Braves right fielder Nick Markakis, Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, White Sox right-hander James Shields and Dodgers southpaw Scott Kazmir have each cleared trade waivers, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported Friday (Twitter link). The four players’ teams are now free to trade them to any other major league club.
The only member of the group who’s unsigned beyond this season is Wieters, who’s a starter on an Orioles team that entered Saturday in possession of an American League wild-card spot and only 1 1/2 games behind the first-place Blue Jays in the AL East. The soon-to-be 31-year-old is amid one of the worst offensive seasons of his career, having posted a .240/.294/.381 batting line with 10 home runs in 340 plate appearances. Wieters has been a roughly league-average hitter throughout his career, including last season (.267/.319/.422 in 282 PAs). Defensively, StatCorner has assigned Wieters negative pitch-framing marks five years running, while Baseball Prospectus hasn’t looked favorably on his work in that department since 2012.
The Orioles tendered a $15.8MM qualifying offer last November to Wieters, who accepted it and is once again scheduled for free agency at the conclusion of this season. Baltimore could give him another qualifying offer (if they’re still around should a new collective bargaining agreement be in place by then), but that doesn’t seem likely to happen. It’s also doubtful the contending Orioles will trade Wieters, who has upward of $3.7MM remaining on his contract, especially given fellow backstop Caleb Joseph’s ugly performance this year.
Like Wieters, Kazmir is also part of a team with championship aspirations. Kazmir, who signed with the Dodgers over the winter, is owed $16MM in each of the next two seasons, but he has the ability to opt out of his deal after this year. Kazmir’s run prevention (4.41 ERA) has been a letdown in 132 2/3 innings this season, although he has recorded an outstanding K/9 (9.02) to go with a 3.32 BB/9 and a superb 15.2 percent infield fly rate. And while Kazmir has regularly dealt with injuries throughout his career, he has been one of the few consistently healthy Dodgers starters this year. As a member of a first-place team that’s in no place to be moving pitching depth, a Kazmir trade probably isn’t in the cards.