Poll: Best Trade Deadline Moves By A Buyer

There are many ways to break out the bunches of deals we see at the trade deadline every year, and the division of teams into buyers and sellers may no longer mean quite what it did before the addition of a second Wild Card. But it nevertheless remains clear that a good number of teams can be placed into those two camps, at least now that the moves are in the books, and we didn’t really see any club pull off the balleyhooed “buy and sell” (even if some tried).

Let’s focus here on the buy-side. Adding players for the stretch (and a possible post-season run) requires teams to identify needs, evaluate internal options, and value their own future assets in structuring deals. Needless to say, there’s far more to it than just getting the best or best-known player you can.

So, here’s the poll question: looking at the teams that made moves to bolster their current rosters, which one made the best additions, all things considered? I’ll organize the teams into rough groupings for ease of reading:

High-Cost Rentals

Two teams pushed their trade chips squarely toward the present, acquiring multiple players who will all become free agents after the season.

Royals acquire Johnny Cueto, Ben Zobrist — This seemed like the moment to push the chips in for GM Dayton Moore, and he did just that, adding two of the most hotly-pursue players. But those big adds came at the cost of appealing arms like Brandon Finnegan and Sean Manaea.

Mets acquire Yoenis Cespedes, Tyler Clippard, Juan Uribe & Kelly Johnson — After adding some solid pieces in areas of need, GM Sandy Alderson pulled the trigger on a marquee rental in Cespedes. The Mets’ overall mix looks much better right now, but they won’t own the rights to the futures of young pitchers Michael Fulmer and Casey Meisner.

Major Moves – Rent And Buy

Those weren’t the only clubs that paid high prices for rentals, but these teams also picked up significant players who will be controllable after 2015.

Astros acquire Scott Kazmir, Carlos Gomez & Mike Fiers — We’ve seen GM Jeff Luhnow as an accumulator of young talent; now, we got to see him spend it. He opted to add a high-upside rental arm, a year and a half of the excellent Gomez, and a controllable arm in Fiers, dealing from the team’s young depth (including high-rated youngsters like Brett Phillips, Josh Hader, and Jacob Nottingham) to do so.

Cardinals acquire Brandon Moss, Steve Cishek, Jonathan Broxton — While the relievers were available for little more than some salary relief, the reasonably affordable and controllable Moss cost highly-regarded pitching prospect Rob Kaminsky. But nobody knows young arms like St. Louis, and they filled a clear need with the slugger.

Blue Jays acquire Troy Tulowitzki & LaTroy Hawkins, David Price, Ben Revere, Mark Lowe — Toronto added some big names despite facing a large deficit in the AL East, and parted with a long list of pitching prospects to get things done, including highly-regarded young hurlers Daniel Norris and Jeff Hoffman.

Dodgers acquire Mat Latos, Alex Wood, Jim Johnson & Luis Avilan — Los Angeles took on a good bit of salary to add a group of solid arms to the big league roster (while also picking up future years of Wood as well as prospect Jose Peraza), and gave up Hector Olivera in the process.

Multiple Veteran Pieces

These teams bulked up on depth pieces who will fill particular roles on their clubs, generally keeping the acquisition costs down in the process.

Angels acquire David Murphy, David DeJesus, Shane Victorino — Los Angeles added three veteran platoon candidates to address its need for bats. It was an interesting strategy, but certainly added plenty of experience and clubhouse presence at a reasonable price.

Pirates acquire Joakim Soria, J.A. Happ, Aramis Ramirez, Michael Morse, Joe Blanton — Pittsburgh added veteran rental pieces at the spots that were in need of shoring up, and didn’t have to part with its best young talent to do so.

Cubs acquire Dan Haren, Tommy Hunter — Chicago reportedly pursued some more impactful moves, but ultimately settled for veteran depth that did not require the team to part with significant future assets.

Single Shots

Several buyers made targeted buys of specific assets that, they hope, will fill a specific need.

Nationals acquire Jonathan Papelbon — It took some financial juggling and created a bit of controversy due to the presence of Drew Storen, but ultimately the Nats got a quality late-inning arm at the cost of some solid upper-level pitching depth (Nick Pivetta).

