Most baseball executives expect that only a couple of bullpen and bench pieces will get moved before the waiver trade deadline at midnight tonight. Multiple major trades are unlikely, and certainly nothing will come close to the deal that sent Manny Ramirez from the Dodgers to White Sox on Monday. In fact, some see this as the quietest Aug. 31 deadline in years.
Productive or even semi-productive players with reasonable contracts were generally claimed this month off non-contending teams, and almost all of them are now blocked, leaving what executives describe as an unusually weak crop of available players. "It's not as very attractive list,'' one AL GM said. "Most guys got claimed, even guys making money.''
All the claiming may be an indicator that baseball is healthy economically. Part of it could also be due to a spate of aggressive young GMs. Ramirez was claimed by three teams despite having been on the disabled list three times this year and having close to $4 million left on his salary for the season.
One player moved before the deadline Tuesday was Mets outfielder Jeff Francoeur. New York shipped the right-handed hitter, along with cash, to the Rangers for infielder Joaquin Arias. With money exchanging hands, Francoeur comes extremely cheap at the and should provide Texas with some depth down the stretch. Francoeur is hitting .278 vs. lefties but just .236 overall.
The better relievers on non-contenders, such as Toronto's Kevin Gregg and Scott Downs, have been claimed and long ago blocked from possible trades. What's left are what executives call "change of scenery guys,'' players with ability who are having poor seasons.
The starting market is weak, too, populated by pitchers with high salaries, such as Kevin Millwood, who are having off-years. The Padres and Yankees would be among the teams in the market for starting pitching if they can find anything to their liking. Fausto Carmona is one pitcher who was being talked about by some teams before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, but he was blocked.
Ted Lilly recently went on waivers, but after being claimed by the Yankees the Dodgers decided to pull the lefty back. Despite getting rid of Ramirez, the Dodgers still consider themselves in the playoff race and had little incentive to let Lilly go. "The Dodgers aren't looking to get rid of everyone,'' one competing GM said. Ramirez was a special case since he has such a high salary and the Dodgers wanted him out badly enough that they benched him four straight games.
According to a list compiled by mlbtraderumors.com, these are a few of the players who cleared waivers and are eligible to be traded: Carlos Beltran, Geoff Blum, Craig Counsell, Edwin Encarnacion, Kelly Johnson, Adam LaRoche, Lyle Overbay, George Sherrill and Brian Tallet.
Many other players surely cleared, but execs still aren't expecting too much activity today.
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