Following the July non-waiver trade deadline, revocable waivers present obstacles for teams wishing to trade players on their 40-man rosters. If a player clears waivers, his team can trade him anywhere. If he’s claimed on waivers, though, the player’s team can only trade him to the team that claims him.
Occasionally, though, when a player is claimed, his team will simply allow him to depart, in which case the player (and his contract) will head to the new team. Such moves are somewhat rare, perhaps for obvious reasons — the player must be good enough, and his salary favorable enough, for the new team to take on the contract, but he must not be a valuable enough asset for his old team to keep him or seek something in return. There has been one such move already this August — the Pirates claimed reliever George Kontos from the Giants, and the Giants simply let Kontos (and the remainder of his $1.75MM 2017 salary) depart. Higher-profile players also occasionally change teams in this manner. For example, Manny Ramirez went from the Dodgers to the White Sox via a waiver claim in August 2010, with the White Sox taking on $3.8MM in salary.
Here, we’ll speculate on players who could meet similar fates at some point this month. Before we begin, some caveats. First, these sorts of moves are hard to predict. If we’d written this list two weeks ago, for example, Kontos (who’s productive, has a reasonable salary, and is eligible for arbitration for two more seasons after this one) probably wouldn’t have been on it. Second, not all waiver activities make it into published reports, and it’s possible some of the players below have gone through the process already this month. Third, there are occasionally August trades that effectively function as waiver claims, in which a team claims a player, then pays only a nominal return for him. Such transactions officially are trades, but are very much like pure revocable waiver claims. The Pirates’ acquisition of Sean Rodriguez from the Braves earlier this month was one example.
With that in mind, here are a few players who could conceivably head from one team to another this month via a revocable waiver claim.
Rajai Davis and Santiago Casilla, Athletics. The 36-year-old Davis makes $6MM, is a free agent at the end of the season, and has not hit well this year, with a .236/.294/.358 line thus far. The Athletics might prefer to be rid of his salary, particularly since his departure would open opportunities for prospect Boog Powell. At the same time, a contender might value Davis’ experience and basestealing ability enough to claim him. Casilla would be a somewhat trickier proposition, since he’s owed about $6MM total through 2018 and is having a decent season (though he has hardly been flawless, as we saw last night). But the Athletics might decide to go in a different direction and shed salary, particularly since Casilla is 37. He could also potentially clear waivers, if he hasn’t already.
Carlos Gomez and Andrew Cashner, Rangers. Gomez’s comeback has continued this season, with 15 homers and a .251/.339/.455 line, but he’s making $11.5MM this year and is a free agent in the fall. Cashner also has a relatively hefty salary, at $10MM, and is also an impending free agent. It’s unclear how teams might value him, since his 3.32 ERA this season doesn’t match his poor 4.7 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9, but he did reportedly attract interest at the trade deadline.
Drew Storen, Reds. Storen is a former closer who’s making a not-insignificant salary ($3MM) and is a free agent after the season. Storen has been good enough this year to be useful to a contender (3.75 ERA, 7.9 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, 52.1 GB%) but not so good that the Reds would be able to seek much for him.
Lucas Duda and Steve Cishek, Rays. The Rays are still in the Wild Card race, but have lost four straight and are now behind five other teams in the densely packed AL field. Duda and Cishek are good players, but it seems possible the salary-conscious Rays could consider jettisoning the pending free agents if the team’s recent woes continue. Duda makes $7.25MM this season, while Cishek makes $6MM.
Dee Gordon, Marlins. This one seems like a longshot, but it’s worth at least noting here. Gordon is owed about $40MM through 2020. There was interest in him at the trade deadline, although his salary was a sticking point for some clubs. It’s unclear how the Marlins’ new owners might think about Gordon during a season in which he’s batting .299/.339/.361, and a team like the Angels might be inclined to claim him. There’s also precedent for a player with a contract as significant as Gordon’s changing teams via a revocable waiver claim — in 2009, the Blue Jays allowed Alex Rios and the $62MM remaining on his contract to depart for the White Sox. Of course, it would probably be terrible PR for Marlins ownership’s first significant move to be an enormous salary dump, and Gordon, despite his PED history and mediocre 2016 season, is still a useful player — and a fairly young one at 29.