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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.