It’s August, the time of year when teams place most of their players through trade waivers. And while it’s more difficult to make a deal, it’s not impossible.
Last season, the headliner came on Aug. 31, when the Tigers traded Justin Verlander to the Astros. Also in August, Justin Upton went from the Tigers to the Angels. Jay Bruce, Neil Walker, Yonder Alonso, Brandon Phillips, Rajai Davis, Tyler Clippard, Mike Leake, and Sean Rodriguez also changed hands last August.
The Red Sox made one of the biggest August deals of all time when they sent Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Nick Punto to the Dodgers for a few minor leaguers in 2012, shedding some $240 million in salaries.
Before we get into who could be the August headliners this season, let’s review August trade rules:
Players must first be placed on trade waivers, which last 48 hours. If no team claims the player, he can be traded anywhere without restrictions. If a player is claimed by multiple teams, the claiming team with the worst record gets first dibs. The claiming team can try to work out a deal or the team placing the player on waivers can allow the claiming team to have the player. The team can also pull back the player. A player can only be pulled back once, and once he is pulled back he cannot be traded.
It also goes by leagues. For instance, if the Orioles’ Mychal Givens isn’t claimed by an American League team, then National League teams get a shot at him. If an AL team and an NL team put in claims, the AL team would have first shot. Again, claiming priority depends on record. The Orioles would have first shot at anyone, while the Red Sox would have the last shot. The Orioles, however, would likely not be claiming anyone. It would likely be contending teams bidding for these players.
One player who could get claimed or traded this month is the Blue Jays’ Josh Donaldson, who has had an injury-filled season but appears to be making progress. He could help a team in need of a third baseman, a righthanded power bat, and a guy whose energy would be good to have during a pennant run.
Donaldson is also a candidate because even though he’ll be a free agent this offseason, he does have some money remaining on his $18 million salary.
Would the Yankees, Indians or Red Sox put in a claim for Donaldson? Would the Yankees do it to block the Red Sox? And would the Jays just let Donaldson go or would they try to work out a deal knowing that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is their likely third baseman next season?
Higher-priced players are more likely to clear waivers, which is how Verlander was traded last season, and how the Red Sox were able to trade with the Dodgers in 2012. Another interesting possibility is San Francisco’s Andrew McCutchen. He’ll be a free agent after this season, and while it looks as though the Giants are going to have a struggle to capture a wild card, McCutchen might be someone they would deal.
If the Red Sox need a reliever, might they see if the Twins’ Addison Reed, a player they acquired last season, would make it through waivers because he’s owed $8 million next season? Most teams would punt on Reed because of next year’s salary commitment. You might see the Reds’ Joey Votto get through waivers because he’s got so much money remaining on his deal, but the likelihood of any team assuming that kind of money (another $125 million) doesn’t appear likely.
Who else could be available? Here’s a partial list:
Infielders — The Twins recently acquired Logan Forsythe from the Dodgers, and he can play a few positions. The Marlins have Starlin Castro, Martin Prado, Derek Dietrich, and Justin Bour. Would Milwaukee part with Travis Shaw, a third base/first base option now, that they have Jonathan Schoop at second base and Mike Moustakas at third? White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu could be a candidate, but it would be hard to get him through waivers. Donaldson and Adrian Beltre, for sure. Beltre can veto any trade, but as he told this reporter, he would likely go to a contender if he were going to be a regular player. Scooter Gennett has had a nice season in Cincinnati. If the Nationals begin to sell off, they have Daniel Murphy. Other candidates are the Mets’ Todd Frazier and the Tigers’ Jose Iglesias.
Outfielders — Jose Bautista has had a good road back with the Mets and could be an available big bat. He could also protect a team at first and third base. The Orioles’ Adam Jones said at the trade deadline he wasn’t ready to move anywhere, but if the situation is right, he could go in August. The Reds’ Billy Hamilton, the White Sox’ Avisail Garcia, the Blue Jays’ Curtis Granderson, and the Rangers’ Shin-Soo Choo could also be candidates.
Catchers — Devin Mesoraco, Mets; Francisco Pena, Cardinals; A.J. Ellis, Padres; Drew Butera, Royals; Russell Martin, Blue Jays.
Designated hitter types — Victor Martinez, Tigers; Jose Martinez, Cardinals; Mark Trumbo, Orioles; Lucas Duda, Royals; Logan Morrison, Twins; Kendrys Morales, Blue Jays.
Starting pitchers — The Reds’ Matt Harvey was not dealt on July 31, so he could be a guy an NL team claims, with a deal then having to be worked out. Detroit’s Mike Fiers has had a consistent season. It’s doubtful he makes it through without being claimed. Minnesota’s Ervin Santana will be auditioning for a possible move after his recovery from finger surgery. Other candidates: Dan Straily, Marlins; Francisco Liriano, Tigers; Tyson Ross, Padres; Tyler Skaggs, Angels; James Shields, White Sox.
Relief pitchers — Kyle Barraclough, Drew Steckenrider, and Adam Conley of the Marlins. None of them would get through waivers, but a claiming team could make a deal with Miami. Shane Greene of the Tigers. The 30-year-old closer would be a really good pickup for any team. Again, he wouldn’t get out of the AL, but a claiming team might be able to work out a deal with the Tigers. Other candidates: Kirby Yates and Craig Stammen, Padres; Will Smith and Tony Watson, Giants; Fernando Rodney, Twins. There’s a boatload of guys out there.
Apropos of nothing
1. One of the interesting aspects of covering the induction ceremonies in Cooperstown, N.Y., is being reminded how many living Hall of Famers have Red Sox ties. Just in terms of starting pitchers, for instance, there’s Ferguson Jenkins, Juan Marichal, Tom Seaver (who wasn’t present last weekend), John Smoltz, Pedro Martinez, and Dennis Eckersley. You also have Tony Perez, Orlando Cepeda (not present), Luis Aparicio (not present), Rickey Henderson, Andre Dawson, Jeff Bagwell, and Tony La Russa. As well as ones who went in as Red Sox, including Jim Rice, Carlton Fisk, Wade Boggs, and Carl Yastrzemski (not present).
2. The Red Sox met with their minor and major league teams concerning Twitter, basically telling the players they need to go back and check if there was anything offensive they posted, as well as to be careful going forward. This came after four major league players were outed for racist or homophobic tweets they made as teenagers. The Brewers’ Josh Hader, the Nationals’ Trea Turner, the Braves’ Sean Newcomb, and the Yankees’ Sonny Gray were all called out for inappropriate tweeting as youngsters. People are on the lookout for such tweets, so teams are trying to get out ahead of it.
3. It figures that Hall of Famer Randy Johnson says he watches most of Chris Sale’s starts.
4. Former Red Sox shortstop Glenn Hoffman took a couple of days off from his third base coaching duties with the Padres to be with his brother Trevor Hoffman, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
5. One thing we wonder: How long after the Pawtucket Red Sox move to Worcester will Larry Lucchino stay on as the lead owner of the team?
6. Will Red Sox lefthander Trey Ball wind up being a first-round bust? As our Alex Speier detailed, Ball has been taking batting practice lately and possibly preparing for a positional switch to the outfield.
7. The Indians should have acquired Jonathan Schoop, the Red Sox should have acquired Zach Britton or Kelvin Herrera, and the Brewers should have acquired Kevin Gausman. We’ll see if any of these swings and misses wind up haunting them.
8. Ray Bourque and Tim Wakefield will be suiting up on Aug. 16 in Steve Buckley’s 25th Oldtime Baseball Game at St. Peter’s Field in North Cambridge. The pregame ceremony begins at 7 p.m. WEEI’s Lou Merloni, who played nine seasons in the majors, including parts of six with the Red Sox, will also play. This year’s game will benefit the American Heart Association and be in memory of Steve Harris, a longtime hockey writer for the Boston Herald who died in February.
9. The Astros remain the only team to have used just five starters this season: Gerrit Cole, Lance McCullers Jr., Charlie Morton, Justin Verlander, and Dallas Keuchel.
10. Through Aug. 1, only one team had starter and bullpen ERAs both under 3.50, the Astros, with their starters at 3.04 and their relievers at 3.16. The Red Sox were close with their starters at 3.54 and their relievers at 3.34.
11. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who was the Red Sox’ starting catcher on their 2013 championship team, has spent the season in Toledo (Triple A, Tigers), hitting .140 with four homers and 18 RBIs in 150 at-bats. Salty is now 33 years old.
Updates on nine
1. Adam Jones, CF, Orioles — Jones did not approve a deadline deal to Philadelphia, which is pretty close to Baltimore, where Jones prefers to stay with his young family after he bought Cal Ripken Jr.’s old house. Jones exercising his 10-5 rights was a bit surprising to the Orioles. The free agent-to-be could re-sign with the Orioles, who may need an anchor for their rebuilding effort.
