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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

July 31, 2009 at 4:21 PM

The trade deadline has passed, so get ready for…more trades

bedardtrade.jpg

Yes, the August trade season is nearly upon us. As I posted a couple of weeks ago, trades can and will be made in August, the only catch being that they are complicated by the waiver process.

I wrote then that Jarrod Washburn and Erik Bedard could possibiy be dealt after the July 31 non-waiver deadline. I still think that could be the case with Bedard — not to mention Adrian Beltre and even Russ Branyan, if the Mariners fall prohibitively out of the race. All are free agents after the year, and at some point, the notion of trying to get something, anything, for them before they could walk away comes into play.

Beltre, in particular, could really intrigue a team in the playoff hunt if he shows that he’s over his shoulder issues. He’s due to come off the DL on Tuesday, and by all accounts he feels terrific and is rarin’ to go. The Mariners hope that Bedard will be back, soon, too. Maybe this time he’ll be healthy enough to show teams that he has something left to offer down the stretch. The guy is a big-time arm. If he’s healthy, he could be a real factor in a close race, and even be a difference-maker in the postseason. That’s a best-case scenario, obviously, but conceivable.

Will they pass through waivers? Here is a quick primer on how post-July 31 dealng works, cut and pasted from my earlier post:

To be traded, a player must clear waivers, a process in which every team in baseball has an opportunity within three business days to potentially foil the deal by claiming the player — and his contract.

Once a player is claimed, the original team has three options: pull the player back and keep him; try to work out a trade with the claiming team within 48 hours; or allow the claiming team to have the player.

If multiple claims are made, the team with the worst record in the same league as the original team gets priority. If the multiple claims are all from the other league, the preference again is based on reverse order of record.

The big question is whether teams will make a lot of waiver claims this year, because of the risk that you might get stuck with a big contract, a la Randy Myers in 1998. Brian Cashman, GM of the Yankees, thinks that trading will be brisk in August, as I posted earlier:

“I think over the years, this trade deadline is no longer even in existence,” Cashman said in Newsday. “…The waiver stuff is not going to prevent deals in August. Guys are going to get through because people are going to be afraid to claim and get stuck with money that they can’t afford. And so the July 31 trade deadline is more of a fictitious one now, anyway.

“It’s not like it was when Steve Phillips (when he was the Mets’ GM) and I were going haywire, claiming everyone on the wire. Those days are dead and buried, because no one can live with a mistake like they used to. Because the economy has changed and has affected everybody both in and out of sports. Although July 31 is approaching, it’ll affect some level of players. Most, most likely, will clear. There’ll be a very large population to pick from as we move forward, anyway.”

Jack Zduriencik, in a conference call today, said that how teams will treat waiver claims is a big industry mystery.

“I think this a little new territory for everyone in baseball — everyone in the country, for that matter, because of where the economy is at,” Zduriencik said. “It will be interesting to see what clubs attempt to do, whether block a trade, or acquire a player, and what the revenue is a particular club has to spend. None of us know that. I suspect it wil be somewhat cautious, if you will, but clubs will retain some degree of activity.”

The Mariners have played 63 percent of their season. If you pro-rate Beltre’s $12 million salary, that leaves roughly $4.4 million owed to him — 37 percent. Bedard is owed about $2.86 million of his $7.75 million. Though it will go down with each passing day, that’s still a signficant potential outlay for any team that claims them — large enough that I’d expect both of them have a good chance to clear waivers. Even if they don’t, it’s still possible to make a deal with the claiming team, as the Mariners nearly did last year with the Twins after they claimed Washburn. (BIG EBU MAKES AN EXCELLENT POINT ABOUT PASSING BEDARD AND BELTRE THROUGH WAIVERS EARLY IN AUGUST WHILE THERE ARE STILL QUESTIONS ABOUT THE HEALTH OF BOTH. ONCE THEY CLEAR, THEY CAN BIDE THEIR TIME WHILE PURSUING THE BEST POSSIBLE DEAL AT THE BEST POSSIBLE TIME).

Of course, if the Mariners take off now and cut into the Angels’ lead in the AL West or the Red Sox’s lead in the wild-card, they might decide to keep Beltre and Bedard and make a run. But by trading Washburn, they’ve already shown that they have as close an eye on the future as on the present.

Which means August could be just as interesting as July. The next deadline to consider is Aug. 31, which is when players have to be a team’s roster to be eligible for the playoffs.

(Seattle Times photo by Jim Bates)

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