Could Tim Lincecum clear waivers and end up in a Braves uniform? photo credit ©Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Potential Braves Waiver Moves


 

As Allan explained last week trades haven’t ended just because the trading deadline passed. Like all trades, some Braves waiver moves have been successes and some have not. GM Frank Wren has said he’s still looking for a starter, a left handed hitting bench bat and a backup infielder. With that in mind here are a few players he might consider.

Starting Pitching

I’m well aware of Brandon Beachy’s fine outing against the Phillies last night. I’m also aware that only the Nationals and the Marlins score fewer runs a game than the Phillies and that they were missing a couple of significant bats.  The other factor when discussing Beachy is as Chris explained, the inconsistency of pitchers returning from TJ surgery. Add to the Kris Medlen’s ups and downs and the realistic evaluation that Paul Maholm is at best a fourth starter and it’s easy to justify the need for an experienced starter to anchor the rotation; but who? Looking around the leagues at starters that a) might clear waivers and b) mighty actually be traded produces a short list.

1. Tim Lincecum, RHP, Giants

This morning Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe opined that one starter no one expects might just be the one to move.

Could be a big fish that goes in a deal during the waiver period. Some teams like Lincecum as a valuable bullpen piece down the stretch. The Giants weren’t offered anything good enough at the deadline, but given his salary ($22 million) and the fact he’s in the final year of his deal, the Giants may want to cut bait shortly.

While The Freak hasn’t had a stellar year, his numbers in the last month have been a lot better. Over 33 1/3innings in his last five starts he posted a 3.74 ERA and a 1.010 WHIP, putting up an11K/9 strikeout and a 4.5K/BB ratio allowing  hitters a slash of .203/.263/.390/.653. Included in  those five games was a 13K 4BB no hitter against the Padres and seven innings of two hit one run pitching in a losing cause against the red hot Rays. To get Tim would cost the Braves about $7.5M in payroll and a prospect but he would provide an experienced starter with something to prove headed into his walk year. Moving from a last place team to a division leader and might also give him a boost.

2. Phil Hughes, RHP, Yankees

They Yankees and Braves discussed Hughes prior to the trade deadline but couldn’t agree primarily because the Yankees said they wanted a “first round equivalent” player as they plan to make Hughes a qualifying offer. I doubt that as his comparables seem to be Ervin Santana, Jon Garland and Derek Holland so with David Phelps waiting in the wings he’ll likely be available for less that that.  No one has questioned Hughes’ stuff, he was 18-3 in 2010 and won 16 games last year on a pretty average Yankees team. Getting away from the expectations and unending rectal exams of the New York press might well allow his talent to once again bubble to the top. He’s a free agent who if successful could well sign in Atlanta again next year at a reasonable price.

3. Ted Lilly, LHP, Free Agent (almost)

The Dodgers requested unconditional release waivers on Lilly today, he will become a free agent in 48 hours. He would cost nothing in prospects and only a prorated portion of the major league minimum. Until being injured last year Lilly was pitching pretty well for the Dodgers posting a 3.14 ERA and a 1.130 WHIP. This season the Dodgers new found wealth meant the addition of Zack Greinke and Hyun-jin Ryu to the staff so when spring training started Lilly along with a couple of others found no room at the inn. Since Lilly was on the DL at time the Dodgers wanted to play it safe and didn’t make any move until he forced their hand.  They tried to send him to AAA but Lilly refused assignment precipitating his release.

One of our former writers said he feels Lilly is just an older version of Maholm.  I disagree slightly. In his prime Lilly was a better pitcher than Maholm with a better breaking ball and able to pitch himself out of trouble. From 2007 through 2011 he struck out at least 150 hitters a year including years of 180 and 174. I seeTed Lily as more like Tom Glavine  than Maholm but with more strikeouts. He’s also an old head who won’t be awed by the post season and  help keep the young arms feet on the ground. I think he’d `be a nice addition.

There will be more that clear waivers – Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Matt Cain and their ilk – but they won’t actually be traded. It’s hard to believe the Brewers won’t trade Kyle Lohse for the right package as well but he’s overpaid and I feel over rated.

The Bench

It’s hard to know exactly what the GM is looking for. He says a left handed bench bat and a backup infielder are on his list but looking at the bench he has indicates might really mean a left handed hitting corner infielder. If Reed Johnson and Jordan Schafer come back healthy we seem to have a surplus of LH outfielders. Assuming Gerald Laird returns as well we have to RH hitting catchers one of whom can stand in left field and handle routine plays satisfactorily. Also there is out backup shortstop/third baseman/second baseman Paul Janish. Assuming the post season sees an eleven man pitching staff we have room for six bench bats instead of the five we have in the regular season that leaves one spot to fill.

1. Greg Dobbs. LHH, first/third baseman

Dobbs filled that slot pretty well for the Phillies from 2007 through 2010. Even though his numbers this year don’t look particularly good it’s important to remember he’s only had 233 PA going into Sunday’s play and only nine of those in the second half. Dobbs is a good pinch hitter and can act as DH in AL parks.

2. Carlos Pena, LHH, first baseman

Pena has actually already cleared waivers and resides in DFA limbo after the Astros cut him loose. He’s not going to hit for average and he is going to strikeout but, he’s a good first baseman capable of backing up Freddie Freeman and he has lots of pop in his bat. The latter is what you might want from a LH bench bat.  He has lots of post season experience with the Rays and has hit well on the big stage.   He’d also be virtually free.