2. Trevor Bauer, RHP, Indians — Call him a throwback? Bauer has a major league-leading 23 starts in which he’s thrown at least 100 pitches. Will Bauer wear down in September?
3. J.T. Realmuto, C, Marlins — Realmuto, who may now be the most talented catcher in baseball, received interest from the Nationals and Astros, according to one major league source. The Marlins understandably want an enormous haul if they were to deal him. That hasn’t happened. The Nationals were unwilling to include one of their coveted young outfielders — Juan Soto or Victor Robles — in any deal. The Astros kicked the tires on Realmuto before the deadline but nothing came of it. There’s one school of thought with the Marlins that you build around Realmuto, and there’s another that by the time the Marlins are competitive again, Realmuto may be three or four years into his career.
4. Pedro Martinez, RHP, retired — Martinez said he’s moving his family to Boston to be closer to his activities with the Red Sox. Martinez will continue in his role as special assistant to president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. He has been splitting time between Miami and the Dominican Republic. Martinez has also been linked to two prominent players in the AL East — Yankees starter Luis Severino and Blue Jays third base prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Martinez helped Severino refine his pitches in the offseason, and he’s Guerrero’s godfather. Martinez’s former batterymate, Jason Varitek, also moved his family to the Boston area recently.
5. Kyle Barraclough, RHP, Marlins — The Red Sox did make an inquiry on him at the trade deadline, but wisely backed off. He’s allowed 11 earned runs in his last 4⅓ innings and has blown three of his last four save chances, including a ninth-inning meltdown on Thursday. Barraclough has been throwing an inordinate amount of breaking balls, which is giving rise to speculation about fatigue or an injury.
6. Greg Holland, RHP, Cardinals — Agent Scott Boras said that Holland’s problems in St. Louis began when former manager Mike Matheny decided to keep Bud Norris in the closer role rather than Holland, who led the NL with 41 saves last season with Colorado. Holland was finally released by the Cardinals on Friday, and by then Boras said he had already fielded five calls on him. Holland was signed on Opening Day and needed 10 days to get ready, and he seemed behind from the start. Holland was 0-2 with a 7.92 ERA and was designated for assignment at Boras’s urging. Holland’s velocity was about 3 miles per hour slower than last season. Could he help someone in a late-inning role?
7. Shane Victorino, OF, retired — Nice touch by the Phillies to have Victorino retire as a Phillie in a pregame ceremony on Friday. He was instrumental in two championships, by the Phillies in 2008 and by the Red Sox in 2013. Victorino was a great influence on Mookie Betts. He had the knack for big hits at big times and was a consummate warrior on the field.
8. Wade Davis, RHP, Rockies — Holland’s replacement in Colorado, Davis has not had the best of seasons with a 4.57 ERA and five blown saves in 36 chances. From 2015-17 Davis had a 1.65 ERA with just five blown saves, going 76 for 81. The Rockies have lost five games when leading after the seventh inning. That can be damaging to the psyche of a team.
9. Ben Cherington, vice president of baseball operations, Blue Jays — Cherington is being mentioned often as a top candidate for the Mets’ GM job. He hasn’t been eager to jump back into the fire, enjoying his role in Toronto. Is the Mets’ job the one to jump at? One of the problems candidates and those who work with the Mets have mentioned is working for the Wilpon family. The Mets don’t appear to be considering Omar Minaya, John Ricco, and J.P. Ricciardi, who are running the baseball operation as Sandy Alderson undergoes cancer treatments. Also mentioned for the job are Orioles GM Dan Duquette, former Dodgers GM Ned Colletti, and former Red Sox scouting director Jared Porter, who is now with Diamondbacks.
From the Bill Chuck files — “The Giants have not hit a grand slam nor surrendered a grand slam this season, the only team still able to make that claim.” . . . Also, “Rafael Devers and Yan Gomes each hit .284 in June and .214 in July.” . . . And, “Only two players had double-digit homers in July: Matt Carpenter (11) and Kole Calhoun (10). Last July there were only two as well: Giancarlo Stanton (12) and Rougned Odor (10).” . . . Happy birthday, Carl Crawford (37), Eric Hinske (41), Bobby Kielty (42), John Wasdin (46), John Olerud (50), Reid Nichols (60), and Bernie Carbo (71).