The 12 biggest MLB trade chips in August and their best fits among contenders
There are still plenty of contenders who need help down the stretch
Although the non-waiver trade deadline has come and gone, teams can still make trades. They just have to go through the hassle of the trade waivers process. In a nutshell, a player claimed on trade waivers can only be traded to the team that claims him. A player who goes unclaimed can be traded to any team.
Pretty much every player in baseball will be placed on trade waivers in August, even superstars like Mike Trout and Kris Bryant. Teams flood the waiver wire with players to A) Gauge trade interest; and B) Hide the players they actually want to trade. Put one player on trade waivers and pretty much everyone will know he's the guy you want to trade.
August waiver trades are typically small deals involving role players and impending free agents. August blockbusters are very rare. The last true August blockbuster was the big Red Sox-Dodgers deal that sent Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to Los Angeles in 2012. I wouldn't expect anything like that this year. Or in any other year, really.
Anyway, now that we're into August and teams are not done buying and selling, it's as good a time as any to explore the potential waiver trade market. Here are the top 12 candidates to be moved this month (with statistics through Aug. 1).
Reminder: A player must be with a team by 11:59 p.m. ET on Aug. 31 to be eligible for the postseason. No exceptions.
I was a bit surprised the Athletics did not trade Yonder Alonso, an impending free agent, before the deadline. The rumor had him going to the Yankees as part of the Sonny Gray trade, but nope. Alonso has cooled down considerably since his All-Star first half, though he still provides left-handed power and a sneaky good glove. The A's have no real reason to keep him.
Possible suitors: Red Sox, Royals, Yankees. Not too many contenders need first base or DH help, so the market for Alonso is limited. An injury could always change that.
The Mets have been trying to trade Jay Bruce since the offseason and have had no luck. The Reds, you might remember, had trouble trading him last summer before the Mets jumped in and threw them a lifeline. Bruce is having a nice year and he has played some first base this summer, so a club could view him as a first base/right field/designated hitter option. Bruce will be a free agent after the season.
Possible suitors: Red Sox, Royals, Yankees. Same teams as Alonso, basically.
In June, Asdrubal Cabrera was so upset the Mets moved him to second base that . Obviously he didn't go anywhere. A switch-hitter who can play the middle infield has obvious value though, so much so that I think there's a chance Cabrera will get claimed on trade waivers. A small chance, but a chance. His $8.25 million salary is an obstacle. Cabrera's contract includes an $8.5 million team option for 2018, so he's not necessarily a rental.
The Marco Estrada of 2015 and '16 would have been in high demand at the trade deadline. The 2017 version had teams looking elsewhere for pitching help, and Estrada remains with the Blue Jays. If there's one thing we know for sure, it's that pitching depth is always in demand, so the smart money is on Estrada getting moved at some point in August. Those innings aren't going to eat themselves.
The Mets are in the same boat with Curtis Granderson as they are with Bruce. They've been trying to trade him since the offseason and can't find a taker. Granderson, like Bruce, is a left-handed power hitter, so they're fairly redundant. Bruce can play first base while Granderson can play center field. I suppose the good news is both players are Mets, so they're not competing with another team on the corner outfield bat market.
Possible suitors: Red Sox, Royals, Yankees. The same clubs who could have interest in Bruce.
I had a feeling the Padres would end up keeping Brad Hand through the trade deadline. . Unlike just about every other player in this post, Hand is not a rental (he's under club control through 2019) and he's elite at his position. He's an impact player, and Hand will unquestionably be claimed on trade waivers. Because of that, San Diego is probably going to hang on to him and then try to trade him again in the offseason rather than negotiate (with limited leverage) with the claiming team.
Possible suitors: Every single team in the postseason race. All of 'em.
For all intents and purposes, Jed Lowrie is the rich man's version of Asdrubal Cabrera. He's another switch-hitting middle infielder, though he's having a better year at the plate and he's cheaper, making $6.5 million this year with a $6 million club option for 2018. Any team in need of an infielder will call the A's first about Lowrie, and if they can't work a trade, they'll move on the Cabrera. I would put the odds on Lowrie getting claimed on trade waivers at better than 50/50. Let's call it ... 60/40.
Possible suitors: Astros, Diamondbacks, Indians, Royals, and Yankees again.
I think the chances of Lance Lynn being traded this month are pretty good. The Cardinals continue to slip further back in the NL Central race and Lynn is an impending free agent, and it's unclear whether the team is open to re-signing him given their minor-league pitching depth. Lynn would surely generate plenty of interest on trade waivers, enough that he might get claimed. St. Louis will have to hope he gets claimed by a team seriously interested in acquiring him rather than a team looking to block a rival. (For example, the Royals could claim Lynn to prevent him from being traded to the Indians.)
Possible suitors: Astros, Indians, Nationals, Red Sox, Royals.
A reputation for being great in the clubhouse and going to the World Series three times in the past six years is only going to enhance Mike Napoli's value. He can still sock the ball out of the ballpark, and that's valuable. The only question is whether the Rangers can find a team that needs a first base bat or designated hitter.
Possible suitors: Red Sox, Royals, Yankees. That's pretty much it barring an injury.
The Angels traded one veteran reliever (David Hernandez) and kept another (Bud Norris) at the deadline. Norris has had some spectacular meltdowns of late, but he's cheap and he has been reasonably effective this season. No contending team will use him as a closer like the Angels have done most of the season, but a middle reliever/setup guy? Sure.
It's not often a player with multiple guaranteed years remaining on his contract gets moved in August. Those moves typically wait for the offseason. Ervin Santana has been very good overall for the Twins -- he tossed his fifth complete game Wednesday -- though his performance has slipped a bit lately. The $13.5 million owed to him next season could be an obstacle. Not too many teams are eager to tie up 2018 payroll space right now.
Possible suitors: Astros, Astros, Astros, Astros, Astros. Maybe the Indians too.
One thing we know for sure: The Tigers have placed Justin Verlander on trade waivers. . He's going through the process right now. The $56 million owed to him from 2018-19 guarantees Verlander will not be claimed. If some team still views him as a difference-maker, there could be trade interest this month. The contract makes it very unlikely.
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