The 2019 trade deadline came and went last week with several notable trades.. . . Those were the headliners, .
As always,. And, because August trade waivers are no more, those players will not be traded this season. The new rules, implemented this year, say major league players can not be traded after July 31.
That won't stop us from playing a big game of "what it?" though. Specifically, what if trade waivers were still a thing? What trades would we see that in August? That is what we're here to answer. First, a few things to remember about trade waivers:
- All 40-man roster players had to go through trade waivers to be traded after July 31.
- Players who were claimed could only be traded to the claiming team. Players who weren't claimed could be traded anywhere.
- When a player was claimed, his team could have pulled him back and kept him, let him go on waivers, or worked out a trade.
- Players first cycled through their league on trade waivers before being exposed to the other league.
- Pretty much everyone was put on trade waivers. Even Mike Trout. It was a no-risk procedural move.
It wasn't often a true difference-maker was moved via trade waivers -- the Astros adding Justin Verlander in August 2017 is the obvious exception -- but useful players did change teams each August. Josh Donaldson, Mike Fiers, Gio Gonzalez, Andrew McCutchen, and Daniel Murphy were among the players traded after July 31 last year.
With all that in mind, let's look at an alternate universe in which trade waivers till exit. Here are the 10 biggest trades we would see in August 2019 under the old trade waiver rules.
1. Madison Bumgarner to the Brewers
There is absolutely no chance -- none whatsoever -- Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner would clear August trade waivers. He is very good and he's an impending free agent without an onerous contract. Truth be told, I'm not sure he would even make it to the Brewers on trade waivers, but they have the highest waiver priority among (non-Giants) NL contenders, so Milwaukee it is.
The Brewers came into the season needing another high-end starter and they are currently without Jhoulys Chacin (lat), Jimmy Nelson (elbow), and Brandon Woodruff (oblique). Milwaukee needs innings as much as anything. I don't think they'd pass on claiming Bumgarner on trade waivers. Worst-case scenario is you block him from going to another contender.
As for the Giants, they're a fun story and I hope they stay in the race all year, but their success is largely built on one-run wins and guys like Austin Slater and Alex Dickerson playing over their heads. Not sure how sustainable that is. The bet here is the Giants would have put Bumgarner on the market at the first sign of an August slump.
2. Will Smith to the Phillies
Similar to Bumgarner, Will Smith would not clear waivers. Truth be told, I don't think he would make it all the way to the Phillies on waivers. Other contenders behind them in the wild-card standings would likely place a claim to block them. Humor me though. Smith to the Phillies is an obvious fit given their bullpen needs -- Philadelphia currently has seven relievers on the injured list, two of whom (David Robertson and Tommy Hunter) are done for the year -- and if the Giants are trading Bumgarner in our hypothetical world with trade waivers, they're trading Smith as well.
3. Zack Wheeler to the Nationals
Would the Mets really trade a starting pitcher to an NL East rival they're competing against in the wild-card race? Of course they would. They just shipped Jason Vargas to the Phillies, didn't they? Should the Mets slip out of the race, Wheeler would be a hot trade waivers commodity as a hard-throwing rental starter. The Nationals currently have a fifth starter revolving door, and while they could solve that with a cheaper option (Ivan Nova?), why not grab Wheeler when he's out there?
4. Hunter Pence to the Braves
Hunter Pence has crushed the ball all season, and, with Nick Markakis down several weeks with a broken wrist, the Braves have a right field opening. Pence and the Braves are a match made in trade waivers heaven. The Rangers have other waiver trade candidates in Mike Minor and Lance Lynn, though those guys are signed affordably beyond this season, so I don't think they'd move. Pence is an impending free agent and Texas doesn't have much reason to keep him down the stretch though.
5. Ian Kennedy to the Dodgers
- Eat part of his salary and trade him for a prospect(s).
- Keep him and pay his entire salary.
Kansas City chose option No. 2 for some reason. They owe him the remainder of his $16.5 million salary this year plus another $16.5 million next year. He's successfully rebuilt value this year as a reliever, yet they opted not to capitalize. I don't get it. Chances are his trade value will never be this high again. Kennedy's salary means he would undoubtedly clear trade waivers, and the bet here is the Royals would come to their senses and agree to eat salary to make a deal happen in August. The bullpen-needy Dodgers are an obvious trade partner.
6. Jarrod Dyson to the Athletics
The Athletics lost center fielder Ramon Laureano to a leg injury on July 29, right before the trade deadline, so while they had time to make an outfield addition, August trade waivers would've given them even more time to scour the market. Jarrod Dyson is a natural fit. He can play center in Laureano's absence or, at the very least, serve as a capable fourth outfielder and speed threat off the bench. The Diamondbacks would have surely been open to moving the impending free agent, who may not have gotten to Oakland on waivers.
7. Alex Wood to the Yankees
The problem -- "problem" -- with having such one of MLB's best records is having a low waiver priority. Bumgarner? Wheeler? Even Robbie Ray? Forget it, Yankees. None of those those guys would make it to New York on trade waivers. Alex Wood has missed most of the season with a back injury and the Reds don't have much reason to keep the impending free agent, so he would've been a clear trade candidate. It's not a sexy pickup, not by any means, but Wood would give New York a fifth starter option with some upside, if you squint.
8. Mychal Givens to the Twins
The Twins addressed their bullpen issues with Sergio Romo and Sam Dyson at the trade deadline, two solid pickups, but there is always room for more bullpen help. The Orioles probably should've traded Mychal Givens in the offseason, but instead held on to him, and now his value is down. Not so far down that Baltimore won't get much for him, but down. In Givens, Minnesota would add a power righty with late-game experience. I think he'd get to them on waivers.
9. Keone Kela to the Rays
It is no secret the Pirates tried to move Keone Kela prior to the trade deadline. He's had some injuries this year and was recently suspended two games for violating team rules. It seems there's some animosity between the player and organization. A fresh start might be best for everyone. The Rays are all about buying low on talented players, and Kela would give them another late-innings option in the bullpen. That he's under control beyond 2019 is a bonus.
10. Alex Colome to the Red Sox
No, trading for a reliever would not fix Chris Sale or Rick Porcello, but it sure would help the Red Sox. Alex Colome is having a superficially strong season, though his upcoming arbitration raise will likely push his 2020 salary north of $10 million, and I don't see the White Sox (or any team) paying that. Trading him is preferable to non-tendering him. Heck, if the Red Sox (or any team) were to claim Colome on trade waivers, the ChiSox might simply accept the claim and dump his salary for no return. The Red Sox can use all the help they can get in the bullpen.