It’s been several years now, so I figure most of you know by now that there are no more trade waivers in August. Remember that whole thing? How you could trade certain guys in August if they cleared trade waivers, or could be traded to the team that claimed the guy? If you don’t remember, don’t worry about it, because it’s gone now.
But that does raise the question for a lot of us who haven’t yet become TOTALLY habituated to what CAN happen in August and September: who can still be moved and how?
First off, players can still be waived and claimed off of waivers. Not the trade waiver kind, just the standard, “Hey, anyone want to take this guy?” kind. That’s what we were talking about last night with the Brewers DFA’ing pitcher Dinelson Lamet. The next step for them figures to be waiving him, and a team like the Cubs could claim him if they wanted. No trade required.
You will still see some of this over the next month+, as teams try to waive guys to get them claimed and the rest of their salary assumed by the new team. It’s like trading them for cash. The bonus this time of year, as Arizona Phil reminds us, is that you can waive a guy, and if he clears waivers, you do not HAVE to outright him off the roster at that point. You can just see if there’s interest in claiming him. It’s conceivable the Cubs could try this with a veteran or two later this month if they want to (1) save some cash, and (2) open up a spot for a youngster to get innings/ABs.
How else can a player be moved now? Well, players can also be released and signed by a new team. Again, just the normal, standard stuff.
Ah, but you want to know about trades around MLB this month. Yes, there CAN still be trades, but they are exceedingly limited: only players who are not on the 40-man roster, and have not been on the 40-man roster at all this season, can be traded for each other. These trades can last right up to a week before the postseason.
In other words, you COULD trade a prospect for a prospect right now. Or a minor league veteran for a prospect. Or a prospect for a minor league veteran. Or a minor league veteran for a minor league veteran.
In practical reality, though, what would a trade look like this time of year? You’d be looking at a team that has a veteran minor leaguer at Triple-A who is capable of being emergency big league depth for a contender down the stretch, and then circumstances arise where some contender REALLY needs a third catcher or an extra lefty or whatever. The return would be a comparable player, a super-low-level-high-risk prospect, a PTBNL, or cash.
The Dixon Machado trade before the deadline was actually this kind of trade (i.e., it could have happened after the deadline) – the Giants desperately needed a shortstop, so the Cubs sent them Machado for Raynel Espinal, neither of whom had been on the 40-man this year.
You’re wondering: do the Cubs have any PLAUSIBLY useful guys who could be traded this or next month?
Actually, I can think of at least a couple.
For one, veteran catcher John Hicks has ample big league experience and has hit reasonably well at Iowa this year. If a team suffers an injury or two at catcher, it wouldn’t surprise me at all for them to want to pluck him. For his sake, you kinda hope he gets that chance, especially with three catchers still ahead of him on the Cubs’ big league roster.
Lefty Matt Dermody, 32, has been pitching to great success in a swing role at Iowa lately, and with so many pitching options the Cubs are going to want to look at down the stretch, I’m not sure there’s a realistic scenario where the Cubs roster him and then keep him on the 40-man over the offseason. So if a team suffers a bunch of injuries and needs a lefty – or even just wants to get him as depth for now in advance of those injuries – I could see him as another plausible move.
Don’t get excited, of course. Even if the Cubs traded one of these guys, or someone else, the return is not going to be something to knock your socks off. Mostly, as with Machado, it’d be about getting a guy a big league opportunity, because that’s a good and kind thing to do (and helps you with future minor league free agents). And if you get a little more cash for the budget or a 1-in-1,000 lottery ticket, why not?
One last thought: there’s a tiny chance that there’s some minor leaguer out there whom the Cubs really like, who is set to be a minor league free agent, and that they want to TARGET right now in a minor trade so that they can have the first crack at retaining that player before the offseason. It’d have to be a really unique situation, but I’d imagine it’s at least a conversation they’re having. (Or vice versa in the Cubs’ system, I suppose.)