Scouting The August Trade Market: Salary Dump Starters

Heyman: Padres focusing on Billy Eppler for GM vacancy
Yankees send Matt Thornton to Nationals on trade waivers
(Leon Halip/Getty)
(Leon Halip/Getty)

The Yankees were unable to land pitching help before last Thursday’s trade deadline but that doesn’t mean they are out of the market for arms. David Phelps just landed on the disabled list and the team is somehow more desperate for pitching now than at any other point in the season, and that’s with Michael Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka seemingly on the mend. At best, Pineda is about ten days away while Tanaka could return next month.

The August trade season has been surprisingly active the last few years. Just last year guys like Justin Morneau, Alex Rios, Marlon Byrd, and David DeJesus were dealt in August. The Dodgers-Red Sox blockbuster went down in August two years ago. The Yankees themselves haven’t been all that active on the August trade front the last few years — they acquired Chad Gaudin in August 2009, but their only August trade since was the Steve Pearce pickup a few years ago — but that hardly means they’re against August moves. That’s just the way things shook out.

The Phillies got the August trade market going yesterday by putting just about everyone on waivers — Ken Rosenthal says Byrd, Jonathan Papelbon, Cole Hamels, A.J. Burnett, Roberto Hernandez, Kyle Kendrick, Antonio Bastardo, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz, and Ryan Howard were placed on trade waivers. The Yankees don’t have interest in a reunion with Burnett, Hernandez and Kendrick are blah, and Hamels seems unattainable at this point. Cliff Lee’s injury completely killed his trade value as well.

Players have already started to hit waivers though, and that’s the most important thing. The August trade engine is revved up. Here are some potential pitching trade targets for the Yankees, with an emphasis on guys who might be available for little more than salary relief.

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

RHP Bartolo Colon, Mets
The Mets tried hard to unload the 41-year-old Colon at the deadline, but found no takers because he is owed another $3M or so this year plus $11M next year. He’s pitched well enough in 2014, with a 4.12 ERA (3.51 FIP) while averaging 6.2 innings per start, but something about a pitcher that old and with that arm injury/PED history scares teams away. Can’t say I blame them. The Mets will reportedly try to move Colon again in the offseason, when one year of him at $11M might be an appealing alternative to the free agent market.

The Yankees obviously know Colon after helping him bring his career back from the dead in 2011, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will be eager to trade for him. It could mean the exact opposite, in fact. It could scare them away. I don’t think the Mets would let Colon go on waivers for nothing just to dump salary — he does still has some trade value as an innings-eater — but I am certain he’s available.

LHP John Danks, White Sox
We heard an awful lot about the Yankees and Danks these last few weeks, especially in the days leading up to the trade deadline. The two teams were unable to work out a deal in part due to a disagreement over how much of the ~$33M left on his contract the ChiSox would eat. Danks is signed through 2016 at $14.25M per year, and he’s been nothing more than serviceable since coming back from a torn shoulder capsule last year (4.63 ERA and 4.96 FIP). That includes a 4.50 ERA (4.85 FIP) in 136 innings this year.

Given all the money left on his contract and the fact that he’s coming off a recent major injury, an injury that usually ends most pitchers’ careers, I do think the White Sox would let Danks go on waivers for nothing but the salary relief. They could try to work out a trade to get a prospect in return first, but, if push came to shove, I don’t think they would pull him back. Either way, no team will take the risk and claim him. He’ll clear waivers, allowing him to be traded anywhere. If Danks was a pure rental, it would be a much different story. But since he’s signed for another two years at significant dollars, I don’t think the Yankees should go after him without Chicago paying down a decent chunk of the salary.

(Jason O. Watson/Getty)
(Jason O. Watson/Getty)

RHP Jason Hammel, Athletics
Since being acquired from the Cubs early last month, Hammel has a 9.53 ERA (7.31 FIP) in four starts and 17 innings for Oakland. (Five homers with a 12/10 K/BB.) He’s been terrible since the trade — two of his starts have been disasters, the other two okay at best — so much so that I have to think it’s more than a simple statistical correction after he pitched over his head for the Cubbies for three months. Maybe he’s hiding an injury or a mechanical mess, a la Jim Johnson. Hammel was pretty awesome for Chicago, remember (2.98 ERA and 3.19 FIP). I doubt he forgot to pitch on the flight to join his new team.

