You probably forget every year, but it is still perfectly legal for teams to make trades after the August 1 deadline. Why, it was August 20 last year when the Phillies sent franchise icon Chase Utley to the Dodgers, giving them one of their most productive lead-off hitters. It almost makes the whole “deadline” aspect of late July seem wholly unnecessary, but let’s just understand that this is how we’ve always done it, and move on before somebody asks too many questions.
That said, here are a few things to focus on in August during the waiver deadline.
Not many players have had their short term futures explained to them as flatly as Puig this season, with the Dodgers informing him he would either be traded or demoted to the minors in late July. Initially, this was reported to have sent Puig into hiding, but apparently he simply stayed behind while L.A. headed off on a road trip. Nevertheless, his fractured relationship with management has lent some dramatics to his inevitable severance. Having put his raw talent on blatant display since 2013, despite some decline since then, Puig could be a tantalizing addition for a team, and the Dodgers would likely be eager to fork him over.
The catching market
There are still plenty of contending teams who may not be satisfied with their options behind the plate. Jonathan Lucroy found a landing spot, but teams like Cleveland are probably still thinking about shoring up their masked defenses.
For them, there are options. The Phillies’ 37-year-old vet Carlos Ruiz has lost his starting job to Cameron Rupp (Ruiz is hitting .248 through 41 games this year), but when given AB over the last month, he has come through, slashing .345/.457/.414 in 29 AB over the last 30 days. His rapport with his pitching staff has also been cited as a huge strength over the years and could make him more appealing to a contender for a couple of months.
The Yankees still have Brian McCann, as well, as long as we’re talking about veteran backstops. Hitting .250 through 292 AB this year, the 32-year-old could theoretically be used to make the New York farm system even more powerful. The $17 million McCann will make every year through 2018 will probably allow him to get through waivers without being claimed, where the only team who had shown interest in him so far this year, the Braves, might be waiting for him on the other side.
The Twins’ Kurt Suzuki, who is putting up solid numbers on a team squeezing out trade assets and whose contract is about to be up, will also be around for teams addressing a catching emergency—probably the same teams who would be eyeing up Ruiz.
Like Utley, Braun’s got a creaky older body that’s still banging out the hits. He was brought up as an additional trade chip to Jonathan Lucroy for the Brewers to use during their tear down, but it does not seem Milwaukee found a suitor with whom they wanted to deal. Matt Snyder at CBS Sports submitted a theory on the 32-year-old constant injury risk: Maybe Braun gets claimed off waivers by a team with a sudden, devastating need... and maybe the Brewers just let him and the $76 million he’s owed go.
There’s a whole scrap here of Ryan Raburn’s and Adam Lind’s that could technically be moved, but Valencia is the only one putting up numbers that will put a twitch in your eyebrows. In the last week alone, the 31-year-old third baseman is 8-for-24 with a pair of home runs for Oakland. And did I say third baseman? Because he can play four different positions, just none of the ones with which you’d typically associate speed. That’s the kind of guy a GM wants to slide onto his roster and feel like he’s addressed multiple depth issues. He’s hitting .303 on the season—and .370 with a 1.094 OPS vs. lefties, good lord—and will be arbitration-eligible next season. Just put him somewhere where there won’t be a younger player to bogart the playing time and he’ll be fine.
Remember how 100% sure it seemed that the Phillies would get to convert their veteran starter into further minor league assets? He, uh, made his last start against the Braves wearing red pinstripes. Owed part of a $7 million deal and putting up the numbers that will get him significantly more than that later on, Hellboy is going to get claimed on waivers. I am 100% sure about this.
Dear lord, everyone could use bullpen help. The Braves were going to move Jim Johnson before the trade deadline, but then didn’t. Same story for Daniel Hudson of the Diamondbacks. Both guys come relatively cheap, though Hudson has that pesky 7.22 ERA that is probably going to turn a lot of people off. His recent improvements make him more desirable, and Johnson’s got that grizzled late game experience as a closer to fall back on for a team looking to stabilize their back-end bullpen options.
Ryan Madson in Oakland is making a bit too healthy of a paycheck to be someone’s favorite target off the waive wire, and Chicago’s David Robertson isn’t putting up the kind of numbers that would generally be considered “help.” And don’t forget the Brewers still have Carlos Torres after trading Jeremy Jeffress and Will Smith, who would be an upgrade for many staffs.