GM Jerry Dipoto has used August trades through waivers process before and could look to acquire a starting pitcher in the next week.
KANSAS CITY — In the minutes after the non-waiver trade deadline had passed on July 31, Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto discussed not making a move on the final day. He pointed to the three trades made in the week leading up to it, netting reliever David Phelps and starters Erasmo Ramirez and Marco Gonzales.
But in true Dipoto fashion, he wouldn’t rule out more action in August.
“As was the case last year, we’ll remain attentive to the August trade waiver period and see where the next month takes us,” he said.
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But what about the trade deadline and all the hoopla surrounding it? Well, that was the deadline for non-waiver trades. Teams can still swap players in August through the waivers process.
A year ago, the Mariners acquired outfielder Ben Gamel, switch-pitcher Pat Venditte and reliever Arquimedes Caminero in separate August trades.
The Mariners planned to look at starting pitching possibilities to help out a thin rotation. And with Felix Hernandez going on the disabled list Saturday with biceps tendinitis and no time frame for his return, that need has become more glaring.
The popular name on social media for the Mariners to acquire is Justin Verlander. The Tigers’ ace is supposedly available if a team is willing to pick up his bloated contract. Verlander is owed a total of $78 million for 2018-2020 and what’s left this season.
But beyond the specifics of whom the Mariners could/should/will try to acquire in the next week, here’s a refresher on how August trades actually work.
It starts with placing most of your players on the 40-man roster on revocable waivers. This is a standard procedure for all teams. Many veteran players with large contracts like Verlander are commonly placed on revocable waivers. There is no risk doing this.
For the players on waivers, a few things can happen. Other teams can submit a claim on the player. Any team can claim that player, but the first priority goes to teams in that player’s league and to the team with the worst record on that day.
So with someone like Verlander, all American League teams have priority over the Philadelphia Phillies, who have the worst record in the NL.
If a team has a player claimed, they can pull that player back and keep him, hence the term revocable waivers.
The second option is to make a trade with the team that claimed the player. And a third option is letting the player go on the claim where the claiming team has the responsibility of paying his entire contract.
A few years ago when Shin-Soo Choo was with the Indians, the Mariners made a waivers claim on the outfielder in August. They tried to work out a trade in the two-day period, but couldn’t come to an agreement and the Indians pulled him back off waivers.
Oh, but there’s more to this process.
Many players go unclaimed and clear waivers. When that happens, the team can trade that player to any team. MLB doesn’t list players placed on revocable waivers, but every year that information is leaked. It’s already been reported that Verlander and Mets outfielders Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson have cleared waivers.
So any team can trade for those players. The exception being that if there is no-trade protection in their contract, it must be honored. So Verlander, who has a full no-trade clause, can veto any deal.
Obviously, the Mariners will be looking for starting pitchers who either pass through waivers or possiblyone they put a claim on.
While fans clamor for Verlander, Twins’ right-hander Ervin Santana, who is owed $13.5 million in 2017 and $14 million in 2018, might be a better fit. But he would also likely cost some prospects in return.
The Mariners could also go the rental route and pay for the contract of a player destined for free agency next season, which might not cost much with regard to prospects in return.
But if they truly believe they can make a run for a wild-card berth, adding an arm in the next week should be a priority.