The Best Waiver Claims Of The Past Year

Earlier today, it was reported that Will Rhymes cleared waivers and will remain in the Rays organization. It's not uncommon on MLBTR to see lists of players who have cleared waivers en route to Triple-A, where they'll wait for another crack at the Major Leagues. Teams are constantly shuffling their 40-man rosters, and while oftentimes waiver claims don't produce much value, there are occasions in which teams strike gold.

MLBTR's Transaction Tracker shows 92 waiver claims dating back to one year ago today. A handful of these reclamation projects have yielded legitimate Major League value, and it's possible that several more will when it's all said and done. Here's a look at some of the best so far, according to FanGraphs' WAR:

  • Darin Mastroianni, OF, Twins (Terry Ryan) – Claimed from the Blue Jays on February 9 this year, Mastroianni didn't debut until May 10. The 26-year-old arrived in Minneapolis with just one Major League game and three plate appearances to his credit, but he's turned in a .266/.338/.378 batting line with three homers, 17 steals (in 19 attempts) and elite defense at each outfield position. The end result is 1.6 wins above replacement in 163 plate appearances and a strong fourth outfielder who the Twins can control for the next five seasons.
  • Justin Maxwell, OF, Astros (Jeff Luhnow) — Maxwell was claimed on waivers from the Yankees by Houston's new GM on April 8. Maxwell isn't getting on base much, but he's hitting for plenty of power, as evidenced by his .221 ISO and .230/.303/.451 batting line. He's also played solid defense, as he has throughout his career in limited playing time. The Astros can control Maxwell, who's been worth 1.5 wins above replacement, through 2016 if he continues to put up useful numbers.
  • Travis Blackley, LHP, Athletics (Billy Beane) — Beane snatched the Australian southpaw off waivers from his Bay Area neighbors (Giants) on May 15. He's since fired 90 innings in 19 games (12 starts) for the surging A's, totaling a 3.50 ERA, 6.1 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9. Blackley has been worth 1.4 wins above replacement for an Oakland team that currently holds a 1.5 game lead in the Wild Card race.

An honorable mention should go to Lucas Harrell, who falls just outside the "one year" criteria I used for this post but has totaled 2.6 WAR for the Astros in 165 1/3 innings of work this season. Harrell was claimed from the White Sox last July and figures to have earned himself a spot in Houston's 2013 rotation with his solid performance in 2012.

It's common to see skeptical reactions from fans following waiver claims of relative unknowns, but these claims can often yield affordable long-term role players or surprising lifts that can push a team into contention.


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30 Comments on "The Best Waiver Claims Of The Past Year"


rainyperez
2 years 11 months ago

“I’ve made a huge mistake.”

A big Arrested Development moment for the Giants and Blackley. Travis would’ve saved them from Penny, Loux, and Hacker meltdowns in long relief.

Rabbitov
2 years 11 months ago

You’ve ruined the act Job.

rainyperez
2 years 11 months ago

Just going to assume you realized that my avatar is Franklin Bluth 😀

mychiefs58
2 years 11 months ago

at least he’ll be able to eat at the country club now…

EricJB
2 years 11 months ago

When he was with the Giants earlier he was much worse than the aforementioned Penny,Loux and Hacker. Penny is not the answer either as he has serious command issues. Hacker who knows and Loux is a possibility if he can stay injury-free.

Dino Marconi
2 years 11 months ago

I can’t believe the Giants think that they can beat the Dodgers with those 3-especially Penny

rainyperez
2 years 11 months ago

Well in all fairness the Giants won’t use those three in big time game situations. It will always come down to Kontos, Affeldt, Mijares, Romo, Casilla, and Lopez. And yes all those pitchers are for the Dodgers hitter match ups.

rainyperez
2 years 11 months ago

I was using hindsight of course. I know he gave up 5 ERs in 5 IP but I think they gave him too short of a leash.

DerekJeterDan
2 years 11 months ago

Billy Beane is a genius with a great mind for the game. I don’t care what anyone else says. The man knows his baseball.

Gunnar Bishop
2 years 11 months ago

Hopefully Billy beane he wins the world series this year to have that stigma removed
of never winning the world series. nobody disputes his influence on
stats and moneyball but without a world series win he’s pretty overrated

rainyperez
2 years 11 months ago

It is true that he’s in a less pressured situation and can always fall back on, “I just don’t have money.” This is why he’s not comfortable leaving Oakland for the bigger markets. If he did leave I doubt he’d have as much freedom as he does playing GM for the A’s.