Giants acquire Mike Leake — San Francisco parted with righty Keury Mella and third baseman Adam Duvall to bolster its rotation with the reliable righty.

Twins acquire Kevin Jepsen — Despite its strong position in the standings, this was Minnesota’s only move. But giving up youth for veterans may not have made much sense, and the August trade market could present opportunities if the club stays in the hunt.

Orioles acquire Gerardo Parra — To add the solid Parra, who is currently in the midst of a career year, Baltimore gave up a good pitching prospect in Zach Davies.

Padres acquire Marc Rzepczynski — Do we call the Padres buyers? Their only move was to add a veteran middle-reliever, and they held multiple impending free agents, so it’s hard to give any other label.

Looking To The Future?

Rangers acquire Cole Hamels & Jake Diekman, Sam Dyson — It may not quite be fair to consider Texas here, since the main move was heavily driven by future considerations, but the club did have to beat out more obvious contenders to get Hamels. It took quite a haul, with top prospects Jorge Alfaro, Jake Thompson, and Nick Williams among the pieces moved.

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Old MLBTR Layout Available On Mobile Devices

Back in April, we launched a new mobile version of MLBTR.  The change to mobile-friendly was made to improve load time and user experience, and also because Google basically required it.

In looking at your survey responses, I noticed that some readers preferred the old desktop-style, full post MLBTR format on their mobile devices.  Fortunately, we have a Desktop View button that brings back the old layout.  Just go to the MLBTradeRumors.com homepage on your mobile device, scroll all the way to the bottom, and tap the button that says Desktop:


Your preference should be remembered the next time you visit.

(Side note: if you occasionally get the mobile version of MLBTR on a desktop computer, that’s a bug.  Please contact us if that happens).

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Quick Hits: Deadline Prospects, Valencia, White Sox

Over at Fangraphs, Kiley McDaniel has placed current grades on all of the 58 prospects that he counts as changing hands at the deadline. Among the eight players to get a rating of 55 (on the 20-80 scouting scale), three went from the Rangers to the Phillies in the Cole Hamels deal: catcher Jorge Alfaro, outfielder Nick Williams, and righty Jake Thompson. No other club gave or received more than one such player at the deadline, in McDaniels’ estimation. It’s an interesting read and a great resource for assessing the summer prospect haul. Check it out before voting in tonight’s poll on which team made the shrewdest moves to build out their current roster.

A few more quick notes to round out he day:

  • Athletics assistant GM David Forst explained that the club was happy to have a chance at claiming infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia off waivers from the Blue Jays, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. The 30-year-old was a roster casualty after Toronto’s flurry of deadline moves, despite his strong season thus far. “Danny is having an excellent year offensively,” said Forst. “His defensive versatility and track record of success against left-handed pitching fit our roster very well.” As Slusser notes, there’s some down-the-line benefit for Oakland, which also recently picked up Felix Doubront as a Jays cast-off: Valencia can be controlled for two more seasons via arbitration after earning $1.68MM in his first trip through the process this year.
  • The White Sox have promoted Nick Hostetler to the post of scouting director, as John Manuel of Baseball America writes. Previous director Doug Laumann will take a senior advisory role with the club. Hostetler has served in various scouting roles with the club since 2001.

Minor MLB Transactions: 8/3/2015

Here are the day’s minor moves:

  • The Blue Jays have outrighted outfielder Ezequiel Carrera to Triple-A, Ben Nicholson-Smith reports on Twitter. The 28-year-old was recently designated for assignment after seeing his role taken by trade acquisition Ben Revere. Over 164 plate appearances for Toronto this season, Carrera owns a solid .279/.327/.374 with three home runs and two stolen bases. That represents his most significant big league action since his rookie campaign.
  • Angels reliever Vinnie Pestano has also cleared waivers and been outrighted, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez tweets. The recently-designated, 30-year-old righty has tossed 11 2/3 innings of 5.40 ERA pitching on the year, though he has had more success in the past. Over 202 2/3 career frames, he’s allowed just under three earned per nine. While he’s continued to strike out better than ten batters per nine, control issues (6.2 BB/9) have limited Pestano’s effectiveness this season.

