The second after Major League Baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline passes on Monday, that thud you hear will be trade value plummeting. Sure, deals can still be made in August, when pricey players such as Jacoby Ellsbury will breeze through waivers easily, with no one wanting to claim them.
But good, cheap players will inevitably get claimed by a rival team in August, leaving clubs with an unsavory choice: Either swap valued players to the claiming team for less than their perceived value, or pull back the players from waivers altogether -- which doesn’t make a lot of sense when it involves impending free agency.
Because of this reality, some general managers will be working with a special urgency over the next 100 hours, to take advantage of the value of low-salaried veterans.
A couple of weeks ago, rival executives said that San Diego was looking for enormous return on Hand, who was picked for the NL All-Star team. "A package [of prospects] equivalent to the Ken Giles deal or the [Andrew] Miller deal," one executive said. With other accomplished lefties available, Padres general manager A.J. Preller probably won’t get that, and given the volatility of reliever performance and Hand's salary -- just $1.375 million -- the left-hander's value may never be higher than it is right now. If Preller holds onto Hand into August, he'll be claimed on waivers.
Padres owner Ron Fowler said this week that he thinks his team might keep Hand. If that happens, San Diego will be gambling that Hand's performance won’t take a turn for the worse -- and remember, it was only 15 months ago that the Padres claimed Hand on waivers from the Miami Marlins.
Through adjustments to his workout regimen, Avila has kept his legs fresher, and he is having one of the best offensive seasons of his career, with a .398 on-base percentage, after signing a one-year, $2 million deal to return to the Tigers. Because the left-handed hitter is owed relative pennies for the last two months of the season, Avila would almost certainly get claimed. There is interest from the Chicago Cubs and perhaps the Colorado Rockies, but he is so cheap that other teams would probably consider adding him as a third catcher or for first base and DH depth.
The right-hander is headed into free agency in the fall, and he is among the most experienced starting pitchers available now. Lynn is making $7.5 million this season, meaning he’s owed about $2.5 million for the final two months of the year, and he has performed effectively, with a 3.21 ERA in 21 starts. The Cardinals haven’t played well, but they are just 3½ games out of first place in the NL Central mud bog, and St. Louis could decide to win with Lynn before he departs at the end of the season.
But the Cardinals have told other teams they are open to moving him, and Lynn probably would get some decent return from one of the clubs that doesn’t win the bidding for Sonny Gray or Yu Darvish -- maybe the Los Angeles Dodgers, maybe the New York Yankees, etc.
Norris has 15 saves with a 3.12 ERA, and he is making just $1.75 million. Hernandez is earning even less -- $535,000, and he has a 2.34 ERA in 36 appearances. The Angels have about a dozen players headed into free agency in the fall, and if they decide to sell, it would make sense for them to move Hernandez and Norris. The Angels are out of the running for the division title, and according to FanGraphs, they have a 10 percent chance of winning a wild-card spot.
Suzuki has served as the backup to Tyler Flowers for a lot of this season and has played well under a one-year, $1.5 million deal, with 10 homers and a .262 batting average in 167 plate appearances. He’d be a fit for the Rockies, and perhaps for the Cubs.