Anyway, Rosenthal says the A’s placed Hammel on trade waivers yesterday and, right before the trade deadline, Jon Morosi reported GM Billy Beane was “getting flooded” with calls about the righty in the wake of the Jon Lester deal. That doesn’t mean they will trade him, he is still penciled in as their fifth starter following the Lester pickup, but maybe they’re open to moving Hammel after adding another ace to the rotation and pushing him down the depth chart. He’s owed another $2M this season before becoming a free agent. Beane could look to save some cash and recoup a prospect rather than carry a potentially terrible starter these last few weeks. I know he’s stunk lately, but when you have Matt Daley on the roster and are considering starting Esmil Rogers, claiming Hammel and his $2M salary off trade waivers seems like a no-brainer to me. I suspect some team will beat the Yankees to it.

RHP Colby Lewis, Rangers
Lewis beat the Yankees twice in the last two weeks, though he still has a 5.98 ERA (4.29 FIP) in 19 starts and 102.1 innings overall this year. He’s coming back from elbow and hip problems that cost him the second half of 2012 and all of 2013. Lewis has been much better over the last few weeks (thanks in part to the Yankees!), allowing no more than two earned runs in four of his last six starts and no more than three earned runs in five of his last six starts. The one exception was a total disaster (13 runs in 2.1 innings!). Look at his gamelog and you’ll see he’s been good more often than not over the last month or so.

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)
(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

There have been no trade rumors involving Lewis this year mostly because he hasn’t pitched well, but also because the Rangers are desperate for pitching themselves. They have six pitchers on the 60-day disabled list, including starters Derek Holland, Martin Perez, and Matt Harrison. Rotation options Alexi Ogando and Tanner Scheppers are also hurt. Lewis is only owed another $700k this season, give or take, so his salary isn’t an issue either. Holland is due to back relatively soon and maybe Texas would be open to dealing Lewis to a contender for a prospect or salary relief or whatever, but that seems unlikely. He’s an August trade candidate only in the sense that every player on a bad team is an August trade candidate.

* * *

Lee would have been the ultimate August salary dump trade candidate, but his latest injury put an end to that. He’s going to miss the rest of the season with a recurring structural problem in his elbow, so his trade value is shot both for this month and the offseason. Ian Kennedy, whose named popped up in plenty of rumors before the deadline, may still be available, but he’ll require giving up something of actual value. Brian Cashman has done nothing but add players on the cheap this summer.

Aside from getting Hammel for nothing on waivers — I really doubt that will happen, Beane’s no idiot and he won’t let pitching depth walk away for nothing but salary relief — the best case August trade scenario is getting James Shields from the Royals. He’s a pure rental and he’s a very good AL East proven workhorse, which is pretty much exactly what the Yankees need. Kansas City would both have to fall out of race — they’re 4.5 back in the AL Central and 1.5 back of the second wildcard spot — and acknowledge they can’t afford to re-sign him after the season. Plus the Yankees would have to give up something more valuable than the supplemental first round pick the Royals would receive when he signs elsewhere. Shields (and Hammel) seems very unlikely, so the Yankees will have to pick through scraps to boost their starting staff down the stretch.

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Heyman: Padres focusing on Billy Eppler for GM vacancy
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  • Frankie Cerveddardi

    Colon – Fell apart down the stretch with us. No way no how.

    Danks – Owed too much money and not much of an upgrade. No way no how.

    Hammel – Awful in Oakland. No way no how.

    Colby Lewis – Only success is against us. No way no how.

    What we have will have to work until Tanaka, Pineda and BGDP return. And if they don’t return then we’ll just have to go with what we have.

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    Yes to Hammel and…….Colby Lewis? I’d take a flyer. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?

    Shields sould be interesting, wouldn’t it? I’d want an extension opportunity, though.

    Definitely more names than this will come out of the shadows.

    • Scott

      The Dodgers put Beckett on waivers. Would you take a flyer on him? I suppose I would, though I don’t believe the Dodgers will actually let him go.

      I would take Lewis and Hammel. The Yanks fixed McCarthy maybe they can find a way to get something out of Hammel/Lewis

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        Oh hell yes, I would. In a hearbeat. I also think we’d have to give them more than we’d want to back.

        Don’t ever forget that the Truther-lovin’ side of me still remembers Beckett as the young Marlins phenom. He was then just programmed for me to hate him.

  • mustang

    “The Phillies asked for Aaron Judge in exchange for Marlon Byrd, according to Bill Madden of the New York Daily News. Needless to say, the Yankees balked at giving up Judge, who was drafted 32nd overall in 2013 and is ranked by MLB.com as the fifth-best prospect in the Yankees’ farm system”

    “surprising to hear GM Ruben Amaro Jr. say that his peers were not sufficiently aggressive in pursuing Philadelphia’s players, with Stark adding that other general managers have indicated to him that they were less than pleased with the commentary.”

    Apparently GM Ruben Amaro Jr is a nut bag so forget anything with Phillies. Anyone want to complain about Cashman?

