As of Aug. 16, 15 major league teams either hold a playoff spot or are within 8.5 games of one and could be looking to improve their playoff chances by making a waiver-wire deal in the near future.
Four trades have happened thus far.
The Rangers acquired outfielder Alex Rios from the White Sox for prospect Leury Garcia. The Royals picked up utility infielder Jamey Carroll from Minnesota and utilityman Emilio Bonifacio from Toronto, both for a player to be named later or cash considerations. The Rays, meanwhile, acquired lefty Wesley Wright from the Astros for cash considerations.
With plenty of trade possibilities still lingering, here's all the latest waiver-trade buzz from around the league.
Dan Haren Clears Waivers Amid Return to Top Form
After it was reported that Nationals right-hander Dan Haren was placed on waivers last week, I wrote that he had a good chance of clearing because of his salary and early-season struggles. Still, he could draw interest because of how well he had been pitching of late.
A week later, the 32-year-old has officially cleared waivers. He has made two more terrific starts, giving him a 2.30 ERA with only 29 hits allowed, 10 walks and 42 strikeouts in his last 43 innings since returning from the disabled list (seven starts). Haren was on the verge of being released before he turned things around.
The 59-61 Nationals don't have a ton of starting pitching depth to fill Haren's spot. That said, I'm certain they'd fill the gap with whatever journeyman they can find off the Triple-A scrap heap if a team is willing to eat Haren's remaining salary (approximately $3.25 million) and offer up a midlevel prospect.
For a team like the Dodgers, who could use an upgrade at the back of the rotation after Chris Capuano got knocked around in his last two starts, or the Indians, who are just 3.5 games out of a playoff spot, Haren could be a nice pickup down the stretch.
A reunion with the Oakland A's, who he played with from 2005-2007, could also make sense.
Who Needs Justin Morneau?
As expected, Twins first baseman and former AL MVP Justin Morneau (pictured) has cleared waivers. Now the Twins will try to find the best deal for the 32-year-old and decide if it's worth trading him away unceremoniously after 11 mostly very good seasons with the team.
If his August numbers are any indication, the acquiring team would be getting Morneau at just the right time. He is 18-for-66 with six homers, four doubles and 15 RBI this month. He had a .712 OPS with eight homers in 98 games prior to this current hot streak.
The Rays could be interested in acquiring another bat, but Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweeted that a right-handed hitter such as Paul Konerko, who was placed on waivers a few days ago, or Delmon Young, who became a free agent recently, would make more sense.
A team that could be the best match is Baltimore, which has been going with rookie Henry Urrutia (.612 OPS, 0 BB, 9 K in 21 games) at the designated hitter spot. Wilson Betemit, who is due back soon from the disabled list, will likely take over for Urrutia, but a red-hot Morneau down the stretch might be preferred.
Of the National League contenders, the Pirates could move Garrett Jones to right field if newly promoted rookie Andrew Lambo doesn't produce right away, opening up first base for Morneau. Lambo, who had 31 homers between Double-A and Triple-A, is 1-for-8 with a double since his call-up.
Astros Could Deal Lone Veteran Remaining
The Astros have one player left on their roster making at least $1 million this season, and there's a good chance that the number becomes zero before the end of the month. Lefty Erik Bedard (pictured), who signed a one-year, $1.15 million deal this past offseason, has pitched well enough to draw some trade interest.
In the same tweet mentioning that Haren passed through waivers unclaimed, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the 34-year-old Bedard had also cleared. Prior to a rough outing on Thursday, Bedard had a 3.56 ERA with 42 walks and 82 strikeouts in his last 93.2 innings pitched.
The Rangers, who could be without Alexi Ogando if he's forced to miss time with an inflamed nerve in his shoulder, could be interested in Bedard. They've already completed one deal with Houston this month, acquiring non-roster lefty Travis Blackley for cash considerations.
Since the start of the season, the Astros have traded away three of four players making a seven-figure salary in 2013.
Bud Norris ($3 million) was traded to Baltimore, Jose Veras ($1.85 million) was dealt to Detroit and Wesley Wright ($1 million) went to Tampa Bay. Catcher Jason Castro, who will be arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason, is currently projected to be the team's highest-paid player in 2014.
Braves Seek Second Base Help
With Dan Uggla out at least another 12 days recovering from LASIK eye surgery and Tyler Pastornicky out for the season with a torn knee ligament, Mark Bowman of MLB.com is reporting that the Braves are searching the waiver wire for some second base help.
The potential list of options has thinned out greatly over the past couple of weeks, however.
The Royals recently acquired two backup types, Jamey Carroll and Emilio Bonifacio, who could play second base. Chase Utley agreed to a contract extension with the Phillies. Rickie Weeks, meanwhile, suffered a season-ending hamstring injury.
One intriguing match could be Brendan Ryan (pictured) of the Mariners, who has already cleared waivers. He would allow the Braves to put two of the best defensive shortstops in baseball on the field at the same time. Andrelton Simmons is already considered by many to be the top defender in baseball. Ryan has also been a popular choice in recent years.
The 31-year-old Ryan hasn't played second base since 2009, though, and he hasn't hit at all this season. It might not be worth the trouble to acquire him unless they believe he's an upgrade over Janish as the starter now and as Uggla's backup when he returns.
They have such a big lead in the division that acquiring temporary help is nearly pointless otherwise.
Elvis Andrus Clearing Waivers Is Not Big News
Teams don't have to place a player on waivers, so it's probably worth mentioning whenever any player is. But in most cases, they like to keep their options open just in case a team approaches them with an offer they can't refuse.
So when a big name like Elvis Andrus (pictured) passes through waivers, we shouldn't completely write it off as totally irrelevant. But it's pretty close.
It's doubtful that the 24-year-old, who already has two All-Star selections on his resume, is going anywhere. The fact that his contract will pay him either $14 million or $15 million per season from 2015-2022, combined with his poor season at the plate, ensured he wasn't getting claimed.
The Rangers do employ the top prospect in baseball, shortstop Jurickson Profar, who is already in the majors and could probably give the team more offense than Andrus right now. But even if they wanted to trade Andrus, and they had teams interested in acquiring him and his contract, they'd be selling low on a very talented player whom they expected big things from now and in the future.
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