Some interesting players have been put on waivers over the weekend – and claims have been made. We don’t know the particulars, but I’ll use this space to give my best guesses – and the possible playoff implications involved.
The Giants put their ‘big three’ up on waivers over the weekend – no, not the biggest 3: that would be Kung Fu Panda… by himself. Hunter Pence, Tim Lincecum, and Javier Lopez (the reliever, not the former Brave catcher). All 3 have been claimed – by somebody. Early report on the reaction to this is that “none of them are going anywhere”. There’s some bluster about the guys that brought them multiple championships, yada, yada... whatever. Here’s what I think should happen:
Lincecum: Certainly claimed by nearly all potential NL playoff teams (excepting LA), which means Arizona will have won the claim… 2nd place to Cincinnati, but in waiver claim contests, 2nd place is still a complete loser position. SF will want a solid 1st rounder equivalent to keep from hanging up the phone since Timmy is worth a first round compensation pick to them next June. AZ might actually do that: they have a surplus of outfielders and shortstops, either of which could interest SF – even if . But Timmy will still likely stay a Giant, and they’ll take the extra draft pick next year…and pay The Freak $4m more for the rest of the year to do so. Honestly, I think that’s a bad idea – you can do a lot with $4m, and draft picks are risky. SF should take the sure thing and sell him off.
Now: let’s say that Arizona opted to pass, since they are six games behind in the Wild Card race... certainly plausible. Who’d be the next for a claim? Cincinnati, St. Louis and Atlanta are all possible. Speaking for the Braves, I would expect that (a) they definitely would put in a claim; and (b) they definitely would not offer enough to make the effort worthwhile for San Francisco to consider. Cincy and the Cards are both in somewhat more stable states with their rotations than Atlanta, so it’s not likely they work very hard for a trade if either of these teams. Regardless of the scenario, then, Lincecum stays by the Bay.
Pence: claimed by Pittsburgh, for sure. Cincinnati could do so in an effort to block him from Pittsburgh – which would be a fairly safe move for them to do. Again, the price is a solid first-round-pick equivalent guy since Pence will command a Qualifying Offer (if not an outright contract extension) after the season. Let’s say that Pittsburgh is the claimant for a second. SF should listen, because they could save $2.6m and the Pirates have 3-5 guys that SF could use… but they likely would not be offered the best of them. Still, if SF could get someone like pitcher Nick Kingham, they should do it. However, I do expect that Cincy should be the claim winner: they’ll go through the motions of a token offer and be rejected… thus Pence remains a Giant.
Javier Lopez. Claims by the Dodgers and Braves are a mortal lock – and the Dodgers win, darn it. If it were Atlanta, I don’t think the Giants would care – and we’d be able to make a trade to obtain him (he’s cheap and a middling prospect should be sufficient). But because it’s going to be the Dodgers…. they’ll care since the Giants and Dodgers haven’t traditionally gotten along so well. Thus Lopez also remains a Giant.
Marlon Byrd. Well it’s about darn time. The Mets almost missed their opportunity at the end of July – he should have been moved then. Now he will. And this time, I think Pittsburgh finally will get a bat to work with. The reason for this is that I can’t see Cincinnati risking the chance that they could get stuck with Byrd with little wiggle room on their roster unless they figure Ryan Ludwick just isn’t getting there and they need Byrd themselves as a means to generate offense while Ludwick continues to work through his return to form. Either way, Byrd is going to the NL Central. The Braves will make a claim as well, because Byrd plays right field well, and … Jason Heyward isn’t. But that will be a token effort, as the claim will be lost to the weaker club(s). [Late word is that Byrd has been claimed by a NL team... no shock there... but the claim winner is unknown at present]
Pedro Feliciano. This one is a little intriguing. The Braves are not likely to get Javier Lopez, but could they try for another lefty/LOOGY (Scott Downs was already added last month)? I expect the answer is ‘no’, and besides, the Dodgers will likely claim him, too. Their bullpen needs are obvious, and they won’t pass up the chance – and in this case: Los Angeles should be able to get the player.
John Buck. Somebody need a catcher who can hit? Well, Buck may not be the one you want, for he’s only hitting .202 since the break – with only 1 homer (against Atlanta, of course), so that might leave some teams a little squeamish. But who really needs him anyway? None of the NL contenders, so I think he ends up in the American League… possibly to the Yankees, believe it or not.
Those are three of the five supposedly placed on waivers by the Mets. I know some of my colleagues here are desperately hoping that Daniel Murphy is one of them… but don’t get your hopes up. He might be on waivers, but he’s going nowhere.
- If Byrd were to end up with Pittsburgh, that might be enough to shift the balance in their favor to win the division – pushing St. Louis into the wild card game.
- If Byrd were to end up in Cincinnati… I think nothing changes – the Reds are three back and don’t quite have the horsepower to drive past either team in front of them…much less both of them. His presence could help in a Wild Card game, though.
- If Lincecum somehow gets to Arizona, then I think it gets a little closer for the Diamondbacks, but he’s not going to be enough… despite the jolt of energy such an acquisition might make. But I put the odds of this even happening at about 5%. Even less would be the odds of him getting to Atlanta – maybe 1% at most. For what it’s worth, it is fairly certain he would have the greatest impact for the rest of the year with the Braves.
- Likewise, Buck-to-the-Yankees would be a splashy move, but not a decisive one since the John Buck of August isn’t the John Buck of April.