    • Mike HC

      Apparently Amaro is still living in the mid 2000’s when prospects got thrown around for 2 month rentals and free agents actually produced well into their mid 30’s.

      • mustang

        The funny part is that I think George would of made/forced that deal reference Jay Buhner for Ken Phelps.

        • TWTR

          The ’80s George, yes. The ’90s-’00s George, no, which is why the Core 5 survived, along with reportedly, some creative manipulation by Stick.

          • mustang

            And that MLB suspension of George didn’t hurt either.

            • TWTR

              Yes, that laid the foundation, but he didn’t mess it up when he got back.

        • Mike HC

          Dolan actually called Amaro to accept the deal. He just couldn’t help himself.

          • mustang

            The scary part is that your probably right.

    • n0exit

      Yea but bill madden wrote they asked for judge so I don’t really know if it’s true. Maybe someone from the phillies leaked it I think but no one from the yanks will ever talk to him. It could also be completely made up like a lot of his stories.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        I could TOTALLY see them asking for Judge. Totally.

        • mustang

          Agree its been common gossip that the nut bag asking price has been ridiculously high.

    • John

      Yes, I would love to complain about Cashman,but, he is way better then Amaro.

  • Bubba

    That’s a pu pu platter of meh at best.

  • M.Cook

    Shields isn’t happening with the Royals still in contention.
    I’d take Colon in a heartbeat. Then Hammel. I’d rather not get Danks or Lewis.

    • TWTR

      With $170m already on the payroll for 2015, there is no way they should guarantee Colon $11m for next year. Taking on Prado’s $11m was bad enough. That have too many holes and unless the payroll is going to $250-$300m, they need to have money to spend in the offseason.

      • OldYanksFan

        Prado is a career 2.5 bWar guy. At $6-6.5m/War, and considering his flexibility, I don’t see how you can say ” Taking on Prado’s $11m was bad enough”.

  • TWTR

    I don’t want any of them.

  • Pete

    Jacob Turner was just DFAd and his FIP and xFIP suggest he may be a bit better than his era plus he’s got a decent GB%. Don’t see him as anything worse than what’s listed above, plus being 23 there’s a better chance of catching lightening in a bottle than those guys as well.

    • mustang

      Agree I’m with you guys.

  • mitch

    Not a salary dump guy, but i’d definitely claim Jacob Turner.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Seconded (or thirded, if you include Pete above)

    • OldYanksFan

      He as an 83 ERA+ and a career 1.1 HR/9. Sounds dangerous for YSIII.

  • Algernon Blackwood

    Movement of the Colon is important.

  • hey now

    It sounds like Pineda is close enough to coming back that we might as well roll the dice with him. I know that he’s a DL stint just waiting to happen, but if he’s at 65 pitches for his next start then he’s knocking on the door.

    As has been amply discussed above, the viable alternatives on the market are middling to gross. My vote, therefore, is solidly for Big Mike.

    • Scott

      I still think the Yanks needs 2 pitchers, not just a replacement for Phelps, but for Capuano as well. So getting one of these salary dumps is still important.

  • Pete

    I think Jacob Turner would be a better grab than all of those guys. His FIP and xFIP suggest he’s better than his ERA plus he has a decent GB%. He’s 23 so there’s prolly more likelihood of lightening in a bottle than the rest of the above. He’d be auditioning for his next mlb contract too so he has incentive to pitch well.

    • mustang

      Saying it twice wouldn’t make it happen any quick, but I agree. I think the Marlins have probably workout a deal with someone already and trying to slip it by hopefully its the Yankees.

      I can see a Austin Romine for Turner deal or something like that.

      • Dick M

        I would think that at some point we have to trade some of our catching depth and convert it into an asset.

    • CMed21

      Doubt he makes it to them on waivers since a NL team will probably claim him. Would like go get him since he looks like he could be a McCarthy lite.

  • Rick

    Amazing about Hammel … if the A’s could’ve projected this performance, no way in heck they would have given up Russell.

  • Farewell Mo

    Who is the Yankees 5th starter right now, Chase Whitley?

    If the bar is set at pitchers better than Chase Whitley, everyone on this list qualifies so why not if the price is reasonable.

    • TWTR

      Pineda.

      • Farewell Mo

        You’re confident he can come back and remain healthy for the last 6-7 weeks of the season?

        • TWTR

          No, I just think he will get an opportunity very soon.

          • Scott

            not for at least one week, probably 10 days, meaning 2 starts.