3. Brad Hawpe. LHH, DH/right fielder/first baseman

The Angels requested unconditional release waivers on Hawpe today for the purpose of granting him his unconditional release; They had designated for assignment on the 28th of July. Hawpe has been up and down since leaving the Rockies returning to the Majors in parts of June and July for the first time since 201.  In 153 Triple-A plate appearances this year he hit .305/.405/.504. between 2006 and 2009 Hawpe hit 99 homers and drove in 373 runs for the Rockies then the bat just seemed to go cold. Like Pena he’d effectively be free.

4. Jeff Keppinger, RHH, second/third baseman shortstop, White Sox

Keppinger will clear waiver simply because of his contract. The White Sox had a rush o f blood to the head and gave him a two year $12M contract last off-season after his career year in Tampa. Keppinger is better than this year’s numbers how but not worth $6M a year.  Still if the pale hose eat say half his 2014 money there could be a deal there. He is right handed however and not as good at SS as Janish though he may be better an third and second.

That’s A Wrap

It’s impossible to say what will happen. For an NL player to fall to us he has to clear everyone else. An Al player has to clear their league and then ours so we’re at the end of the waiver claim food chain.  From a pitching point of view Lincecum, Hughes or perhaps a John Danks would fit and if Lilly isn’t snapped up before the GM talks to his agent you could see him in a Braves uniform. The bench bat list is awfully thin with Dobbs the best I could conjure up.  If no one clears waivers that the GM thinks fits we could continue to see Joey Terdoslavich in that spot.  I do expect them to add a pitcher if they can steal one that slips through waivers and cut a deal. No matter how well the kids pitch we do need an experienced arm; the bench bat would be nice but not essential. That’s my take, what’s yours?

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  • Melissa Felkins

    Braves fans are crazy if you think the Giants are going to put Lincecum on the waiver wires. Nevermind that he’s been pitching well as of late, and despite his contract ending, the fact of the matter is that Giants need starting pitching right now, plain and simple. They’re not going to just give him up. If it didn’t happen at the trade deadline, you’re out of luck until off season.

    • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

      Oh, he’ll be out there… but as I suggested above, they won’t give him up for nothing either (it never hurts to dangle him – especially now). The Giants are probably talking with his agent right now to gauge how successful they might be in the off-season with him.

      But no: Frank didn’t give up any part of the farm for Peavy or Garza last week. He won’t do it here, either.

      • Matthew Jones

        I think he’ll at least be put on waivers as well, even if he’s pulled back off of them at the last minute. For years, the Braves would do that with more or less the entire team, including Smoltz, Glav, and Maddux. I remember one year that Maddux had a claim put on him and the Braves had to pull him back off quick. (I wish I remember which year!) That’s how I first learned about waiver wire trades.

        Btw, talking trade, I’d expect the Giants would want a major league ready pitcher in return. Maybe a Gilmartin-type of player?

        • fireboss

          Almost everyone goes on waivers and almost all get pulled back. The Giants will want a 1st round draft pick quality player to start talking trade about Timmy. If they’d take Gilmartin I am certain we’d do that. Gilmartin has however not progressed since his move to AAA and even at his best was projected as a back of the rotation guy. They would certainly begin talking with Sims or Graham and that would quite correctly draw an immediate no thanks from Wren. If some team is desperate for a starter – say their best was injured – and sure they could get to the post season they might empty the coffers for him. The Giants have nothing to gain by dumping him for a midlevel arm and will drive a hard bargain. Everything is possible but I doubt the Braves give up that type of asset for a rental.

    • fireboss

      Not crazy, just reporting what Cafardo wrote and analyzing it from that point of view. Timmy won;t be cheap but he will go on waivers, everyone does. Whether the price is something we would pay is another question. I probably understated his value in prospect terms but it isn’t impossible just highly unlikely.

  • Melissa Felkins

    I personally think Lincecum is more valuable to the Giants by making a qualifying offer to him and if he declines, getting the draft pick consideration than any salary left to be shed on the remainder of his contract. Plus, he’s been pretty solid since June (aside from the 1 start after his no-no). The Giants don’t have a known rotation next season, and if he can give a performance like much of this season, no reason not to try and keep him if the price is right.

    Don’t see what would be in it for the Giants since payroll is not an issue.

    • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

      Correct: they will still likely ‘test the water’ by putting him on waivers, but the claimant (and yeah, he’d be claimed by somebody) had better offer something exceeding a first round pick to keep them from hanging up the phone. But who’d offer that much for a 6 week rental?

      If they don’t trade him now (as I expect), it will be interesting: no way they try to re-sign him at $20m. He’s still probably the best free agent starter on the off-season market… but that isn’t saying a whole lot this year. So can the Giants replace that slot? What level _would_ he re-sign at?

  • Larswald

    When did Reed Johnson start batting left handed?

    • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

      Reed is so good, he could probably turn around and still bat .250 from that side, too! *lol*

      Also, Jeff Keppinger’s deal sticks the White Sox for _3_ years (through 2015 – at that same $12m). So it’s $4m per year, but the point remains – who’s gonna want him on more than a year-to-year basis?

    • fireboss

      oops :P .. I dunno how I missed that when I proofread it maybe watching a game while proofreading isn’t a good idea. I fixed it, Thanks for pointing it out.

  • cheadrick

    Tim is valuable, but he is also expensive, and with his struggles the last few years, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that they might deal him. They are 12 back, not really in the race, and it’s a gamble they might want to take. Of course, it would be a gamble for the Braves as well, but the Giants have some decent prospects in the wings in LHPs Hultzen and Fried. They are progressing rather nicely. With some weakness in their normally stellar starting rotations, and some positional weakness in the infield, there are some players the Braves could offer. It may be unlikely, but not out of the realm of the possible.

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