But with that said, I think he did a wonderful job this season adding the talent he was able to acquire. Most of the talent arrived earlier than expected and not one A’s fan I know expected the kind of season they are having. The sentiment around the Bay Area was they were destined to lose 90-100 games.

If anyone did predict this season from the A’s please DM me and so we can start placing bets ASAP.

corey23
2 years 11 months ago

add me to the list of people predicting them to be horrible. before the season i vowed to not watch a game until they got a new stadium…. and then since game 1 on i’ve watched nearly every game. I guess at least i watched from the beginning of the surge haha

crashcameron
2 years 11 months ago

i don’t see them as much anymore and still wish they would bring back the Reggie greens as a third uni (screw those yellow non-retro things). but the times I’ve seen them, i still have no freakin’ idea how they are doing it! it’s like they’ve all taken Geno Tenaceitis shots

2 years 11 months ago

Well, one can argue that Billy Beane should be a candidate for Executive of the Year; I didn’t see the A’s competing this year at all for any postseason slot.

rainyperez
2 years 11 months ago

Yes, I think he should be in the running with Rizzo and Sabean.

2 years 11 months ago

Mike Rizzo might well steal it this year…however, Billy Beane should be no worse than runner-up. I’m surprised that the pieces acquired for Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez have done so well so soon.

rainyperez
2 years 11 months ago

Sabean has a case as well.

He extended Cain, Lopez, Sandoval, Bumgarner, and Vogelsong. Bumgarner looks like a steal so far as well as Vogelsong.

He found an entire outfield in the offseason that consisted of Pagan, Blanco, and yes Melky Cabrera was a steal until the “incident.”

He acquired Pence, Scutaro, Nady, and somehow picked up Mijares from the Royals.

All of those players have been a major impact for the Giants club.

The guy has done amazing things the last couple of seasons that has changed my mind about him.

2 years 11 months ago

Don’t remind me of Angel Pagan; the Mets got fleeced in that deal.

rainyperez
2 years 11 months ago

Don’t remind of Zack Wheeler and we’ll call it even ; )

Seriously though…

If the Giants didn’t give away Wheeler the Giants would have the Big 4 of Lincecum, Bumgarner, Cain, and Wheeler. All homegrown starting pitchers. But alas it was not meant to be.

55saveslives
2 years 11 months ago

Chris Heston was just named pitcher of the year in our AA league. Good stuff ahead.

rainyperez
2 years 11 months ago

We’ll see. He’s a 3 or 4 like Kickham. The Giants don’t have a true ace in the system. It could be Crick or Blackburn with Crick having the higher ceiling.

The bar for the Giants starting pitching is already high and with a rotation of Lincecum, Cain, and Bumgarner 2s and 3s are all you really need.

Dino Marconi
2 years 11 months ago

Nady is so-so at best. I think that he should have added a better OF and better middle relief guys before the deadline. The starting pitchers have tailed off a bit lately. I still fear losing to the Dodgers

rainyperez
2 years 11 months ago

Nady just won them the game over the weekend. Walked in a crucial at bat yesterday too.

How many outfielders could he conceivably add through waivers when they were in 1st place? How many middle relief pitchers were available? I wouldn’t fear anything with the Dodgers.

robbyb
2 years 11 months ago

I think you are forgetting Pedro Strop… Is he left off because he was acquired in AUG rather than SEP? Oh I see one year ago today… DUH…
Thanks…

andrew555
2 years 11 months ago

That’s because he was traded as the PTBNL in the Mike Gonzalez deal. This article is about waiver claims.

leachim2
2 years 11 months ago

He was technically a waiver claim, but yes it should not be counted

andrew555
2 years 11 months ago

Oh, I was unaware of this. Interesting to hear, I always had thought he was just included as the PTBNL. Thanks

coreif
2 years 11 months ago

Cody Eppley

leachim2
2 years 11 months ago

Its by war and he’s a reliever so yeah

mrsjohnmiltonrocks
2 years 11 months ago

I love it when waiver claims turn out to be worth something long term. I for the life of me can’t figure out why the White Sox let Lucas Harrell go. I know the Yankees always prefer veteran players to anyone on the farm, so they keep an Andruw Jones and a Raul Ibanez instead of hanging on to Maxwell and giving him a shot at 4th or 5th outfielder.

Some of these guys don’t get their real first shot until they get claimed on waivers. They’re blocked, timed out, or need some patient work done with them.