xFIP of 4.15 also serves notice to the defensive struggles the Twins have uncharacteristically suffered from in 2011, but also helps contextualize some of the mistakes made in the club’s offseason planning (dealing Hardy, re-signing Pavano rather than trying to receive compensation picks). If the Twins eat money, it’s not completely out of the question that he could find himself in the same situation as 2009, when he moved from Cleveland to Minnesota for the stretch run.

Wandy Rodriguez – Starting Pitcher – Houston Astros

The biggest reason Rodriguez could wind up on the block is his contract, which just kicked in for the 2011 season. Rodriguez, likely the best pitcher that the average fan hasn’t heard about, has been scintillating for the Astros for the past four seasons, compiling a 3.38 ERA, 8.3 K/9, and a solid 2.9 K/BB. Those numbers landed Rodriguez a three-year extension with a 2014 option, with the big money kicking in next season at $10 million. Rodriguez would probably slip through waivers because the fourth year option is guaranteed with a trade, and Wandy would be 35 at the top of the 2014 season. Still, for a team with cash to burn and a rotation need (Yankees/Red Sox?), Rodriguez could be a viable fit that would slot in nicely in the upper-middle of just about any rotation. The Astros have almost no incentive to hold onto Rodriguez after dealing Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn, but have no reason to give him away either. If a deal gets done, it’ll only be because Ed Wade hears an offer to his liking. Whatever that means.

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In addition to Rotographs, Warne is a Minnesota Twins beat reporter for 105 The Ticket's Cold Omaha website as well as a sportswriter for Sportradar U.S. in downtown Minneapolis. Follow him on Twitter @Brandon_Warne, or feel free to email him to do podcasts or for any old reason at brandon.r.warne@gmail-dot-com

33 Responses to “Waiver Deal Candidates”

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  1. SC2GG says:

    E5 might not be long for the Blue Jays world. The OF will soon be Snider/Rasmus/Bautista, 3B will be Lawrie and DH will be E5/Thames?

    The Jays will either send Thames or Snider back down, which they don’t want to do, or leave E5 on the bench, which is also not good considering his production lately, or maybe don’t call up Lawrie until the rosters expand, which is another unfortunate decision.

    Solution: DFA Teahran, platoon 2 of 3.

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    • BeasleyRockah says:

      Even with his recent hot streak E5 isn’t good at baseball. Having him as a part time player for the last two months on a non contending team is no crime against humanity.

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    • Chops says:

      Regardless, it sets them up nice to dump E5 in the offseason and sign a full-time 1B/DH.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        I’m very interested to see how AA/TOR fare once they start signing FA and trying to build a rotation and bullpen. It should be very interesting. I’m trying to go into the off-season without a bunch of expectations or preconceived notions, and just watch what happens.

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  2. IvanGrushenko says:

    Not saying Pavano won’t be traded or that he isn’t above replacement level, but isn’t a 4.15 xFIP below average? I thought starter ERAs were around 3.96 in 2011, no?

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    • I meant relative to his true ERA. The Twins downgraded in a big way from JJ Hardy and Orlando Hudson to Nishioka and Casilla.

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    • Barkey Walker says:

      ERA is 4.9 in 2011. I don’t get saying signing him for $7.2/year in was a mistake. He has 1.6 WAR to date and that pays the $7.2 million right.

      The twins made the ALDS in 2010 without Morneau in the second half and thought they had their three top players coming back with their tanks filled up (Mauer, Nathan, and Morneau).

      WAR also undervalues an inning eater–they save you from needing more relief pitchers which pushed up against the 25 man roster limit. WAR never really deals with how you might want to think about playing time tradeoffs (i.e. the cost of having an old pro who can PH very well on a NL team but can’t field probably is more than their WAR suggests).

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      • From a WAR standpoint, signing him was a mistake. From a “it cost the team from being able to keep Hardy, address the middle infield, and pocket a draft pick (or picks)” standpoint….well….

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    • Yirmiyahu says:

      It’s actually his FIP that is 4.15.

      But that’s probably giving him too much credit. His xFIP is 4.29, his SIERA is 4.46, and his tERA is 4.40.

      Anyway. What’s wrong with below average? Many teams would love to add a below average starter.

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      • Actually true. Innings-eaters have a ton of value on the free agent market, and even in the trade market.

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      • Jason B says:

        “What’s wrong with below average? Many teams would love to add a below average starter.”

