It’s true, of course, that almost all major league players are run through trade waivers at some point. But the timing is still relevant, particularly in this case, as the placement kicks off a two-day waiver period. If a claim is made, the team that sought waivers (in this case, the Nationals) has another two-day stretch in which to work out a trade, pull back the player, or allow the contract to move to the claiming team without compensation.
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With Madson returning from the DL, and immediately thereafter hitting waivers, the Nats may have an opportunity to recoup some value — or, at least, save some salary — for the hurler. Having already moved veteran hitters Daniel Murphy and Matt Adams, and then lost pending free-agent reliever Kelvin Herrera to an injury, it seems likely that the D.C. organization will be quite motivated to move Madson.
Though he’s now 38 years of age, Madson still delivers plenty of velocity. Indeed, he’s averaging a career-high 96.4 mph with his four-seamer and getting swings and misses on 12.4% of his deliveries.
Those stats may help contending organizations look past some of the less-than-promising figures on Madson’s 2018 stat line. After posting a sparkling 1.83 ERA last year, he’s working at an ugly 5.28 clip through 44 1/3 innings this season, with only 8.3 K/9 against 3.0 BB/9.
Opposing hitters are carrying a .326 batting average on balls in play and averaging a 13.0% HR/FB rate against Madson, both of which sit above his typical recent levels. His 66.6% strand rate also hints at some potential poor fortune. Whether those numbers are due primarily to natural variability or an erosion in his skills is a matter for scouts to assess.
National League organizations will have first crack at Madson, who is earning $7.5MM on the season before reaching free agency this fall. Presently, the Dodgers and Phillies are the two clear contenders with the worst records in the league. Both could consider a move for Madson, though surely there are other players under consideration as well.