Cubs Designate Clayton Richard

The Cubs have designated lefty Clayton Richard for assignment, Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com tweets. Outfielder Matt Szczur has been called up to take his roster spot.

This marks the second time that Chicago has DFA’ed the veteran since acquiring him from the Pirates earlier this year. Previously, Richard was designated off of the active roster (but not the 40-man). He was sent to Triple-A after clearing optional assignment waivers and accepting the assignment. It remains to be seen what precise transaction has taken place this time.

Richard came back up to start yesterday, twirling six innings of one-run ball, allowing only five baserunners to reach (all via base hits) and striking out three. Over 21 total innings on the season, he’s permitted ten earned runs and logged nine strikeouts against five walks. Richard has been quite strong at the Triple-A level this season, as he carries a 1.70 ERA over 69 frames.

A.J. Burnett Expected To Miss Four Weeks With Flexor Strain

3:23pm: The Pirates have now released a statement to announce that Burnett has been diagnosed with a flexor strain in his right elbow. Burnett received a platelet-rich plasma injection, and is estimated time of return is four weeks, per the announcement.

2:46pm: Stephen Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweets that Burnett says he’s yet to even receive a diagnosis following his MRI.

AUG. 3, 1:44pm: FOX’s Jon Morosi reports (Twitter links) that Burnett received better news than he had hoped. Burnett has a strain in his right flexor tendon, but his ulnar collateral ligament is intact. He’ll undergo treatment with the hope of returning this season, per Morosi.

AUG. 2: After being placed on the 15-day DL with elbow inflammation on Friday, A.J. Burnett admitted that the injury may sideline him for the rest of the 2015 season.  In an interview with MLB.com’s Tom Singer, Burnett predicted that his Monday appointment with Pirates doctors will reveal that he’s suffered damage to either his UCL or flexor tendon, yet the veteran righty has no plans to undergo surgery for either issue.

It is difficult.  I’m prepared for both…if I just need some rest or something more. In my mind, surgery is not an option. I’d built up some pain tolerance. It comes and goes, part of doing this 16 years. You figure out what you can and can’t do,” Burnett said.  “It was just really bad on everything the other night. I never got loose, never got comfortable. We’ll find out tomorrow, when they look at it. I don’t expect it to go away, don’t expect it to get better.

Burnett said he’d been dealing with some degree of elbow discomfort for years, though “it hasn’t been anything to worry about” until his start last Thursday.  Given Burnett’s rough performance since the All-Star break (10.13 ERA over 16 innings), it could be that his injury has been bothering him for longer than just his most recent outing, or it could be that Burnett was simply regressing a bit after an outstanding first half.

While Burnett has ruled out surgery, he isn’t willing to return to mound unless he’s able to pitch effectively through the pain.  He won’t try to tough it out just for the sake of coming back “if I can’t throw, or if I’m throwing what I was throwing the other night. I can’t do it to these guys.”

If the elbow injury indeed ends Burnett’s season, it will also mark the end of his 17-year career, as the veteran has already announced that he’ll be retiring once the 2015 campaign is over.  Burnett went out on a high note, making his first All-Star team after posting a 2.11 ERA and 100 strikeouts (against 33 walks) over his first 119 1/3 innings.  Even if the right-hander is done for the season, he’s already more than delivered on the one-year, $8.5MM deal he signed last winter to return to Pittsburgh.

The Pirates’ postseason chances will suffer a blow with Burnett out, though they still have Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano headlining a rotation that includes Jeff Locke, Charlie Morton and the newly-acquired J.A. Happ.

Brandon Beachy Clears Waivers, Accepts Outright Assignment

Dodgers right-hander Brandon Beachy has cleared outright waivers after being designated for assignment last week, reports SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (via Twitter).

