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.
[RELATED: Players Who Have Cleared Revocable Waivers]
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.
Wieters and Kazmir likely aren’t going anywhere, but the same might not be true regarding either Shields or Markakis. Shields was already involved in a trade earlier this year, when the Padres sent him to the White Sox in June. Chicago thought it was receiving a capable mid-rotation piece at the time, but the Shields acquisition has blown up in its face as the club has spiraled out of contention. In his most recent start, the 34-year-old Shields allowed six earned runs on eight hits and three walks in 4 2/3 innings of a 9-0 loss to the A’s on Friday. He has now yielded an unsightly 27 earned runs in just 14 innings this month, thereby raising his ERA to 5.98 on the season and 7.62 in 69 2/3 innings with the White Sox.
A former front-of-the-rotation starter, Shields was relatively effective as recently as last season, but his K/9 has fallen precipitously since then (9.61 to 5.98), as have his swinging-strike rate (12.4 percent to 8.7) and first pitch strike percentage (60.6 percent to 54.6). Shields’ contact rate (80.1) is also at its highest level since 2010, and his homer to fly ball ratio (17 percent) is among the majors’ worst for the second straight year. Combine all those damning figures with a 2 mile per hour drop in velocity since 2014, and it’s easy to see why Shields has had such difficulty since his halcyon days with the Rays and Royals.
Considering Shields’ decline, the White Sox might have a particularly tough time finding a contender willing to gamble on a pitcher who brings little other than durability to the table. The Padres took on roughly $31MM of the $58MM remaining on his contract when they dealt him, and the White Sox are on the hook for $10MM per year through 2018.
Markakis has $10.5MM way coming his way both next season and in 2018. He’s not overly pricey, then, but Markakis hasn’t provided much on-field value to the Braves since they signed him to a four-year, $44MM deal in December 2014. The longtime Oriole has increased his power this year since a near-total outage in that department last season, though he still only has nine homers in 518 PAs. Dating back to 2015, Markakis has logged 1,204 plate trips and hit .285/.360/.384 with 12 long balls. There wasn’t a ton of chatter about Markakis prior to the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline, but the Royals and “a few” other teams reportedly checked in on him.
The Braves could have an easier time dealing one of Markakis’ teammates, fellow outfielder Jeff Francoeur – whom the Marlins have interest in, according to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. Francoeur cleared waivers Aug. 11 and might make sense as a cheap option ($1MM salary) for any team seeking outfield depth. Miami, which was in on newly minted Ranger Carlos Gomez, fits that bill in the wake of Giancarlo Stanton’s season-ending injury.
Time to strike up a trade, Atlanta. So long as Weiters signs an extension.
I’m confused, are you actually suggesting that the braves trade someone for Wieters to finish out the season??? There would be absolutely no guarantee that he’d resign with them. Also he is a declining catcher, with poor defensive metrics as well.
Wieters has been a solid performer in the past and may unexpectedly rebound next year, but no way do the braves need to deal absolutely anything to the Orioles for a few weeks of Wieters. If the braves can sign him at a low price for next year to a low risk short term contract maybe, but again no way they should even think about trading for him.
“so long as he signs an extension ”
braves with a former GT standout to open the stadium makes sense
I will readily give you that the initial poster included “so long as he signs and extension”….but that isn’t always done before a trade. But my main point that I think you missed was why in the world would you trade ANYTHING now to the O’s for around 6 weeks of Wieters in a totally forsaken season??? In a few weeks you can barter for him and not have to give up any talent whatsoever. Totally foolish to trade for him this season for the last few weeks.
Please, please, please do not sign Wieters Atlanta.
They can’t sign him
Dodger won’t be in first place after the lose tonight lol
Wouldn’t mind seeing the O’s trade Wieters as long as they can get a decent return. Joseph can do just as good at catcher as Wieters.
Wieters has been a disappointment, when he first came up he was pinned Mauer with power now he’ll be lucky to find a backup job
And yet some Atlanta fans want to pay him as our starter for the next 3-5 years.
The Rangers were prepared to offer him 3-5 years last offseason if he hit the open market. Don’t buy the comment above.
Backup? Haha… Just because he’s not a Hall of Famer and was isn’t the overhyped prospect that everyone dreamed doesn’t mean he’s a backup. He’s a solid defensive catcher and productive offensively as well. It’s a combination you don’t find much anymore. Have you noticed how bad the catcher position in this year?
elscorcho the marlin
Marlins could really use a starter, but they have no milb depth. These guys aren’t doing great, but would be an improvement to urena, for sure.
Wieters is underrated because of his over expectations. If he is willing to sign a reasonable 4 year contract he will make a solid starting catcher for any team.
Yes! Common sense. He’ll probably get at most something like what Russell Martin and Brian McCann got, which is bad in today’s inflated free agent market.
Wieters may be still dealing with his tommy John surgery from last year.
It was 2 1/2 years ago
Get rid of Scott kazmir
You Weiters haters kill me. Yes, he’s not the best catcher ever. But jeez, the guy makes the All Star team this year and you are all complaining how he cannot play. Just wow.
Matt wieters just came off the paternity list. Don’t get the clearing waivers part.
Some teams put almost everyone on revocable trade waivers in order to hide the players they really want to trade.
White Sox are so stupid if they think any team will take Shields
Any smart team would make a move on McCann with getting the Yankees to eat half the contract. That’s cheap compared to what waivers will ask for. McCann has better offensive numbers and has never been injured. He’s a great influence on the Younger players.