We’ve been writing a lot about trade options for Atlanta – high on their list may have been right-hander/closer Jesse Crain of the White Sox. We linked a report in our discussion from Tuesday that even went so far as to suggest that Atlanta had a ‘done deal’ in place to obtain Crain once he completed rehab and was able to demonstrate his return to form.
That’s not gonna happen.
As was suggested then, Crain was scheduled to begin his comeback this week so that we could monitor his progress. Today was to be the first bullpen session, but this did not occur – Crain canceled the workout due to discomfort in his shoulder, according to reports cited by the MLB trade rumors site.
So What Does This Mean?
The trade deadline is next Wednesday – six days away. This was the one and only shot Chicago had to get Crain ready to be traded before then. He now will not be activated prior to July 31st in the best of circumstances.
Can He Still Be Traded?
I’ll give you two scenarios: Scenario 1 – Crain gets healthy and is placed on waivers in August. Some team claims him and has the right to negotiate a trade for him with the White Sox. If that works, then the White Sox can receive some value for their closer, who they are otherwise likely to lose without compensation at the end of the year. If the negotiation fails, then the White Sox are screwed. Either way: the odds that the Braves would win the waiver claim are zero. You can read all about why on my waiver trades article coming out on August 1st.
Scenario 2 - Trading Crain now while he is still on the DL. This is unusual, but can be done with approval from the Commissioner’s office (usually a formality to assure there’s no shenanigans going on). Suppose the White Sox judge that the best return they could receive from anyone for Crain’s services is if they go ahead and try to make a deal now. This really isn’t far-fetched, given the situation. Such a deal could be made on a player-to-be-named-later basis, which would depend, for instance, on the date that Crain is actually ready to return to service. There are some implications involving the 40-man roster and the waiver trading deadline, but we’ll skip all of that since this is speculative anyway: I would still rate this as a long shot for Atlanta.
Either way, this is really bad news for Chicago and their rebuilding efforts.
Do the Braves Still Need Him?
I think you’d have to call this a “nice to have” situation, but not critical. A lefty reliever is the bigger priority… and now with Tim Hudson’s injury, it is also entirely reasonable that the Braves are turning their ‘secondary acquisition’ eyes toward the possibility of a starter… especially since as I write this, Alex Wood is in the process of giving up four runs in the third inning vs. the Mets. You have to remember that despite his promise, Wood started the year in AA and has been rushed up to the majors entirely out of immediate need.
Things changed dramatically in the space of 12 hours, haven’t they?
I’ll leave you with this great tweet from ESPN’s Jayson Stark: