Inspired by a question in a recent chat, I decided to search for the most worthwhile waiver claims placed over the past year. While there are relatively few monumental wins, several players have turned in productive runs with their new organizations since being allowed to depart for nothing but the waiver fee. And many look to carry future value, as well.
Here’s the list of the claims since last August that have provided the most value to their current teams:
- Blake Parker, RH Reliever, Angels (link): Halos GM Billy Eppler might have made out like a bandit when he poached two righties last October from the Yankees, but the club later lost both pitchers on waiver claims by other organizations. One (see below) ended up succeeding in his new digs, but Eppler got a second chance when he re-claimed Parker. Over 57 2/3 innings on the year, Parker has posted a sterling 2.18 ERA with 11.4 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 along with a 50.4% groundball rate. He sports a robust 14.1% swinging-strike rate and a personal-high 94.0 mph average heater. Parker will be eligible for arbitration for the first time this fall.
- Kirby Yates, RH Reliever, Padres (link): Yates is the one that got away from the Angels, as he was claimed by the Pads earlier this season after just one ugly appearance for Los Angeles. The 30-year-old has scuffled a bit of late, and has been prone to the long ball, but still carries a palatable 4.09 ERA over 44 frames. More importantly, he has racked up 14.1 K/9, on an outstanding 17.7% whiff rate, against 3.2 BB/9 on the year. Yates looks like a keeper and shouldn’t be terribly expensive when he hits arbitration over the offseason.
- Scooter Gennett, 2B, Reds (link): The 27-year-old has put on a power outburst since coming over from the Brewers. While he has continued to struggle against left-handed pitching, and doesn’t draw plaudits for his glovework, it’s hard to ignore a .286/.339/.529 batting line and 22 home runs over 389 plate appearances. Gennett has provided quite some value to Cincinnati for his $2.5MM salary, though that’ll head northward in his second season of arb eligibility.
- Dominic Leone, RH Reliever, Blue Jays (link): Though Leone had enjoyed prior MLB success when he went to Toronto from the D-Backs over the wire, the 25-year-old had largely struggled since his impressive 2014 debut. He has gone on to spin sixty frames of 2.55 ERA ball for the Jays, logging 10.2 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9 while carrying a 14.5% swinging-strike rate. Better still, Leone likely won’t qualify for Super Two status next year, leaving the Blue Jays with another season of bargain pitching and three more years of arbitration control.
- Stephen Vogt, C, Brewers (link): Though an injury has limited the 32-year-old to just 18 games since his mid-season claim, Vogt has absolutely raked in that span. He’s slashing .279/.319/.674 with five home runs as a Brewer, making him an important part of the team’s roster down the stretch. Vogt won’t likely command a big increase on his $2.965MM salary in arbitration this fall — his second-to-last year of eligibility — and so could also represent a useful future asset for Milwaukee.
- Doug Fister, SP/RP, Red Sox (link): Though he has hardly dominated, Fister has given Boston much-needed innings since being claimed after a brief run in the Angels organization. Over 59 2/3 total frames this year, through nine starts and three relief appearances, he carries a 4.53 ERA with 7.7 K/9 against 4.1 BB/9. Nothing jumps off the page there, but league-average results from an affordable swingman are always welcome.
- George Kontos, RH Reliever, Pirates (link): It would be silly to make too much of the five strong innings Kontos has thrown since arriving recently in Pittsburgh, though he has allowed just one earned run on two hits and a walk while recording seven strikeouts. More importantly, the 32-year-old seems to represent an affordable and useful pen piece for the future. Kontos, who owns a lifetime 3.03 ERA through 320 2/3 frames in the majors, will command a relatively modest bump on his $1.75MM salary next season and can be controlled via arbitration in 2019 as well.