Desmond, Gonzalez Clear Waivers; Strasburg, Harper Pulled Back After Claims

The Nationals are clearly in the process of running much of their roster through waivers, as USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that shortstop Ian Desmond and left-hander Gio Gonzalez have both cleared revocable trade waivers. Ace Stephen Strasburg and outfielder Bryce Harper were both claimed on waivers and subsequently pulled back, Nightengale adds (Twitter links).

That both Desmond and Gonzalez would clear waivers is a bit surprising, although even in the event that they had been claimed, it’s highly unlikely that the contending Nationals would’ve dealt away either key contributor. Desmond, 28, is in the midst of a down season at the plate but has still been valuable. He’s hitting .244/.296/.422 with 19 homers and 13 stolen bases. Defensive metrics such as Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved are down on his typically strong glovework in 2014, however. Still, as a shortstop with pop that is owed just $1.74MM through season’s end in addition to $11MM in 2015, it wouldn’t have been a surprise for a club to place a claim.

Gonzalez, also 28, has struggled in 2014 as well (by his standards). The lefty has pitched to a 4.00 ERA with 9.5 K/9, 3.8 BB/9 and a 44.7 percent ground-ball rate. Though his ERA is higher than normal, ERA estimators such as FIP, xFIP and SIERA all feel that he’s having one of his better years. Gonzalez is controlled through 2016 ($11MM in 2015, $12MM in 2016) with a $12MM club option for 2017 and a $12MM vesting option for 2018. As noted before, it’s nearly impossible to imagine Desmond or Gonzalez being moved this month.

It’s hardly a surprise to see Harper and Strasburg claimed, but it’s even less surprising that the Nats promptly pulled them back. Harper is controlled through the 2018 season, and while he’s having a down season, he possesses a sky-high ceiling and was excellent in 2012-13 despite playing at the ages of 19 and 20. Strasburg is under control through 2016, and while his ERA is higher than normal, he’s sporting a 10.7 K/9 rate and an even 3.00 FIP. Both are Scott Boras clients, so while an extension is unlikely for either, they’re integral part of the Nationals’ plan in the coming seasons.

Both Desmond and Gonzalez will now be added to MLBTR’s growing list of players that have reportedly cleared revocable waivers.


25 Responses to Desmond, Gonzalez Clear Waivers; Strasburg, Harper Pulled Back After Claims Leave a Reply

  1. S'wade Brendamule 11 months ago

    Something I’m ignorant of that I’d like to know: Why do teams put players on waivers who they have no intention of trading? What’s the point?
    Is it “just in case” they get blown away by a proposal? There has to be a reason or reasons, I’m just not seeing it.

    • Steve Adams 11 months ago

      It’s that, and it’s seeing what teams would be willing to part with in the offseason, and it’s masking which of their waived players they’d really like to move. If you’re only looking to move one or two 40-man guys, it’s easier to maintain some leverage and say “Well, we’re not *really* looking to deal [player]” if you’ve put 20 other guys through waivers.

      • S'wade Brendamule 11 months ago

        Ah, a little smoke and mirror routine. Thanks for the insight!

  2. slasher016 11 months ago

    I’m stunned that Desmond would clear waivers. He’ll get more than $11M per on the open market.

    • Steve Adams 11 months ago

      Probably just a case where all 29 teams thought, “There’s zero chance Rizzo would even consider it,” but I agree… I’m surprised someone didn’t at least take the shot. Same with Gio.

      • vtadave 11 months ago

        Yeah not sure what the downside of a team say like the Dodgers (who need a SS right now) claiming him. Long shot that he gets traded, but seems it can’t hurt.

  3. Steve 11 months ago

    Rumor has it that the Syracuse Chiefs claimed Harper but Matt Williams refused their offer

  4. Red_Line_9 11 months ago

    What would be the advantage of placing Strasburg and Harper on waivers?

    • Melvin Mendoza, Jr. 11 months ago

      The very small chance of getting an offer you couldn’t refuse for them. There’s no disadvantage to putting them on there.

      • Red_Line_9 11 months ago

        True, but in their case that offer would have come in the pre waiver period likely. Just a bit of non news really

    • mlbaustin 11 months ago

      Only thing I can think of is some crazy trade opens up later this month that nets a better package than one or both of them, however unlikely that is.

      • Red_Line_9 11 months ago

        I was curious if bombarding the waiver wire with players allowed for a team to more easily sneak other players through.

    • Trock 11 months ago

      Those were my thoughts exactly. I would assume they would never have intentions on trading either of these guys, so why put them on waivers? Only thing I have heard are people saying that most players are placed on rev waivers (but again do not see point)

      • Melvin Mendoza, Jr. 11 months ago

        There’s not much of a point in doing it, but there’s even less of a point to not do it.

      • Red_Line_9 11 months ago

        It does make it possible to trade them, and I’m curious if glutting the waiver wire makes it potentially easier to sneak players through.

  5. Mark110 11 months ago

    I wish my REDS would try to pry Ian Desmond away from the NATS. Isn’t there somebody on the Nats that is going to place Desmond next year? I remember something about it. Anyway I wish the REDS would do it!!!

    • Steve Adams 11 months ago

      Not really. They could just put Danny Espinosa there and have an all-glove, no-bat shortstop, similar to what the Reds have with Cozart. They could trade him in the offseason and sign a free agent to a longer-term deal at a lower AAV than Desmond would command, but there’s little to no reason for a contending team to move its shortstop in the midst of a playoff push.

    • Ray Mitten 11 months ago

      No one on the Nats can replace Desmond. Cabrera was a two month rental and Danny Espinosa can’t hang onto the second base job because of his weak left handed hitting. I think you’d find a hard time finding a Nats fan that doesn’t want Desmond extended.

  6. bigbadjohnny 11 months ago

    Cubs claiming Strasburg ?

    • schaddy24 11 months ago

      If the Rox didn’t (which is likely the case), the Cubs almost certainly did. Obviously a deal wasn’t going to happen, but I think it’s safe to assume the Cubs are going to claim any high upside, controllable arm moving forward. No harm in claiming a guy to see what the asking price is.

  7. TigerFan1968 11 months ago

    The current rule is not very good. You put a player on waivers. The team that claims him may not be interested in him that much because they know you are going to pull him back but the team wants to block another team that has real interest in him from getting him. Every team that claims him should be allowed to negotiate a trade, not just the first team. Or maybe four teams that claim him should be allowed to negotiate when he is pulled back.

    • Jay Gaughan 11 months ago

      Well if they really wanted him they should have traded for him in July. Otherwise no point in having a trade deadline.

    • Melvin Mendoza, Jr. 11 months ago

      Blocking is a large component of the strategy of what waivers are all about. Sometimes in fantasy football if I notice my opponent has a starter on a bye and doesn’t have a backup, I’ll work within the boundaries of the waiver claim system and pick up every viable option and immediately place them back on waivers so they can’t claim them before the game (Usually only do this in later weeks/win-or-go-home type matchups since obviously it would destroy my waiver priority)

      Anyway, it’s not like the claiming team has no risk, if they put a claim on the player they are liable for their contract if the team lets them have him.

  8. waynem 11 months ago

    Desmond’s having a down year at the plate? He’s one of the most productive SS’s in MLB.

    • Steve Adams 11 months ago

      Be that as it may, he’s still sporting his lowest OPS/OPS+/wRC+ since 2011. .244/.296/.422 is more than fine for a shortstop, but by his standards (his 2012-13 production, anyway), he’s having a down year, yes.

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