Beachy, who turns 29 in one month, signed a one-year, $2.75MM contract with the Dodgers this winter after being non-tendered by the Braves on the heels of his second Tommy John surgery. He’s spent most of the season on the 60-day disabled list, but he did reach the point last month where the Dodgers felt he could join the big league rotation. After pitching to a 3.28 ERA in six rehab starts, Beachy made a pair of starts with the Dodgers, allowing seven runs in eight total innings.

Beachy will have the option to reject an assignment to the minor leagues in favor of free agency, but as a player with fewer than five years of Major League service time, he would have to forfeit the remaining $947K on his contract to do so. His deal comes with a $3MM team option that jumped to $3.5MM upon making his first start of the season and will jump another $500K upon making five and 10 total starts. A $250K buyout would be added if he were to reach 10 total innings on the season. (Contract details via Cot’s Contracts.)

Because of that, it seems rather unlikely that Beachy would test the free agent waters at this juncture, though the Dodgers’ additions of both Mat Latos and Alex Wood have obstructed his path to another look in the big league rotation for the time being. Beachy, of course, has an excellent track record in the Majors when healthy. From 2010-13 with Atlanta, he posted a 3.23 ERA, 9.2 K.9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 267 2/3 innings. Durability has been an issue since reaching the Major Leagues, however, as he’s topped 100 innings just once in his career and made 10 starts in a season just twice.

Athletics Claim Danny Valencia

The Athletics have claimed infielder Danny Valencia off waivers from the Blue Jays, the A’s announced (on Twitter). Valencia was claimed from outright waivers as opposed to revocable trade waivers, so no trade will need to be worked out.

Valencia, 30, was a surprise casualty of the Blue Jays’ flurry of trade deadline activity, as the team designated him for assignment late last week in spite of excellent numbers at the plate. The right-handed-hitting Valencia is hitting .296/.331/.506 with seven homers in 173 trips to the plate this season.

Throughout Valencia’s career, most of his production has come versus left-handed pitching (a very robust .326/.368/.497 batting line), but he’s actually recorded better numbers versus right-handed pitching in 2015. Valencia has seen most of his action at third base throughout his career — he was the Twins’ regular third baseman for two and a half seasons and finished third in the 2010 AL Rookie of the Year voting — but he’s played some left field, first base and second base over the past couple of seasons as well. As a player that has notable platoon splits and the ability to bounce around the diamond a bit, he fits the quintessential Athletics mold.

Valencia will have four-plus years of service time at season’s end, meaning he can be controlled through the 2017 season. Valencia and his representatives at MVP Sports won an arbitration hearing against the Blue Jays this winter, resulting in a $1.675MM salary. He’s owed about $577K of that sum through the end of the year. The Athletics had top waiver priority in the American League, so the first team that had the option of picking up Valencia is the team on which he ultimately landed.

Blue Jays Claim Ben Rowen From Cubs

The Blue Jays announced today that they have claimed right-handed reliever Ben Rowen off waivers from the Cubs and assigned him to Triple-A Buffalo.

Rowen, 26, has made his way around the league over the past half-year or so. Signed to a minor league deal by the Dodgers this winter, Rowen was traded from L.A. to the Orioles in the trade that sent a Competitive Balance draft pick and Ryan Webb to the Dodgers. Despite outstanding minor league numbers, the O’s didn’t feel they had a roster spot for Rowen, and he was released from his contract, after which he inked a minors pact with the Cubs. Chicago selected his contract to the big league roster last week, but he didn’t get into a game with the Cubs before being designated for assignment.

The addition of Rowen to the Blue Jays organization makes particular sense for a number of reasons. Firstly, the Blue Jays bullpen has been shaky for much of the season, although activity at the trade deadline has helped to shore up the relief corps. (Aaron Sanchez should be pitching out of the bullpen full-time for the rest of the season, Mark Lowe‘s addition adds a power arm, and LaTroy Hawkins will add stability as well.) Additionally, Rowen has outstanding Triple-A numbers and a sidearm delivery that generates a huge amount of ground-balls — undoubtedly an appealing trait to a team in a homer-friendly park like the Rogers Centre.