  • CMed21

    All those options look terrible with Colon being the only one you can call a major league pitcher from those choices. Danks like Mike said is coming off a serious injury and is owed a ton of money and under contract till the end of 2016. I have a deep dislike for Danks since he’s been terrible since 2010, so I hope the Yankees stay far away from him. Hammel is also a good option, but doubt the A’s trade him since there’s never enough pitching depth (ask the Yankees) and they traded away Millone. Lewis is a righty Danks without the multiple years, and is he really an upgrade over Mitchell or Whitley against non-Yankee teams? Colon is the best choice, but that extra year for a pitcher over 40 who was on PED’s doesn’t sound good. Sadly, best we can hope is for Mitchell to hold rotation down till Phelps and Pineda come back.

  • Preston

    I’ll take the first three if it’s just a salary dump. Colby Lewis is about as appealing as syphilis.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Not making much. If he bombs in a couple of starts, you throw him into the Billings/Leblanc/Francis slop bucket.

      I really wouldn’t be opposed to Lewis. I’d also hope they smack him upside the head the very first time he throws some dumbass tantrum on the mound.

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    Since everyone is weighing in, no to a Bartolo reunion. Another year at 11M? No. Did i say “no” yet? No.

  • gageagainstthemachine

    The way the Yankees luck has been, we land Colby Lewis (ugh), he pitches out of this world for two starts (yay), and then has a no-hitter in the ninth broken up by a shift-beating bunt with two outs in his third start. This leads him to blow his lid, which ends up with a bench clearing brawl where Teixeira sprains an ankle running from first to protect his pitcher. Meanwhile, Beltran, in his first game back in RF clearing up the logjam in the lineup, doesn’t pay attention to where he’s going while running to the fracas, and flips over a wall tearing his shoulder apart and ending his career. All because he caught a glimpse of McCarthy’s wife in the stands. At the same time, Pineda not wanting to be left out, slips on pine tar in the dugout being applied to Cervelli’s bat and blows out his shoulder reaching for a player to keep from falling. This happens to be Hiroki Kuroda, who promptly turns to his interpreter to yell, “What The Hell, Big Mike?!” The grab sends him to the ground, which buckles his knee and blows out every ligament in it known to man. Icing on the cake, comes when Girardi, in a fit of rage from not having world out in 12 hours and desperately wanting “a f***ing cheesburger, for the Love of God!!” puts the bunt single villain in a headlock, subsequently popping his head off like a kid with a dandylion in his grasp. And that, is how the second season in a row of ridiculous injuries ends if they trade for Colby Lewis and Stephen King is allowed to write the tale..,

    • gageagainstthemachine

      *worked out (not “world out”…screw you auto correct. I had it right the first four times I typed it!)

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      I would love to purchase a collection of your work.

    • Scott

      Was right there with you until you said slipped on pine tar. Pine tar is sticky. Perhaps you could rewrite it with the settings as a game vs. the Sox and Bucholz and he could slip on the sopping wet oil slick that is Bucholz’s dome.

    • vicki

      perfectly healthy brian roberts laughs to see such a sight, is picked up by the A’s, hits in 57 consecutive games, into october, culminating in a world series game 7 walk-off bomb.

  • Kosmo

    I´d be amazed if Turner makes it as far as the Yanks.

    In house options ? Bryan Mitchell.

    I´d take Colon if he becomes available to NY.

  • CMed21

    I know this one is unlikely, but if the Dodgers decided to trade Beckett what do you think would be enough to get him. He has AL East and playoff experience and would prob be one of the best pitchers on our staff. Again, I doubt the Dodgers would trade him since they’re looking for pitching.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      I don’t think you’d be giving up multiple strong prospects, but you’d be giving up one.

    • Kosmo

      not happening. The Giants or Pirates would claim him and the Dodgers would pull him back off waivers.

    • vicki

      if they dumped anybody it’d be haren.

  • acX

    Nationals claimed Matt Thornton…

    • acX

      Jon Heyman ?@JonHeymanCBS 3m
      #nats put in claim on matt thornton, and nats get him

      • acX

        So are we back to having no lefty in the pen?
        No way Lindgren is being promoted so fast no?

    • mustang

      What?

      He is actually pitching well of late I even stop changing the channel when he pitches.

      • Paisa

        Pretty funny how MLBTR says that he “has been excellent this year” considering all of the hate he has attracted.

        • vicki

          snort. his leverage and situational splits tell the real story.

  • willie the village idiot

    don’t forget Jacob Lindgren is supposed to make it up this year
    already has 30 SO in 13 innings

  • ropeadope

    Lewis beat the Yankees twice in the last two weeks

    Um, no he didn’t.

    Pick up Big Bad Bart, pass on the rest.

    • ropeadope

      Colon not only an innings eater, but a strike throwing machine.