Today represents the end of the August revocable waiver trade period. While players can still be dealt to new organizations tomorrow, such players will not be eligible to play in the postseason with their new organizations. That rule plays a role in a few of this week’s mailbag responses …
In honor of Yasiel Puig [who has reportedly been claimed on revocable waivers], I am curious: who was the last player to be placed on revocable waivers where the claiming team was just allowed to assume the contract? Has placing a claim ever backfired on an organization, claiming a player to block a rival just to get stuck with the player’s bad contract? — Anthony C.
The last instance that I can recall of that happening is 2014, when the Nationals claimed Matt Thornton off waivers from the Yankees, and New York simply elected to let the remainder of Thornton’s two-year, $7MM contract go to the Nats. Thornton was a great pickup for them in 2014, tossing 11 1/3 shutout innings in the regular season, and he posted a 2.18 ERA for them in 41 1/3 innings the following season as well. The largest contract that’s changed hands that way in recent history is Alex Rios, whom the White Sox claimed from the Blue Jays back in 2009 when he had roughly $60MM remaining on his contract. Rios had an up-and-down career with the ChiSox but ultimately played pretty well in Chicago and netted the team a controllable utility option in Leury Garcia when he was finally traded.
Is J.D. Martinez the type of player who will be in the 175-200 million dollar range? Or does his age, defense, and injury history limit his earning potential? — Jason
Martinez’s age won’t be much of a detriment to his free agency. He’ll play next season at age 29 and enter the open market in advance of his age-30 season. (He’ll turn 30 late next August.) That’s a pretty reasonable age for a free agent, though it might prevent him from garnering the leverage of an opt-out clause in a free agent deal, as we’ve typically seen younger hitters secure those provisions in lengthy contracts.
At any rate, if Martinez keeps hitting like he has since his 2014 breakout, I do think he can land a contract worth something in the vicinity of $150MM. Obviously a lot needs to go right between now and then, and injuries or continued defensive decline could make that a difficult scenario to come to fruition, but in a best-case-scenario, it’s possible. We don’t know what will come of the qualifying offer system and if there will be a new, more limiting (or less limiting) stipulation for free-agent compensation attached to players by that point, so there’s no need to make absolute statements one way or another. But, we’ve seen a 31-year-old Shin-Soo Choo land $130MM in recent years, and Chris Davis pulled in $161MM on the brink of his own age-30 season last offseason.
Do you think you could see the Tiger’s picking up Ervin Santana? I see starting pitching as a need and I see Santana as a good addition. — Jason K.
Santana would be a fine addition for the Tigers given his reasonable contract, recent excellence on the mound and the Tigers’ struggles at the back of the rotation. But, the Twins aren’t interested in parting with him for anything shy of a significant return, and that would mean asking for high-end talent in return from a Detroit club that is lacking in the way of impact, MLB-ready talent at the upper levels of its minor league system. The Twins have the worst record in the American League, so the Tigers could technically deal any of their young starters — e.g. Daniel Norris, Matt Boyd — to Minnesota in order to acquire Santana, but that’s a steep price to pay for two years (or possibly three, depending on his option status) of Santana, who will turn 34 in December and isn’t necessarily an enormous upgrade over the younger, cheaper arms Minnesota would covet in return.
Since the Texas Rangers released Josh Hamilton are the Angels still on the hook to pay part of his salary? — Andrew T.
Yep. Hamilton’s release doesn’t impact what he’s owed by either the Angels or the Rangers. The move was a procedural one anyhow, as multiple reporters covering the Rangers reported at the time that he’d be re-signed to a minor league deal this offseason. That may sound counter-intuitive, but it’s effectively just a measure to let him play with Texas early in the 2017 season if he’s healthy. MLB rules stipulate that a player released after Sept. 1 can’t return to the Majors with the team that released him until May 15 or later of the following season.