        Unless you’re the Yanks or BoSox (etc) and can spend your way around pricey mistakes, that kind of thinking is a ticket to 4th-place finishes and 73-win seasons as far as the eye can see…I mean, I get your point, kinda, but yuck. No one should get excited about adding filler material, or be in a rush to throw money at it.

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      • Orioles' Brain Trust says:

        Yeah, but what’s the big problem with 4th place finishes and 73-win seasons?? We’ll gladly take a piece of that action…

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  3. hunterfan says:

    Re: Wandy Rodriguez…I thought he was a good pitcher as well, and signed to a fair market deal (albeit not a bargain.) Yet supposedly the best offer the Astros got was from the Yankees, who demanded the Astros pay 1/3 of his salary….why?

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    • It was probably a leverage thing. Also, Rodriguez’ contract for year four is guaranteed when he’s dealt, so the Yankees probably wanted a bit back there.

      But overall, I think the perception was that the Astros were in a “SELL SELL SELL” mode and that Ed Wade was just looking to dump pieces rather than get good value. I’m not sure that was accurate, but regardless, he was wide to stand pat in that instance.

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    • Rudegar says:

      Why? Because the same moron sent cash with Oswalt, Pence, and Bourn?

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  4. hatter says:

    dont u guys hate how teams can still acquire a player after the trade deadline in a push for the playoffs… the angels sure need a player or two.

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  5. Esteban says:

    The worst part of Wandys deal Is the 4th year option that becomes a player option upon being traded. But a waiver claim won’t activate the switch of the option so really it’s a 2/21 deal instead of a 3/35 deal worst case if someone claims him.

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  6. SouthPawRyno says:

    Pavano sounds like a decent option for Arizona. He’s certainly better than the current back-end of the rotation (Collmenter/Owings), and has more experience compared to those two

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  7. Sophist says:

    any chance someone would claim Rios again? Kenny Williams could throw in Dunn.

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  8. hatter says:

    why isnt KURODA on this list? anyone know?

    carlos pena? haha

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    • Dann M says:

      Kuroda is on the record saying he won’t accept a trade, period. And a trade after the deadline is still a trade. Now, if the Dodgers inexplicably wished to expose him to waivers just to see if someone would take him, then he could be moved on a waiver claim. But his no-trade clause is still in effect even after he passes waivers.

      As far as Pena is concerned, he is the one piece that it sort-of makes sense for Hendry to keep around. Unlike Byrd, Johnson, Baker, Ramirez, Soto, Marmol, etc., there is no clear replacement down on the farm or on the roster now to take over 1B. Bryan LaHair is murdering AAA pitching, but he’s 28 and not really a viable option unless someone gets hurt and they need an emergency fill-in. They are splitting Vitters between 3B and 1B this year, so the 21-year-old has-been at Double A might have a future at first base, but he’s still a year or two away regardless, while Ridling isn’t really an MLB prospect, and Bour’s solid A-ball numbers haven’t been reflected in prospect respect. And that brings us to the elephant in the room: Pujols and Fielder. If the Cubs aren’t able to sign either this off-season, Pena for another year or two is a safe, cost-conscious expense for a proven MLB middle of the order hitter. Pena won’t be the centerpiece of a pennant contender in his career, but filling in kids around him (Welington Castillo behind the plate, Barney and Castro up the middle, Flaherty eventually easing Ramirez off of 3B, and some combo of Jackson, Campana and Colvin earning one or more of the OF spots) makes for a slightly more watchable rebuilding process than just throwing a LaHair/Untouchable Baker platoon out there for 650 PA in 2012.

      Pena won’t be a type B, even, so what he’d bring back in trade is nothing given the lack of demand among contenders. Giants are stuck with Belt/Huff; ATL has Freeman; Philly has Howard; Prince, Votto, Albert and D. Lee in the Central; in the AL, Papi/Gonzo, Teixeira/Posada, Cabrera/VMart, Moreland/Young, Trumbo/Abreu…no need for a 1B/DH. Only Arizona if Goldschmidt falters horribly would be the least bit interested, but do they really see themselves as WS contenders this year? Who really needs a Carlos Pena more than a rebuilding team with a lot of money coming off the books and the desire to have a “clubhouse guy” or two around all the kids? As a Cubs fan, it sucks, but it’s true.

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  9. pft says:

    I wonder if Carl Crawford would clear waivers?

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  10. dougiejays says:

    The Dodgers are awful and bankrupt and Kuroda is a 36-year-old making twelve million dollars. It’s a terrible move from a baseball perspective but a straight waive would almost make some sense.

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  11. Shaun Catron says:

    what about Kyle Farnsworth? word is that the Rays are going to place him on waivers.

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