In 46 2/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A in 2015, Rowen has posted a 1.93 ERA with 6.0 K/9 against 1.4 BB/9. Minor League opponents batted a paltry .235/.267/.302 versus Rowen this season, so at the very least one can imagine that he’d be an option for the Blue Jays in September when rosters expand. However, strong enough numbers with Buffalo could also prompt the Jays to make a move prior to that cutoff.

Notable August Trades: 2012-14

The July 31 non-waiver trade deadline has come and gone, but as we explained earlier today, that in no way means that trading is over. Working out trades is now quite a bit more complicated, but if history is any indication, we’ll still see our fair share of notable names exchanged and possibly some under-the-radar swaps that will look like coups with the benefit of hindsight in a few years.

Here’s a look back at some of the more notable deals from the past three Augusts (with a helping hand from MLBTR’s Transaction Tracker)…

2012 (Transaction Tracker link)

  • Dodgers acquire Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, Nick Punto and cash considerations from Red Sox in exchange for Allen Webster, James Loney, Jerry Sands, Ivan De Jesus and Rubby De La Rosa: One of the most significant trades in recent history (August or otherwise), this trade saw the Red Sox shed more than $250MM in future payroll commitments, positioning GM Ben Cherington for an aggressive offseason on the free agent market that netted Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, Koji Uehara, Stephen Drew and Jonny Gomes — each of whom played a role (some more significant than others) in fueling the Red Sox’ 2013 World Series run. As for the Dodgers, Gonzalez has returned to elite status, while Crawford has quietly rebounded (to some extent) and Beckett delivered 115 2/3 innings of 2.88 ERA ball in 2014 — his final season.
  • Athletics acquire Jesse Chavez from Blue Jays for cash considerations, and also acquire Pat Neshek from Orioles for cash considerations: Neither of these deals looked to be of much consequence at the time, but Neshek jumped right into the Oakland bullpen and delivered a 1.37 ERA in 19 2/3 innings. That stretch kicked off a career renaissance of sorts for the side-armer, who is now an integral part of the Houston bullpen. As for Chavez, he’s still with Oakland and has turned in a 3.57 ERA in 318 innings from 2013-15. He’s also controllable through 2016.

2013 (Transaction Tracker link)

  • Pirates acquire Marlon Byrd, John Buck from Mets in exchange for Dilson Herrera, Vic Black: Byrd took a minor league deal with the Mets prior to the season, while Buck was viewed as a throw-in in the offseason blockbuster with the Blue Jays, but both put up big numbers with the Mets and netted the team a pair of significant prospects from Pittsburgh. Byrd and Buck helped the Pirates to the playoffs, ending a 21-year playoff drought, and Herrera is now seen as the Mets’ second baseman of the future. Black, too, could play a part on the team for years to come as a setup man if health permits.
  • Rangers acquire Alex Rios from White Sox in exchange for Leury Garcia: Rios was one of the biggest names traded in August 2013 (though Chicago’s acquisition of him from the Blue Jays in 2009 may be the more notable August move), and he batted .280/.315/.457 for Texas down the stretch. He’d go on to struggle in 2014 and take a one-year deal with the Royals. Garcia, meanwhile, could eventually make for a nice utility piece in Chicago, but to this point the Rangers have received more from the deal than they gave up.

2014 (Transaction Tracker link)

  • Athletics acquire Adam Dunn from White Sox for Nolan Sanburn: An Aug. 31 trade sent the Big Donkey to Oakland, where he caught a fleeting glimpse of playoff baseball before retiring this offseason. Dunn memorably homered in his first at-bat with Oakland.
  • Nationals acquire Matt Thornton from Yankees via waiver claim: The Nationals placed a claim on Thornton and, somewhat surprisingly, the Yankees imply elected to pass the remaining tab on his two-year, $7MM contract along to the Nats. No one in D.C. is complaining; Thornton fired 11 1/3 shutout innings for the Nats down the stretch in 2014 and has a 2.19 ERA this sason.
  • Orioles acquire Alejandro De Aza from White Sox for Miguel Chalas and Mark Blackmar: De Aza didn’t hit much for the White Sox in his final year with the team, but he exploded in Baltimore, slashing .293/.341/.537 down the stretch and going 7-for-21 with three doubles in the playoffs. His second year in Baltimore didn’t go as well; the O’s designated him for assignment and flipped him to the Red Sox earlier this year, and Boston has enjoyed nice production from the 31-year-old. De Aza’s hitting .305/.353/.500 with Boston and is once again an August trade candidate.

