The trade deadline has passed, but that doesn’t mean players can’t keep switching teams. In fact, they can do so until the end of the season, but must be in the organization by Aug. 31 to be eligible for a playoff roster spot.
Trades made in August carry the added wrinkle of waivers, so we’ll explain this as best as we can with brevity in mind. Let’s consider the case of Player A.
Player A is on the Minnesota Twins. He’s an average, everyday player who is good, but not great. He has one distinct tool — let’s say….outfield defense — that makes him attractive to other teams at this time of year.
After the July 31 trade deadline, teams will run players through what is called “trade waivers.” It really isn’t the same as regular waivers the rest of the year — for the purpose of outrighting or releasing a player off the 40-man roster — but rather the process of initiating a potential trade during the rest of the year.
All players put on waivers are not necessarily available on the trade block per se, but in a “why ask why/never say never” league, there’s no harm in putting a player through trade waivers — the first time.
The first time is revocable.
If a player is claimed on trade waivers — like in the case that happened on Thursday night — the teams can either attempt to work out a trade, or the player’s team can A. pull the player back or B. let the player go on a straight claim.
The claiming team would then accept the player’s full contract. This happened with Alex Rios and the Chicago White Sox back in 2009.
If a player is not claimed, they clear waivers and are eligible to be dealt to any team the rest of the season. They can be traded for any player not on a team’s 40-man roster, but to be dealt for anyone on a 40-man roster, the other player must have cleared or been claimed as well.
The second time a player is run through waivers is irrevocable. So if Player A was put through waivers, and Team B claimed him the first time, the Twins could pull him back. The second time they could not.
There are a lot of layers at play here. Players with large contracts — at least relative to their skill level or age — typically clear quite easily. Sometimes a team will put in a claim to block a team ahead of them in the standings from having a crack at the player.
That happened in 1998 with left-handed reliever Randy Myers. Myers had just the year before been one of the game’s greatest relievers, but in 1998 was starting to show signs of wearing down in his age-35 season.
With two years and nearly $14 million left on the deal, the Toronto Blue Jays put Myers on waivers, and the San Diego Padres claimed him to block him from getting to the Atlanta Braves.
Toronto simply said, “He’s yours” and the Padres were on the hook for two more years even though Myers never again pitched in the big leagues after a horrendous tenure with the club down the stretch: 6.28 ERA in 14.1 innings, 1.54 WHIP.
So there’s gamesmanship even on the waiver wire at this time of year. If you’re a baseball rat like I am, even this can be a fun thing to monitor.
The first of perhaps a few post-deadline deals came down the wire on Thursday evening, as the Minnesota Twins announced they’d sent right-handed reliever Fernando Rodney to the Oakland A’s in exchange for A-ball righty Dakota Chalmers.
Both teams confirmed the move via their Twitter accounts. The A’s reportedly claimed Rodney via waivers and the two sides worked out a deal.
Rodney, 41, has performed fairly well for the Twins this year — his first in Minnesota — with a 3.09 ERA (3.79 FIP), well over a strikeout per inning (10.3 K/9) and a WHIP of 1.40.
The veteran righty was owed the rest of his $4.25 million deal for this year, as well as at least the buyout of next year’s deal at the same figure. The buyout is for $250,000 and seems like a fairly likely move for the A’s, who’ll look to use Rodney in a role different than the one he held with the Twins.
Rodney had saved 25 ballgames for the Twins — including most recently at Progressive Field in Cleveland on Tuesday evening — but will slot into some other late-inning work with the A’s already having a legitimate closer in 30-year-old righty Blake Treinen (0.93 ERA/1.74 FIP in 58 innings, 79-16 K/BB ratio, 0.97 WHIP).
In fact, there’s no guarantee Rodney will even be one of the preferred setup men for Treinen, as the A’s already have Jeurys Familia, Yusmeiro Petit, Lou Trivino, Emilio Pagan, Ryan Buchter and the recently-acquired Shawn Kelley all in the mix as well.
Coming back from the A’s is Low-A righty Dakota Chalmers, a 21-year-old righty who has not pitched above Beloit, and is presently on the shelf due to undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Chalmers was selected out of North Forsyth High School in Cumming, Ga. in the 2015 draft, and took an over-slot bonus of $1.2 million — twice the recommended value — to forgo his commitment to the University of Georgia and begin his pro career in the A’s system.
According to Baseball America, Chalmers was one of the best pitchers to come out of Georgia that year, with a mid-90s fastball and a “good feel for spinning the baseball.” They also caution that there’s a “head whack” in his delivery and the effort may scare some teams away, but the reward could be a top-end starter.
Chalmers isn’t currently on the top-30 prospects list for the A’s via MLB.com, but he’s been no stranger to the list in recent years.
He finished the 2015 season as the A’s No. 8 prospect. At that time, the evaluators over there put a 65 grade on his fastball, a 55 on his curve and slider, a 45 on his changeup, a 50 on his control and a 50 overall.
In the report, they mentioned that Chalmers “works 92-95 mph with his fastball. …peaks at 98” and his “projectable 6-foot-3 frame hints at more velocity in the future.”
At the end of the season, BA had Chalmers as its No. 16 prospect in the system.
In 2016, Chalmers opened the year as the No. 11 prospect and finished it at No. 9, again with the same scouting grades. They do add in there that his “high-effort delivery” led to him struggling to throw strikes, but there have been adjustments to his mechanics.
B.A. noted that Chalmers got a 40 percent swing-and-miss rate on his curve in 2016 — where he repeated as the No. 16 prospect in the A’s system — but again still struggled with command.
The righty dropped to No. 14 to start the 2017 season, and closed it at No. 17. His fastball grade dropped to 60, his slider grade was eliminated and his control went from a 50 to a 40. “He’ll need time to develop, but the potential is there for him to become a No. 3 or 4 starter at maturity.”
Chalmers opened the 2017 season with Beloit — the former Low-A affiliate of the Twins — and posted a 4.34 ERA with 47 strikeouts and 29 walks in 29 innings before leaving the team due to personal reasons.
Despite the ugly walk numbers, Chalmers was borderline unhittable. Opposing batters hit just .155/.374/.216 against him that season, and his season began with a four-inning relief outing against the Cedar Rapids that saw him strike out four batters and give up three earned runs, including a home run to current Fort Myers infielder Travis Blankenhorn.
B.A. dropped him to 30th after 2017, again noting his stuff (good) and command (bad) while pushing his fastball range in the 94-98 mph neighborhood.
There are a lot of things a pitcher can be taught, but that kind of velocity is not one of them.
Dakota Chalmers is a nice roll-the-dice pick up for the Twins. He’s been hurt most of the year and command is obviously a big issue, but he has a big league arm if it all comes together.
— Melissa Lockard (@melissalockard) August 10, 2018
Melissa Lockard, now with The Athletic but previously with Oakland Clubhouse, is one of the foremost authorities on A’s prospects, and she wrote a good scouting report on him prior to this season that can be found here.
In the end, the Twins have flipped their erratic, charismatic and geriatric closer for a lottery ticket who could pay off in a big way, but could blow up like a water-logged firecracker.
Still, taking this roster spot and lighting that fuse — or in this case, giving it to Tyler Duffey, who is expected to meet the team in Detroit on Friday — makes sense.
Happy trails, Fernando Rodney. We’ll always have your entrance.