The trade deadline is behind us, but if your team didn’t make the big move — or the small move — that you were hoping for, there’s still a little bit of time for them to get creative. The deadline for waiver trades isn’t until Aug. 31. Those take a little more work, but for the right team, they might be worth it.
In order to move in a waiver trade, a player must first clear waivers, meaning every team has a shot at claiming him first. Lots of high-priced talent goes on the waiver this time of year. It’s more of a formality than an indication a deal is going to happen. Jose Bautista and Justin Verlander are on waivers, for instance.
Our pal Tim Brown wrote this week about a number of players who could be on the move in August — the keyword is *could* — and today, the Big League Stew crew is looking around the league to point out teams that still need help. In most cases, these are the teams that didn’t get enough done at the trade deadline.
So which teams still have some work to do in August? Here are our picks:
The Houston Astros had a disappointing trade deadline. That’s not just our opinion, either. The team’s ace Dallas Keuchel admitted he thought the team would do more on the final day of the deadline. There’s still time to make Keuchel happy, though, if the team is active on waivers. While he’s been tremendous, the club could use another dependable starter behind Lance McCullers Jr. for the postseason. Their internal options have done well, but lack strong track records. It wouldn’t hurt to bring another candidate in there.
On top of that, the team is dealing with a number of significant injuries at the moment. Carlos Correa, George Springer and Colin Moran are all down and out. They’ll be back for the postseason, but the team could look for minor upgrades in the meantime. Virtually every playoff contender could use another reliever this time of year, so expect the Astros to be involved on those guys too. They might have been the anti-Dodgers at the deadline, but they can still improve their team down the stretch. (Chris Cwik)
The Red Sox didn’t come away empty-handed at the deadline. In landing infielder Eduardo Nunez from the Giants and reliever Addison Reed from the Mets, Boston made two pretty solid second-tier moves that make them better than they were a couple weeks ago. Still, it feels like they needed to do more to really solidify this team and position themselves to win the AL East. A lot of that feeling is fueled by the Yankees being clear winners at the deadline with the addition of five total players, including starting pitchers Sonny Gray and Jaime Garcia. Some also comes from the questions surrounding the Red Sox own starting rotation. Especially now with David Price returning to the disabled list.
Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Drew Pomeranz are still formidable, but Rodriguez and Pomeranz haven’t been the definition of durable the past two seasons. Relying on them and relying on David Price returning at full capacity is a dangerous proposition. One I feel team president Dave Dombrowski should definitely look to address. If Dombrowski feels the same way, we know he’ll be aggressive exploring every possibility that arises. Finding a good match now though will take some creativity, because making deals in August is rarely easy, due to all the different variables associated with the waiver process. If anyone can pull off an August stunner, it’s Dombrowski, and if Boston starts the month slow the odds of something stunning happening should increase. (Mark Townsend)
The Washington Nationals were my World Series pick out of the NL, so I’m a little more invested in their success, mainly because I was recorded on video saying I believed they’d address their issues. Nobody — least of all the Nats, who have a rep for such things — wants to get bounced out of the playoffs early. The Nats’ trade-deadline bounty addressed their most obvious need, the bullpen, but I still feel like it might be a half-measure. Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson and Brandon Kintzler give the Nats a lot more bullpen depth than they had before.
But is it enough? That’s the question with most things regarding the Nats, a team that has never won a postseason series. From a sheer volume point of view, it seems like the Nats have addressed their big weakness, but I sure would feel better if they added a true shutdown closer to the mix. Then there’s the rotation. With Stephen Strasburg hurt and Joe Ross needing Tommy John surgery, the Nats’ fourth starter at the moment is Edwin Jackson. That’s … not great. So, yes, the Nats should be watching the waiver wire closely, looking for those last couple of players who could help them in October. (Mike Oz)
While several teams are on the hunt for a playoff spot, the San Francisco Giants are in a very different competition: a race for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft. This season hasn’t turned out the way the Giants and their fans envisioned, but at least they’re in a race, right? Well, at the trade deadline, the Giants did themselves no favors. They had a large handful of players they could have traded to get, at the very least, a few lottery tickets, and doing so could have helped them solidify their last place position.
Reliever Hunter Strickland, outfielder Denard Span, pitcher Jeff Samardzija, all of them could be on other teams right now. But when 4 p.m. passed on July 31, the only guy they’d traded was third baseman Eduardo Nunez. So that’s more than a little underwhelming. But it’s not all over for the Giants. They have all of August to make a waiver trade, perhaps add a tiny bit more sparkle to their minor league system, and set their sights on the No. 1 pick. It’s not the best way to play out the rest of a baseball season, but when you’re having a season like the Giants, the only direction to look is forward into the future. (Liz Roscher)
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