On Monday, the Phillies did what every team usually does in August. They put basically their entire team on waivers.
Source: #Phillies put their first set of players on revocable trade waivers Saturday - Burnett, Bastardo, Howard, Kendrick, R. Hernandez.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) August 4, 2014
On waivers today: Rest of the relevant #Phillies: Byrd, Papelbon, Rollins, Utley, Hamels, Ruiz. They will clear (or not) on Wednesday.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) August 4, 2014
So over the next two days, teams will have an opportunity to put in a claim on all the players listed above. The guys over at SB Nation's Bluebird Banter put together a good synopsis of what the waiver period is all about, but here are the quick and dirty details.
- Teams can put in a claim for any Phillies player, in order of worst record to best record. Because the Phillies play in the National League, the team with the worst record in the NL gets first crack.
- Teams have two days to submit a claim. If no team has claimed a player after two days, they have "cleared waivers," meaning the Phils would be able to trade that player to any of the other 29 teams.
- No-trade clauses are still in effect. If a team claims a Phils player, but that team is on a player's no-trade list, or if that player has 10-5 rights, that team may not acquire him.
- If a team makes a claim on a player, the Phillies can either let that player go for nothing, with the claiming team assumes the entire contract (provided they are not on that player's no-trade list), the Phils can pull that player back and work out a trade with the team that claims him, or if a trade cannot be worked out, that player can be pulled back by the Phillies and kept on the roster.
Most of the Phils that were placed on waivers yesterday will probably not be claimed, although there are a couple that could. But which ones?
Here is my ranking of Phillies most likely to be claimed by another team.
LIKELY TO BE CLAIMED
Antonio Bastardo - As I wrote yesterday, Bastardo has had his typical up-and-down season, with alternating periods of effectiveness and ineffectiveness. Overall, his ERA is 4.05, but his FIP is 3.63 and he is striking out 10.61 batters per nine innings. His control is, and always will be, an issue. But any team in need of a left-handed reliever, one that can get both left-handers and right-handers out, could be attractive. Most importantly, he is one of the few Phillies that doesn't have a troubling no-trade clause, vesting option, or high price tag on his contract. Any team that acquires him would have to pay a prorated portion of the $2 million he is owed this year, and is under team control next year, his final year of arbitration.
Cole Hamels - I've never understood the worries about Hamels' contract. He's a true #1 starter (2.86 ERA 1.107 WHIP, 9.1 strikeouts per nine in 137.1 innings) and is owed $90 million over the next four years, with a vesting option in 2019 for $24 million or a $20 million team option. When you consider Jon Lester and Max Scherzer are surely going to get deals much bigger than 5 years, $114 million this off-season, Hamels becomes an attractive claim to any team not on his no-trade list looking to acquire an ace left-hander.
Chase Utley - Despite a recent slump, his slash line of .280/.345/.422 is still among the best second basemen in baseball, and his team-friendly contract (guaranteed $10 million next year, with vesting options of $15 million each year from 2016-2018) won't scare anyone off. However, Utley has full 10-5 rights and can block any team from claiming him or trading for him.
DOUBTFUL, BUT MAYBE
Marlon Byrd - There are a couple teams that are hungry for an outfielder who can hit for power, and it's possible at least one will put in a claim, perhaps if only to block a deal to a competitor. Pittsburgh just lost their MVP Andrew McCutchen for at least a month, and could be motivated to put in a claim for him. The Phillies would not just let another team have him, however, and a trade would need to be worked out between the two. Byrd could not block a trade to the Pirates, but Pittsburgh would certainly want the Phils to assume a major part of his troubling $8 million vesting option in 2016, when he'll be 38.
Roberto Hernandez - Bob is an interesting case. As I mentioned yesterday, Hernandez' ERA is a surprising 3.89, which is 31st out of 47 qualified National League starters. However, his FIP is 4.62, which is 44th out of 47 starters, and his strikeout-to-walk rate is worst in the NL, at 3.8%, striking out 14.2% of batters and walking 10.4%. So for any team claiming Bob Hernandez, good luck with that. Fausto is owed a prorated portion of his $4.5 million salary this season.
Jimmy Rollins - Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal said Oakland inquired about Rollins before the deadline but the talks "did not progress." Whatever that means. The A's might be interested in putting in a claim for J-Roll, however it's also possible another team would put in a claim before Oakland in order to block them. The A's, with baseball's best record, would be the last team able to make a claim. Rollins' option for 2015 triggered last week, and he is owed $11 million next season. He also has full 10-5 rights and block a claim or trade to every MLB team.
Carlos Ruiz - Ruiz has a hard time staying healthy, but when he's in there, he's a solid defender with a knack for getting on base. His slugging percentage has dropped from .540 in 2012 to .370 this year, but his on-base percentage remains strong at .367. He would certainly be an upgrade over A.J. Pierzynski, who was recently plucked from the waiver wire by the St. Louis Cardinals. The problem is the three-year, $26 million contract he signed this off-season that will pay him $8.5 million next year and in 2016, when he will be 37. Most teams will likely be scared off by that deal.
A.J. Burnett - Honestly, Burnett just hasn't been all that good this year, and is also pitching through a hernia. He still takes the ball every fifth day though, and has thrown 151.1 innings this year. However, his ERA is 4.16, his FIP if 4.11, and he's walked an NL-high 66 batters this year. Not only that, he has a player option with performance escalators that could reach $15 million next year. The two teams most often connected to him, Baltimore and Pittsburgh, were both scared off by that at the trade deadline, although they may be willing to take it on if they think the Phils will just let him go without demanding prospects in return. But the Phils have said they're not interested in just dumping payroll, so that's unlikely to happen. Burnett also has a 21-team no-trade clause.
Kyle Kendrick - I wrote about Kendrick yesterday as well, noting his numbers are also sub-par, with the 4th-worst ERA among qualified NL starters at 4.92. His 4.50 FIP is 41st and his K-BB rate of 8.0% is 44th. He may hold value as a long reliever for someone and would be owed a prorated portion of his $7.675 million salary this year. He can be a free agent after this season.
NOT A CHANCE
Cliff Lee - His most recent elbow injury likely scuttled any chance of a team claiming him this month. However, it would be interesting if a team with deep pockets did claim him, rolling the dice on a return to health next season. Would the Phils pull him back in the hopes of dealing him next summer? There are no guarantees Lee comes back healthy or effective next year, and the Phils are on the hook for $25 million in 2015. However, if he does come back healthy and effective next season, they would lose the ability to pick up a prospect or two for him at the trade deadline next year.
Ryan Howard - If a team is willing to pick up the remaining $60 million on his contract through 2016, they will be welcome to do so. That team does not exist, however.
Again, this is just a list of the players I think will get claimed, not a list detailing the likelihood of them leaving the Phillies. Unless the Phils unload Hamels or Utley, they're not going to get much back for any of the other players who clear waivers, and would get even less trading to a team that claims him.
Still, some deals could get done. By Wednesday, we'll know who's been claimed and who hasn't.