There were, of course, many more trades made over the past three Augusts (check out the accompanying Transaction Tracker links above for the full lists), and there figure to be many more this season. I doubt we’ll see a nine-player blockbuster in which more than a quarter-billion dollars worth of salary changes hands again, but there are plenty of big names with significant salary owed to them that didn’t move last month. James Shields, Joaquin Benoit, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Marlon Byrd, Kyle Lohse, Matt Garza, Mike Napoli, Alex Avila, Rajai Davis and many others could find their names floating around on the rumor mill this month.

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NL East Notes: Mets, Wheeler, Bour, Capps, Braves

Mets GM Sandy Alderson and the Wilpon family (the team’s owners), who have drawn plenty of fan and media ire for payroll constraints and a lack of spending in recent years, deserve credit for acting like a big-market team at the trade deadline this year, opines Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The Wilpons didn’t merely pocket the extra money they could’ve saved from the insurance on David Wright‘s contract and the unexpected salary they recouped from Jenrry Mejia‘s suspension but authorized Alderson to spend $8.5MM to bring in Yoenis Cespedes, Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson and Tyler Clippard. Alderson, too, deserves credit for his willingness to part with a very good prospect (Michael Fulmer) in an effort to win immediately, as well as his persistence in trade talks after the Carlos Gomez deal fell through, he continues. Sherman adds that Mets fans reminded ownership and the front office just how important those decisions were with a raucous crowd as the team swept the Nationals this weekend and created a dead heat in the NL East.

More on the Mets and their division…

  • Speaking to Newsday’s Marc Carig, Zack Wheeler elaborated on his reported phone call to Alderson in which he expressed a strong desire to remain with the Mets as opposed to going elsewhere via trade. “I told him I know it’s a business and he has a job to do, but I’d really like to be here because of what’s about to happen,” said Wheeler. “I’ve been here a couple of years and want to see it through.” Wheeler told Carig that while he knew such a tactic was uncommon, he felt it was the best way to communicate a desire to “stay and be part of this team’s winning future.” Alderson told Carig that in all of his years as an executive, he’d never seen a player make a call of this nature, and the move had “quite an impact.”
  • With Mike Morse now traded, the Marlins will give Justin Bour every opportunity to stick at first base, writes Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Hitting .254/.333/.445 with 10 homers in 234 plate appearances, the 27-year-old Bour is a rare example of a player selected in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 Draft that will have a chance to make a significant impact on his new team’s organization. Miami picked up Bour in the minor league phase of the 2013 Rule 5 Draft.
  • Jackson adds that despite a number of rumors pertaining to fireballing setup man Carter Capps on Friday, the Marlins never came particularly close to trading him. President of baseball operations Michael Hill called Capps a “a championship-caliber piece under team control” when speaking to Jackson.
  • Braves veterans Jonny Gomes and A.J. Pierzynski find themselves in an unusual position, writes MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. Each is a veteran on a cheap one-year deal that remained with his rebuilding team as opposed to being moved at the trade deadline. Gomes recognizes that he could still change teams in August but praised the work that president of baseball operations John Hart has done in restocking the farm and rebuilding the big league roster. Bowman writes that for now, the Braves’ hope is that both Pierzynski and Gomes spend another few weeks mentoring some of the team’s young talent. He also notes that at some point in the next couple of months, the Braves may simply have to cut bait on Chris Johnson and release him, but they’ll take the month of August to continue their longstanding effort to shed a portion of the remaining $20MM or so on his contract.

Cubs Option Yoervis Medina

AUG. 3: The transactions page has been updated to reflect that Medina was not designated for assignment but instead optioned to Triple-A. MLBTR has confirmed that Medina was optioned and remains on the Cubs’ 40-man roster.

