Don Bauder 5:30 p.m., March 27
That gibberish you'll be hearing or reading from Major League Baseball news from now until July 31st will mostly be completely unsubstantiated trade interests. Teams have until July 31st at 1:00 PM PDST to freely make trades without having to first place a player who is on a major league roster on waivers. Of course, teams can place players on waivers at any time during the season, but starting in August, this is a requirement in order to make a player eligible to be traded.
An informal primer on how waivers works:
Players under contract are eligible to be placed on waivers whenever a team chooses to do so. And they do, often. Why? Mostly to gauge the player's value. It's like having a tacit capacity to see if any of the other twenty-nine clubs have interest.
When a player is placed on waivers, teams have about a week (47 business hours) to claim him. If he isn't claimed, then he is considered as having cleared waivers. If he is claimed, then 24 hours are given so that any other team or teams can also jump in and submit a claim - preference goes to the team with the worst overall record.
Once claimed, then the teams involved have another week to negotiate a trade. The team that offered the player on waivers has the option of working out a deal with the team that claimed the player, or pulling the player back out of waivers if a deal cannot be struck, or simply allowing the claim to go through, and the claiming team pays a small claiming fee ($20,000.00) and picks up the contract.
Teams put players through waivers constantly, more than most folks would imagine. It's free, it's like appraising your jewelry every so often so you know what it's worth, and you don't have to stand in line at some Antiques Roadshow convention.
This process is secretive, or is supposed to be, through a device called a "waiver wire". The front offices of all MLB teams are tapped into this wire. Generally, MLB executives keep very quiet about all of the waiver wire shenanigans, even the players put on waivers aren't told.
How the waiver process affects trades? It doesn't, except from August 1st through the last game of the World Series. In that time frame, any team wishing to trade a player must get the player to clear waivers first. Only if the player clears waivers may the team then freely negotiate with any team in either league.
Sounds like monkey business? Perhaps. But the real monkey business comes from sports media between now and August 1st. Between now and then (and beyond, to a certain extent), sports media in all forms is going to tease you with inside information or unnamed sources.
What does this have to do with the 2012 San Diego Padres? Plenty. Teams that figure to have no chance at finishing close to contention will always be the target of trade rumors. All of them.
The biggest targets in these trade rumors for the Padres include Carlos Quentin, Huston Street, Chase Headley, Chris Denorfia, and Mark Kotsay. So whatever you read, listen to, or hear concerning the possibilities of moving these players, let's examine them one by one and figure out which are real targets and which are decoys or teasers for the press.
Carlos Quentin is the number one name you'll hear. There are rumors of every contender wanting Quentin, and why not? He's power-hitting insurance. But the Padres know they aren't going to get anything in return, Quentin's contract runs out at the end of the season and there is no options, he's a free agent. However, the Padres could offer Quentin Arbitration, which would likely bring his $7 million per year salary up to $9 million or more. Should Quentin refuse arbitration to try and land a better contract with another team, then the Padres would receive a supplemental pick in the 2013 draft.
In short, the Padres could keep Quentin for the entire season, and why not? Unless some contending team is willing to part with some good talent in return - better than say, the 35th overall pick in next year's draft will bring - then Quentin stays. Padres offer arbitration and it wouldn't be the worst thing if Quentin accepted. Except that he probably would opt to sign with a club that would play to his power more than does Petco Park. The guess is that unless some team wants to unload a very good prospect or two, Quentin stays.
Huston Street is signed through 2012 but there is a mutual option for 2013. Street is the highest paid player on the Padres (Quentin is 2nd), at $7.5 million, but he's possibly worth a couple of million more on the open market. Mutual options are so rarely agreed on, and the $500k buyout is already taken care of, courtesy of the Rockies (where he came from in a trade with the Padres). Street likely would love to stay for a couple of years in San Diego, but the Padres likely can't afford him. The Padres should probably find a way to keep Street but smart money says that the tempting offers from contenders will be too much to pass on. Street goes.
Chase Headley is supposedly coveted by a number of clubs, but he is still under Padres control in 2013, arbitration, and he'll be affordable, maybe $6 million tops. Chase wants to stay, too. The key to Headley is really two-fold. If the Padres don't see a prospect at third base next season, Headley stays. If Headley can get a can't-refuse offer, then he goes. But likely, that isn't going to happen, because contenders tend to look for offense in late July, and while Chase has some offense, mainly his defense is currently a draw for any team. Headley stays.
Chris Denorfia is very attractive for a team needing a utility player who can hit in the clutch. Deno is a plus fielder and has the capacity to get into a game late and make a difference. The contract is so affordable for the Padres, a little over a million, but Chris might want to move on after 2012 since there's no option on his contract and he's suddenly getting noticed. But unless the Padres see something offered that far outweighs Chris' value, he wont go anywhere. Denorfia stays.
Mark Kotsay was a steal for the Padres, a clutch pinch-hitter for $1.25 million, no options and no strings attached. He'll get bites from other clubs, but what would they offer? Not much in all honesty. But even if the Padres couldn't get much in return, dealing Mark might not be a bad move. They lose him, and within a month the 25-man roster opens to 40 on the club and maybe Kotsay is marginalized anyway. And if Kotsay wants to play in 2013, the Padres could sign him back if he's interested. Kotsay goes.
And there will be more, scuttlebutt concerning starting pitchers Edinson Volquez and Clayton Richard, but the Padres aren't going to part with the only two starters that began the 2012 season and are still healthy without a good return. Just sit back and enjoy the ride. The rumors are often more entertaining than the reality of what happens at the trade deadline. Just be sure and thank sports media when you get to the bottom of your bag of popcorn. They won't hear you over their tweets and updates, but then neither do the front office folks that actually pull the trigger on any deal made in the next couple of weeks.
Notes: The Dodgers came back and beat the Padres Friday evening, 2-1. More on that tomorrow. I'm a little busy trying to figure out a way to justify an Alexi Amarista trade to the Houston Astros for a second baseman and a left handed pitcher. So far, no luck. Maybe Amarista has a no-trade clause, I'll look into that.
More like this:
- Padres ownership offers contract extension to Chase Headley through the media — May 3, 2013
- Padres do little in off-season — Feb. 6, 2013
- Brewers Bottle-up Padres Again — Oct. 3, 2012
- Padres Set Roster — April 4, 2012
- Power Chase — March 12, 2012