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Match Game: The Best Waiver-Wire Trade Candidate For Every Contender

The Yankees need a first baseman; the Brewers need a second baseman; the Mets have players to unload. Here are the moves that make the most sense.

As I noted in my breakdown of the trade deadline's winners and losers, not every contender filled every need. Between that and the ever-present possibility of players getting injured to the point that it threatens their stretch-run availability, (or, if they're already sidelined, suffering further setbacks), it's important to remember that trades can still be made during August—but it's complicated.

What follows here is an attempt to match up candidates to be dealt with contenders who still have clear needs, but first, the rules for trades in August require a refresher course. Until 11:59 p.m. ET on Aug. 31, teams can trade players only if they pass through waivers. Throughout both leagues, teams place the overwhelming majority of their players on revocable waivers at some point as a means of gauging the market for future deals. If, for example, the Tigers want to trade pitcher Justin Verlander, they will first place him on waivers, giving every team a chance to put in a claim. The priority of awarding that claim goes in reverse order of record, first within the same league (in this case, the American League) and then the opposite league. In our example, the White Sox (41–64, .394) would have first crack, followed by the A's (47–60, .439) and all the way up to the Astros (69–37, .651) before the Phillies (39–65, .375) and the rest of the NL get their chance.

Let's assume the White Sox put in a claim. They would therefore win that claim, leaving the Tigers with three choices: 1) pull him back and not deal him anywhere for the remainder of the season; 2) trade him to the White Sox within 48 hours, with all other players in the deal who are on 40-man rosters similarly having to go through waivers (this is why players to be named later are sometimes used as proxies); 3) simply let him go to Chicago for a $20,000 transaction fee, with the White Sox also assuming the entirety of Verlander's remaining contract (about $66 million through 2019, not including his $22 million vesting option for 2020). If a player goes unclaimed, he has then cleared waivers and can be dealt to any team, with the caveat that no-trade clauses (such as Verlander's) still apply.

For the purposes of this exercise, I’m limiting each team to one potential waiver candidate and vice versa. I’m also taking into account league—a highly-sought player such as Padres reliever Brad Hand won't make it through the NL unclaimed—and thus going in reverse order of record.

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