AUG. 2: The Cubs have designated pitcher Yoervis Medina for assignment, according to the MLB.com transactions page.  Medina, who turned 27 last week, came to the Cubs in the May deal sending Welington Castillo to the Mariners.

The right-hander has tossed a combined 21 innings for the Cubs and Mariners this season, adding up to a 4.71 ERA with 6.9 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9 in a small sample size.  In 20 Triple-A appearances, the hurler has posted a skyhigh 7.03 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 4.8 BB/9.  Medina struggled in Triple-A Iowa and, at this time, doesn’t seem like a candidate to receive tremendous outside interest.

Earlier today, the Cubs also designated Taylor Teagarden for assignment.  To keep up with all of the players in DFA limbo, check out the MLBTR DFA Tracker.

How August Trades Work

Now that the July 31 trade deadline has passed, teams can still make trades, only with more restrictions than before. Updating Jeff Todd’s post last year on the topic, here’s a look at how August trades work. This information has, of course, been shared elsewhere, most notably in an article by ESPN’s Jayson Stark from all the way back in 2004, and in greater detail at Cub Reporter. Since the rules surrounding August deals are confusing, though, they’re worth reviewing here.

  • In August, a big-league player must pass through revocable waivers before his team can trade him without restriction. These waivers last 47 hours. If no one claims him in that period, his team can trade him anywhere.
  • If a player is claimed, his team can do one of three things. It can trade the player to the claiming team, revoke the waiver request (in which case the player will remain with his original team), or simply allow the claiming team to take the player and his salary (although a player with no-trade rights can block this from happening).
  • A recent example of an August trade that developed from a waiver claim was the Brewers’ acquisition of Jonathan Broxton from the Reds last year. The Brewers claimed Broxton and ultimately got him from the Reds for two players to be named later, who turned out to be Kevin Shackelford and Barrett Astin. An example of a claim that didn’t result in a trade occurred last year, when the Cubs claimed Cole Hamels. The two sides couldn’t strike a deal, the Phillies revoked their waiver request, and Hamels remained in Philadelphia. Examples of teams simply letting players go via revocable waivers are more rare, but in 2009, the White Sox claimed Alex Rios from the Blue Jays, who simply let him go to Chicago without a trade. The White Sox were thus responsible for all of the approximately $62MM remaining on Rios’ contract.
  • A team has 48.5 hours to trade a claimed player, and can only negotiate with the team awarded the claim on him.
  • It’s common for teams to place players on revocable waivers, and their having done so does not necessarily mean they have serious plans to trade them. As Stark points out, teams commonly use waivers of certain players purely as smokescreens to disguise which players they really are interested in trading. In fact, sometimes teams place their entire rosters on waivers.
  • If more than one team claims a player, priority is determined by worst record to best record in the league of the waiving team, followed by worst record to best record in the other league. For example, if an NL team places a player on revocable waivers, the team with the NL’s worst record will get first priority on claims, followed by every other team in the NL from worst to best, followed by AL teams from worst to best.
  • If a team pulls a player back from waivers once, it cannot do so again in August. So if a team places a player on waivers for a second time, those waivers will be non-revocable.
  • Players not on 40-man rosters are eligible to be traded at any time without passing through waivers.
  • A player on the disabled list cannot pass through waivers.
  • Teams can still make trades in September, but players acquired after August 31 can’t play in the postseason.

Players traded last August included Broxton, Adam Dunn, Alejandro De Aza, Kelly Johnson, Geovany Soto, Gordon Beckham, Josh Willingham, Kevin Correia and Jacob Turner. There weren’t any blockbusters last year, although it’s not impossible for major deals to happen in August. The Dodgers acquired Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett in a gigantic trade in 2012, for example.

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Rockies To Promote Jon Gray

The Rockies will promote top pitching prospect Jon Gray to the majors on Tuesday, MLB.com’s Thomas Harding reports (Twitter link).  Gray, a 23-year-old right-hander, will make his Major League debut that evening at Coors Field in a start against the Mariners.

