Baseball’s single trade deadline has passed, but there may yet be player movement on the horizon. Minnesota Twins GM Thad Levine even expects a head-spinner or two in August. With outright waiver claims still on the table, as well as other means of player acquisition, time remains for contenders to add personnel before the August 31 playoff eligibility deadline.
Said Levine on MLB Network Radio, “There will be a few players that change hands between now and the end of August that will leave some fans scratching their head that they were available just on an outright waiver claim.”
Presumably, Levine isn’t talking about the likes of Jonathan Lucroy, Tyler Austin, and Jung Ho Kang, some of the season’s earliest DFA casualties. A couple of intriguing names have hit the market – Brad Brach should catch on somewhere, Tony Sipp has a 2.76 ERA since April 15 – but Levine certainly suggests a sexier brand of ballplayer could find new homes in August.
Even before August trade prohibition there was the occasional outright claim of a large veteran contract. The White Sox claiming of Alex Rios in 2009 is an oft-cited example of this kind of roster action. Chicago was three games behind the Tigers in the AL Central when they relieved the Blue Jays of the five years, $60MM left on Rios’ deal. The Southsiders went just 22-27 from the date of the trade, falling to third place in finishing 79-83. To their credit, Rios did sandwich two productive seasons around a clunker in 2011 before the Sox would move him again in a trade with the Rangers.
Levine’s speculation here comes in part as a response to some disappointment in the new format. For the Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, who described this year’s deadline by saying “the life is getting sucked out of the sport,” further August action will be welcome. Writes Rosenthal, “The Astros and Diamondbacks rescued what otherwise might have been The Worst Deadline Day Ever on Wednesday, completing the Zack Greinke blockbuster with just moments to spare before 4 p.m. ET.”
Of course, the single deadline figured to drive more last minute action, so discounting the most impactful moments would certainly temper the results. Fangraphs’ Ben Clemens measured Wednesday as one of the busiest deadline days ever, though the flurry of activity was driven in part by the slow month that preceded it.
Pinpointing waiver claim candidates won’t be easy, as obvious candidates are by definition disqualified from Levine’s characterization, but large contracts on non-contenders would be a give good place to start sleuthing. Purely speculating, Wade Davis, Daniel Murphy, Justin Smoak could qualify, while the Blue Jays’ Randal Grichuk would be a near repeat of the Rios claim. Ultimately, whether Levine proves prescient or bombast likely depends on your level of excitement over “head-scratchers.”