Rockies GM Jeff Bridich expressed some caution over Gray’s timeline to the Show earlier this month, saying that he wanted Gray to be fully prepared before coming to Denver, possibly influenced by how Eddie Butler, another Rockies prospect, has struggled since coming to the majors.  Given how the Rockies have long been lacking in reliable starting pitching, it’s hard to fault Bridich for being careful with such a vaunted homegrown prospect, though it remains to be seen how Gray will adjust to the unique challenge of Coors Field.

Gray’s impressive performance in July may have swayed Bridich’s mind, as the righty has posted a 2.70 ERA and 43 strikeouts (against just 13 walks) over his last 30 innings for Triple-A Albuquerque.  For the season as a whole, Gray has a 4.33 ERA, 8.7 K/9 and 2.68 K/BB rate over 114 1/3 innings; respectable numbers considering it’s his first taste of Triple-A action and the Pacific Coast League is notoriously hitter-friendly.

Colorado selected Gray with the third overall pick of the 2013 amateur draft, and he’ll join Kris Bryant, Marco Gonzales, Chi Chi Gonzalez, Michael LorenzenCorey Knebel and Matt Marksberry as 2013 draftees to reach the Major Leagues.  A University of Oklahoma product, Gray is a 6’4″, 235-pound righty who the 2015 Baseball America Prospect Handbook projected as a possible No. 2 starter at the big league level.  According to the BA Handbook, Gray owns an above-average changeup, a slider that could also become an above-average out pitch and a booming fastball that touched the 102mph plateau as recently as 2013, though he was working in the 94mph range last season.

Gray entered 2015 ranked highly top-100 prospects lists from MLB.com (#16th), ESPN’s Keith Law (#22), Baseball America (#24) and Fangraphs (#28).  The midseason BA top-50 prospects list bumped Gray down to 35th, noting that “scouts who have seen Gray wish they saw dominant outings on a more consistent basis.”  It’s worth mentioning that this list was released on July 7, prior to much of Gray’s recent strong work.

Quick Hits: Kasten, Mariners, Prospects

The Dodgers made several additions at the trade deadline yet didn’t move any of their top prospects to do so, a tactic that team president Stan Kasten generally prefers.  “I think I am well known, both by reputation and by my own comments, as having a deep, deep need to develop the farm system as a way of sustaining excellence over the long haul,” Kasten tells Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register.  “It takes discipline to avoid the short term for the long term. And I think we have done that. That doesn’t mean we won’t trade anyone. We will. But we are going to keep our focus on retaining the majority of our high-end prospects so that we can be good and don’t have these pressing needs at the deadlines.”

Here’s some more from around the league as the baseball world still settles down from a busy pre-deadline week…

  • It seems like the Mariners are looking ahead to 2016, though GM Jack Zduriencik described his team’s deadline moves as helpful for both the present and future.  “It’s more about the future, yeah, but also the production you are getting at the big-league level and if you can replace that and still be competitive while adding talent to your organization,” Zduriencik told reporters, including The Seattle Times’ Ryan Divish. “I think that’s what we accomplished.”
  • A whopping 44 of the 57 prospects dealt over the last two weeks were pitchers, as several team officials told Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper that there weren’t many quality minor league position players available on the trade market.  Cooper breaks down the 57 traded prospects, which included six members of BA’s list of the top 50 prospects in the sport.
  • Looking ahead to the August waiver period, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick lists several players who could still be on the move this month.  One of the names listed, Martin Prado, probably won’t be dealt as Marlins officials say Prado is in the team’s plans for 2016.  It was reported prior to the July 31st deadline that Miami could move Prado but only for a major return.
  • James Shields, Jeff Samardzija and Starlin Castro are three more players who could be August trade candidates, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi says (Twitter link).
  • All 30 general managers receive grades for their trade deadline performance from ESPN’s Jim Bowden (Insider subscription required).  The Blue Jays‘ Alex Anthopoulos was the only GM to receive an A+, while the Diamondbacks‘ Dave Stewart was the only GM to get an F since Arizona didn’t make any deadline trades.